The Best Dog I Have Ever Had.

I am 75 years old, and in those 75 years I have had several dogs, I remember and love them all, mostly beagles and mutts. They were all unique and had different personalities, they were all "Good Dogs".

The Best dog I ever had was my Black and Tan Coonhound, Ellie. We got Ellie from American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue in April of 2016, she was about 6-7 years old we were told. Her foster mom was Claudia. We traveled to Virginia to met Claudia and "Ethel" at a prearranged spot along I-95.

The dog we loaded into our truck was timid, shy, and very skittish. The first night I sat in the back yard for hours waiting for her to pee. Nope, just looked at me, for two hours. She even broke away from me and took off. I quickly found her and she didn't run, she just looked at me and waited for me to pick her up and put her in my truck. That's all I needed for Black and Tan to be notified I lost my dog the first day!

Over several months I walked Ellie everyday. She was deathly afraid of loud noises, cars, trucks, everything scared her. I began walking her near a school bus and sitting on the curb a good distance from where the bus stopped. The noise of the kids, the bus brakes and such made her want to bolt away. I would hold her very tight and talk to her telling her everything was alright and she would be OK. Day by day she would relax and I slowly moved us a few feet closer to where the bus would stop. After about a month or so we were right next to where the kids got on the bus, she was getting used to the noise and felt safe. She began to look forward to seeing the kids. I would take her everywhere in my truck, to Lowes, Home Depot, walking in the woods, just for a ride, etc. I bought a sling for my truck so she had a safe waking surface and to protect my leather seats. People would get into my truck and say "Wow! Your truck stinks! It smells like a coonhound." I would always reply "I don't smell a thing".

I always had her on a leash and would talk to her and tell her she was good girl. I bought a 50' leash and let her get ahead of me while we walked. I would let her get only so far but always reminded her she had to stay about 30' from me always. If she went too far I said "Wait" and she would stop. Then I would say "Go" and she would walk again. I then dropped the leash and let her drag it, if she went too far I would step on it and tell her to "Wait" for me. In about a year I could walk her without a leash and she never went far. She would always look back to see where I was and would stop and wait for me. Don’t get me wrong, I always leashed her walking 99% of the time for her protection. I wanted to train her to stay by me just in case she got off the leash.

That reminds me of an incident a few years ago. We were walking at a preserve (on leash), we were coming back to the parking lot and a lady with two pit bulls was loading her dogs into her car. One pit bull jumped out of the car window and attacked Ellie. I quickly got between them and pulled the dog off her. Ellie was not hurt but extremely scared, she wanted in my truck ASAP. I had a few rips in my jeans and some cuts on my knees and arms from the rocks. No one was bitten or hurt. Ever since that event whenever she saw another dog she would stop look at me and come along my side. I was her protector and she knew it.

Walking her was not necessarily a walk, it was a sniff and a pee, 10 feet and a sniff and a pee. In the beginning we would walk 5, 3, 2 miles but at least 1 mile each day. As she got older she wanted to walk but the distance was less. When she wanted to walk she would stare at me or to the box where her harness was and stare at it.

Ellie, like all Coonhounds, was a goofy dog, funny and sometimes annoying. She had me and Mom wrapped around the paw. When she wanted something you knew it. At night she would want to go out, wait a minute come in and want a cookie, this would go on and on.

In the 6 years we had her I think she peed in the house 1 time. Never did she poop. Always at the door. At night she would throw her rawhide bones in the air and throw them around. She sometimes would do a dance by putting her butt on the ground and run in a circle. Crazy funny to watch. She made me laugh and happy.

Food was a motivator, if I ate it she would eat it, anything, pickles, apples, anything I ate she would want. Fish was her favorite, loved fish such as kippers, sardines, and sometimes as a treat Mom would get canned salmon.

Ellie was a lazy dog. I would go to bed at 10, Would say I am going to bed, she would follow me up and get on the bed and lay down at the bottom of the bed. What I mean about lazy is she would sleep until 9-10 the next morning. If you were in a rush to get out in the morning we had to attend to a dog that wanted to sleep. That was a job getting her out of bed. Food worked well.

Ellie was not an aggressive dog. Rabbits, cats, deer anything she would not even take notice. She was very gentle and sweet. She liked her back rubbed and scratched right above the tail and her back. When we walked she would get in front of me and roll on her back and want me to rub her belly. I would tell her she was a silly girl, this would happen several times on the walk.

I wish I had known of Black and Tan Coonhounds a long time ago. I may have had more than Ellie. They are a wonderful breed of dogs. I have often wondered about her as a puppy. She was a stray. Who would let such a wonderful dog stray and not attempt to find her? It just amazes me what people do to dogs.

I understand that all dogs go to heaven, I hope so. I also hope when I pass, I will see all my dogs again, especially Ellie. (That is if I get to heaven). Those of you who are dog lovers know that loosing a dog is a very painful. I feel as though something has been ripped from my soul. I will think about and miss Ellie everyday the rest of my life. I love you Ellie and miss you terribly. When I die your ashes will be in my casket.

Joe McDonough (Dad)

15 July 2022