I’m With the Coonhound

Carla and I have gone running several mornings this week. She is an enthusiastic companion. As she has emerged from her time of mourning, her energy has increased. She continues to challenge me to run faster than my well-worn knees would like to travel. (I use the word ‘run’ loosely, it’s more like a ‘jog.’ I just like to say run because it makes it sound much more impressive.) On steeper spots of my regular run when I might normally be tempted to slow to a walk, I can’t bear to ask it of Carla and push on through, sometimes letting her steady pull propel me forward.

There was a time, early in my running career when men in trucks (there are many here in Pennsyltucky roaming about checking their fence lines or looking for a good fishing hole at the early hour at which I typically hit the roads) would slow and note my progress, sometimes even chatting me up. Those days are past now and the only man in a truck who stops to visit with me on my runs is my hay-guy Kevin and we usually just talk about hay.

This week with Carla by my side, pretty much every pick-up truck, mud-splattered four-wheel drive or vehicle built prior to the 1980s slows as it passes me. They aren’t checking out the middle age woman on my end of the leash, they are all about the gorgeous coonhound on the other.IMG_1128

In terms of coonhounds, Carla is super model pretty. She looked good when she arrived with us, but the coconut oil and probiotics have given her coat a glossy sheen, while the steady exercise has toned up her top line. And it might be my imagination, but I think she’s beginning to stand taller now, the sadness that was weighing her down beginning to lift. She’s beautiful. She truly is. I understand why these good ole boys are gawking. I stare at her, too.

She’s talking more, too. Sometimes I know what she’s trying to say, but several times a day, she just seems to need to sing. When this happens, I let her out on the deck and she barks for a good ten minutes or so. It echos down the hollow and bounces off the hill across the creek. It’s good that we live on a rural street. No one minds. But I could understand that in close quarters she might fray a few nerves.

DSC_8463I watch her and wonder what she’s saying. Nick says she’s passing along news to other dogs up the hollow, kind of like a twitter feed. I wonder if she’s yelling for her previous owners or letting out her fears. The intensity remains steady. Her gaze stays fixed on a faraway object I can’t see. The first time she did this, Gracie followed her out and barked a few times in solidarity before laying down in the shade with a sigh, as if muttering, “What’s the point of all this?” Now when Carla goes out to have a bark-session, she remains in the kitchen, but watches her, still trying to figure it out.

Today we attended a Meet and Greet at the local Pet Valu. Carla behaved beautifully, even wowing a few potential adopters. After that we went to a soccer game where she watched enthusiastically, barking along when the crowds cheered.IMG_1645

She is a very different dog than she was a few days ago. I think she’s healing. Her appetite has returned with gusto. I discovered that she knows how to sit and lie down for treats. She fell in love with the Pet Valu clerk when he gave her a chicken-liver roll up. This afternoon, as a reward for all the stellar behavior on our outings, I took her and Gracie for a walk down the hollow to the creek so Carla could splash for a few minutes. On the trip home, she bounded about like a puppy, nearly slipping her collar and towing me across the grass. A pick-up truck rolled by and the guy inside smiled and said, “Looks like the dogs are walking you!” That they are, but for today, I’m glad for it.

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Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

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