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Archive for February, 2007

The Three-legged Dog

Back in the sixties one of my neighbors, Bill Weger, had a pedigreed three legged coon dog. “Ol Rake” was born normal but had lost a hind leg in a farm accident the previous Fall. I was surprised to see Bill keep him as he was in a sad state for quite awhile and the vet bill had to be out of sight. But Bill was set on gettin his money out of Ol Rake by putting him out for stud. He had traveled all the way from Texas to Alabama to buy him and had some serious money tied up in this unfortunate canine.Now to be fair to Ol Rake he was quite a coon hound before he followed that rabbit into the combine. He had the respect due a dog of his breeding and natural talents. That all seemed to come to a screeching halt once he lost that hind leg.He could no longer keep up with the other dogs during a hunt due to the wide arc he traveled to get from point A to B. By the time he circled his way into the woods the coon was already treed and the other dogs were high-five-ing one another. Ol Rake would just kinda lean against that tree and wouldn’t even bay or look that coon in the eye.

Pretty soon Ol Rake had lost his place under the front porch which was just as well because it was kind of pitiful watchin him try to spin his way under the stoop. He took to sleepin in the yard or under the hay wagon if it rained.

As if things weren’t bad enough for Ol Rake he couldn’t break the habit of raising his only hind leg when he went to pee. This maneuver resulted in a sort of spastic backward-sideways flip and a roar of laughter from anyone fortunate enough to be a witness. Ol Rake would slink off in humiliation with the familiar wet spot on his ass.

Now the embarrassment wasn’t all on Ol Rake. Bill Weger was taking quite a ribbing from the locals and especially the other coon hunters that would gather at his farm on a Saturday evenin before a hunt. They made a lot of sport out of Ol Rake’s predicament and some on Bill too. This probably wouldn’t have occurred if Bill hadn’t  made such a show of his dog’s pedigree and his early accomplishments.

But now the worm had turned and Bill’s only hope lay in the bragging rights that might come from a respectable stud fee. As luck, or good planning would have it, the opportunity arrived on one of those Saturdays all of Bill’s buddies were gathering up at his place.

Bill hadn’t told anyone in advance because he wanted to have the last laugh but he had arranged for a breeder from Oklahoma to bring his prize-winning bitch over for a coupling with Ol Rake just when he knew everyone would be there to see it.

As the breeder was taking Ol Rake’s new girlfriend into the kennel Bill loudly and proudly let it be known to all that he was gettin $100.00 and pick of the litter. Now back then that was a considerable amount of money and it did silence the hecklers and cause the entire crowd to show some belated deference to Bill and Ol Rake.

The bitch was givin off quite a scent and the howling from all the male coon dogs present made it sound like a crowd at a bull fight. Ol Rake was the only dog loose that evening so as not to have any accidental couplings with one of the low-bred hounds present. No, this was royalty only, and it looked like a procession at court with the hunters following at a respectful distance as Bill and Ol Rake made their way into the kennel area.

Ol Rake was plenty excited and so was Bill in his own way. The breeder had unleashed the bitch and stood aside as Bill opened the kennel gate to let Ol Rake at her. The problem was Ol Rake was so excited that he couldn’t get through the gate. He would make a run at it but his combination of three-legged running and anticipatory humping caused him to veer off to the left before he got there and crash headlong into a stack of feed sacks.

Now the hooting and hollerin from the crowd, accompanied by the wild baying of a couple dozen penned-up coon hounds, seemed to confuse Ol Rake for a moment but he was soon back on his feet headed for another run at the gate.

The breeder and the bitch were eyeing Ol Rake’s antics with some speculation but she never-the-less presented herself as befits a female of her status and breeding. The rest was up to the bride groom.

Bill got smart and positioned himself so that when the “stud-to-be” made his next run at the gate he could boot him back on course. It was a simple plan and it worked and Ol Rake was in the pen swerving and humping his way over to his girlfriend. She watched in what seemed like amazement as he spun around her twice at full speed leaning as far into the turns as he could before finally finding himself on the business end of things.

Bill and the breeder looked relieved when Ol Rake finally mounted the bitch but their troubles were far from over. It seemed that no matter how desperately he tried, Ol Rake couldn’t stay centered and launched shot after shot in a grand arc clean over her rump and into the dirt.

Caught up in the hilarity of the moment someone yelled out “One hundred dollars” after the first shot landed long and the crowd took it up yelling , “two hundred, three hundred, four hundred” with each successive miss.

Ol Rake’s frantic one-legged humping sent both him and the now wide-eyed bitch in a tight, churning circle and everyone in the crowd was bent double hoo-hawing and leg slapping. Everyone but Bill and the breeder that is.

Ol Rake finally dismounted and just stood there shaking so hard it looked like he would fall down. Without a word the breeder leashed and loaded his bitch and headed back to Oklahoma.

Now as nature would have it the spinning stud didn’t waste it all because a few weeks later Bill was showing off his $100.00 check to anyone who would stop long enough to look at it. It was commonly said that Bill could have made more than twice that amount had he sold admission tickets to Ol Rake’s honeymoon.

As for the three-legged dog, he was still alive when I left the area and I heard later that he had made Bill a pretty good chunk of change over time. I don’t think he ever got his place back under the porch but why would royalty want to mingle with the commoners anyway?

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