Harley, the McCue dog, died on Feb. 19, 2013

Harley on April 2, 2005 with my son, Devin, who was 9 at the time. If you notice a black spot in the picture that was my other dog Archer, who was a pup. I remember I was trying to get a picture of my son and the pup but typical Harley was standing in the way.

Harley on April 2, 2005 with my son, Devin, who was 9 at the time. If you notice a black spot in the picture that was my other dog Archer, who was a pup. I remember I was trying to get a picture of my son and the pup but typical Harley was standing in the way.

Harley McCue died on Feb. 19, 2013. He was 16, or 17, or maybe 18.

We might as well have called Harley The Energizer Bunny for he kept going and going and going.

Upon looking at a trusted Wikipedia page, the median longevity of a Basset Hound is 11.3 years. In an United Kingdom study among the 142 deceased Basset Hounds, the oldest dog lived to be 16.7 years. We don’t know how old Harley was since we got him as an adult male. But the chances are very high he may have outlived them all.

We decided to put Harley to sleep Wednesday. He was having congestive heart failure. His arthritis was so severe that on Thursday for the first time he could not walk. He had been suffering from dementia for more than a year, and the highlight of his day was going out to the front yard for a small stroll.

When my son Quinn, 11, and I saw him for the last time on that sunny February afternoon at the local vet clinic, he seemed content. He knew it was time to go.

Harley’s life can be characterized of enduring about everything. If he would have been a soldier in the U.S. Civil War, chances are he would have lived through the war despite getting shot a few times.

We don’t know much about Harley in his early days. He had a couple of owners. He was said to have been hit by a car at least once, maybe twice. His tail was always crooked and never really worked since we got him.

He was also said to have suffered from frost bite.

Barbara Hamilton, a volunteer for the Humane Society who fervently tried to save all dogs in Wellington, called us one day in early 1999 and asked us if we could take in a stray Bassett Hound. We had just purchased a full-bred Golden Retriever pup, who was a mess of a dog. The thought of having another dog didn’t seem appetizing. But someone said a second dog would be tonic for the first dog – giving him a companion and an outlet for its energy.

So we took Harley in. And then we discovered he had heart worm. He was skinny and looked to be on his last leg.

But Harley would recover nicely. He eventually got well enough to go on walks and sniff out the neighborhood.

Harley lived a rather uneventful life thereafter, loved by all, but definitely his own player. He would outlive the retriever.

In 2009, we thought we were going to lose Harley again when suddenly he stopped eating. He got frail, and after being taken to a local vet, there was a fear that he had cancer, but the vet wasn’t sure. So we took Harley to the Oklahoma State University Animal Hospital in Stillwater to see what was specifically wrong with him.

The only thing wrong with Harley was his appetite. He had swallowed a small Nerf ball and it was stuck in his esophagus. They sliced the ball right out and Harley would go on to live another happy four years.

Harley was neither a great hunter, nor a mindful dog. He loved to roam but was never an obedient walker. Many a steak that was meant for human consumption ended in the pit of his stomach. He never said sorry.

But his greatest gift was making us smile, and being our companion.

Harley is the survivor of Tracy, Tami, Jarret, Devin, Allison, Quinn, Archer, Mac, Big, Little, and several fish.

He is now on the loose in heaven. Undoubtedly, sniffing around looking for a good steak.

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