Coon is my dog and best friend. He is pictured above during my deployment to Hurricane Irene as an insurance adjuster. Working 14 hour days and living in a Motel 6 left little time for Coon. This picture was taken at my desk when he forced his way up into my lap as if to say, “Pet me NOW, dammit!!”.
I wrote a blog about my dog Coon back when I was on myspace and I’ll cut and paste it here. Now, I’ve never liked the fact that people go on and on about their kids and why they are so special so I don’t want that to be what this is. But, I do want to share some insight here. I have owned multiple dogs through the years, but never one like this. I consider him a true friend. It actually bothers me to put a collar or leash on him and only do so when absolutely necessary to keep him out of trouble or keep him from getting arrested. Sometimes I wish my own friends would do that for me. This dog has, in my opinion, saved my life as I know it. My mom loves this dog so much, that she calls him her “granddog”. All of my friends like him and some ask how he’s doing before they ask how I’m doing. Anyway, I do mention him often and wanted to allow you to get to know him so you know who I’m talking about.
The blog never got finished as I stopped updating it, so I’ll give the ending first. Coon turned out great. His top speed dropped from 32 to 27, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He does have big scars on his wrist and paw that could have benefited from skin grafts. I figured I’d already spent over $10,000 on him, so he could tough it out. Unless I point it out, no one seems to notice that his paw is sort of twisted and his wrist is fused solid. You can’t tell when he runs. When he sleeps on his back, it is sort of obvious as one paw folds down and the other points at the ceiling. Anyway, here is the original blog post:
I threw a bachelor party for a friend of mind at my lakehouse in Kingsland in the spring of 2004. One of the bachelor’s other buddies (who I didn’t know) thought it was very cool of me to do this for a friend. At the party, I was talking about how I’d been wanting a dog and had done my homework on dog breeds, settling on a heeler. Now, all I had to do was find one. This guy, who I’d never met, says, “You took care of my friend, I’ll take care of you. My parents actually breed heelers. I’ll call them and get you pick of the litter for free.” I took my new dog home around May 2004.
Coon is my dog’s name. It started out as Blue. I named him after the old man in the Will Ferrell movie “Old School”. I soon found out people thought that was dumb because most people with a blue healer name their dog Blue. Not wanting to be seen as that “simple”, I had to come up with something else. Talking to my friends, I was reminded of a redneck buddy who named his dog “Reggin” because he thought that was funny. At that, someone suggested I name him “Blue Gum”. I have to pause here to say that I am in no way a racist, but as a white male I am definitely discriminated against and am fed up with all the bullshit. As well, my sense of humor is equally opportunistic. I come after any race, creed, religion, profession, etc. etc. But, just as the kid bitching the most got picked on the most, blacks make themselves an easy target. I digress. I told the guys no way in hell was I naming my dog “Blue Gum” even though that shit is funny. I mean, could you imagine some black guy with a pit named “Cracker”. Even funnier. Sooo, someone mentions “Coon”. I think, GREAT, it sounds enough like “Blue” that the pup will switch over easily and it’s a name that can easily be explained away by saying that he’s like a pet coon, always into things. Besides, yelling “HEY, Nigger, get over here, NOW” anywhere in town might likely be damaging to my health. SO, “Coon” it is.
Shortly after acquiring Coon, my father backed out of a business deal we had together which has led to the worst 3 years of my life. After sueing me for 1.2 million, we are almost settled in the matter. When we are completely finished, that will be a long blog. But for now, what matters, is that Coon saved my father’s life and quite possibly mine. During this ordeal there were many times I wanted to kill my father. At one point, I even planned to do so. I am only willing to air this now because I know that I will never do that. Having Coon in my life has been a daily reminder to me that life does not have to be as complicated as we humans make it. It can be much more simple. The little things can and often do make us happy if we just open our eyes.
