By John Martin Ramsay
DOG TALESMar 24, 2019
An introduction to DOG TALES. Following the PREFACE there are 57 more episodes. Each episode contains one tale.
57. All in One Breath
Notes: ALL IN ONE BREATH was collected from Bill Hartsock, a Berea College student who got it from his girlfriend’s grandmother, Margy Riddell of Flat Gap, Virginia in 1982. Mrs. Riddell, born Bolling, was about age ninety when this verbal test was presented to her granddaughter.
THAT IS THE LAST TALE!
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Notes: TAILIPO was collected from my wife, Risse Faye Layne Ramsay who heard it from her mother, Rilda Chandler Layne. Rilda was raised in Broadhead, Kentucky back in the late 1930’s. The Chandlers had moved to Kentucky from Madison County, North Carolina.
55. The Feuding Dogs
Notes: THE FEUDING DOGS was collected from Kris Slank, a Berea College student who got the tale from his grandfather, K. G. McDaniel. The story has come down in the family.
54. The Runaway Horses
Notes: RUNAWAY HORSES was collected from A. D. Harrell of Tipton Hill, North Carolina. A. D. told me this tale in 1956 when I was spending an evening after testing his cows’ butterfat percentage. He corroborated the tale in August 1986 and identified Edward Whitson as the lad who tried to rein in the horses.
53. The Dead Dog
Notes: THE DEAD DOG was collected from Joan Randall, a Berea College student who got the tale from Don Sauders of North Carolina who remembered it from about 1930.
52. The Dog Tax
Notes: THE DOG TAX —by permission. See Humor of a Country Lawyer, by Sam J. Erwin, Jr. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1983, p 132.
51. The Dog License
Notes: THE DOG LICENSE was collected from Loyal Jones of Berea College in 1982. The event took place in 1960 or 1961 and was by telephone. (see also RIFLE TOTING MONKEY and WALKING ON WATER)
50. Banjo Dog
Notes: BANJO DOG was collected from David Morris of West Virginia. David shared this tale during the “World’s Fair,” i.e. Expo-84 at the Stokely Van Camp Folklife Center in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1984 where he was performing during a week featuring Berea College’s interest in Appalachian folk arts.
49. A British Train Ride
Notes: A BRITISH TRAIN RIDE was collected from Henry Besuden, Vinewood Farm, Winchester, Kentucky in June 1975. March 2019, Alan Branson sent me this, “It was sent to me by my good friend, Don in Pompano Beach, Florida.”
48. An Unwelcome Guest
Notes: AN UNWELCOME GUEST was collected from Beatrice McLain at Berea College Christmas Country Dance School, 1979. Mrs. McLain claimed that Readers Digest picked up the story and published it but I have not been able to find it.
47. The Split Dog
Notes: THE SPLIT DOG by permission from Richard Chase. See Chase, American Folk Tales and Songs, Signet Key, 1956, pp 97-98. Chase heard the tale somewhere in eastern Kentucky. It appeared in Fisher’s River (North Carolina) Scenes and Characters , by “Skitt” published in New York, Harper & Brothers, 1859. See also Botkin, A Treasury og American Folklore, Bonanza Books, New York, 1954, pp 593-594.
46. Drummer Joins the Band
Notes: DRUMMER JOINS THE BAND was collected from Linda Brewer of Jackson County, Kentucky in 1978 during a Berea College Extension Course in Folk Arts. See also Sourwood Tales by Billy C. Clark, Putnam, New York, 1968, pp 218-224.
45. Doggone Boots
Notes: DOGGONE BOOTS was collected from Doc McConnel of Rogersville, Tennessee in 1984.
44. Doghide Shoestrings
Notes: DOGHIDE SHOESTRINGS was collected from Margorie Mallicoat of White Oak, Tennessee in 1979. Frank Profitt, North Carolina musician used to tell a tale about his uncle using the hide from his wife’s “bitchy” dog to cover his banjo.
