April 18th, 2011 by cowgirljules
I’ve been hunting with these houndsmen for a long time. For the last six years, they’ve been telling me that I was good at it, that I could do it, that I should get some hounds myself. At first I wasn’t in any sort of place to even think about it; a rental house in town isn’t the ideal place for a noisy pack of bear hounds. And in that town, they’d have probably gotten shot.
When we moved out here, we had more space and distance from the neighbors. We got into it some more, but always sort of felt that we had the best end of the deal, not having to deal with the dogs during the off season. We hunt every weekend from Thursday through Sunday for at least three months with these guys, and by the end of it we’re absolutely frazzled. But still, it’s always been something that I wanted to do, preferably before I got too old to get to all of the trees. I suspected that that day had already come and gone, so I mostly gave up my dream. You can’t make every dream work, after all.
But the other day, someone offered Junior a rig box, the kind that goes in the bed of your truck. He told the guy that he wanted it – hell, we’d sure use it. We move Maverick’s dogs pretty often. But that reminded me that they’d recently had a litter, so it didn’t take much encouragement to get me to text them. All I really wanted were some cute puppy pictures, but what I got surprised me. It probably shouldn’t have.
I was offered a pup or two. Oh crap, did this throw a wrench into our weekend. Now suddenly something that was decided as a “no” was possible, and right away. We went down to look at them. Maverick didn’t want to give me any opinions on the dogs (eleven of them!) except to point out which ones he and Jake had already spoken for. He wanted me to look at them and form my own opinions of them. Sadly, the male that I liked was one of Jake’s. But what did it matter; we weren’t going to get into hounds anyway, right?
I spent the entire rest of the weekend overthinking and agonizing about these stupid dogs. Junior wouldn’t give me a straight opinion, saying that it was entirely my decision. Well, sure it was, but I didn’t want to make it without knowing how it would affect him. I had to make the assumption that his lack of enthusiasm meant that he didn’t want to do it, but also didn’t want to be the one to tell me that I couldn’t do something I’ve dreamed of.
I waffled back and forth between wanting them and to hell with the consequences, I’d be the bad guy in the marriage, and wanting to do the responsible thing. I had an awful lot of reasons both in the pro column and the anti column. Finally, I reluctantly talked myself out of it, rationalizing that I’ve also always wanted a good marriage and that I didn’t need the stress this was putting on it. And besides, I swore off puppies after Jessie’s last litter. They are an enormous pain in the ass, puppies are, and I’m getting a little old and short of time to mess with them.
But I may have misread my husband. He heard me saying no and didn’t like it. He did some more thinking himself, and decided to let me know that he did support me in this project. They would be mine, but I had his buy-in on them. And that was what I needed to tip the scales solidly back into the “yes” category.
After a few more hours of making sure that this was what I wanted, I contacted my friends and told them that we would take two, a little female that we both liked and the last male. That male wouldn’t be my pick of the litter, but he’s obviously wormy and may snap out of his funk once he feels better. I chose that combination over a possibly better female for a second dog because I just don’t think pack dynamics with two females of the same age would work very well. I could go with two males, but I like working with male dogs better. That female is sharp at five weeks though, and I like her already.
So come Saturday, we’re taking another road trip down thataway and we’re coming back with the start of our very own pack of hounds. It will take a couple of years of training and I’ve never trained a hunting dog, but I have good teachers and I feel comfortable that I can do it. It’s going to be an extraordinary amount of work, fun, and possibly heartbreak, but at least at the other side of it, I won’t have to say to myself that I didn’t try. I am going to be a Houndsman.