Stella's Story


It was toward the end of August 2015 when for some reason I thought I wanted a second bloodhound. Why? Two of them would be double the obnoxiousness and I did not know if I could honestly control two bloodhounds even without the two basset hounds I had. She showed up on a Bloodhound Group on Facebook. Someone was looking to rehome her because she was able to break out of their house while they were at work, letting all their other dogs outside. They would find the dogs down by the country highway by the time they got home. Dipstick (Stella) was a professional house and crate escape artist with severe separation anxiety.


How could you resist not taking her after seeing this picture? I sent a message telling the owner I met their requirements - (1) Understand the bloodhound breed (2) Work at home or am home a lot (3) Maybe have another bloodhound. 

A week later I sent another message saying I had changed my mind. I really didn't think I could handle two obnoxious bloodhounds a year of age between them. The owner was disappointed. She had seen my photos of the field behind my house, of Sadie my other bloodhound and liked the fact I was retired and was home most of the time. She thought my home and dogs would be perfect for Dipstick (Stella). 

After talking to her on the phone five days after I had changed my mind, asking the questions I had about the bloodhound, we set a date where I would drive down to Kentucky and pick her up. It was about a four hour trip and I was told she would have no problem riding in the FJ. I was given all the warnings about her separation anxiety. She was also very destructive but wasn't possessive, didn't fight their other dogs for food or bones. She was just a great bloodhound that they feared was going to get into the road and get hit while they were at work. "She can break out of anything and cannot be kenneled."


I found out later that the owner would take Stella dressed up like this to work with her on casual Friday. They were very honest in their description of her. She wasn't in the FJ a minute when she started pushing her nose against all the windows in back to see if any of them would open. She did that her whole life with me, leaving the evidence on the windows of her nose and drool print. I have those same prints on all three windows as I write this, in the house we moved into a month or so ago.

While driving down the highway she decided the front passenger seat was better than the empty back of the Toyota FJ. Can you imagine a large bloodhound climbing on and over the console between the front seats?  Well someway she did it. Once in front, she stood up on the dash pushing her nose against the windshield to see if she could get out ... just just like that she laid down and slept for most of the four hour drive home.


I wasn't sure what she would do in her new home. I had an anchor out in that field that I knew could not be pulled out of the ground even by a strong horse, so I attached her to the 40' large cord I had and let Winston, Sadie and Heidi check her out. Heidi did an about face and went back inside the house after seeing what all the excitement was about. Sadie stared, Winston wandered and wasn't bothered by the new bloodhound.

Stella sat out there for a while. It was extremely hot, August 28th (?). I could tell she was not real sure of what was happening to her. I found out later I was her 4th owner in her 6 years. The last owner had her for less than a year. I also knew that Dipstick (Stella) was not going to stay her name. So I had to come up with something pretty quick. Sadie had never seen a dog as big and as strong as she was.


She showed no signs of trying to escape. She did not try to chew through the cord and run away. The previous owner said she was good off leash and would hang around, that she was not a runner, she just like being around the person that owned her, like all the time. So in the first hour after arriving at the house Winston didn't care, Heidi and Sadie wanted nothing to do with her. You can see how hot it was by how much of her tongue was hanging out. I knew by this time she was a sweetheart of a bloodhound but I did not know yet what had happened to her that made her want to escape if left alone. I would find out that story a year or two later from her breeder.


Out of all the basset hounds and bloodhounds I had from 1997 to 2015 when Stella arrived, none of them had ever thought of laying in that spot. But just to the left of her about five to six feet away was a floor register blowing out ice cold air ... so she was not stupid. She looks so young in the picture.


I felt sorry for Sadie. I could tell her whole world had been rocked with the addition of the other bloodhound. I could see the questions in her face and wondered if I had made a bad decision. Sadie never had any competition and now there was a threat with a new bloodhound in the house. Was this new arrangement going to work out??


For the first days she was here I took no chances and if Stella was outside for any length of time, she was hooked up to that long rope. She didn't seem to mind it. She took daily afternoon naps, sometimes in the yard and sometimes in the field. It was so mysterious what the cause of her separation anxiety was because she was a fantastic bloodhound. Sadie was slowly, very slowly coming around but really slow as she was taking no chances. 

Sadie was still curious who she was, why was she here and I could see from the look on her face she thought I didn't love her anymore. She was 7 years old and I had her since she was 12 weeks old. Stella didn't seem to mind there were other dogs in the house with her. She shared everything she would find, from bones to balls, to chew toys. Some had never been touched until she got there. I was finding out that having two bloodhounds was not a problem. It was nothing like I expected. 


