Strider came to me as an orphan, only four days old. His mother was a Beagle, his father a Blue Tick. He grew up sturdy, handsome, with lanky hound legs and a nose that wouldn't quit, so deep chested I had to tailor his harnesses. In the mountains, I turned down a number of generous offers from hunting men who took one look and Wanted. In the North, his black and silvered colors drew admiration and questions.
We were together through four states and seven homes, from the remotest mountains to vanilla suburbia. He never cared, as long we were together. He was the ultimate hound--a tree-climbing, varmint-chasing dynamo, impossible to distract from a scent and at his most joyful when in full cry on hot trail. We walked the woods together, crossed rivers together, and kept company on long trail rides. He was my protector--with plenty of chances to prove it--and companion; I was his.
He knew the rules of a gentleman. My cats were inviolable; trespassing animals received no leeway. People food was safe wherever it was, untouched by hound lips and protected from cats who pretended not to know the Rules. Tears were to be licked, faces to be gently kissed, and treats accepted with careful teeth. Cars were to be ridden in, because it meant he wouldn't be left behind. Deafened, he learned sign language and lip-read certain words. Arthritic, he still bayed challenge at passing critters, foiled by the fences of civilization. In Virginia he followed me on horseback; in New York, he heeled by the side of a fast-moving bike.
He wasn't perfect. Stubborn, dominant, quite certain of what he wanted, just as determined to get it...quintessential hound. A more devoted companion than even a writer's imagination could produce. May he run the hills with never-flagging energy, fresh trails always before him, and the security of knowing I'll always love him as much as he loved me.
Strider's Photos, from Beginning to End
Yours Truly with |
Strider the WonderHound