DaDane of DaWeek

"Where's Leon?"

Last month I introduced Leon (aka Red Dog), a homeless redbone coonhound. I found him starving on an isolated road in rural South Carolina. I picked him up, took him home, nursed him back to health. He needed a permanent home so I told Leon's story, hoping someone would want to adopt him.

Over the past week or two, many of you have written to ask what became of Leon. Is he alright? Where is he? Has he been adopted? I am happy to report that Leon is doing fine! He is still here with us, and it looks like he might become a permanent member of our own household.

We tried to place him, but the first adoption didn't work out. Leon is definitely a country dog. Moving the "big city" was too much of a change, and he couldn't adjust. After 10 days, the adoptive owners told us he was miserable; they asked me to take him back. Shortly after his return, I had to go out of town for a week, leaving Leon in my husband's care. What a stroke of luck!

Leon Until then, my husband had pretty much ignored Leon. He didn't want a third dog and he insisted that another home be found. My absence changed all that. By the time I got home, Billy and Leon had become good friends. Billy commented that he likes Leon because, "Leon knows he's a dog -- and he likes being a dog -- unlike Merlin and Jabber, who think they are big furry people."

Well, I don't know about the "furry people" analogy, but I can tell you Leon is very different from our two "couch potato" Great Danes. First off, he has a much higher energy level. If Leon could talk, the first thing he'd say is, "Let's PARTY!!!!" It doesn't matter what time of day it is, Leon is on his feet and ready to go at a moment's notice. But in some ways he is pretty mellow. Unlike Merlin and Jabber, who will bark at the slightest provocation, Leon is quiet most of the time. He rarely barks unless he is trying to talk Merlin or Jabber into playing with him.

LeonBecause he's a coonhound, we expected Leon to have a strong hunting instinct. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He pays no attention to our three cats and as far as I can tell, he's never chased anything on the property. He ignores the squirrels, wild rabbits, and our pet ducks. He avoids the swans because they hiss at him. And I am not sure he'd recognize a raccoon even if he tripped over one. When we take him on hikes he doesn't go off on scents and trails, instead he stays close by. Staying with the family "pack" is more important to him than adventure.

Over the past three months perhaps the most important thing Leon has learned is this: Most people are nice. He no longer cowers in fear when he hears a loud voice or sees a quick motion of someone's hand. He no longer hides from men he doesn't know; instead he carefully approaches and licks their hand. Best of all, Leon has learned that each day he can expect to wake up to a hug, a kind word and a big bowl of food.

(DaDane of the week is updated every Monday with a new illustration and story.)

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PO Box 50314, Columbia, SC 29250  
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