Barking up the wrong tree

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monotony: Lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine. Such is life at times.  Ho hum, same thing different day, daily routine after daily routine.
I personally don’t like dull. I don’t want pepperoni on my pizza every time, occasionally I’ll switch it up and put sausage or hamburger. After all, a guy has to live a little, doesn’t he?
Going through a typical full week of work is pretty monotonous in itself – sometimes it nearly drives me to utter ruin. I look forward to weekends for a little escape.
Of course, it helps when you have something totally out of the usual occur in this neck of the woods. Something so completely off the wall that you have to phone your parents back in Illinois to share the out-of-this-worldness of it all.
This kind of event spices up your life and it only happens once every year. And if anyone missed it, you can go buy the T-shirt to remind you for next year.
Coon Dog Day: nothing could be more original than venturing up to small town U.S.A. in Saluda to witness red-blooded Americans sporting their coon dogs. Good ol’ boys (never meanin’ no harm) prancing around with their antsy coon dogs sniffing everything they could get their wet little noses up to.
I’ll have to hand it to these coon dog owners, too. It’s 90 something degrees out, and they’re still wearing jeans. That’s what I call separating the men from the boys.
The dogs had their tongues hanging down toward the ground, and their owners proudly dressed for the part as well. Some even walked around with a blade of grass in the mouth and a shirt with the sleeves cut off. I kicked myself for forgetting my camera.
There weren’t just coon dogs up there; people felt free to bring their own “non hunting hound” to enjoy the walk down Saluda’s carnival-type atmosphere.
I would have brought my Shi-tzu, but I was afraid a coon dog would mistake him for an actual live raccoon and go chasing him up a tree. Of course, that may have added to the entertainment value of the day – I’ll remember that for next year.
Well, it got me thinking. I placed myself in a coon dog frame of mind. Every dog there had his or her own individual style of going after that stuffed coon hanging from the tree.
Some of them went after the coon with reckless abandonment, barking with no end in sight. Other dogs couldn’t have cared less about it.
The audience all thought the really good coon dogs were the ones that went after the coon and barked until they nearly went hoarse in the throat. I stood there and firmly believed the smart dogs were the ones that had no part in pursuing the coon.
Such is life. We chase after something we think is the real thing, just to find out that it’s an imitation.
Some of us may never truly find out that what we’re chasing isn’t right. I like to think there are coon dogs sitting in their homes right this moment, dwelling on the missed opportunity with that stuffed raccoon.
Then there are others who realize it from the beginning. Maybe they’re more tuned into what’s real and what’s not, what’s worth pursuing and what’s worth sitting down for a rest instead.
The coon dogs who didn’t have one slight interest in that raccoon, but instead wanted to go lick a little child sitting there watching, were the smart ones. When the real thing comes along, they may be the top dog in pursuing the coon.
In other words, the others were just barking up the wrong tree. We all have to learn to sit and lie down in the shade of the tree instead. Sooner or later the real thing will come along and we’ll recognize it because we’ll be good and rested.
Thanks to all the coon dogs who contributed their time and energy to allowing me to break out of the monotony. It wouldn’t be Polk County if we weren’t able to do so.
Who would think a coon dog would be able to teach you something?
Chris Jakubowicz lives in Columbus with his wife and children. His bi-weekly column will focus on how he and his family are trying to get back to their grassroots. Jakubowicz can be reached by email at

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