Holiday hound adventure
I have a problem. I can’t stop saying “yes” when people ask me to do something. Usually, this isn’t a problem; I like helping out, I’m not usually inconvenienced by doing so, and I’m glad to have made someone’s life easier. But even when the request is one that’s inconvenient, annoying, or unpleasant, I’ll still agree to do it. I know it’s a problem, and I’m working on it.
At any rate, my inability to say “no” resulted in Johnny and I transporting a foxhound from Tennessee to Oklahoma over the holiday weekend.
See, way back at Opening Hunt, I was chatting with my friends about my plans for Thanksgiving, which included visiting my family in the Volunteer State. The MFH of Harvard mentioned that Hillsboro Hounds (which is based in Nashville) might have a hound to send to Harvard; I, of course, magnanimously agreed to help out and bring said hound to Tulsa.
To say Johnny wasn’t excited about this is a huge understatement. But he couldn’t find a graceful or tactful way for me to back out, and so he reluctantly (and grumpily) agreed to this harebrained scheme.
Hillsboro’s kennels are in southern Middle Tennessee, about 20 minutes from where I grew up. It’s beautiful country and the kennels are an impressive facility. We were greeted on Saturday morning by their cheerful huntsman, who crammed a dog box surely built for a mastiff into my Subaru Forester and introduced us to Hillsboro Titan. Titan was a behemoth of a hound, whose back stood nearly level with my hip and whose long legs and heavily muscled body made me question just how much port I’d’ve to have had to think hounds were knee-high and whip-thin.
Titan was reasonably friendly, and although he was somewhat reluctant to leave all his hound friends (there must have been 40 of them in the kennels) and get into a car with strangers, he settled into his box without a lot of fuss. The huntsman gave a copy of his pedigree, wished us (and Titan) well, and invited me to come down and hunt with Hillsboro any time. We set off, feeling optimistic and ready to get home.
After about 10 minutes of driving, a horrible smell filled my car. I crossed my fingers that it was simply Titan passing gas, but when the smell didn’t dissipate with open windows and time, it became clear that Titan had pooped in his crate. And it smelled wretched. When we got into town, we stopped at a grocery store with a gas station, filled up the car, and went inside to buy baby wipes, bleach wipes, and a roll of paper towels. Around the same time, I got a text message from my stepmother that I’d left my purse at their house. Sigh.
We drove the half hour back to my dad’s place, got Titan out of the car, and cleaned both him and the crate. Titan was content to walk around on his leash, sniffing and sniffing and peeing. He dragged me over to sniff my parents’ cat, who swatted him on the nose. (Titan yelped and hid behind me, which was sort of hilarious.)
With a clean dog and a clean crate, we set off again! Just as we got back into town, I heard a sharp noise, like something splintering and cracking. Johnny glanced over at Titan’s crate, and did a double take and said, “Oh my god, Stephanie, he’s got his head out of his crate!”
That cracking noise? That was Titan chewing an enormous hole in the corner of his crate. He was hanging his head out cheerfully, drooling all over my car. Chewing on the plastic had caused his gums to bleed a little, so he was coating my car in a thick layer of hound slobber and blood. I started laughing a little hysterically and directed Johnny to to nearest Wal-Mart, where I bought a couple of towels to catch the drool.
At this point, Johnny seemed torn between joining me in hysterical laughter and divorcing me in a fit of pique. He sighed, rolled his eyes, and somehow didn’t say, “I told you this was a terrible idea.”
Mercifully, the rest of the trip was uneventful. Rain and traffic delays turned the drive from an 8.5 hour one to a 10+ hour one, but Titan didn’t make a peep. He periodically stuck his head out of his hole to assess the situation, but always resettled quickly. At 10:30 PM, we met up with Harvard’s hound guy, who didn’t bother with the crate and just let Titan ride in the backseat of his truck.
In the future, when I think about saying yes to favors, I’ll think back on Hillsboro Titan and our holiday hound adventure and think again!