Wild Northerner Magazine 2015/16 Winter Issue - Page 29

Dogs bond quick and have charm

“It is unfortunate they are often looked over and don’t get a chance,” Pridham said. “Coonhounds are affectionate and have great personalities. Grace knows when I am not physically feeling well. Last April I got a bad flu. For 3 days she didn’t leave my side. She curled up beside me and slept. Boomer is very affectionate. When the opportunity for him to jump in bed or on the couch presents itself, he doesn’t mess around. He will get in bed and curl up and then its lights out. Hound dogs are pack dogs, they like to live and be a part of a pack. So it’s natural for them to do this. They bring me endless hours of laughter and enjoyment.”

Gentle Jake’s is run by Jean Stone, from North Bay.

It all started in 2003 when Stone adopted a coonhound. She fell in love with the breed. Stone learned many coonhounds were killed each year because many were not being adopted at shelters across Ontario, Canada and the United States. The thought of it all rattled Stone, but also inspired her to do something about it. Stone created Gentle Jake’s as an online service to network and save coonhounds and put them in homes. It is non-profit. The number of coonhounds adopted each year varies. Stone currently has 15 dogs awaiting adoption. (She has two coonhounds of her own.) There is no facility, so Stone works with volunteers across North America to rescue, transport and foster the dogs. People must go through an application process and also pay a small fee. The dogs come with all their shots and also receive any required medical attention.

“I didn’t set out to do this, but it happened,” Stone said. “People need to be educated about these dogs and how great they are as pets. Shelters get slammed with coonhounds and many are put down. This is not right. Anything we can do to help out as many of these dogs as possible, it is worth it. These dogs are not aggressive and love kids. They are funny, loving and loyal. They are smart and good with other dogs. They also have great voices.”

Gentle Jake’s has a soft spot for the older coonhounds. They are disowned for various reasons such as they can no longer breed or participate in hunts. Some of the dogs can be in rough shape. Stone ensures the dogs are properly taken care of before they go up for the adoption process. It can be expensive.

“Some dogs arrive with worms, sickness, tumours or rotten teeth,” Stone said. “They go to the vet and we fix them. It can cost up to $3,000 to fix a dog. It is why we have an adoption fee. We are serious about helping these dogs have a better life.”

Pridham has been working with Stone since adopting two coonhounds. She has fostered dogs from such US states as Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. Lending a hand to Stone was as easy as opening her heart to the coonhounds for Pridham.

“Jean is dedicated and inspirational,” Pridham said. “Working and being with these dogs is a great experience. It’s seeing the change in the dog as it goes from being scared to being all over you. Building that trust with them is rewarding. It is nice to see coonhounds get the kind of life other dogs get. It is remarkable to make that connection with an animal and help it change and have a good life after what it has been through.”

Stone urges anyone who is considering getting a pet to try a coonhound. They can go to coonhoundrescue.ca for more information. Stone also encourages anyone to volunteer time to help. Gentle Jake’s is in need of drivers to transport dogs. Stone is in to the end.

“It can be stressful, but I will not stop,” she said.