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Black Gal

by John S Rogers Jr 

Of the many dogs I have owned some stand above the rest in ability and desire. A dog like this is a pleasure to hunt with and soon becomes like a close friend. When I think of the best I have owned, the first to come to mind has to be Black Gal. I have had more than one Black Gal through the years, but this is about "The Black Gal," the first one I owned.

I bought her about '71 or '72 and I hunted her until '77, I think. I know I moved to Salem during the month of October 1976, and  I think I only hunted her one year after I moved here. She was not a young dog when I got her and I was never sure exactly how old she was. Most of the time when you are buying a non registered dog it will be  three years old or less. That seems to be the age that the majority of the dog traders I dealt with used. "Yea, she is only three years old no matter how she looks," was the standard reply.

When I got her she was black and tan with white legs and a slight amount of gray on her face, when I got rid of her she was black and gray. One thing that was clear from looking at her was that she was not a full-bloodied Beagle. I am not sure about her ancestry, but I know she didn't look like a full Beagle. I was told she was half Beagle.

I have registered dogs now, but when I first started, for many years I thought a registered dog couldn't run a rabbit. This opinion was formed by having a few of the walkie-talkies, and by the stories told by the older men I hunted with in those days.

When I think of Black Gal now I realize that she was one of the dogs that gave me the urge for registered dogs. As good as Black Gal was she had only one puppy out of several that was any good and shortly after she started she was hit by a car and killed. I was starting to think breeding this way was too hit and miss. The non Beagle side showed up a lot in her puppies, and those that didn't look much like Beagles were the worst.

Putting aside the lack of good breeding and never getting a puppy from her that was good enough to keep, she could run a rabbit. Her jumping ability was pretty good, and though she didn't seem to hunt as hard as some dogs but she jumped a lot of rabbits. I can almost hear that very distinctive crying squall mouth of hers giving two warning barks seconds before the rabbit leaves his bed. She always seemed to give those two squalls as if to say get ready.

That squall mouth of hers was like no other I have heard before or since her. A crying squall is the best way I can describe it. It wasn't a sad cry, it was a loud cry of joy and pleasure that said I love and enjoy what I am doing. She was one of the most intelligent dogs I have ever owned. I kept my truck parked close to the dog pen, and I could get in it a dozen times a day and leave as long as I didn't load my dog box. When that box went into the truck she was sure she had to go, she would get as excited as a puppy with a new toy, jumping and barking.

One other thing she would do caused some of the people that hunted with me to give me a hard time. If we were hunting and I happened to jump a rabbit and shoot at it she would come and hunt in a circle around me until she pick up the scent. Everyone would say, she knew you missed it and she would have to run it around to someone that could hit it. I hardly ever shot at a rabbit on the jump, but occasionally at the end of a long days hunt I have been known to try to get one more real quick and go home.

My memories of Black Gal have to include the long, almost check-free runs on the rabbits she jumped; hearing her straighten out most of the checks; and that unusual mouth she had. I remember not having to wonder what she was running, knowing for sure it was a rabbit, and that he was in for a rough day. Black Gal was most likely going to run him to the gun, to the ground, or until she caught him. I said most likely because even Black Gal wasn't perfect, when the scenting was bad she was not be able to run as well, but if it could be run, she could run it.

When I moved to Salem she was getting really gray and had slowed down to the point she couldn't keep up long. I had planned to keep her and make her comfortable to the end, until I met a young man that had an old male Beagle that had belonged to his grandfather. This young man worked for my neighbor and I had mentioned to him if he would like to have a dog to keep with the old male, and maybe run them a little sometimes. I told him if he would give her a good home he could have her; he promised he would. This was at the end of the '76 -'77 hunting season, and as he was driving away with her I knew that would be the last time I would ever see her again -- and that she would be a hard one to replace. I was right about both things, I never saw her again, and it took years to find another dog anywhere near as good as my Black Gal.

From what I was told she had a good summer running a few rabbits with that old male, from time to time.
Then one September afternoon my neighbor came by and said, " Black Gal was running a rabbit yesterday with that old male and when she stopped barking, his friend found her down and she couldn't get up. After sitting with her a few minutes and petting her she died, he went back to his house got a shovel and buried her were she fell." That's a good way for a real rabbit dog to go, run a rabbit right to the grave.
Below is a poem I wrote in fond memories of my Black Gal:
Another Good Run

Hear that loud excited crying squall,
proclaiming the chase to one and all.

Ole Black Gal has found another one,
she rousted him up and he's on the run.

He will have to use all his bag of  tricks,
cause on a track, close she always sticks.

It's safe to say she'll bring him back around,
unless he can find a place to go in the ground.

I'll have to watch out, be alert and stay ready,
when he comes back take aim and be steady.

One crack of the gun should seal his fate,
fried with gravy and biscuits on my plate.

They are finally coming around this way,
she's running steady giving him no time to play.

There he is, this is the end of all his fun,
I take aim and pull the trigger on my gun.

So I missed, the day was fun, the chase was good,
Black Gal ran him on and on like only she could.

And as Black Gal continues her excellent run,
I bet she thinks sometime I wish he'd shoot one.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).