Now, I have had pets before of all varieties. I have NEVER and quite likely will never connect with an animal the way I have this one. I am in no way a Bible beater, but I do believe Coon was a gift from God. He has yet to meet a person he doesn’t like (unless I tell him to dislike them). He loves children. He will play so rough that I bought welding gloves so he could bite harder. He understands when it’s time to be soft so well that when you are holding a baby he will stand on his hind legs to sniff the child without allowing his front paws to touch you or the child. He is content to sit for hours watching me watch tv just waiting for the next run (although that does freak me out occasionally). If you ask him if he wants to go for a ride or go for a run, you better have ear plugs in. He knows his right from left. He can be commanded to herd chickens and not kill them. He will steal 1 to 3 feathers from a chickens ass at a dead run without hurting it, all the while keeping his eye on me to ensure that he hasn’t crossed the line. His top speed is 33 mph. He will run until his paws bleed. After resting, he will run before they heal. He will lead my truck for miles, only changing directions when I turn. He will then catch back up with me only to lead again. He knows every possible route home within a 3 mile radius. If I let him out of the truck 3 miles from home, he will lead me there. He has been on a leash less than one month of his entire life. He has attacked no one. He has put many dogs in their place. He will defend my (his) truck and my (his) home. If told to, he will stop chasing a cat even when he’s already at top speed. If you say, “here, kitty, kitty, kitty”, he will look skyward, even in the house. I think he believes cats come from the sky because he’s only heard that saying around him when a cat is up a tree. He used to chase birds. He flushed some dove in a chest high field of weeds. In so doing, he bounced into traffic and was struck in the head by the nerf bar of a passing truck. He almost died. He almost lost his eye. He never knew it was a vehicle that hit him. He hasn’t chased birds since. He chased a doe. He caught her. She stomped him. He ran back to me whimpering. I sicked him on her again. He ran her down again. Coon 0, Deer 2. Coon looks at deer with respect. When you say “down”, he will take his front paws off of you. When you say “down”, he will get off the couch, bed, chair that he is in. When you say “down”, he will lower his head in the passenger seat of the truck so you can see out of the passenger mirror. He knows the difference between “front seat” and “back seat”. The only time he wouldn’t come to me was soon after the only time I’ve ever struck him. He has learned many tricks having been shown them only twice. He will sleep by the front door so that you have to wake him up when you leave. He refuses to be left behind. If I leave my window down on my truck in August while I work in the yard, he will jump back into the truck and wait there rather than in the shade, ensuring that he gets to go with me on the off chance that I might leave. He is quite content to spend the night in the truck if I am too drunk to drive home. I am positive he would drive us home if I let him, but I don’t think I could explain that very well while intoxicated. He does all the normal dog tricks, but refuses to show off. He will only do so in public if he is offered and can physically see meat and, even then, your chances are 50/50. He knows how to cuddle on command. He likes it so much, he has had to learn when I don’t want to. My mother says he’s her granddog. Living by the lake, I bought one of those blue floating recliners. He laid down in it, claiming it, before I could use it. (a picture of this is in my myspace photos).
Last night, we were going for a 3 mile run. He hadn’t ran in a few days because I’d been busy. Sometimes he gets anxious. He’ll bite the tires of the truck only if he isn’t done running yet and I try to stop. Otherwise, he could care less. If I slow down, usually he slows down, too. If he’s pissed and wants to keep going, he will pass me in the truck, much like a passing car. I saw the Suburban coming. I slowed down. Coon decided to pass me. He ran over the Suburban. The Suburban was going 18 mph, Coon was going 30 mph when he hit the brakes. The front left tire of the Suburban crushed Coon’s right wrist joint and his paw giving him multiple shear fractures and what’s appropriately called a “de-gloving” injury.
The vet in Marble Falls said all he could do was amputate and that in order to save the leg, I would have to get him to an orthopedic specialist. The specialists in Austin and San Antonio would likely advise me to amputate. The doctors at Texas A&M’s animal hospital in College Station believe it may be possible to save his leg. I came home today without Coon. I don’t believe I’ve ever missed a human as much as this.
Some of you think I’m crazy. I know because, before Coon, I would have thought the same thing about you if I had read this story. I firmly believe that my father is alive and I am not in prison because Coon has been by my side every day of this 3 year hell I have endured.
I’m not worried that people would think I was cheap or cold-hearted if I had the leg amputated. I’m not worried that people would think I was eccentric if I spent the likely $8,000 it will take to heal his leg (if it is even possible). I am only worried about how to ensure that Coon gets the most enjoyment out of the years he has left because he could live to be 100 and not get from me what I have received from him.
I have spoken with many people about this today. It is possible that we save the leg only to have it bother him for the remainder of his life. Amputation may be the best solution and the doctors don’t know yet whether or not it’s the only solution.
I may have a huge decision to make. If you are a Christian, please pray that I make the right call. I will update this when I can.
