I watch them, Bella and Blaze, racing through the woods.
Perhaps carefree just yet, but they’re becoming . . .
And they’re still pups, at four months old, of course. But the daily routine of our 1.5-2.5 mile “woodsing” hikes in the forests is more than exercise—although it certainly accomplishes that—as these steep hills demand stamina. Even more so, they’re learning to use their noses and negotiate around mounds, over uneven turf, and through blow-down trees in places without paved roads or man-made paths beyond a forgotten logging road or a game trail or two.
Yes, they’re becoming . . .
During these sojourns, I’ll stand for a bit, posting my hands on my walking stick, just to watch them run.
While Blaze is certainly independent, he’ll not go too far without “checking in” (i.e., finding me as I’m often not where he left me.) That’s fine--a desired trait in a hound long before the advent of GPS collars, so both hunter and dog knew where the other was, should the ringtails prove elusive on any given night.
On the other hand, Bella remains my wild child--a Brooks and Dunne song in the making. She’ll often drop out of sight over a steep embankment toward the creek or silently trail off, blending effortlessly into the many leafless oaks. When she returns, my little bluetick is all tail wagging and even puts her front paws on my leg. Not apologetic for her ever-lengthening absences, just happy to be momentarily reunited. And that’s okay.
In the video: Even this winter’s first appreciable snowfall in Painted Post (early January, which is late by Upstate New York standards) hasn’t slowed them down. They are hounds, after all, and will soon become familiar with the woods in every season.
Yes, they’re growing—becoming adults.
They’re becoming hounds.
Joseph Gary Crance
P.S. And speaking of Brooks and Dunne songs, late next summer, some nights I suspect this will be the song going through my head as Bella heads over a hill: “How Long Gone?” by Brooks and Dunne.
P.P.S. Don’t worry folks--Bella will have a tracking collar on. I'll find her.