I’ve had twelve dogs in my lifetime, but I’ve never had a dog like Hotep (pronounced hoe-tep). She’s a Black and Tan coon hound, or at least, that’s mostly what she is. I got her for Father’s Day last year from one of my grown daughters. Yes, the daughter was grown enough to know better. And no, I don’t hunt.

If you’re curious, what I had asked for was a new wallet. And if requesting a new billfold and receiving a stray hound dog instead doesn’t make any sense to you, then there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just obviously not a parent. Congratulations. You are wise beyond your years.

Anyway, I wanted a wallet, but I got Hotep. She was found, I’m told, in a dumpster behind a bar in Carrollton, Georgia by the aforementioned grown daughter, who then rescued her by bringing her home in an empty Budweiser carton and giving her to me. I’ve never actually asked my daughter what she was doing behind a bar in Carrollton. I guess I’m happier assuming she was on the way to Bible study and maybe had to stop and fix a flat tire. As for the gift, I suppose it’s the thought that counts.

Hotep, by the way, means “to be at peace,” but that’s not why I named the dog that. To my knowledge, the only time she is ever peaceful is when she’s asleep, and even then, she snores. I named her what I did because I had just recently watched a movie called Bubba Hotep, which was sort of about Elvis and mummies, but not really. And as you will no doubt recall, Elvis sang You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog. And a hound dog was what Hotep obviously was, even though my daughter was trying to convince me that the dog was a beagle. So, since my mind works the way it does, my coonhound is named Hotep.

The dog’s favorite game is called Throw the Damn Rope. You’ve probably already figured out the rules for the game, which are pretty simple. She brings the damn rope to me, I take it away from her, and I throw it. We play Throw the Damn Rope 2-3 hours every day. Other activities she enjoys include Scratch the Damn Floor, Howl at the Damn Train, and Sleep on the Damn Sofa.

My own personal coon dog was cute when she was a puppy, but she grew out of it. Over time she has developed a sneer that looks just like that one that Elvis used to feature in all of his movies. And sometimes when she holds her ears back, her resemblance to Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame is uncanny. So my dog looks like a cross between an alien and the King of Rock and Roll. This fact could go a long way toward explaining why I haven’t been too successful in giving her away.

Hotep is a chewer. As a matter of fact, she’s chewing on my shoe as I write this. Unfortunately, I’m wearing that shoe. As I think back over her nine-month tenure as my dog, I’m really quite amazed at all she has managed to chew up. And I have to admit that there was some irony in some of her choices. For instance, she chewed up my wallet. You may remember that she was supposed to be my wallet, so that was kind of ironic.

Then we bought a book about how to train your dog to not chew. She subsequently ate it. So we purchased her a sackful of leather chew toys, and while she didn’t like them much, they did instill in her a taste for leather. So she chewed up my recliner.

We had no choice by this point but to demote her to an outside dog. She didn’t care much for this plan, and to show her displeasure, she ate the yard. What, you think I’m kidding? Let me list for you everything she ate: an azalea, some bricks, two cherry trees, three collars, the doghouse, the fence, all of the flowers, a garbage can, her leash, a juniper bush, the screen door, a plastic water bowl, a steel water bowl, a glass water bowl, and about half of the shed. It would have been cheaper to send her on a cruise than it was to put her out into the yard.

So now Hotep has been promoted back inside. Actually, the neighbors insisted. And at this very moment she’s making noises like she wants to go for a walk. We walk five or six times a day. Rain or shine, cold or hot. And right now, it’s raining and cold, which is her favorite time for a stroll.

Maybe after the walk, I’ll ride down to Carrollton. I know there’s at least one bar down there, and I could use a drink.

Raymond L. Atkins

Raymond L. Atkins

Raymond L. Atkins resides in Rome, Georgia. His stories have been published in Christmas Stories from Georgia, The Lavender Mountain Anthology, The Blood and Fire Review, The Old Red Kimono, Long Island Woman, and Savannah Magazine. His humorous column —"South of the Etowah" — appears in The Rome News-Tribune. His industrial maintenance column — "The Fundamentals" — appears in Maintenance Technology Magazine. His humorous column — "And So It Goes" — appears in Memphis Downtowner Magazine. His first novel, "The Front Porch Prophet," was published by Medallion Press in June of 2008 to critical acclaim and earned the 2009 Georgia Author of the Year Award for First Novel. His second novel, "Sorrow Wood," was released in June 2009 by Medallion Press and has been nominated for the 2010 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Fiction. Both are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers. His third novel, "Camp Redemption," will be released in August, 2011.