LeRoy’s Story

We took an American Walker dog into our home some 9 years ago.  This breed of dog is likely not familiar to people that do not hunt, but Walkers are used to hunt game, usually raccoons, deer, bears and mountain lions.   Their large size and courage make them great dogs to hunt the larger predators.  Their temperament is similar to beagle hounds, quiet and gentle around humans.  Think of our dog as 95 pound beagle, similar in color, black, tan and white.

Our dog was very gentle around our grandchildren, moving very slowly and never attempting to jump up them or even lick them, no matter how good their faces and hands smelled of the food the children had been eating.

I found LeRoy, either lost or abandoned on my hunting lease on the day before Mother’s day.  He was in terrible shape, more resembling a hairy, leather bag full of bones than a vibrant healthy dog.  If he had been used to hunt deer, he would have been in woods on his own for about 2 months.  I don’t hunt with dogs, but appreciate those that do and those who take care of the dogs entrusted to their care.  I brought him home and told my wife to guess what I had found in the woods for her Mother’s Day present.  At first she did not even want to touch him, there wasn’t a place on his body that you lay your hand and not cover several wood ticks – plus she did want to become attached to the dog out of fear that he would not survive.

We took the hound to a vet for a physical and found that he had a broken front leg that had not been treated and the choice was to amputate the leg, or let live with the limp that he had.  We chose not to put him through the surgery, but to take him home and make the best of the abilities that he had.

In effect, LeRoy was in early retirement.  His only responsibility was to watch over the neighborhood and let us know if he heard, saw or smelled any thing strange.  He nose was astounding in what he could detect. LeRoy would smell our breath and, in the expression with his eyes, ask you where “his” hamburger, chicken leg or steak was.

He learned to defeat the electronic fence we put around the yard to contain him.  He would stop at a point in yard where the shock collar would give him audible signal, notifying him that he was close to the wire.  He would stand still until the battery weakened enough for the sound to stop, then he would stroll through the electronic fence at will.  We found out what he was doing by talking to our neighbors.  One she enjoyed going on walks with LeRoy.  One neighbor told us that he would stand at the end of the sidewalk for few minutes, then he would take off down the street.  It took personal observation one Saturday morning to figure out what he was doing.  We upgraded the collar to the model that was designed for the “hard to train” dog.

Though the summer months my wife worked with LeRoy, to keep him full of food and water and she trained to him do some tricks, Sit, Lay Down, Rollover and Shake Hands.  She taught him to do all this with hand signals.  He recovered nicely from his experience in the woods, putting weight.  When we got him he too weak and stressed to howl and could only manage to produce a pitiful “squeak”.

He had beautiful baritone voice that carried through the neighborhood when he treed a squirrel in the back yard, with the classic Walker “chop” that would be familiar to hound hunters.  Treeing dog’s voice changes when they have their quarry chased to ground, either in a hole or up tree.

We were blessed with LeRoy’s presence for 9 years.  Our Vet thought he was about 2 years old when he came to us.  As animals, and humans also, do as they get older their bodies become stiff and as Leroy aged his movement became harder and more difficult for him.  In the last few months of his life, he had fatty growths come up on his body. Our Vet watched them with us and said that he remove them but they would likely come back and said that given LeRoy’s age, he would not recommend removing them.

LeRoy had a tumor come up his hip that was different, it was hard to the touch.  We, in conjunction with our Vet, once again watched it closely.  This week, this tumor started to bleed and he was in obvious distress.  Once again a choice had to made to either put him through major surgery, without any guarantees of success, or to let him go.  We chose to let him go with heavy and sad hearts.

Our dog LeRoy was a beautiful spirit and had real character, we will miss him greatly.  In time, we will have another, but only after the hurt is abated somewhat.

Joe from AL