By Jim Palmer
I’m not typically a guy who follows big national trends (no rush for toilet paper or baking supplies) but I guess I was part of one trend this spring. When the world shut down, we got a dog.
Our three boys had been hoping to get a dog for several years. My wife was less than enthusiastic about having a furry friend in the house. But when life slowed to a crawl in March and April, the boys got the green light. We decided that if we were going to get a dog, now would be the time to do it. We thought, our boys aren’t going to be young forever and we will have extra time to train and get used to the new dog while the world has slowed down.
My oldest son, Noah, went straight to the internet to start the search for the perfect dog. He quickly found out that we weren’t the only family in search of a new canine. Turns out, some humane societies were empty and some were really low on dogs. People were lonely and looking for a companion. When a dog was brought in to a shelter, it usually wasn’t long before it was adopted. I read somewhere that the number of pet adoptions more than doubled during the early months of the pandemic. That made our search more difficult. But that didn’t stop Noah. He scoured the web day and night. Twice he had a dog he really liked and showed us pictures. He got up the next morning and the dog had been adopted.
Then he spotted a dog that he really liked really close to home. It had just been brought in to our local humane society, 10 minutes away. It was a plott hound, a breed I had never heard of. The dog had “brindle” markings, another term I was not familiar with, but basically means it has tiger-like brown markings.
Before getting too excited, I investigated. What were the characteristics of a plott hound? Turns out, they were all pretty positive. The plott hound ancestors are the Hanoverian Schweihunds, which were brought to the United States (North Carolina to be specific) in the 1700s to hunt large game, like bears. The plott hound is actually the state dog of North Carolina. Plotts are loyal, bold, protective, eager to please, smart as a whip and very friendly.
So we scheduled a visit to meet her the next day.
The boys were instantly in love with her. I liked her too but was looking for red flags. The only one I saw was that she was a little jumpy because she was so excited to see us. I figured that was a habit we could work on fixing. We learned that she was abandoned in a neighboring community and they guessed she was about 1-2 years old. We left with a good impression. The next morning, we got a call from the humane society. A few other people were interested in the dog. Since we saw her first, we would get the first opportunity to adopt her.
“How much time do we have to decide?” I asked.
“How about two hours,” the person at the humane society said.
So after a quick family meeting, we decided to commit to our first family dog.
We named her “Kona” and were able to pick her up the next week, after she had been spayed and given all appropriate shots.
When we got her home, we saw some very big smiles from our boys. And those smiles have continued the last two months.
Kona is a sweet girl who loves to play with the boys. She has a really deep bark, but she rarely uses it. Most days she doesn’t bark at all. Being a hound, she has a good sniffer and likes to track a good scent. If you pet her, she quickly looks for reasons to flop on her side so you can scratch her belly. The boys have given her the nickname “floppy” because of this characteristic. She is pretty energetic, but also gets nice and mellow when she is inside. Her favorite thing to do inside is to lay down on the couch and take a nap (and she snores!).
Some of the challenges... she likes to chew things when she is outside, so we have to watch where we leave things that are fun to chew. And when she gets excited to see someone, she jumps up. We are working on that one. It is getting better each week.
This is the first time our family has officially had a dog, but we have sort of had a dog for years. The neighbor dog is a Cocker Spaniel named Copper. Copper is around our house 90 percent of the time and we consider him one of the family. He has been a fan of Kona and they hang out together most of the day every day.
This isn’t the first time I have had a dog. I grew up with dogs. In fact, I had a dog named Canuck who joined our family when I was an infant and he lived until I left for college (18 years!). I also had a dog named Scotty for a while, who was a great little dog.
Getting Kona has been a great experience for us, and I think our family made the right choice. However, as we were going to the process, we read some articles about mistakes people make when getting a dog in 2020. Here are some things to consider if you are looking at adding a dog to your household.
• Are you adopting just because of the pandemic? Remember the pandemic won’t last forever, and adopting a dog is a long-term commitment.
• If you are working at home or spending more time at home now, how will that change things for your dog when you go back to your regular lifestyle?
• How much time and energy are you willing to commit to your dog? Experts says most people think they are more active than they really are.
• Does the dog match your lifestyle? Do your research before selecting a breed. It can make a big difference on the success of an adoption, say experts.
These are just a few of the things to consider. Experts also note that there are some real benefits of adopting a pet right now. Because of more time at home, there is more time to train and spend time with your dog, so it is an easier transition for both you and them.
Just a reminder that we are now accepting photos for the cookbook. Also a reminder that the photos should be not just of food -- but they should also have people in them (preparing, serving, eating, etc). See page 7A for ad with more information on submitting photos. All those who have a photo that is used in the cookbook will be entered into a contest for a $50 gift certificate at the restaurant of your choice.