Sunday, August 23, 2015

Nocturnal Visits of the Black and Tan Hound

Photo from website of

We have been awakened during three nights in the past week by the baying of a hound.
The first time it happened a bit after midnight--just as we had welcomed that first deep sleep.
Another night the sound assaulted  our open bedroom windows at around 2 A.M.
The hound's progress around the edge of the woods, down the lane and back up the ridge can be tracked by his ringing call:  "Bor-ror-ror, Bor-ror-ror"--steady and monotonous as a metronome.

His route is close enough to the house that Jim or I usually stumble from bed, plod down the stairs to turn on the porch light, checking to make sure the outdoor cats are safe.

The hound was a bit off his schedule this Sunday morning.
I was awake at 4 A.M. struggling not to cough from the sore throat that has plagued me 
for several days.
After a bit I crept to the bathroom for a drink of water, eased back onto my side of the king-size bed.
The cats resettled themselves at the foot of the bed, I tried to get comfortable.
Then, dimly, I heard the deep voice of the hound, coming down the trail through the woods beyond the stable.
I made no sound, but knew that Jim was now awake.

I felt the cats rise to attention, heard one of them thump onto the floor.
Jim was out of bed, parting the curtains at the window.
The grey wash of impending dawn flowed into the room.
I looked at the digital clock on Jim's dresser: 5: 15.
Jim reached for the shirt and jeans lying on the chair by the bed, dressing as he padded through to look out the bathroom window and then out the front window.
He returned, buttoning his shirt, headed for the stairs.
"Are you going after the dog?" I croaked.
"Not much chance of seeing him," Jim responded grimly.

I listened for a moment to his feet on the stairs, joined by the pell-mell descent of 
the boy cats in his wake. 
There seemed little point in trying for another hour of sleep.

Reluctantly I switched on the bedside lamp, pushed aside the quilt.
I fumbled my way into a pair of sweatpants, yanked a warm top over my head.

It was dark in the kitchen, but beyond the north-facing windows the shapes of trees, parked vehicles, the dark slope of the stable roof, were emerging from the mist-laden gloom.
I drew water, measured coffee, set the shiny pot on the electric burner, twitched the 
knob to medium-high.
Beyond the front door Jim brushed wet grass from his shoes, conversed with the outdoor cats.

We poured coffee, moved to our respective desks which reside in the wide hallway which connects the kitchen area to the living room.
Jim grumbled morosely about the irresponsibility of dog owners; Launched unwillingly into my third day with a bout of laryngitis, I could only nod.

By 7 A. M.  I had made the bed, tidied the bathroom, collected the laundry.
Passing through the kitchen, headed down to the washer and dryer on the ground floor, I looked through the window at the exact moment the hound trotted out of the woods beyond the stable.
He paused to sniff at the gravel drive.
"Hound!" I managed to force out the word.
At that moment the hound announced his return in ringing tones.
"Bor-ror-ror!  Bor-ror-ror!"

Jim was out the front door and firing up the 4 wheeler before I could make another sound.
I watched in fascination as he whirled around the end of the house, gravel spurting under the tires.

The hound seemed frozen in astonishment as the noisy machine headed his way, then he took flight.
I dashed to the porch in time to see the hound shoot under the garden fence and pound along the edge of the dry brook, Jim careening after him.
The cacophony of madly braying dog and snorting 4-wheeler faded as both disappeared at the bottom of the lane.
I brewed a cup of tea, added honey for my throat, collected a magazine and headed into the sunroom.
I sat huddled in the bedraggled wing chair, Teasel Cat on my lap, forcing tiny sips of scalding  tea down my stinging throat.
I felt slightly discombobulated, catapulted into the day before I was ready.
It was perhaps half an hour before I heard the 4-wheeler roaring back up the lane.
The front door opened and shut, Jim strode through to the sunroom.
I gave him an inquiring look.
"Ann was out in her garden.  I stopped to ask if she knew of the dog.  She thinks it belongs to her brother-in-law and that he has turned it loose."

"Would you shoot it?" I rasped.

Jim had gone out capless, such hair as he has left was standing on end.
"You know I don't enjoy shooting an animal," he reminded me, "but that dog barking by the hour, night after night, is getting old.  I was on his heels all the way down the pasture, half-tempted to run into him." 
He swiped at his wild hair, grinned ruefully.
"I figured if I got close enough to give him a good bump, the ground was so rough I might flip the 4 wheeler. I hope I convinced him this isn't a good place to be.  He dove into the culvert when we reached the road."

It is never, in these cases, merely the dog, although the poor witless creature becomes the focus of our exasperation. The real problem is always the owner of the dog [or dogs] who takes no heed for its where-abouts, has no consideration for the nuisance caused to neighbors.

On his outward swing around the ridge, the hound trots, baying, through the dooryard of our neighbors half a mile down the road.  He lingers there each time long enough to pee on their porch. I suppose we should consider ourselves blessed that thus far our porch has not been anointed.

Rural neighborhoods face slightly different issues than those in the suburbs where each house is rigidly bounded by a fence or line of shrubbery. Offensive noise there is apt to come from the sound of traffic at all hours, or the blare of someone's music when a party goes on too late.
In the country we deal with livestock that has gotten out and about, tomcats who prowl, dogs left untended to nose about, overturning trash cans, barking and baying in the wee hours.
One can run short of patience, longing for a quiet night, instead jolted awake by the relentless baying of a roaming hound dog. 
We wish his master would keep him at home.


  1. I wonder if "turned it loose" means he's been abandoned. I think I would have to find out if this dog is still being cared for. Perhaps it is hungry and confused. I am repulsed by irresponsible owners. Deb

  2. The dog appears well fed. It seems to be the nature of hounds that they will endlessly 'run' if not confined to a kennel. Being new to the neighborhood we are trying to be wary--I think we'll be learning more of the story. We aren't wanting to be unkind, but--not wanting to awakened nightly.

  3. Perhaps a word with his owner - though that will probably not make any real difference - but you can't have this hound bellowing and waking you night after night.

    1. Jennie; So often in a case such as this, if one confronts the owner there is a belligerent reaction-- a sense of 'try and make me' do anything about the problem. I'm hoping that if enough neighbors are annoyed there will be a subtle pressure for the man to corral his hound.

  4. Sad case, for the dog, and of course for you. Miserable owner should be called out to do something about the dog, even if it is just catching the dog and taking it to a rescue centre, or the vet...

    1. Thelma; There may be a county agency who deals with such things--I suspect that out in the country there is less pressure for intervention than if the trespass occurred in town.
      Jim is not a 'shootist'--though if awakened enough times I can imagine him at least taking a pot shot in the direction of the beast--in the dead of night one doesn't see the creature--we only hear him endlessly circling the ridge.

  5. What a nuisance! I hope the problem is resolved soon for you, the neighborhood and the dog.


    1. Rainey; The best solution we can hope for is that the owner takes responsibility for his dog before someone becomes really annoyed. It is sad when neighborhood upsets are left to fester.

  6. Despite the subject, which must be most annoying for you, I did so enjoy your writing...

    1. Hildred; I couldn't fuss aloud about this, so finding descriptive phrases to write was a way of expressing myself.
      We haven't heard the hound this week and are hoping that his owner took responsibility to contain him.

  7. My grandson owns a hound dog, I keep reminding him if the dog is barking to check on him as it's a most disruptive bark to neighbors.
    They have a small farm in the country, but that doesn't mean to allow pets to roam...
    Hopefully the owner has gotten word and has restrained the wandering minstrel....