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Hartselle Enquirer

The coonhound that’s blue ticked

By Jacob Hatcher

Community Columnist

Because of her undying love for them, my wife did not permit me to name any of our children Merle. So when we adopted a coonhound a few years ago, I jumped on the opportunity.

The truth is, I was reluctant to bring him home from the start. Like Daddy always said: The kids might want a dog, but I knew I’d be the one getting a dog.

Like my father before me, and many before him, I relented. That must be some rite of passage: insisting you won’t do something, knowing you eventually will.

Five years into our having Merle, he and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship; he loves to howl at the moon, and I hate to be awakened by howling.

I’ve always had a strained relationship with dogs, and if I ever meet the first person to say, “Why don’t we let that beast come live inside the house with us?” – we’ll have a very long conversation.

I realize folks have much stranger critters living with them now, but surely dogs were the first drop of the rain on the slippery slope we find ourselves standing at the bottom of.

I have to admit, he is growing on me. Like two co-workers that once merely tolerated one another, we have settled into a routine – which made it frightening when a lump appeared on his neck recently.

As all 21st-century dwellers do, we went to Google and discovered it could be anything from a mild cyst to Jimmy Hoffa’s thumb.

With a fair amount of concern, we took him to the vet to discover it was harmless. Even still, the scare was enough to make me realize how important Merle is to our family. It might have softened my heart just a tad towards him.

Does that mean I’m going to start toting him everywhere I go? Not a chance. And it certainly doesn’t mean he will be sleeping in our bed anytime soon.

But it does mean that this afternoon when I holler, “Hush Merle,” my tone might be a little softer.

At least the first few times.