About a year ago, I wrote a story about a Treeing Walker pup's battle to overcome parvo and a little yellow Angel sent to us from God that helped get him through it. I have met so many people who have recognized me for that story. I would like to give an update on that story as well as the people in my life that have made this last year so special to me. For it is the love of the hound that we all share.
GRCH "PR" Lipper's Stylist Creed is now 16 months old. As you can tell by his name, he has proven to be quite the show dog. My husband is proud of that fact, but he is even prouder that Creed has turned out to be a fine coon hound as well. Our busy schedule has prevented me from showing the way that Creed deserves. (Creed had only one loss.) I have to thank Mike for driving Creed and I from show to show never one time mentioning the fact that this was his only day off or that he had a million things to do at the kennel.
Mike received a call one day from a man from North Carolina that had heard good things about Creed. He offered quite a bit of money to try him out. In my heart, I knew that this day would come. We have bought and sold hounds as a part of our training business, so I knew no matter how he felt about it, Mike would probably have to let Creed go. Creed left us on Thursday afternoon. The tears burned in my eyes as I watched him pull away. I had to tell myself that this was part of our business and after seeing that he was going to a good home, Creed was going to do what he was bred to do. Hunt.
Early the next Sunday morning our phone rang. We were told that Creed would not leave the truck when asked to hunt. The trial was over. He was coming home. Inside, my stomach was flip-flopping all over. Mike naturally could not believe it! Creed was unloaded and after they said goodbye, I knelt down and wrapped my arms around the neck of the same dog I watched only a year ago fight for his life. That night, Mike still not being able to fathom Creed not wanting to hunt, he headed off to the woods. Had he been shocked? Was he sick? All the questions that you could imagine were running through his mind.
Creed treed about 15 minutes after he was sent out. His coon was way up in an old oak tree. I watched as Mike tried to shoot it out. Creed never left his side. He waited as patiently as he could for the sound of crashing leaves and sticks. The coon never hit the ground. It got hung up on a branch on his way down. I will never forget the look on Creed's face as he watched Mike come toward him saying "Dead. He's dead boy." Mike felt as though he had let Creed down. Creed seemed happy just to be home again. There would be a life- time of coons, he seemed to say. We made a vow that day. Creed would never again be asked to leave South Fork, no matter what the price.
I was never really certain if Creed looked at me in the same light that I did him until one night last December. Mike and Derek (our middle son) were planning on training pups and invited me to come along. I had recently had back surgery so I had to watch my step every time I did anything. Mike said he was going to hunt two of our more experienced pups and I wanted to see just how they were doing. Armed with a flashlight and my hip boots, I set out behind them.
They turned the pups loose and it wasn't long before I heard the little Black and Tan female, Eli's Tee-Tiny Bell, open up hard. She was soon joined by the English male pup. You could tell something wasn't quite right by the way they were baying. Mike looked at Derek and said he thought they had the coon on the ground. Being young pups, I just knew we were in for a certain trip to the vet in Johnston!
Mike and Derek took off down the hill. I was coming up behind them when Derek suddenly ran past me going to the other direction, back toward the dog kennel. As Derek ran past he told me to be careful. The coon was on the ground and he was huge! I managed to get down the hill in time to see Mike grabbing pups. Flash light in hand, I went to see if I could help him. As I neared the area where the pups were, I heard a growling sound at my right. I shined the light in that direction and could not believe my eyes. There, about 10 feet from me, was the biggest coon I had ever seen. I don't know if he was hurt or just mad, but he was headed right for me! Being a little confused and not knowing what to do to avoid a confrontation, I began to back up. As I took a step back, I stumbled over a root. Down I went. I guess the sound of me falling startled Mr. Coon because I saw him hesitate for an instant. As he began to move toward me again, I can remember thinking, "You gave got to get up!" If you have ever had any back problems, you know that getting up from anywhere, especially the ground; can take a minute or so. All I could think of was how I was going to be able to keep the coon off of me before Mike could get there. Suddenly, from my left I heard a crashing sound. The sound came closer. About the time the coon was close enough that he could have reached out and touched me, I heard Creed hit him. I kind of balled up and put my head in my arms. I heard growling, snarling, and then "crunching" sound. When I looked up, I saw Creed standing between the coon and me. The coon had fought a courageous battle, but the 11 month old Walker pup that I had fought for so many months ago, had once again won his battle. Creed turned to look at me. He came close enough to me that I could see there was blood coming from the tip of his ear.
Mike and Derek were there in an instant. Derek said when his daddy saw that coon was too much for the pups he told him to go get Creed. He opened Creed's pen door and turned him loose. (This is a no-no at our kennel, but under the circumstances, I was glad he did!) Derek said that he watched Creed run toward the coon pen as if he knew there was something wrong. How he found me and the coon, I will never know. Mike said that Creed and I are even now. I had fought for him and he had fought for me. All I know is when Creed turned to me after he had killed that ol' coon, he seemed to say, "I will always be here for you." You know what? I know he will be.
As for Sweet Pea, our little Angel, she is still doing her kennel caretaker deeds. She sees to all the pups when they arrive. Not one thing goes unnoticed as she checks over any hurt or sick hound. She finds herself in the loving arms of "her daddy" Mike every night at bedtime. The game that she and our boys play at bed time is to see who can actually manage to touch him while she is in his lap. With a fearless attitude, she dares any of them to come back for more. Anyone who has ever met her knows she is the boss of the house. Our boys, who range from age 19 to 13, can not to sneak in past their curfew without Pea letting us know they are late. She is a true friend and companion. Her devotion to us shines like a full moon in August. She is South Fork's Angel.
If you find yourself reading this and get a "funny" feeling in the pit of your stomach and begin to think back to a different time and place, one that has a special memory of a very special dog, then I know I did my job when I wrote this story. If you read this and don't find yourself thinking back, that's OK. Remember this: somewhere, somehow, when the time is right, you will find it.