For the Love of a Hound

Written by Cleo Moore

    Have you ever found the perfect puppy and just the thought of holding it in your arms overwhelmed you? It's the same puppy that you researched and researched to be sure that the bloodline was the perfect match for your kennel. The same puppy that you mailed the deposit for weeks before you were able to actually see it. The same puppy that you drove 300 miles to pick up just as soon as the breeder called to let you know he was ready.

I know you know what I am talking about. Yeah, that puppy.

    We were blessed to find such a puppy. The anticipation of the delivery day just about killed my husband and I. Finally, the Saturday arrived and the arrangements were made to meet at the Treeing Walker Days coon hound event in Salisbury, NC. Needless to say, we were up and gone way before the sun peeked over the trees.

    As we entered the grounds we were surrounded by thousands of people all there for the same reason: for the love of the hound. Even at that early hour, there was scarcely any parking available. I was amazed at the number of dogs! Some tied out, some in the back of trucks in boxes, some just in the back of trucks. I was so amazed.

    We made our way to the stud barn where we were to meet the breeder as well as get a good look at the sire of our new addition. The barn was full of all the coon hound sires that I have looked at so many times in Bloodlines . I tried not to act like a child in a toy store, but I found myself wandering away from my husband several times. Finally, he grabbed my hand and told me that we really needed to get where we were going to pick this puppy up on time. All I could do was smile at him.
He laughed.

    We reached the barn where our puppy was and waited for the crowd of people to let us past. Finally, there he was. Sitting quietly in a crate….just waiting.

     I never really get into the conversation between my husband and the breeder. I just let them do their thing. My love is the conversation that I get to have with puppies and the sire of the puppies, if I am lucky enough to get to see him. I got lucky that day! He was simply amazing.

     After all the business was taken care of, and the long awaited puppy was safely in our possession, we headed home.

    I noticed once we got home that the pup, which my husband named Creed way before he ever laid eyes on him, would not eat. I accounted for the fact that the Creed had come a long way in a very short time. The weather in South Carolina was very different than the Virginia weather he was used to. Not only that, I was sure he missed his brothers and sisters, not to mention his mother. I would watch him for now. He would come around by in the morning.

    As morning arrived, we checked on Creed expecting to see him bouncing around his pen just waiting to be played with by one of our four boys. His food lay still untouched in his bowl and Creed looked, for the lack of a better word, sad. We checked his temperature which was normal. There was no sign of pain. He was simply….sad.

    As the day wore on, Creed got up and played some and even went for a walk in the woods with the other puppies. I had begun to think he was just homesick and in a day or two he would be fine.

    Monday morning, I loaded Creed and he and I set out for Johnston, SC to the vet. Creed sat quietly on the seat beside me until I got to the gas station. When I got out and closed the door, this noise came from that puppy that to this day the store owner says came from a grown dog. He hollered and hollered until I thought the windows were going to blow out! I can't tell you the kind of looks I got from those people pumping gas that had no idea what a hound sounds like. It made me smile. I actually thought, "Speak to him, Creed!"

    Once at the vet, I explained all about Creed and how we came about getting him. The vet checked everything that he could think of from worms to parvo and came up empty handed. He agreed with me, Creed missed his four legged family. I was glad to hear that because I knew that he would not be open on Tuesday, which was tomorrow. If Creed took a turn for the worse, we would be on our own.

    By the time my husband got home from work that afternoon, Creed had begun to weaken terribly and his eyes had begun to sink back into his little head. He had begun to have diarrhea but still no sign of blood in his stool. Back to Johnston we went. All tests were once again negative.

     As parents of four boys and long time dog owners, we knew that there was something wrong. Creed was losing ground fast. The vet had told me only to give him ice so that the diarrhea could be controlled. I fixed bowls of ice cubes but he would lick them only as long as they were in your hand.

    We made a pallet next to our bed for him to rest on. Our house dog, Sweet Pea, became so concerned with this sick little guy, that she decided she would lie next to him and see if she could help. This seemed to comfort Creed so we let her. We were hoping and praying all the while that whatever he had, she could not catch.

    Tuesday came and went and we watched our puppy grow weaker and weaker. The helplessness that we felt was at times overwhelming. Creed became sore. He would only lie on the floor and look at you with the dying eyes that you would never forget.

    This is when Sweet Pea took over. She grabbed Creed by the ear and would pull him out of his bed and into the living room or kitchen. She made him climb on the couch, (normally that would never be allowed, but what could I say? She was his angel.) She made him keep going. His strength did not last too long, and soon he would be back on his pallet. Pea would be right there every step of the way. Somehow, I think Creed knew that she would be.

    Sometime around 3:00 that morning, Creed began to vomit. Ok, my husband said, enough is enough. He got in the truck and headed for town. Armed with Pedialyte and Gatorade, he hurried home to help fight our battle. We began filling anything we could find with the fluids. Morning could not come fast enough.

    That was Wednesday morning and I knew the vet was open, so I grabbed Creed and an old beach towel and with the help of one of our boys and headed back to Johnston. This time there was no mistaking the symptoms. Creed was diagnosed with parvo.

    As I drove home the tears over came me. I looked in the seat beside me and saw a puppy that had been my husbands dream. I was watching that dream fade away right before my very eyes.

    Once home the vigilante of saving Creed became an obsession. My husband was at work when I called and told him what the vet had said. He told us that there was a very slim chance that Creed would make it. We had to keep him hydrated the best we could, but even then, he would probably not make it through the night.

     Sweet Pea thought differently. Once again, she became the nurse maid. My husband called her "Pea Nightingale" which fit her to the "T".

    Still, the reality of this virus could not be ignored. I held Creed and gave him fluids all through the day. When my husband got home, he took over. By 9:00 pm, Creed's eyes had turned blue. He was leaving us and there was nothing we could do to stop him.

     I am still not sure why, but I picked up my camera and began to take pictures of Creed and Pea. They were on the couch together. Creed was only a skeleton. A far cry from the pup we had picked up only 5 days earlier. I guess I wanted (or should I say, needed) to keep something to remember him by so he would never be forgotten. Such a wonderful creature that God trusted us with should be remembered forever. Even for the short time we had him, we felt so blessed.

    Pea and I sat up with Creed all night. We made him drink. If I fell asleep, Pea would gently wake me to let me know my work was not done. Around 4:00 Thursday morning, I watched Creed lick Pea's little yellow muzzle. She had been to Creed's food bowl where I had put some scrambled eggs in hopes of enticing him to eat. He was licking the egg from her face. She went back to the bowl and then back to Creed.

    By 9:00 am, on the same Thursday morning, Creed reached over to Pea and bit her on her ear. It was though he was saying, "It's pay back time." Creed had won his battle.

    "My cup runneth over", as my grandmother would say. Creed and Pea together had beaten the odds.

    Now when we are at the kennel and Creed opens his mouth with the deafening drum that he is so blessed with (the same one that someday those who get lucky enough to be in the same cast with him will hear) I think to myself, "Speak to me, Creed". For the love of a hound is what saved him….our love as well as his little yellow angel sent to us from God.

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