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The Tri-Colored Ghost

by Lyle Zerla


          It was October 31 and I was taking two of my dogs out to run. Since rabbit season was starting at the end of the week, I wanted to “tune” them up.

          I decided to run in an area that I had not run or hunted since 1970. Then it did have a marginal number of rabbits. I was also looking for a new place to hunt.

          I hadn’t given any thought as to what day it was until I passed an elementary school and saw the kids on their Halloween parade----ghosts and goblins in long lines parading down the street. Halloween! All Soul’s Day! The day that lost souls roam the earth.

          I approached the running area. I stopped at the last house on the road. That was where the owner of the property where I planned to run the dogs lived.

          I stopped to check in. I had worked on this farm when I was in high school and I knew I would be welcome. The land owner was glad to see me. We talked for a while and drank coffee.

          When my dogs started to bark at his collie, I told him that I had better get down the road and let the dogs bark at rabbits. I went down the road, out of sight of the house, and cast the hounds.

          I had brought Bobbi and Caesar to run. I think these are two pretty good dogs. It wasn’t too long before Bobbi let loose with a squeal and the chase was on. Caesar joined her mother and rattled the field with her deep bawl.

          The area had grown up quite a bit from what it was years ago. The multi-flora rose had taken hold in the field and provided cover for the rabbits. Knee-high switch grass provided cover across the rest of the field.

          Bobbi and Caesar were bringing the rabbit back now. The squeal and bawl provided quite a contrast. It wasn’t hard to tell who picked up the check. The rabbit sneaked past. I caught a glimpse of it as it disappeared into a multi-flora patch. Caesar and Bobbi were about thirty yards behind. As they went past, I could see that the tip of Bobbi’s tail had been bloodied. Caesar is smart enough to drop her tail in heavy brush and is very seldom scratched by thorns.

          Bobbi and Caesar had been running for about an hour when a third Beagle joined in. This dog had a quick chop mouth. I could see them bringing the rabbit back. The new dog was in the lead. I watched the trio trail the rabbit for over two-hundred yards without a check. The third dog ran at about the same speed as Bobbi and Caesar, but the checks were now few and far between. This dog didn’t lose the track.

          I moved in on the dogs. I got close enough to see that the new dog was a 15” tri-colored female. The conformation on this female’s head was almost perfect.

          She could really run a rabbit! I thought Bobbi and Caesar were good rabbit dogs, but this tri-colored female was really smoking them. When there was a check, the strange female’s chop claimed the line.

          We were a long way from the nearest house and the owner had told me that they didn’t have a Beagle, just a collie.

          I assumed that someone had lost the female while running her. I could see that she was wearing a collar, a one-inch-wide leather collar with a name tag on it.

          I tried to catch her, but I couldn’t get closer than ten feet. I thought I recognized her. She looked like a dog I used to own, a dog named Snave. I whistled, called her girl, but she wouldn’t even look my way.

          Because she reminded me so much of Snave, I called, “Here, Snave”. She stopped, looked at me and wagged her tail. I started toward her. She turned and went into a large multi-flora rose patch. I called and circled the large rose patch until dark. I could not see the tri-colored female anywhere.

          On the way home, I was thinking about Snave, the dog I had owned for sixteen years. I remembered that it was Halloween afternoon in 1976 that I had buried Snave in the back yard. I buried her wearing her one-inch-wide leather collar.

          After I put Bobbi and Caesar in the kennel, I went over to Snave’s grave. I stood there looking down. I thought to myself, “If that was you out there today, old girl, you sure did a good job.”

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