Ten years ago, a homely little hound dog puppy stole my heart at the local animal shelter. He was one of a litter of ten puppies, born to a red basset hound named ‘Bessie’. While I was volunteering at the shelter, mother and puppies were deposited at the shelter by their owner, discarded like yesterday’s news.
In 2004, the show ‘Survivor’ was very popular, and, at the shelter, all ten of Bessie’s puppies were given names of people who were playing the game of ‘Survivor,’ at the time. The brown puppy’s name was ‘Ethan’, named for Ethan Zohn, the cute, curly-haired soccer player, who was popular on Survivor that season.
When I decided to adopt Ethan, I decided to keep his name, and thus began my adventures with Ethan, the hound dog. (Note: Only one of Ethan’s nine litter mates survived the shelter. The others were eventually euthanized.)
Ethan, enjoying a moment inside
I don’t know what kind of dog Ethan’s father was, but he must have been a big dog! Ethan grew to be much larger than his basset hound mother, but he had many of her characteristics. His most outstanding features were his eyes, his long floppy ears, four big feet, and a funny personality. Ethan could hold his mouth in such a way, that he appeared to actually smile, at times. When he wagged his tail, it went around and around like a propeller.
Ethan was raised, at my house, by an old brown collie, named ‘Hobbs’. Hobbs was my first animal shelter rescue, and was the best dog I’ve ever owned. The peculiar thing about Hobbs was the fact that he always ate his food while lying down. It wasn’t long before young Ethan developed the same odd habit, which continued his entire life.
Ethan wasn’t always an easy puppy to love. As a young dog, Ethan had a wicked attraction to cats, and killed more than a couple of my kittens before he finally outgrew his cat attraction and rough playfulness. I’ll never forget the morning I looked out of the window to see Ethan carrying my favorite orange kitten, ‘Peaches’, in his mouth! I cried and yelled at Ethan, who didn’t seem to have a clue that he’d just killed my kitten!
A few weeks after adopting Ethan, he became sick with Parvo. I was pretty sure what the problem was, even before the vet diagnosed him. (I may had inadvertently brought the virus home from the shelter on my shoes.) I didn’t have a lot of money to pay for a hospital stay, so the vet told me how to care for Ethan at home. I did everything the vet told me to do, and Ethan defied the odds and lived–but he was a sorry-looking sight for a while!
Ethan, after Parvo
A few weeks after surviving Parvo, Ethan came down with a case of Red Mange, the result of his damaged immune system, the vet explained. Once again, the vet guided me through the treatment process, and, once again, Ethan defied the odds, and was cured. The mange treatment was painful, though, and as a result, Ethan grew to mistrust me. (The strong dip burns the raw skin) Ethan would no longer let me bath him or put my arms around him in any way. I wasn’t able to put any kind of medication on him, not even flea powder! If Ethan ever saw me with any kind of container, he quickly bolted out of sight! Ethan remained skittish the rest of his life.
When I adopted Ethan, we lived in our old house, next door. We built our new house and moved three years later. As a result, Ethan could never decide which house to call home! He spent as much time at our old house, with my daughter, as he did at the new house with me. He’d often split his time between our porches.
Ethan, resting in his favorite position (on my daughter’s porch)
Before my daughter moved next door, she lived just down the road. At times, Ethan would roam down the road to visit with her dogs. On one such visit, Ethan wandered out onto the highway, and was hit by a car. Once again, Ethan defied the odds, and wasn’t killed, but one of his hips was injured. The injury resulted in arthritis, during his later years. In an effort to get more comfortable, Ethan often began sleeping on his back!
The thing Ethan loved most was eating! That old hound dog would eat everything in sight, especially cat food. Ethan was notorious for stealing the cats’ feeding bowls, and carrying them off into the woods to lick them clean! Ethan was a sneaky one, and he finally forced Ed to build the cats a ‘cat cafe’, high up off the ground, so the poor cats could eat their food in peace!
Ethan had an internal clock, and if supper was running late, he’d gladly remind you when it was time to eat! Many afternoons when Ed and I would be working out in the garden, Ethan would call to us from the yard, telling us it was suppertime. He had a loud, gruff bark that was impossible to ignore. Ethan’s gruff bark would alert us about visitors approaching, as well.
Ethan, a couple of years ago
Thankfully, Ethan eventually outgrew his wicked obsession of bothering my cats! In fact, one of our younger cats came to love Ethan so much, she’d sleep with him every night. Often I’d see the two of them curled up together, napping during the day, too. I’ve even seen Suzie grooming Ethan, at times. At times like that, I’d think back to how Ethan used to be, and say to myself, if Suzie only knew…
Ethan and Suzie, BFF’s
Ethan’s health eventually began to fail, especially the later part of last year. A host of health problems seemed to develop all at once, including a strange, unidentified bulge under Ethan’s abdomen. Ethan still had a few good days, along and along, but most days he didn’t stir much–except at mealtime or for an occasional short walk. We knew Ethan wasn’t going to have a lot of time left.
Ethan’s health began to rapidly decline the past couple of weeks, and he really began to struggle more with each passing day. The glimmer in Ethan’s eyes gradually became replaced by a dull look of constant pain. Ethan didn’t seem to be able find comfort anywhere. He could barely walk, and the bulge under his abdomen became much larger. His breathing became labored. Yesterday, we made the choice to say goodbye to our friend of ten years.
Thankfully, today, Ethan suffers no more. We’ll miss him, and things won’t be the same around here without him, especially at suppertime! Ed and I laid Ethan to rest near Hobbs, the old collie who raised him. May the two of them rest in peace together, in a place where there’s no more pain and suffering. If they’re eating together, somewhere, I’ll bet they’re both lying down!
Goodbye, old friend