Friday, December 4, 2009

Hunting Dogs at Holtdale

Dogs were a way of life on the farm, but three of them stand out above the others, Pat, Nick and Mugs. Pat was a large, Black and Tan, and other, reddish-brown, female, rabbit dog. She was, at least (mostly), a Black and Tan hound. She had long, dangling ears, a sad face and the most baleful howl you ever heard when tracking game. She remained a fixture on the farm for at least eleven years because she was a rabbit dog of the highest caliber. She had to have been good, for about every seven or eight months, she would blow up like a large sausage, with her feeding spigots practically dragging the ground, and present us with from eight to as many as fifteen pups at a time, to the complete delight of we kids. And, I am sure, to the complete annoyance of my long suffering mother.

Every neighbor, hunting buddy, friend of the family, itinerant salesman, and anyone who even had a fleeting thought of owning a dog, had one of her pups. During hunting season, the month of November, pups or not, when anyone emerged from the house with a shotgun old Pat would come running, sometimes with pups hanging on to the spigots or trailing behind. It mattered not, she was going hunting. How we all loved that old hound dog.

Nick was also a, mostly, Black and Tan hound hunting dog we owned at the time. He, presumably, was Mug’s father. No one could be sure of that though because Pat was not exactly the most faithful of wives. When she was in heat, the crowd following her about in her wanderings was something to behold. At least Mugs was hound like old Nick and very few of Pat’s many suitors could claim that exalted distinction. Nick was a bit surly, but an outstanding rabbit dog, so he too, earned a place at the scrap feeding pans at the back door that Mother kept generously filled for our dog family.

During the tail end of Pat's productive years she produced a black, male pup that won the hearts of everyone, but most importantly, my Mother's. Even before he was fully mature Mugs was running rabbits. He was born in early spring and during that fall's hunting season he was next only to Pat in finding rabbits. He quickly became "Mr. Rabbit Hound Supreme." He was the hunting Icon of the neighborhood and his offspring--if we could be sure they were his offspring--were in great demand by all the local rabbit hunters in the area.

Theoretically we owned him. Mugs, at best, could only be described as a "rake." He had a regular calling list and grooved trails between the many homes that he called upon. He had no peer in the garbage consumption and strewing profession. Ordinary lidded garbage cans, even if they had a latch, were absolutely no challenge for him. All the neighbors claimed a part of him. Indeed, they did help feed him. His rabbit hunting prowess was legendary and every one took turns using him. He had two great loves; Mom because she fed him most, and Grandad, because he hunted with him the most. There are probably more posed pictures with more people with Mugs than anyone else in
the neighborhood at that time.

Mugs and Me, 1939

I suspect he also could brag of more offspring than any other dog of his day. He was a true canine Casanova. To get to his intended paramour, he climbed fences, dug under fences, tore down fences, went through screen doors, crawled through windows and,----- oh well, you get the idea: He was a world class, canine Lothario. We all loved Mugs.

1 comment:

  1. I come by my love of dogs honestly then! And what a handsome hound he is!