Winston gave her enough space to be on the couch with him. If it was anyone losing seat space it was me. Stella thanked him with her leg over Winston's back. I could tell that Stella was going to be a great house hound ... that is until I left her alone (with the other hounds). 


I can't remember how long it was but we celebrated the day that Stella did not need to be hooked up to that long rope anymore. Of course Heidi was nowhere to be found as she wasn't at all interested in the new bloodhound. I had picked her up off a Basset Hound Rescue site in 2011 so she was used to be around other basset hounds and the one bloodhound. Stella seemed pretty happy with being leash free and I can see a little change in Sadie at this time.


Within the hour after Stella's promotion, Sadie bent down in front of her with her butt up in the air wanting to play. Game on ... from that time forward until Stella passed in September 2018 those two bloodhounds were inseparable. They played every day until they dropped. They slept together and they took walks in the field together. Each of them had finally found another dog that was just as big and strong as they were. Notice the black on the tail of Stella? That is where she got her name Dipstick, the lower half of her tail was from a Black and Tan bloodhound while she was 99.9% Red. Although there was a story where she had gotten into some oil in the garage one day while they were at work. Her tail was dripping with oil when they returned home.


Sadie was always on the defense when they played outside but the roles were reversed when they wrestled inside. 


Winston might try to referee at times but he knew not to get too involved with their rough play. 


As you see from these photos they were really best friends.

Snow always moved their energy lever up a notch. 

Sadie had the better nose and was a natural born tracker, something I was told by a different breeder years later. Stella was more of a couch potato. She wasn't really concerned about tracking scent on the daily walks but she loved to run, that was her thing. 

A lot of times on the walk we would take twice per day, she was lay back ... far back and fall behind. I think she did that on purpose. That way when I turned to look for her she could run at full speed to catch up with me and the other hounds. If you look closely you can see her almost dead center of the photo.

Remembering these times just a few years later would make me sad because she was having trouble walking and later getting up and down to a sleeping position. She still liked to walk but I had to cut those back in 2020 due to her hip issues she was having.


There would be times the winds would be howling from the southwest moving up the hill. She would sit facing that direction letting the winds either cool her off or warm her up. She had one funny personality. How could she have been passed around so much her first six years of life??


The picture is out of order in this story. This was when she first started taking the walk in the field, attached to the 25' retractable leash. She was skin and bones in that photo.


Who would have known how easy it was to take care of two bloodhounds? They took care of themselves actually. They along with the basset hounds basically made my schedule in retirement. I will always miss walking them twice per day through the field as long as it wasn't raining. 



What I feared most about having two bloodhound never happened. In fact they calmed each other down. It was pure joy to see them walk and run in the field or just hang out in the yard or on the living room couch together.

At times I wondered if there were motorcycles somewhere in her past. Every time she heard one pass by on the highway, she became very interested in it. She never took off to catch or chase them, just looked with her ears perked up.


She would give me this look if she didn't get something she wanted. Her feelings would get hurt pretty easy but in the end she would always end up getting what she wanted. After all, how could you not give in after seeing that look??


She changed the rules for meal times when she got here and didn't waste time making me change them. For 28 years I had been feeding my basset hounds and bloodhounds one meal per day. Usually when I got home from work and never in the morning before I went to work. She let me know with a loud bloodhound bay that she needed to be fed every morning as soon as she came back inside after waking up and the afternoon meal should be no later than 3pm. Those times when I was late, till the end of her life, she would bay if she had not been fed by 3pm local time. True story.


She was a proud bloodhound and I could tell by this photo when I took it that she really liked where she lived, the meal schedule, the other basset hounds and other bloodhound that was sharing the house with her. 

She loved the grass yard and the warm sunshine ... and she loved to run.

They never bayed, they never tried to get out, they would just sit at the door and watch the squirrels come down the Sycamore trees, then scamper across the top of the fence that went the full length of the driveway. They would sit there watching a long time and about the same time every day in the Spring, Summer and Fall. 

There is trouble just waiting to happen.  LOL

Once Sadie was gone her walks were different. I mentioned that on this blog at the time. She would go on walks, sometimes twice per day sometimes not. Over time for the following year after Sadie was gone those walks decreased or became shorter. She hung out with me more with her pal not there.

The week following Sadie's passing, I was painting my house. She would move as I did around the house, and sleep in the yard within 5-10 feet of me. It was mid-September but still hot. I guess the grass and dirt was a cool place for her. I could tell she was confused. Some people say the death of one dog will not affect the other. I disagree as I have seen it happen more than a few times in my 30+ years of having hounds.


