The End of the Dog Days

By Sissy Boulware

While mankindís use of dogs go almost as far back as when Adam and Eve got kicked out of the well-known garden, the need for the dog, to help feed the family has reached the time to say "Those days are gone forever". The Great Depression seventy years ago, felt around the United States, forced a great proportion of the population to use dogs to catch large and small game, to utilize the food that they could not afford.

A good coon dog was greatly prized. A well-trained squirrel dog hunted almost daily during squirrel season. A squirrel dog would bark at the foot of the tree where the squirrel was hiding was a valuable dog. Many country people had a special cage raised high off the ground to hold the coon or possum, the necessary family varmitdog had helped to trail, tree and capture at night.

The small game was usually hunted with small dogs generally referred to as a "feist." The Walker breed of hounds was the popular large game dog having a louder voice, more strength to run longer, faster and the ability to catch and hold the larger game. The hunter who was out in the daytime to catch rabbit for the dinner pot liked the fast little Rat Terrier type of dog.

A daughter of our beloved Charles B. Stewart, who married a Mr. Fling, lived on her fatherís land along Highway 105 a couple of miles east of Montgomery, owning in excess of a thousand acres of land, loved to take his "wiener dogs" a.k.a. dachshund out to "strike" and flush out rabbits and then to watch the race across his open ranch.

I read an account some one had written about the trials of getting enough to eat during the Depression. He said he had to hunt rabbits on the halves to get to use a neighborís rabbit dog. Hunting laws, rules and regulations and preferences as applied to all game during the Great Depression were probably totally ignored, the hunter being more scared of hunger than of the law.

My family prized a Walker hound dog. We only had the one dog and he took care of any need we had. He barked when people arrived and if the arrival of these people called for an unexpected meal, "Red" would help us run down the selected chicken to kill, catching and holding the bird between his paws until I could get there. He would catch and hold a possum or coon that was raiding the chicken house. If a moccasin snack or Copperhead was spotted in the yard, Red could be talked into grabbing it and shake it to death. If we needed an occasional hog or pig to supplement the winter butchering, Red followed my hunter into the National Forest, caught and held the selected hog and then helped herd it home. Although Red did all these family things, he put on his real hunting shoes when my hunter decided to join Mr. Scarborough, Mr. Binford, The Corleyís and the Singletonís to make the fox or wolves prove they could outsmart each owners "brag" hound.

Feeding thirty Walker hounds was no problem for Mr. Bob Henderson, but it was a problem for the above hound lovers. One of the saying that was laughed about for years came from Albert Scarborough, of Scott Ridge, was our neighbor. He had seven or eight Walker hounds, big eaters. Someone asked him how he could afford to feed all those dogs, he said it was easy that he fed them turnip greens. The man asking the question said he didnít know that dogs liked turnip greens. Mr Scarborough said, "Well, they donít like them the first two weeks."

As time has moved on, hunting for food is no longer a necessity and the vast acres of game-laden land has been cut up into five-acre ranchetts, posted signs, locked gates, rigid hunting laws have vanished the joy and pride the hunter had in his hunting dog be hound or feist!

The Mr. Bob Hendersonís "Old Moon Camp" was probably the end of that age-old lifestyle.

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