Hound, owner reunited after two years
Chuck Featherstone was surprised when he got a call from the Douglas County Animal Shelter informing him they had his dog, Slivers.
“I thought he was dead,” Featherstone said. “I didn’t believe it. I said, ‘Are you sure?'”
The last time the Lassen County resident saw his treeing Walker coonhound was about two years ago when he loaned the dog out to a Carson Valley hunter.
“They are hunting dogs for coon, cat, gray fox, bear,” Featherstone said. “We use hounds on something that goes up a tree.
“The last time I talked to the guy, he told me he thought the dog was dying and that he spent $600 at the vet,” he said.
Slivers the coonhound is the only one who knows what’s happened in the past two years. Gardnerville residents spotted the stray near Toler and Scoti lanes on Thursday, fed him a bowl of food and called the animal shelter.
Skinny but not frail, Slivers looks pretty spry for being about 14 years old – the last two of them on the lam.
Nancee Goldwater of the animal shelter said Slivers could have survived the weather living in culverts and other protected areas.
“A lot of dogs will live in people’s barns and eat grains. Dog food’s mostly corn,” she said.
When Featherstone was first reunited with his dog, he recognized the leather collar with the brass name plate but thought Slivers looked different.
“Sliver might have been 70 pounds at one time but he looks smaller now,” he said.
“He’s an old fart, but he still has it in him,” said Joan Gomez from the animal shelter. “His eyesight is still good. He let out baying when he saw our shelter cat.”
Slivers has been trained to hunt mountain lions. Hunting mountain lions is illegal in California but permitted in Nevada.
“Cougars are illusive so these dogs are used to track and tree them,” Goldwater said. “A certain amount of trackers get permits to hunt them.”
According to the American Kennel Club, treeing Walker coonhounds are descended from the English foxhound and are sensible hunters with superb endurance and treeing ability. They are known to climb a tree or stand on a tree to hold their prey for the hunter.
By nature, each hound has several distinctive bays signaling anything from visitors at the door to a bugle cry of prey being treed.
Featherstone brought two female coonhounds with him on his 280-mile round-trip journey to pick up Slivers – Patches and Little Sister, the offspring of Patches and Slivers. He said Patches has about 20 different “voices” and she let out her “happy to see you again” baying when she caught sight of her long-lost paramour.
Featherstone said he has about a dozen hounds and a border collie at home.
“I’ll let Slivers relax and let him figure out what’s going on when he gets home,” he said.
It didn’t take too much coaxing to get Slivers into the back of Featherstone’s pickup with the two other hounds for the long ride back to Wendel, Calif.
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