NIKE: An Inspiration
I believe my dog Nike has had a huge impact on my life. He is an extraordinary dog. They call him the miracle dog at the vet. Last winter he showed up at a local plantation, starved to death, full of heartworms, and holding his leg in the air. He had been shot by someone prone to meanness.
A treeing walker coonhound, a descendant of the English Fox hound, Nike is handsome, swathed in a tri-color combination of black, white and tan. Walker hounds as they are known in coon dog communities have a reputation for speed. Nike is no exception. He can run fast on three good legs. A polite dog, he loves people and other dogs, but sometimes lacks manners. Upon his arrival at my home, he jumped up on my bed and looked at me as though it was his bed. I quickly pointed out that the soft blanket on the floor labeled, “Dog Blanket” was in fact his bed, not mine.
Nike is the only dog I have ever known who likes to go to the vet. Never meeting a stranger, he leads the way, pulling on the leash, anxious to find his friends there in kennels. Hearing a dog bark in the distance, he stands at full attention, ears perked as though he has found his long lost pack and is ready to head out on a coon hunt. He loves to ride in the truck, certain he is gearing up for a run in the woods, only to find out that he is headed to Tupelo’s Café and Bakery for a homemade cranberry and pecan scone.
Tethered outside on a leash, Nike greets each person entering and exiting, gathering all the pats on the head he can manage. He patiently waits for me to finish my coffee. Should I take too long, he starts to howl, preferring that I bring his treat and come sit on the bench outside to keep him company. Coon dogs are not always fed properly and sometimes have to fight for their food. Nike is one of these dogs. He devours his scone in a split second, gazing up at me for more. When I don’t oblige, he quietly lies on the sidewalk at my feet and drops off to sleep. A dog preferring the outdoors most of the time, he is reluctant to get in the truck to go home. I stretch myself to hoist up the 70 lbs of lean muscle, helping him find his spot on the front seat. Content, he lays his head on my lap as we head for home.
Each day Nike is an inspiration. Severely ill, Nike did not come into my world with much love in his life. That has all changed now. He has recovered from most of his physical problems. His bullet damaged knee, still an aggravation, causes him pain from time to time. He has grown accustom to kisses on the head and the living room couch which he has taken as his own. He has given love and loyalty to me as an owner as though to say he is grateful for having been found and cared for. Any love I gave him, he has given back ten fold. He entertains me, makes me laugh and is a reminder of how a tragic situation can turn into something good. I do sometimes wonder if he would be happier in a pack of other coon hounds, where he can bask in the camaraderie, show off his beautiful bugling voice and lead his pack to tree that coon. The excitement I witness in his body when he hears what he believes is a running pack would say so and yet, the couch beckons.