There are certain days in a man’s life when, for whatever reason, he has the urge to chase a runaway bloodhound up a Tennessee mountain.
This puppy, Thelma Lou, happens to be an expert at running. All it takes is the right breeze to hit her nose, and she’s off for Canada.
She was on a leash today, trotting beside me. We reached an overlook. The view was green and majestic. I remarked to myself, “Take a gander at them mountains.”
And it was during this moment of deep reflection that I noticed Thelma had chewed through her leash. All I could see were hindparts, bouncing merrily through the Greenest State in the Land of the Free.
“Don’t panic,” I told myself. “Just remain calm.”
I called her name. I shouted it firmly, but not aggressively. And I clapped. Lots of clapping. Clapping is important when calling a fugitive dog so that others nearby are sufficiently aware of what a human toadstool you are.
So I walked the trail, looking for a dog, clapping. I heard rustling ahead, and I could see her.
I used my high-pitched baby voice: “That’sagoodgirlyesyouareThelmaLouyesyouare.”
And I was so busy calling her that I almost forgot that I’ve hiked this trail before, as a kid. I was with my father at the time.
I remember that day well. We both wore coonskin caps from a gift shop. That day, my father referred to me as Davy Crockett. I called him Daniel Boone.
We sang songs, we ate peanut butter sandwiches, we carved walking sticks. I still have those sticks.
When we hit the top of a mountain, my father looked over these very hills and whistled at them.
He said, “Would ya take a gander them mountains.”
He was a good man.
Anyway, I saw a dog in the distance. Her head was down, her tail was up. When I got closer, I could see she was eating something that had apparently been passed through the system of an elderly possum.
I clapped. “Get away from that!” I said.
She wagged her tail.
“Come here to me!” I said.
“I’m removing you from our will.”
Wagging and howling.
Then, the bloodhound looked at me with wild, mildly Satanic eyes. And I realized that we were playing a game.
Thelma’s rules of this man-versus-canine game were simple: (a) run away from the man chasing you; (b) roll in poop.
I ran after her. Lots of clapping.
Our game lasted longer than I wanted, but in the end I won. I caught the fugitive. Then, with her in my arms we stood at a scenic overlook, and I whistled at the view.
I sing a few verses from Fess Parker’s “Ballad of Davy Crockett.”
I carried the bloodhound back to our room. My clothes were covered in a what looks like apple butter. This puppy has more raw energy than a classroom of caffeinated first-graders.
I washed the bloodhound in the shower. I used Suave shampoo and conditioner. She enjoyed her bath so much that she ate an entire bar of soap and part of a washrag.
“That was a very disobedient girl,” I explained to her. “Daddy’s disappointed in you for running away. It hurt daddy’s feelings when you did that, do you understand me?”
I think she does. Because this dog is smarter than some folks might think. I can tell that within that brilliant brain of hers that she’s thinking to herself:
“Hey, this bar of soap tastes exquisite!”
I dried her with a towel, then we fell asleep on the bed. She was tucked in my armpit, snoring.
And while I write this, I am wearing a coonskin hat I just bought at a gift shop in town. My dog has already chewed the raccoon tail into pieces.
Would you just take a gander at them mountains.