Saturday, May 9, 2015

Singleton: Hunters may be forgetting man's best friend, the dog

George 'Buster' Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Hunters may be forgetting man’s best friend, the dog,” was originally published in the Jan. 5, 1984 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

I have become greatly alarmed about the carelessness of various individuals when it comes to the care of and attention to what is supposedly man’s best friend, the dog.

During the past days, especially since the beginning of the hunting season, I have come across several hunting dogs that have been abandoned and left in the woods to starve or find food for themselves. These dogs are at the mercy of the elements, and other animals, when they become weak from hunger or oftentimes hurt or crippled.

It’s quite common to see these neglected dogs with their feet swollen and bleeding from running through the underbrush and briars after game. It’s pathetic when these animals hunt their hearts out, so to speak, and then are left in the woods to survive for themselves.

Many are left for no other reason than the lack of interest in the animal to go and look for it. To see these fine animals hurt and starving makes one want to take their masters and leave them in the woods and let them feel what it’s like to be cold and hungry.

Sure, these people will tell you that these are hunting dogs, that they can take care of themselves. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

When a dog is bred to hunt, most often the survival instincts are not developed. Nature many times does things that we don’t understand. For example, a purebred race horse would not survive a week if it were put out to pasture.

So it is with the highly trained hunting dog. It looks to its master for food and shelter. Just being a hunting dog doesn’t mean that the survival instincts are there, as in many other animals.

During the closing days of last year’s hunting season, I came upon an old hunting dog that had been left in the woods to die. His feet were sore and bleeding. He was so weak from hunger that he could hardly stand.

I knew that I would not be able to bring him out of the swamps because I was traveling on my trail bike. I also knew that he would not last much longer in the condition he was in.

After sharing my lunch of Vienna sausage and a small pack of salty crackers with him, I found myself talking to him as though he could understand everything I said.

I told him that if he would lie still, I would put him across the fuel tank of my motorcycle. I thought I would be able to hold him with my knees, bring him safely out of the woods, and drop him off at the address that was on his collar.

He looked at me with his big, brown, sorrowful eyes as though he understood every word. He waited patiently as I kicked the contrary motorcycle to life. I reached down and picked his tired and weary body up and laid him across the fuel tank, as I had promised.

He moved just enough to nestle his head against my left knee; this was the only movement he made during the 10-odd miles over the back roads and trails to civilization.

As I pulled to a stop in front of his master’s house, he knew that he was home. He did not try to jump down as one would think a dog would. He waited for me to lift him up and off the motorcycle and down to the ground.

The look that I saw in the eyes of that old dog was worth all the trouble, my Vienna sausage, my crackers and everything.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

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