Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What is a Coonhound anyway?

There are not many coonhounds in Los Angeles.  Occasionally I meet one on a hike or my mom will catch a glimpse of a long ear out of a car window and tell me about it later. There are several types of coonhounds - I am a Black and Tan Coonhound - other types include Bluetick (Smokey the University of Tennessee's mascot is a Bluetick), Redbone (the kind of coonhounds in Where the Red Fern Grows), Plott, English and Treeing Walker. 

My mom thinks that I'm a pretty good pet and also she gets lots of compliments on how handsome I am so she would consider getting another coonhound if she decided I needed a brother or sister.  While it may be easy to find a coonhound in other parts of the country there aren't many around here (I can't remember how I got here exactly before I went to live with my mom) so probably the best place to get one would be to go to the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue's website.  The great thing about getting a dog from a rescue is that the dogs have been fostered with families who can tell you what the dog likes and doesn't like.  Some coonhounds get along fine with cats, for example, but not others (I like to chase cats) and if you get one from a rescue they will know all of that ahead of time.  There are also lots of great dogs at the city shelters too though - that's where I came from after all so you should take a look there as well but I'm not sure you will be able to find a coonhound. 

If you are going to adopt a coonhound there are some things you should consider.  First, we are not going to be one of those dogs that can run around off-leash if we are not fenced in.  We are are scent hounds - we follow scents and go until we find it and then you find us and whatever we found.  There a lot of dogs in my neighborhood who roam around off-leash and my mom is continually explaining that I can't do that (and also it is against the law where we live anyway)  because I can end up on Pacific Coast Highway or somewhere else where there are lots of cars.

Second, there is something that is referred to as "counter surfing" and I think it is pretty common among us coonhounds.  Because of that great sense of smell we can find food any where and it may be difficult to break us of the habit of not getting on the counter or in the garbage or any where else there is something that smells good to us.  My mom is on to me now though and keeps the counters clean and clear at all times (I occasionally sneak a look just in case she forgets) and we have a garbage can that is "Chopper-proof" as well.  (She made me go to the Container Store and try them all out.) I also used to like to go into the kitchen sink so that meant no more leaving dirty dishes around anymore.  There are some ways to correct this behavior when you are at home but if you're not home and the dog can access the kitchen then it is best to leave everything clean.

Third, coonhounds have a distinctive bay which is meant to identify them to their hunter.  But if your coonhound is not regularly exercised or given proper mental stimulation they may just bay out of boredom.  Not good if you are living in close quarters to your neighbors.  I was never a bayer.  As a puppy I was a chewer if left alone too long or didn't have something else to do.  I do bay when I tree a squirrel on a walk (my mom says it sounds like a little girl screaming) but I never hardly ever "scream" at home.

My mom knew NOTHING about coonhounds when she adopted me, other than the fact that she had read Where the Red Fern Grows, but she is still glad that I'm around (lucky for me).  She had to learn some of the above through trial and error and now, three years, seven months, and 16 days later we have it (almost) all figured out.

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