43. Larapin Rarapin Skoonkin Huntin'
Notes: LARIPIN, RARIPIN,SKOONKIN HUNTING was collected orally from a tenth grade student in my class in Micaville, North Carolina in 1956. Printed sources are: Roberts, South From Hell-fer-Sartin, tale number 78a; and Chase, Grandfather Tales, tale number 15, page 137. Roberts source was Charles Holcomb on Big Leatherwood who said he had heard this tale on a talking machine record when he was a boy. Chase cites an Alabama source in his compilation of Uncle Remus.
Notes: RIDDLE was collected from Loyal Jones, a native of Clay County, North Carolina. He knew the riddle ‘all of his life.’ (see also WALKING ON WATER and RIFLE TOTING MONKEY)
41. Mysterious Twins
Notes: MYSTERIOUS TWINS was collected from Anna Hobbs, native of Madison County, Kentucky. Told by her grandmother, Maggie Odell of Possum Kingdom in the 1970’s. I checked the story out with Anna’s mother, Geneva Jennings.
40. Rifle Toting Monkey
Notes: RIFLE TOTING MONKEY was collected from Loyal Jones and Michael Doane Moore in 1978. Jerry Clower’s humor and stories have had widespread audiences and much of his material, like this tale, has entered the folk process. Clower’s first recording, “Jerry Clower from Yazoo City, Mississippi Talkin,” a Decca recording, was number 11 on national country album charts (see article, Knock ‘im out Jay-ree! In Sports Illustrated 38:17.pp 75-84, April 30, 1973. Clower heard the rifle toting monkey tale while in high school, perhaps from his cousin Johnny. Used by permission.
39. Walking on Water
Notes: WALKING ON WATER was collected from Loyal Jones, Director of Berea College Appalachian Center, 1975. This is one of the most widespread dog stories. (see also RIDDLE and RIFLE TOTING MONKEY)
38. The Pickup Truck
Notes: THE PICKUP TRUCK was composed by Ruby Altizer, a Berea College student in 1977.
37. Useless's Old Dog
Notes: USELESS’S OLD DOG was aired on Kentucky Educational Television in a program of a video tape interview with Ulysses (pronounced useless) Vanover of McCreary County, Kentucky and aired on January 5, 1977.
36. No Trespassing
Notes: NO TRESPASSING was collected from Bert Killian, Murphy, North Carolina in 1969. (see also FASTEST DOG IN THE WORLD)
35. Old Hound Dog
Notes: OLD HOUND DOG was collected from Mona Coleman, a Berea College student in 1976.
33. Flea Bit
Notes: FLEA BIT was collected from Lewis Lamb of Paint Lick, Kentucky in 1980. I transcribed the tale from a recording of Lewis’s telling of a true story. (see also COUNTING DOG, RABIES SHOTS and SS-FF)
34. Honest Sam
Notes: HONEST SAM was told by Samuel Clemens in his autobiography. Twain concludes Chapter 30 with these words, “Now then, that is the tale. Some of it is true.”
And I add: that is Sam’s tale, more-or-less. You can read the tale in his own words in The Autobiography of Mark Twain, edited by Charles Neider, Harper and Row, New York, 1959, pp 155-159.
32. Sound Shooting Backfires
Notes: SOUND SHOOTING BACKFIRES was collected from a Berea College student.
31. Zig Zag Lips
Notes: ZIG ZAG LIPS—see Johnson, F. Roy, How and Why, Johnson Publishing Company, Murfreesboro, North Carolina, 1971; source T. K. Warren of Hereford County, North Carolina in 1966. Used by permission of author.
30. The Ventriloquist
Notes: THE VENTRILOQUIST I failed to note where I heard this tale but it is fairly well spread.
Notes: ANNIE was collected from Marshall Roberts, a Berea College student in 1981. He heard the story from Alan Tench of Banks County, Georgia who had it from his grandfather, Hamilton Tench.
