On December 7, 1993 my deerhound, Dasher died. He was only six years old and had just come to live with us about six months earlier. In that short time, however, Dasher and my other deerhound, Donner, had become fast friends. Now that Dasher was gone, Donner was sad and alone once more. (we had lost his aunt Deena a year previous). so I made the decision to get a new puppy. My thought initially was to get a buddy for Donner. However, what I got was something that I hadn't planned on.
I went to see my friend Paula from whom I had gotten my first deerhound. Her bitch Norrie, was fostering two puppies from another litter and raising them with the singleton that she whelped. Johnny and Stevie were bred by the Smythes in Allegan, MI. Poor little Johnny had suffered a badly broken leg when only two weeks old. The veterinarian had repaired the bones as well as he could, but the damage was so severe that he held little home that he would ever walk normally again. (Not that I really cared much about that). I thought that perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad idea to have a slightly deficient pup to play with Donner (my now senior male deerhound). "Older males are not real fond of over active puppies anyway", thought I. so I purchased Johnny at a bargain basement price. and perhaps hopefully, I named him "Blitz".
I soon discovered that this new puppy of mine was not at all inhibited by his gimpy left rear leg. In fact, he was probably the happiest puppy that I had ever seen. Donner was not pleased with the new addition. He only tolerated him. Blitz on the other hand loved his new buddy. "If only he would play with me more," he thought.
Blitz would periodically re-injure his lame leg, causing him to limp or even hop around, which was no problem for him. His body was growing strong and becoming quite graceful and athletic. This gave me hope for a complete recovery. He seemed to have the energy and will to start a rehabilitation program. So I started walking him regularly, forcing him to use his injured leg more. When running, he would avoid using his lame left rear leg, so walking and trotting were the best exercises for him to do. With this program instituted, I started to notice that Blitz would re-injure his leg less often and when injury would occur, he would recover more quickly. It was working! By strengthening and stretching the muscles in his damaged leg, he was compensating for his injury.
Blitz continued to grow and become stronger. His energy and enthusiasm knew no bounds. Could I have a courser on my hands? I had always wanted to try the sport, but never had the opportunity to participate. Donner was only minimally interested; Dasher didn't live long enough for me to get him involved; and Deena, while athletic, had only one eye and later lost the other. I wasn't sure that I should subject Blitz to the rigors of lure coursing, so I took him to a vet that was familiar with the sport and had him examined. I got the okay so took him for a practice. He looked wonderful! Not so fast but quite agile and graceful. That was all I needed. I entered him in his first test trial.
The day was October 1, 1994 at the Monroe county fair grounds. It was rainy and cold but Blitz didn't seem to mind. He bucked and whined as he strained at the lead while watching the other hounds. Blitz was the biggest hound being tested that day. As the people watched him impatiently waiting, one could tell that the spectators had a feeling that something special was going to happen. Finally it was our turn. The big gate was swung open and we walked through onto the soggy field as the spectators watched. I pretended to listen to the hunt masters instructions, but before I knew it, with a Tally-Ho!, Blitz was off. He dug in hard for the opening straight-away and made a perfect fist turn. His joy and enthusiasm was contagious, and he ran a near perfect course! The people gave him an ovation as we left the field. Paula and Grant (his foster breeder) were overjoyed. All the money that they had spent to repairing his leg now seemed worth it and then some. I was so happy that I forgot his ribbon. The congratulations we received were unexpected and overwhelming. We received more attention than anyone else. It was a most happy day.
I have since joined the Michigan Gazehound Association and the Midwest Scottish Deerhound Club. As for Blitz, he went on coursing and winning. He is very popular at the trials and festivals we attend because of his outgoing and gentle personality. He is also a very handsome boy and is a source of entertainment at home with his antics. He has come a long way from the crippled broken puppy that I adopted. He has become a field champion and still enjoys the occasional course as a veteran. He will always be my first champion no matter what.