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Help! I've Been Hounded!!

Sophie Mae Hound sitting at attention

Any of you that have ever had a hound dog in your life will surely relate to this…years ago Sophie Mae Hound entered my life. She was a 5-month-old black and tan coonhound. But her skills were definitely more refined than just mere raccoons. She would bark and bay at anything that moved in the yard! The neighbor’s yard. The driveway. The road.  South Carolina (I live in North Carolina)…well, you get the picture.  She was also well known for her digging proficiencies…who needs a pole auger or well driller with a hound dawg around? 


Drinking with a hound dog in your life posed many difficulties. First of all, I lacked patience. She drove me nuts at times and I’m sure I wasn’t her favorite person either…(what do you mean I have to come inside?  There’s stuff out here and I’m gonna tell you all about it!!!). So what if the family next door has a new baby that needs to sleep?? WAKE UP EVERYONE!!! A LEAF JUST BLEW ACROSS MY YARD!!!  WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!

Copper and Sophie Mae Hound playing in the snow

Next difficulty, I lacked patience. Sophie was the all time best weather predictor I’ve ever known. She would hunker down when a storm was brewing in Tennessee (remember, I live in North Carolina)…and NOT go outside because remember? WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!  And she hated wet weather… unless it was snow. She loved snow!! She would jump at the snowflakes and catch them on her tongue.  So cute!!


Third problem, I was nowhere near as patient with her and others in my life when I was drinking. Did I mention that before? 


I severed my relationship with alcohol over three years ago. Two years ago, my other dog Copper tackled Sophie when she wasn’t expecting it, and Sophie tore her ACL. Uh oh. Sophie looked at me, I looked at her, and Copper said, “whoops”… and off we went to the Vetspital. Horrors of all horrors, Sophie Mae Hound was hound-bound, I mean houseboun Surgery was not an option due to her age and difficulties with anesthesia. So I began a regimen of shots, cold laser treatments, and crate confinement. And guess what?  It worked!!  But I literally had to work on her 24/7 to help her ACL heal and stabilize her knee joint.  It was still stiffer than her other leg, but she could walk and run on it. She was smart enough to stay clear of Copper and not run up the steps to the deck or jump. Hounds are smart. Too damn smart. But, in this case, it was a good thing. Sophie trusted me to cold laser that leg every single day and she would stand or lay quietly…which was not her demeanor prior to the accident.  She knew.  Sophie always knew.


Alert Sophie Mae Hound laying on the couch watching for trouble

I even had to cancel a beach trip to take care of her because it was the right thing to do. That is so NOT me on alcohol.  You know what? I found out I’m a pretty dedicated and responsible pet mom. And definitely more selfless than selfish. Sophie knew. Always. Funny thing is, when I stopped drinking, Sophie seemed to calm down. Maybe she didn’t have to work as hard keeping track of me and things going on around the house? I don’t know.  Maybe she was getting older. All those nerves aged her quicker.


This year, Sophie started having some issues. She just wasn’t herself. I took her to the vet, ran tests, back to the vet for more tests, special food, meds, and still…Sophie wasn’t herself. I had an appointment on a Tuesday for even more tests and an X-ray. On that Sunday afternoon, I heard her baying in the backyard, which was music to my ears. Oh, yeah, she had cornered and killed a small groundhog. So proud of herself!!! And how does a hound do that without getting a drop of blood on her? I never understood that. Monday she laid around all day and didn’t even look at food or water. Tuesday morning bright and early, off we went to the vetspital. I had decided she must have heart failure, which is entirely treatable with meds, because she had this small cough intermittently. Turns out, she had a tumor inside her heart that had ruptured…probably in the throes of catching and killing the groundhog. 


Sophie Mae Hound passed over the Rainbow Bridge that day, but boy did she go out just like a Hound?!  I’ve heard of hunting dogs that dropped dead on the trail of prey, but I didn’t know it would happen to her.  I still hear her baying in the yard at times…especially early in the morning, like this morning when the sun is just rising. But today she’s not letting me know that WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE, so I think it’s safe to go out for a walk.

Sophie Mae Hound relaxing in the sunshine on the deck in the backyard

Sophie was my first loved one to pass away when I was sober.  What a difference the experience was…I cried and cried and cried.  If someone asked me where she was, I cried.  I would walk Copper in the neighborhood and people noticed that my beautiful black and tan lady hound was missing and stop me to ask about her.  And I would just cry.  It took me almost a week to be able to speak of her without tears. 


So, I noticed that I always felt better after I let my grief happen. Tears seemed to give me strength. And Yes! I wasn’t just dragging my grief on and on and on by senselessly numbing myself with alcohol. I was feeling it, acknowledging it, and letting it happen. There’s nothing wrong with being sad and crying…it’s very healing. 


Sophie Mae Hound looking out the window for something to bark at

Next time you suffer a loss, I encourage you to face it without alcohol or other numbing substances…cry, cry and cry some more. You’ll feel better sooner. No doubt.


And yes, the Hound helped me!!! Her memory still does… but dang it, I really wanted to go to the beach.  Sigh…

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