For the love of Redbone Coonhounds


It feels as though I could be in a dream, everything is so perfect, if I am dreaming, please don’t wake me up. It’s been some time since I last decided to write, I can’t even say that Ill begin a strict regiment of writing again every week, but lately I’ve felt inspired by what’s happened. What IS happening to my life? Where am I now? How has so much changed in such a short amount of time and yet I feel like it’s been a year when it’s only been a few months?

Last time I wrote, I was still living in my van, it was July, and Jeremiah was 8 months old. It was getting harder each day with the growing heat, mostly to keep Jeremiah and myself cool and hydrated. I was blessed to have made such good friends that most of the time I could find someone to help watch my little boy while I went to work from 11am-9pm. Except for one Sunday where I didn’t have anyone lined up to watch Jeremiah and ended up having to take the day off of work to stick with my pup. What a blessing in disguise that day was, it changed everything.

That Sunday was the day I met another Redbone Coonhound that wasn’t related to Jeremiah, good Ol’ Red. I spotted him from my van whilst driving around aimlessly crying to myself, “What am I doing with my life?!”, HA! I pulled Jeremiah and myself over to the first place I worked on the island, Moby’s pub, and then decided I would go see if it was one of Jeremiah’s brothers. I walk up to this crowd of people and in the centre of everyone is Red, Jeremiah spotted him and the two were checkin each other out, a bit owly at first, but within a couple minutes they were talkin’ the same hound language that they do. (Stops writing to pet Red, sitting beside me now as I write…Goooood boy Red).

Anyways, I was overjoyed to have found another Redbone for my boy to play with. Before that moment I didn’t think I’d be able to find anyone that quite understood Jeremiah, and if they didn’t get Jer, they didn’t get me.   Fortunately, or unfortunately, the boy has turned out to be very much like his mama. We talk a lot, we’re headstrong, we’ve got alpha issues, yet we want to make friends with everyone, we’re easily excitable, we whine too much, but it’s only because we want allll the love we can get.

So, the owner of this Redbone steps up, he seems like a friendly guy, he’s got some cut off shorts, a plaid shirt, a cap, some sunnys, a grizzly beard, and a familiar voice. My first impression was this crew was obviously on some kind of bender probably going for caesars as it was Sunday, the guy had a Redbone so he must be alright. He asked me if I’d like to join them for a drink and at that point I could really use a drink, so I took him up on the offer, but first we had to let the dogs play on the beach.

That’s a moment I will never forget, watching these two hounds become instant brothers and mirror EVERY movement they basically synced to each other the moment they met. I learned that this guy’s name was James and when he finally took off his sunny’s he revealed a piercing pair of handsome green eyes. Something about his voice and the way he spoke was warm and familiar, he was quick witted in a light hearted and inviting way. Of course I checked him out then, but my heart was still healing and I knew someone like him was someone you’d always want to have as a friend. Besides, I never wanted to not be able to have our boys spend time together because of a fling gone bad. Little did I know that there was so much more than a fling in store.

At that point, I had already gave my notice at work and was preparing to leave the little island of Salt Spring. I felt somewhat defeated. Memories of my long term relationship haunted me everyday. I don’t think I could have written about this time in my life, until now. That breakup was a disaster. BUT, as I read recently, some of the best beginnings are disguised as terrible endings. Leaving that island was the best decision I had made, right after leaving that man-child, thank you past Jessica.

Back to the good stuff, the day after I met Red and James I was swept away with thoughts about how I would see them again. I didn’t have a phone at the time, so I had no number to give, only my Facebook name, Jessica Willow Burke. I waited anxiously for him to find me, telling one of my best friends about how I had met a man with another Redbone. Apparently, it was fate, as Red had gone missing for 6 months after James first adopted him and brought him home, he only had him for one day and then just a few weeks before I met them, Red had been found! James told me if he’d seen me on the street before he found Red he wouldn’t have been so friendly. Luckily it was all written in the stars as they say. He found me on Facebook the next day and I was just about to go to Vancouver when the thought occurred to me that maybe James would be interested in watching Jeremiah for the day. He seemed to love having the two dogs while we walked around town showing them off to everyone. OF COURSE, he was more than willing to pick up Jeremiah and take him overnight. And I trusted him because I knew he understood what it meant to have a hound and have them taken away from you. So James rigs up a boat to cross the bay as he lived on the island across from us, just a short boat ride away. That whole time, he was just on the other side of the water.

