His nose always leads to a story

Posted 11/23/22

It’s been some time since you’ve heard from Ollie, the spotted coon hound we adopted from the East Greenwich Animal Protection League years ago.

Ollie could have been the weekly …

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His nose always leads to a story


It’s been some time since you’ve heard from Ollie, the spotted coon hound we adopted from the East Greenwich Animal Protection League years ago.

Ollie could have been the weekly topic of this column. There was always another Ollie episode. And there were times I was convinced he masterminded escapes to make print.

His nose has always been the culprit. His relentless pursuit of a scent beyond the confines of the house or yard, or means of procuring food always outdid the last.

Our defense – the one thing we could count on – was the invisible fence that crosses the driveway and seals off the seawall. Ollie quickly learned the boundaries and steered clear once he received that initial tingling – a warning that if he went farther his collar would give him a shock. That left entire sections of the yard with a chain link fence. It represented a challenge that Ollie tested daily. Like a sentry, he’d patrol the line looking for weak points either where animals had burrowed under or our border reinforcements of bricks, cobble stone and cement blocks were compromised.

Picking one of these spots, he’d dig furiously, possessed by a scent that must have been tantalizing. It couldn’t have been a rabbit or a squirrel as to this day they saunter across the yard in full view of Ollie with impunity. Ollie pays little attention to other dogs, so it’s surely not a canine visitor that sets Ollie’s olfactory glands tingling. Perhaps it’s a visit from one of the cats that on occasion will taunt Ollie by strolling just on the other side of the chain link or invisible fence. More likely it’s the scent of a coon. After all he is a coon hound.

Even when caught in the act of attempting escape, he didn’t slow down. There were times when we managed to grab his rear legs before he shimmed under the fence to freedom.

Those were the lucky times for us.

Not so great, but surely an adventure for him, were the times he gained freedom to head for the beach. On one such occasion, the tide was out which surely provided a symphony of intriguing scents. Remember, he’s a hound and few things – not even a freshly grilled hamburger that we would wave in hopes of slowing him down, could alter his course. He’d fan free on the beach, nose to the ground, tail waving side to side, an indication he was locked on the scent. Calling him was futile. Our only hope was to intercept his path and snatch his collar.

He left the beach, heading through yards. We raced for our cars. Carol drove Bellman Avenue paralleling the water. I took West Shore Road. We stopped to ask people if they’d seen him. The postman, UPS delivery man and community police officer joined the posse. Sightings gave us hope of closing in. With the sun setting, we circled back, believing he would return on his own for dinner. Neighbors who had also joined in the search posted pictures of Ollie on Facebook. Ollie made the police Facebook page. The word was out.

Around 8:30 that evening we got a call from a couple who live off Bend Street. They had found Ollie looking for handouts at the Dave’s parking lot at Hoxsie Four Corners. Their description fit Ollie to a tee – he wasn’t wearing a collar with an identification tag. I said I’d be right over. I was greeted by a barking dog. It wasn’t Ollie and was considerably larger. They ushered me in and there was Ollie lying on the couch looking like he owned the place.

“He was pretty hungry, so we fed him,” his rescuer said.

It took a bit of convincing, but Ollie finally decided it was time to leave.

He hasn’t been on such an adventure since, nor has he gotten his collar caught in the dishwasher licking plates only to back out and pull the rack with him. That scene had us doubled over as Ollie, as if haunted by demons, fled the kitchen and for days thereafter gave a wide berth to the dishwasher.

These days he’s far more subdued and settled into a routine of sleep, standing watch for meals and sniff patrols of the yard.  We don’t dare test if he has lost the urge to explore. We dare not let him roam without the invisible fence collar and a cow bell, our way of finding him since he doesn’t come when called. With age have come some positive changes. He wants to know where we are and finds a spot to lie, usually with an eye open, as I’m on the computer. He’s showing his age. He’s no longer interested in playing tug of war or sitting intently listening while we hide a toy in another room and then tell him “go find it.”

He’s never been a cuddly dog and, as Carol points out, shakes off pats. Yet he’s become affectionate. Every so often he’ll nuzzle us as we’re seated at dinner. Of course, it just could be his way of reminding us he’d like a bite, too. I think not.

I prefer to believe he “nose” he’s got a home.


side up, ollie


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