Reba and Rogue, the most memorable pair of coonhounds I ever had the good fortune to know and provide medical care for in my career. They were of the black and tan variety of hound; BIG, vigorous, and sassy! From my office upstairs, I always knew the minute they arrived inside the building. Rogue had the traditional hound vocal abilities . . . there was never any doubt in my mind who was down in reception, announcing his regal presence.
“Frequent flyer” patients that they were, Rogue and Reba were always accompanied by their affable owner and grand story-teller, Jack Jameson. I am not positive whose company I enjoyed more . . . these two incredible dogs or their equally delightful owner . . . but, my receptionists soon learned to always book their appointments for “ a little extra time “ so that we always had the opportunity to visit. Those appointments were surprisingly frequent; for such robust canine specimens, they came to see us with amazing regularity. Luckily for James, he had purchased a very good pet insurance policy on both pets when he acquired them as puppies; so the cost of their extensive veterinary care over the years was 80-90% covered. Our staff learned a lot when it came to Pet Insurance Policies because of those two.
Poor Reba; such a sweetheart of a dog, not great genetics! Born in February, by May she had been diagnosed with growth plate deformities in both front legs. With two long bones (tibia and fibula) growing below the elbow, when one stops growing prematurely, the unfortunate result is a “bent” leg which becomes non-functional quickly. The referral orthopedic veterinarians performed a somewhat radical procedure—surgical fracture of both front legs, then stabilization in “walking casts” for a number of months. To put it mildly, Reba was not “fond” of these casts, nor the restricted exercise that was imposed upon her puppy life. Multiple cast repairs and changes, eventual confinement to a “play pen” for a period of time . . . many nights spent with Jack sleeping in the play pen with her for “comfort” . . . but, her long term recovery and use of the legs was remarkable.
Rogue was a brute specimen of a dog, no genetic issues in his background. He was always walked on a leash; coonhounds have a propensity for “following their nose”–he followed his with such exuberance that the person on the other end of his leash would be yanked off their feet if not prepared! His Achilles heel was his appetite, not his musculoskeletal system. A (very) partial list of some of the things Rogue managed to consume at various times includes—a 5# block of Tillamook cheese, a 6# package of hamburger, a bra—passed intact in his stool a few days later, an aluminum Pepsi can chewed into 40-50 quarter-inch pieces . . . also passed in his stool a few days after he got hold of it. He was known for opening the refrigerator door and “cleaning out” multiple shelves of food; requiring Jack and his wife to actually jury-rig a “lock” on the refrigerator door for a period of time—later remedied by buying a new “Rogue-proof” model.
Reba usually let him lead the way, but had a few thieving moments of her own—most notably, removing and ingesting an entire loaf of rising dough from a bread-making machine. Over the years, the two of them totalled about a dozen trips to our emergency hospital for an IV injection of apomorphine—this induces vomiting to “purge” the stomach of things they really shouldn’t have eaten.
The story behind the last time they visited us for relief from their prolific appetites still makes me chuckle whenever I think about it. Here’s the narrative, direct from Jack . . . “ I was in the kitchen, preparing a snack; and had just taken a large sack of grapes out of the refrigerator and set it on the counter. The phone rang; a wall-mounted variety, across the room; I walked over to answer the call. As I picked up the phone, the swinging door into the kitchen burst open; here came Rogue at a gallop, with Reba on his heels. Without breaking stride, he snatched the large sack of grapes off the counter, and the two of them rounded the corner, and headed out the dog door into the back yard. I’m still standing there, speechless, holding the phone—watching helplessly as I see them through the kitchen window running in tandem to the far corner of the fenced yard. The sack is shredded in seconds; by the time I get back there, not an single grape remains. Since I knew that grapes are potentially quite toxic to dogs, the three of us got into the truck and headed down the familiar route to the veterinary emergency hospital.”
Surprisingly, Rogue and Reba never held a grudge—even after multiple episodes of having us induce nausea and vomiting for therapeutic reasons. They always arrived with wagging tails and booming “hellos” . . . just another trip to see their buddies downtown!