So he crosses the bay and I meet him at the bottom of the mountain. As I walk to the dock I watch as he dives into the ocean, he dove into the ocean when we first met too. Taking off all his clothes and showing off his perfectly sculpted body. I didn’t join him, but his free spirit was very refreshing. I admired him from a distance. We went for a short walk again, this time through the fields of Burgoyne Bay. Then I handed off my boy for the night and went on my way to Vancouver.

The next day was my birthday, I wanted to spend it alone, but oh how much happened. A year before on my birthday I broke up with my ex, and on that morning a year later I said my last goodbye to his face, cried in public as we were both in Vancouver, and then I went to get my lashes removed and did a little birthday shopping with myself. My brother, Jase and his friend I’ve known forever Chris, both met up with me at the ferry terminal and we set off on our adventure. Only one more week on the island and then we’d all drive back home to Cochrane, Alberta together.

Apparently James and the boys had quite the adventure on the boat ride back to his side of the bay. On the way back, the boys were howling like mad dogs, they broke the engine and just as everything was in chaos, an entire pod of orcas swam right by them. The dogs lost it, and James hadn’t ever seen anything like it. He managed to get back to his side of the bay and the next day had quite the story for me when he drove onto the island to return Jeremiah. Of course, we didn’t want it to end there. So we decided to go camping at Ruckle park and invited James and Red to tag along. We weren’t allowed to have a fire at that time of the year, but we all huddled together and Chris sang with his guitar until we were told to be quiet.

That night, I received the best birthday gift I couldn’t have ever imagined something so sweet. James and I spent sometime chatting, the boys were already curled up together in the tent. I looked at him and asked him frankly, “Do you want to cuddle me now?” he seemed relived that I finally asked him and so we did just that. I still had my walls up, but as we pressed closer together and his fingers traced my spine I felt shivers that sent chills throughout my entire body. It was like nothing else. We kissed and I felt my face flush, it was all very innocent and slight, but at the same time incredibly charged. Then I fell asleep in his arms, it was a deep sigh, relieving and refreshing. I remember sleeping so well I don’t think we moved a muscle, with the hounds at/in-between our legs we felt like a instant pack. But then the sun rose and it was time for this man to go to work and we had to say our goodbyes. I didn’t think I’d see him again, but I was filled with joy.

Just as Jase, Chris, and I are packing up our bags I get a message from James that the road to work has been blocked off and he doesn’t have to go in now, should he come back he asks me…Of course! So began our week of seeing each other, spending time walking and hiking the dogs around the island, and a funny situation of me saying my goodbyes to my loved ones as a new relationship began to unfurl. “Don’t get too smitten Im leaving in a week” I told him. Ahhh, it was too late for that though.

In the little amount of time we spent together, I got to understand that this man was everything I’ve ever wanted, plus Red of course. He reminded me of myself, and at the same time dangled a piece of what I needed more of in front of me. He exuded positivity and could become friends with anyone in an instant. He was confident in himself and knew what he liked and disliked, yet was still very open minded and game for anything. He had an attractive hunger for life and a don’t give a fuck, low stress attitude that I found the most admirable.  He didn’t need anything from me, and I didn’t need anything from him, we just enjoyed being together with our boys, watching them filled our hearts. There was a moment when we knew we had little time left together, where he held me on a rock as we watched the hounds frolic in the muddy bay. That moment I knew I had found someone very special. I wanted to stay in that moment forever, we made it last as long as we could, before turning back getting in our vehicles and parting ways. Jeremiah cried a horrid howl that sounded like a dog dying, and James and Red looked back with a tinge of agony. A month later, James and Red made the trip out to Alberta to visit us again, and so began our new adventure full of fun and driven by a love of Redbone Coonhounds.

I’ve lived more fully than ever before, embracing life with a new attitude and knowing that this is just the start is an overwhelming thought that excites my entire being. I’ve moved, I’ve travelled, I’ve faced more fears than I had imagined, I’ve spent a lot of time with myself, I’ve become a hound mama, and I’ve found my pack.


P.S. There is so much more to tell, but this seems like a good start for now. Next time I will get more into my trip to Bali, and the time spent before and after, and where Im off to next!!!


4 thoughts on “For the love of Redbone Coonhounds

  1. I love a great story and this is one of the best of the best. Love that there will be more chapters. I am hooked. So thrilled that this is a “based on a true story” and that you ARE living the dream. Love you so much, Jess SEE ca.


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