[Masthead] Overcast ~ 66°F  
High: 73°F ~ Low: 49°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

Nothin' but a hound dog

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wendy Davis, owner of Davis Branch Blueticks Kennel, kisses a young Smokey 10, the new UT mascot.
(Submitted photo)
When I drove into the yard at Davis Branch Blueticks Kennel, I was greeted by a number of friendly dogs. They came in three sizes: small, medium, and large.

I was there to talk to their owner, Wendy Davis, about her bluetick coonhounds, and one in particular, a hound who is now the University of Tennessee mascot, Smokey 10.

None of the dogs in my greeting party appeared to be a bluetick coonhound. They were all mixed breeds, with one thing in common: they were friendly and welcoming.

Wendy Davis has a variety of dogs on her farm, but she breeds bluetick coonhounds, and the pups find their way to homes all over the country.

Bawls of delight

Davis took me on a tour of her farm, and accompanied by my official four-legged welcoming party, we walked out to the kennel where the bluetick coonhounds greeted us with their howl, known as a bawl.

"Blueticks don't bark," Davis told me, "they bawl."

Some of the blueticks were standing on top of their doghouses in the fenced in yard, to get a better look at us.

I commented that the one dog reminded me of Snoopy, from the Peanuts comic strip, up on his house, and I was informed that his name was Snoopy: Snoopy, the beautiful bluetick coonhound.

Hunting dog

The bluetick has been bred over the years for hunting, and trailing and treeing raccoons and other small animals. They are the dog of choice for many sporting families.

The dogs get their name from the coat pattern which appears to be dark blue in color and covered in a ticking or mottled pattern.

Davis and her late husband, Keith, bought their first bluetick together from a breeder in Carthage. They named that dog Smokey in honor of the University of Tennessee mascot.

Davis started breeding blueticks in 2004 after moving onto her 34-acre farm south of Shelbyville.

Farm full

When she decided to purchase this piece of real estate, a friend asked her what she was going to raise on her farm. Davis decided it would be bluetick coonhounds.

She bought her first female, Sally, in 2006, but the first litter came several years later.

Her love for the breed started when she was a child growing up in Kentucky. Her family had a bluetick named Thumper, and she has loved blueticks ever since.

Vol favorite

The bluetick coonhound is said to be the state dog of Tennessee, and the bluetick has been the mascot of the UT football team for years. All 10 of those mascots were named Smokey.

Smokey walks the sideline of the field with his handler throughout the game, and will stop to call out with that signature bluetick bawl when the crowd gets him going.

Smokeys 1-9 all came from a breeder in North Carolina. But, when Smokey 9 was injured in 2011, it was decided that it was time to look for the next Smokey.

After careful consideration, it was determined that a dog bred in Tennessee was more appropriate to be the mascot for UT football.

Smokey 10

Charles and Cindy Hudson of Knoxville, whose family has been involved in raising Smokeys 1-9, contacted Davis and asked her about the possibility of getting a pup to become Smokey 10.

In February 2012, Davis's hounds, Pokey Joe and Lil' Lucy Lulu, had a litter of 8 pups, and Smokey 10 was chosen from that litter. He has become the latest in a long line of bluetick coonhounds to grace Neyland Stadium as the mascot.

He was introduced to the crowd at UT during the Homecoming Game in November of this year.

TV stars

Last year, the Animal Planet TV channel contacted Davis to see if they could feature Davis Branch Kennels on the show, "Dogs 101."

A film crew came out to the farm and shot footage for the program, which aired in August 2011. They highlighted the bluetick coonhound, and Wendy and her love for the breed.

Davis currently has two male blueticks and five females, and they are producing about four litters a year.

She has a waiting list of more than 40 people who are hoping to purchase one of her pups.


While I was visiting with Wendy in her home, she received a phone call from a man from Kingston who was present at the homecoming tame at UT when Smokey 10 was introduced. He and his son want to get a bluetick coonhound, and they found Davis's website, and contacted her.

Davis has 2 litters already sold, even before the pups are born.

Wendy is not only a dog lover, but she is a remedial reading teacher at Eastside Elementary School. She teaches children in first through fourth grade through the Title 1 program.

Wendy has a master's degree in elementary education from Middle Tennessee State University, and she has been teaching in Bedford County for the last 14 years.

She loves teaching and she loves her students, but her dogs are her passion.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: