In Memory of Cyrus

In 2001 we began looking for the perfect family dog.  We conducted research for many months, scouring the web, visiting dog shows and talking to breeders.  In the end we knew exactly what we wanted a young, female black and tan coonhound.   Next came the  tedious task of completing adoption applications, personal interviews and veterinary references.  Finally we passed inspection and could choose our new friend.

Having turned our attention from coonhounds to bloodhounds, we drove 85 miles to the home of bloodhound breeders and rescuers Walt Partin and Brenda Howard in Chico, Texas.  They graciously showed us their home, breeding kennels and rescued dogs.  Our first pick was a young female bloodhound, but she was more interested in sniffing the walls than interacting with us.  Next we chose a gorgeous black and tan male called Terrell. We even drove all that way to Chico twice to spend time with him and get to know him.

While we were there Mark casually inquired about the quiet dog that stayed in his crate.  Walt told us they would probably end up keeping that dog because nobody would adopt him he was too old, had bilateral entropion (eyelashes turned in, scratching and scarring his corneas every time he blinked) and he was heartworm positive.  With his advanced age and expensive medical problems, nobody had even looked twice at him.  Mark’s eyes met mine and we instantly knew we had found our forever friend.  He was not what we had planned on, but he was just what we needed.

Over the next few months Cyrus spent a lot of time at the vet’s getting neutered, repairing his turned-in eyelids and receiving his heartworm treatment. He passed all treatments with flying colors.  Graciously, South Central Bloodhound Club offered to pay all the veterinary fees, for which we will be eternally grateful.  A few weeks after the entropion surgery, the cloudiness in Cyrus’ eyes gradually faded and he began filling out a bit.  In fact, he looked so much better that Walt and Brenda revised their original estimate that he was an old dog, to maybe only 3 or 4 years.  We had a relatively young dog after all.

Meanwhile, Cyrus was making himself at home in his new position as Backup Vacuum Cleaner, Hot Dog Inspector and Bed Warmer.  He often bumped into the furniture because when he was trailing something (such as an escaped pea), the skin on his face was so droopy it completely obstructed his vision. Over time we even got used to carrying a rag in our back pocket to catch the green-brown drool before it could be deposited on the furniture, walls or ceiling. 

Cyrus went everywhere with Mark from the studio to the bedroom and even on shopping trips, where he knew there would always be a sausage waiting for him.
  On one such occasion Cyrus was securely harnessed in the back of the pickup truck while Mark popped into Walmart to collect supplies.  As he was checking out there came a distressing announcement booming over the loudspeaker.  In a deep Southern drawl the clerk pleaded, “Would the owner of the white Chevy truck please come to the front.  Yer dawg is injured, yer dawg is injured!”  Mark ran to the parking lot and pushed past the onlookers surrounding his truck.  There was Cyrus, standing unharmed in the back of the pickup, nose in the air, howling for his sausages.  In Cyrus’ opinion, Mark was taking much too long delivering the goodies so he had decided to hurry him up.  Not used to hearing the soulful baying of a purebred bloodhound, well-meaning shoppers had alerted store staff to what they were sure was a very sick puppy!

In 2002 Mark decided to make a sculpture of the perfect model Cyrus, of course.  It took many months of hard work to create the bronze head study seen in the pictures on this page, but for Mark it was a labor of love.  Mark carefully recreated every nook and cranny of the noble, velvety face.  He even placed himself in imminent danger by lying on his back under Cyrus’ head to capture the detail in the dreaded “drool spouts.”

Mark entitled the piece “On The Trail” and, in gratitude for all they had done, donated the first three castings to a charity auction that benefited the South Central Bloodhound Club. In the picture below you can see the proud winning bidders posing with Mark.  They are (from left) Judy McDonald, Brenda Howard, Mark, and Kathy DeMarzo.

ust a few weeks after the auction we returned home to find that Cyrus was missing out of the yard, but his best buddy, a Rottweiler called Heidi, was still there.  A careful inspection of the sturdy fence revealed that someone had neatly snipped open a section, removed Cyrus, then securely tied up the hole with baling wire.  We searched all over for him, driving all around town calling his name, to no avail.  To this day we don’t know what really happened.  Were they trying to steal him and he escaped from them?  Did they plan on a ransom note?  Was it some kind of cruel joke gone wrong?  If someone was getting rid of dogs in advance of a burglary, then why take such care to leave the Rottie safely penned up?  We found him the next morning on one of the roads we had searched the night before, apparently run over by a car.  We think of him often and are comforted by the hope that we will see him again some day.

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