Cormac McCarthy Loves My Dog

by Linda Rodriguez

I’m a big rescue-animal person. I’ve had rescue dogs and
cats all my adult life. When I’ve lost a dog to the cancers and other
vicissitudes of old age, always a heartbreaking situation, I go looking for a
replacement in the dogs on death row—those scheduled for euthanasia. I have
found so many wonderful dogs in this way.

I’m thinking about this because next week is the adoption anniversary
of our current dog, Dyson. Five years ago this fall, we had lost our
much-beloved sixteen-year-old Husky-Sharpei, who’d been adopted at seven on what
was supposed to be the last day of her life and given us so many more wonderful
years. After grieving for a month, we began looking online at the adoptable
dogs of local shelters. Hearing that the Kansas City Animal Shelter was
overcrowded, we decided to go visit and adopt one of their desperate dogs
slated for death.

I walked into the shelter the week before Thanksgiving with
certain criteria in mind. I wanted an older female dog who was already
housebroken and calm. I knew older dogs were harder to find homes and figured I’d
be able to choose among several older females. No stubborn, rambunctious, untrained
young males for me. I was no longer the young, strong woman who had trained
such dogs years before.

As luck would have it, someone showed us an emaciated, big,
male dog with a strange brindle coat, starved and sad-eyed, who was scheduled
for euthanasia the next day. He walked placidly for me on the leash and looked
at us without hope. My husband and I were hooked by those big sad eyes. Even when
we were informed that he had heartworm, which costs hundreds of dollars to
treat, we weren’t dissuaded and signed up to adopt him that day, all the time
telling ourselves how crazy this was. As we signed papers and laid down money,
people who worked at the shelter began to filter into the office. “Are you the
folks taking Dyson?” they would ask, and then shake our hands and thank us,
telling us what a good dog he was. Then, we found out he was less than a year
old, big as he was—and that he was a breed of dog we’d never heard of before,
the Plott hound.

Dyson, who should have weighed at least 70 pounds at that
time, was so starved that he weighed less than 40 pounds. (The first photo is
of him then, the later photo of him now.) He had never been neutered and never
been in a house, we discovered. We would have to keep this long-legged creature
crated for weeks at first because of the heartworm treatment. If he became too
active, he could have a stroke. What possessed us to continue and sign up for
this dog, I can’t begin to understand.

Thus, began my education in the dogs Cormac McCarthy calls “the
ninja warriors of dogdom” and of whom he says, “They are just without fear.” Developed
by a German immigrant family (from whom they get their name) in the Great Smoky
Mountains who never sold any outside of the family until after World War II,
Plott hounds are the state dog of North Carolina. They were bred for centuries
as trackers and hunters of bear. They are practically triple-jointed and can perform
acrobatic feats while avoiding the claws of huge bears they have brought to
bay. They are highly valued by big game hunters all over the world, who pay
thousands of dollars for trained Plott hounds to use to hunt bear, cougars, and
other large predators.

We don’t hunt. While on a leash for walks, Dyson constantly
charges into the hedges and emerges with a big possum or feral cat in his
mouth, which we’ll make him drop—always uninjured since he has the softest
mouth. Other things we’ve discovered about Plotts are that they are extra-smart
and yet goofy and playful. And so he is. Also, loyal, affectionate, protective,
and he loves fibers and textiles, often in early days pulling my knitting out without
harming it and lying before it confused at why he couldn’t do what Mommy does
with those sticks.

Though he was the opposite of the placid, female, older dog
we wanted, Dyson has been the perfect dog for us, always a source of fun and
joy. And the inevitable mischief that a young, boisterous male (for once he
regained his health, he regained his personality) commits is a small price to
pay for the love he shows when he lays his massive head in my lap and looks at me
with love in his big, now-happy eyes.

Happy birthday to His Majesty Dyson the Toy King Sweetie Boy

REPLY TO COMMENTS (because Blogger bah!):

Lil, you’re right. He was the dog we needed. We’ve often thought our late, lamented Mina was guiding that choice of her replacement.

Blogger still won’t let me comment.

1 reply
  1. lil Gluckstern
    lil Gluckstern says:

    Linda, what a lovely story. You brought tears to my eyes. He is beautiful. Since you didn't see the dog you wanted,You got the dog you should have, and he sounds wonderful.

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