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Once upon a time, there was a gang called The Three Jerks. The three founding members — Poochie, Elvis the Coonhound and The Pig (L’il Sis’ beagle) were constantly getting into doggie trouble, jerk style. When Poochie died, it was left to the remaining two jerks to carry on the tradition of breaking into or out of things, chewing what they weren’t supposed to, going where they weren’t supposed to go. Then this winter Elvis died…leaving only one jerk — hardly enough to keep the tradition going.

And so, this past weekend,  Second Son adopted a new hound. It has been about two months since Elvis The Coonhound ‘left the building’ (went to the Great Doghouse in the Sky) and Second Son was miserable without a hound to stink up his bed. So, mission accomplished after a trip to the Humane Society. The poor dog must have been overwhelmed when Second Son, his parents and I (the hound’s new grandparents), and Crazy D converged to meet her. L’il Sis was keeping abreast of things via phone and text message since she had to work. Even Gill, from across the pond, was aware that something was afoot. The last she had heard, we were just going to the Humane Society to ‘look’ at the dogs.

“I know you people!” she intoned sarcastically. “The last time you did that, Ma, you went to the market for cheese and broccoli and came home with Poochie. And no cheese or broccoli. You all can’t be trusted.”

The dog Second Son had his eye on, Bella, had no idea what she was in for. Nor, it seems , did we. She’s a lovely looking dog, a Walker hound with beautiful markings and soft brown velvety ears…the “cleanest hound ears I’ve ever seen”  Second Son pronounced, lifting them up for all to see. He ought to know since he has cleaned out some pretty funky hound ears in his day.

The new girl  has been ‘in solitary’ in her small cubicle for several months, with only occasional walks when volunteers were available. For a young dog full of ‘piss and vinegar’, as my father would have said, this was extreme sensory deprivation. She new nothing of the world and any training she previously had was unlearned quickly. When we all gathered in the small waiting room to get to know her (not unlike a group speed date), she wanted to impress us with how smart she was. So she stood up on her hind legs and grabbed her new leash off the counter. In mere seconds, she had chewed a hole in it. “But I just GOT that leash,” Second Son moaned…no doubt he was having bad flashbacks to his first Coonhound’s propensity to chew through everything, up to and including belt buckles and electronics. “Perhaps it’s typical of the breed, ” I added, resigned to the implications for MY house and car interior.

Not content with this display of her intellectual prowess, she moved on to the paper towel dispenser mounted on the wall above a small sink. When her pawing motion set the automatic roller into action, she kept pulling, threatening to unwind the entire roll. She looked at us as if to say, :”See? You’re getting the SMART one! I’ll show you ALL of my tricks…”

To our delight, she had no issues with the car on the trip home. No vomiting (Pig, are you listening?), no climbing over the seats, just calmly looking out the large back window to direct traffic and delight the drivers behind us. She was as if to the manor born.

We thought she should get used to our Sunday Dinner tradition early on, so Second Son and his parents brought her over the following evening. The parting words from her minders at the Humane Society had been, “She’s steadily improving after the pins were placed in her left leg (to repair a break). Don’t take her for long walks until Monday.” As soon as Second Son took her leash off on the way into the house, she took off like a shot, running at top speed down the street. We yelled ( a futile gesture at best), “Bella, come back!” — completely missing the point that not only had she not been trained to come, we were calling her by the new name we’d given her half an hour before. Yup, we’re experienced dog trainers! L’il Sis, Second Son, and Crazy D managed to coral her and herd her into the house.

“I guess that takes care of her walk for Monday,” I retorted.

It was time for the new hound to explore these different surroundings. And she did. She checked out the perimeter of the living room, tripping over lamp cords, sampling a few tasty morsels from my ferns, and sniffing (pushing with her nose) the breakable china ornaments on end tables. She particularly liked the large antique coffee table in the middle of the room — on which were placed delicate wine glasses filled with red and white wine. Fortunately, the only glass she spilled was white, not red. When she came to a wooden box on the table, she gave it an extra sniff…”Bella, meet Wilbur,” L’il Sis said by way of introduction. Her first beagle’s ashes were in the box. I wasn’t entirely sure if L’il Sis was issuing a warning to Bella as to what fate might befall her should she step out of line, or just being a good hostess, making sure all our guests, dead or alive, felt comfortable.

Bella didn’t understand what to do with stairs. Second Son assured us, “She’s afraid of stairs…doesn’t know how to go up them. Not to worry.” Three seconds later, he lurched up from the dinner table to dash upstairs after her. “I guess she’s a fast learner,” I noted. Running up and down the stairs became her game of choice for the rest of the evening…not that she neglected her other duties: guarding this house as her own by barking at passersby, re-establishing that the shag carpets in the family room really ARE ‘The Toilet’ (christened by The Pig), and doing the requisite amount of counter surfing in search of delicious treats. Oh, how we’ve missed the days of old when Elvis Coonhound ate entire pies off the counter. It’s been too quiet without him and his cringe-tacular tricks.

Gill was ecstatic when I told her of the new hound. And her exploits. “Well, I’m glad to hear she’s a member in good standing of the jerk club,” she pronounced. “I can’t wait to meet her in the summer and take her on some jerk-worthy exploits. I have missed having a sidekick since Poochie’s demise. I need a hound to help me do stupid things…” Boy, I thought, has she hit the nail on the head with this one! Have we got a hound for her…