Pirate was born on Christmas Eve 2003 from a red-bone coonhound mother and a lab father. He and his six siblings were brought to the SPCA in early January 2004. Luckily a family in the county was looking for a dog. Pirate adopted the Connors’ family of Chris, Lisa, Mauri and Kevin in February 2004 and lived his entire life roaming their property (Halcyon), providing protection from fierce deer and far-off coyote howls and happily eating any leftover human dinners.
Pirate received his name from the SPCA because of the tan patch of color over his right eye. He lived up to his name in pirate-related antics. His first major act was to steal a gorilla twice his size at 8 weeks of age, drag it through the cat door, and shake gorilla fluff all over the yard. Thankfully, it was a stuffed animal. He also stole shoes, doormats and blankets, which were usually (but not always) recovered somewhere on the property in one piece and a Torta de Santiago which was definitely not recovered. His most egregious act in honor of his namesake was the murder of Lisa’s beloved Annie and Andy from childhood (see crime scene photo below). His master was kind, understanding he was still a puppy-pirate and made sure to never again leave childhood heirlooms at a tempting Pirate-mouth level. Mauri feels the time he ate her copy of Watership Down to be the worst thing he ever did, but forgave him when she found a prettier copy to replace it. The only other murders ever recorded were that of a raccoon and that of a groundhog – much less egregious acts to the owners. Over time Pirate mellowed, only removing shoes to his bed and using them as a pillow when his family was gone too long.
Despite his swashbuckling ways, Pirate was quite sensitive to our moods. Sensing our fear when a large tree limb crashed on the roof of the house during a thunderstorm, he sat as close as possible during subsequent storms. He loved the energy of growing kids in the house and any time we were excited about something. And he knew Chris was the biggest pushover when he needed some extra puppy-like lovin’ or dinner scraps.
Pirate loved eating, following scents, belly rubs and eating. He enjoyed hikes and a few camping trips with his family, stealing food from his ‘sister’ (always a pirate, eh?), dog-friendly guests to the house (especially Nick Fox) and playing with the neighbors’ dogs. He was especially happy swimming and getting dirty in his pond and finding deer bones in the woods.
Pirate had been showing his age, still doing his favorite activities, but slowing down. Just this past week at the age of 12, Pirate fell ill suddenly, refused to eat and quickly lost the ability to walk. His family could not get medicine in him and with a possible diagnosis of idiopathic hepatitis with a 30% chance of recovery, his family made the tough decision to let him go. His family is grateful to Blue Ridge Animal Clinic for 12 years of service and Dr. Robert Murdock for his compassionate end-of-life care for Pirate.
No property walk was complete without Pirate’s company. His family loved and sorely misses him and will imagine his spirit roaming their well-worn paths. Pinot, his best neighbor-friend, will also miss his company. Pirate is survived by his original adopted family, his adopted sister Toc, who is unsure if she will miss him (but we think she will), and family cats Lily and Caroline.