12/7/07 Update: I spoke with the Orthopedic Surgeon who is heading up Coon’s case last night. She said that we will have to watch the wound over the next few days to see if we will be able to save the leg. It is really up to how much of the soft tissue survives. At this point, though, not enough of the connective tissue exists to keep from having to fuse his wrist joint if we get to keep the leg. She did say the chances of being able to keep the leg were high. Now the choice has shifted to the decision to amputate or leave Coon with a fused wrist. To me, it’s simple. Whichever way will allow him to run to the best of his ability both forward and laterally. The problem is I don’t know enough yet to know which way is better. The doc at A&M promised to send videos of dogs with fused wrists today. I am also going to hit youtube to find videos of 3 legged dogs who are specifically missing a front leg. If you have any resources to help me with this, please let me know.
12/17/07 Update: There is now only a 1% chance of having to amputate. After extensive research, I’ve decided to go with the carpal arthrodesis. Today, though, the doc says we might not even have to do that given all the scar tissue that is forming which will help to stabilize the joint on its own without help. They believe he is healing much faster than should be expected. I can’t thank the staff of A&M’s small animal clinic enough. Everyone there has been so professional and it is easy to say that they actually care about what they are doing rather than viewing it as work. I have truly been blessed to meet them. I am going to include some photos here, but be warned: the last two are of the wound, so if you have a queasy stomach, don’t bother looking past the 4th photo. Thanks again for all your concern and offers to help.
COON CHILLIN AT THE LAKE:
BUSINESS COON ON THE PHONE:
COON WAKING FROM A NAP:
COON’S WOUND 12/06/07 The day after he was admitted:
COON’S WOUND 12/12/07 One week after he was admitted:
UPDATE: JANUARY 7, 2008
I just spoke with Dr. Saunders earlier today and it looks like Coon will be coming home in 7-10 days. They aren’t going to fuse the joint, yet. He will come home first so the wound can heal completely on it’s own and, eventually, I will bring him back so they can evaluate whether or not to do the surgery. However, there is a good chance that enough scar tissue has formed that he may never have to have the surgery. Thank you for all your prayers and concerns. It has amazed me how many lives my dog has touched. I really appreciate all the kind words, emails, and phone calls. Here are a couple pics from 1/3/08. I will be getting updated pics tomorrow and plan on posting them then.
UPDATE: JANUARY 17, 2008
Sorry I haven’t updated this in a while. I’ve got some catching up to do. The following are pics of the wound from January 9, 2008:
It is obvious that the wound is starting to close.
Coon actually got to come home Monday the 14th. I was extremely happy to be able to bring him home. I spent 7 hours on the road round trip. He is very glad to be back home. Funny thing is, I learned something new from him that first day he came home. It was on the road back to Kingsland. I was thinking of everything I had to do and of how much time this little trip had cost me. Not in a bad way, just trying to reorganize my schedule in my head. And, as my mind tends to overanalyze things, I started back tracking. I thought to myself that if I had simply taken the time to train him better, this whole thing could have been avoided. I know you are thinking that this was just an accident and I agree. BUT, it was one that could have been avoided if I hadn’t been lazy. Going one step further, I wouldn’t have been lazy if the past 3 years wouldn’t have been the worst of my life. I’ll leave that for another blog. Getting back to the point, this whole ‘accident’ was my fault. I had a difficult time looking Coon in the eye knowing that I was the reason this happened to him. On some wierd level, I hoped that he could forgive me. It was then that I realized that dogs don’t have the ability to forgive. The reason is that a direct requirement of forgiveness is the sense that you have been wronged in some way. Dogs don’t have that sense. They don’t harbor grudges because for them, there is only right now. As most Christians, I believe that the best definition of love is found in Corinthians 1, 13. But now, I find it lacking. In the Bible it speaks of love not counting transgressions, etc. In my opinion, it should be adjusted to include the simple dog-like philosophy that when you love someone, you don’t have the ability to forgive them because you can never feel wronged by the one you love; and this leaves forgiveness as an unnecessary trait.
I’ll leave you with pics of how he looks now, complete with bandaging and a strange apparatus that keeps him from being able to chew the bandage off but makes him look like some redneck sunflower from a school play.
As of now, he won’t have to have the joint fusion surgery. A&M wants to re-evaluate him in a few weeks to see if it might become necessary. I’ll let you know what they think when the time comes. Thanks for all your concern and prayers.