I wasn't real happy when I walked into the house one day and saw my ball cap on the floor in this condition.  She was a counter surfer and this wasn't the only thing of mine that was destroyed. The list of things were long those first few years I had her. They started up again after we moved in 2019 and again in 2021.


Here is the "blogging crew". Too bad that Heidi had to live with skin allergies until we moved to Arizona. They all disappeared so it was not food related. This photo had to have been in the fall of 2015.

She could sleep anywhere. She really liked sleeping outside in the sunshine in both places we lived. It would get awfully hot on that rock yard in Arizona so it would not take long for her to stand with her tongue hanging out and head back into the house to finish her siesta. As far as those long toenails ... one time she jerked about the time I was cutting one of her nails. It was really cut short and I had a hard time getting the bleeding to stop. After that she was a fighter when I tried to cut them. I would usually have the vet cut them when she had appointments.


As big as she was, she was very gentle with the new puppy Walter in the spring 2020. She would let him chew her ears, pull at her jowls and climb all over him playing. He latched on to her as soon as he walked into the house the night I brought him home.

With the empty cottage cheese container or yogurt, she always got first dibs on what was left. The container was passed round for all the hounds and the dog, sometimes split four ways.


I don't think I need to explain why those concrete blocks are there. I could not make a dent in that hard Arizona dirt with a shovel but those bear claws of hers had no problem digging into the concrete hard ground. I thought before I bought that house it would be no problem containing her ... she was smart when it came to escape methods.

She did not mind when Henry showed up either. Actually that was a good thing for her. Walter started bothering her less and gave her a chance to get back to the schedule and life of a senior bloodhound. She needed her sleep.

All of them liked pizza and ice cream. They knew the meaning of those words and would always get excited. She would only get the crust of the pizza and liked all the Ben & Jerry ice cream flavors.

The day the movers were packing out my house in Sierra Vista AZ, she decided for one last time she would get some sun time in the backyard. She was going to be leaving within 30 minutes after the moving truck left ... I don't think she knew that a grass backyard was waiting for her. I could see that something was wrong in her abdomen area. She was really getting heavy. It was recommended by the vet to leave it there as long as her appetite and activities remained normal.


One of the first spots she went to sleep in the new yard was in the weeds on the bank just at the edge of the backyard. At that time I wondered if she was trying to tell me something I didn't want to think about. Or was she sleeping there like she use to in the field a few years prior. What I didn't want her telling me was that she was wanting to leave, to die. When dogs are ready they will always venture out into the woods, a field etc to do just that. In the past I had three or four hounds do that soon before they passed.

I am sure she enjoyed her new siesta location. The grass was softer than those rocks. The sunshine was a little less intense at lower elevation with a cooler spring. I was happy she was able to get back to a grass yard. 

The more I looked at this photo from May 24th, the more I saw how tired she looked and possibly in pain. If you blow the photo up to look closely at her eyes, she looks so sad and not just the normal bloodhounds look. She could barely step off the patio deck into the grass that day.

It was just a few minutes past 7am on June 12th when I took this photo. I think the expression on Walter's face says it all. An hour and a half later she was gone. He had already cleaned her ears, her eyes and mouth just like he did every morning. You can see how big her abdomen was. A tumor about the size of a basketball there on the left. X-rays showed that tumor and an enlarged spleen had pushed her intestines to the right. It was NOT her hips that were causing her walking issues, it was all internal organs. Her joints and hips on the X-rays were clean and normal with no signs of calcium build up or arthritis anywhere. Maybe that joint supplement she had eaten for years really did work.


A sad and final goodbye.

Goodbye Stella.

3 comments:

  1. What was the reason that made her want to escape...you mentioned you found out a couple of years later from the breeder? V in N. Texas

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    1. In 2012, not quite 3 years old, she was left outside in a chainlink kennel with a dog house. In March they had an EF-4 tornado pass through the Louisville/Southern Indiana area. A large tree fell on her kennel during those high winds very close to her dog house.

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    2. Thank you for the explanation. Such a terrible ordeal for her to experience. I have followed your blog/s for several years and am so glad Stella, along with Walter and Henry were all able to enjoy the green grass for her last days. I hope you continue to enjoy your new home and location, just hate you had to relocate for the reasons you did, although water will become more important as time goes on. Take care, mental hug for you and chin scratches for the boys. V in N. Texas

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