Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for October 1, 2014 by Steve Weems

A long-legged coon dog wandered in recently and spent the day at my youngest sister’s house. The healthy, well-fed canine had a collar but no tags and Barb was getting ready to put up flyers to advertise his presence. The next day he was gone. Maybe he was just resting up at a friendly location for his journey home. Hounds will travel if given the chance.

My grandpa, Jack McCall, was a coon hunter and kept hounds. He enjoyed going out at night with his Uncle Otto and others with their lanterns and guns. Hunting raccoons was a respite from endless farm labor and the stresses of life.

One day while working on his place on Kings River, a stranger’s automobile pulled up with one of Grandpa’s coon dogs. The stranger introduced himself and said he’d found the dog crossing the US 62 White River bridge and gave it a ride. Turns out the man was a hound talent scout of sorts from Kentucky. He traveled the United States looking for the scattered pockets of coon hunters and studied their dogs and bloodlines looking for champion-type hounds. Grandpa took the guy around and introduced him to the local coon hunters.

There used to be more hounds around here, but with changes in the local culture and fewer rabbits, for example, those breeds aren’t as popular. I’ve had a couple rabbit dogs myself. The first was a high-energy Beagle with an effusive, charming personality. I had Rusty as a kid and he loved everyone and everyone loved him. Once I saw a station wagon drive by with Rusty in the back. I don’t know who the people were but Rusty returned later in the day. Just hanging out with friends, I guess. I always thought Rusty was a bit too good for me, kind of like Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

Waldo was more my speed. He was a Basset Hound we adopted from the Good Shepherd Humane Society shelter. He was ponderous, well-intentioned and often asleep. He was the only dog I ever had that I could out run.