Notes: QUISLING was collected from Gwen McVicker in 1980 who has it from Andy McMahan of Louisville, Kentucky. David Macemon of Woodford County, Kentucky says he has heard a Science Fiction story about Thomas A. Edison inventing an intelligence test which he tries on a dog who scores “way off the top.” The dog then admits that he can talk and is killed by other dogs for giving out their secret.
27. In the Lead by a Tail.
Notes: IN THE LEAD BY A TAIL —see A Treasury of Southern Folklore, ed. by Botkin, New York, Crown Publishers, 1949, pp 128-129. Also in The Old Time Tennessee Orator by John Randall, pp 359-360.
26. Hot Rod Hound
Notes: HOT ROD HOUND was collected from SANDY COPLEN SMITH who got it from her roommate, Susan Adams who got it from her father in Coal City, West Virginia. I have heard the same tale several other times but the subject was a cat who was frozen in a refrigerator and revived with gasoline. This is a favorite of my grandson whose mother’s father, Red Harrison of LaFollette, Tennessee, tells the tale.
Notes: SS-FF was collected from Lewis Lamb of Paint Lick, Kentucky in 1975. Lewis learned this story from a co-worker on a construction project in Cincinnati, Ohio back in the 1940’s but, in retelling the tale he changed it from a horse to a dog. (see also COUNTING DOG, FLEA BIT, and RABIES SHOTS)
24. Rabies Shots
Notes: RABIES SHOTS was collected from Lewis Lamb of Paint Lick, Kentucky in 1980. I transcribed the tale from a recording of Lewis’s telling of a true story. (see also COUNTING DOG, FLEA BIT, and SS-FF)
23. Training Young Fox Hounds
Notes: TRAINING YOUNG FOX HOUNDS was collected from Mark Rector of Madison County, North Carolina in 1981. This is a true event according to Mark.
22. The Billy Rough
Notes: THE BILLY ROUGH was collected from Dear Rathbone, a Berea College student from Haywood County, North Carolina in 1980. Dean learned this from his uncle Miles Rathbone, also of Fines Creek. A subsequent letter from Dean says that this incident really happened in the Jerry rough. Dean has written many stories from his home on Fines Creek. (see https://www.facebook.com/groups/1039030522847750/)
21. Counting Dog
Notes: COUNTING DOG was collected from Lewis Lamb of Paint Lick, Kentucky in 1980. This tales is widely known and is one most likely to be told when one asks for a dog tale. Lewis’s setting in the mountains is unusual and is probably his own addition to the tale. He is a first rate yarn spinner as well as a champion fiddler. (see RABIES SHOTS andSS-FF).
20. Rabbit in the Well
Notes: RABBIT IN THE WELL was collected from VELNA KEY, a Berea College student in 1980. Velna heard the story from the father, John Key in central North Carolina and he got it from June Peele. Velna says she “grew up hearing such tales.”
19. Mail Dog
Notes: MAIL DOG was collected from Coreen Brewer of Jackson County, Kentucky in 1979. Coreen learned this from her mother, Eulalia Foutch in about 1960 who learned it from her father, William Keith of Burning Springs, Clay County, Kentucky in about 1925. She said the dog’s name was Bounce.
18. The Fastest Dog in the World
Notes: THE FASTEST DOG IN THE WORLD was collected from Bert Killian of Cherokee County, North Carolina in 1969. I swapped some dog stories with Bert while at a shape note singing at the home of Donald Ledford. Bert told this tale and NO TRESPASSING. I have not heard them from any other sources.
17. The Deer Hound
Notes: THE DEER HOUND was collected from Jimmy Elrod, Berea College student from Washington County, Virginia in 1969. Jimmy says of this tale, “I met such a diverse number of characters while I was growing up that I cannot pin this tale to one of them.”
16. City Slicker and Bird Dog
Notes: CITY SLICKER AND BIRD DOG was collected from Judy Hamilton in 1979. Judy, a student in my Folk Arts Class at Berea College, heard this tale from Willie Baxter of Casey County, Kentucky. I have heard the same tale from Anita Waldridge, a 1989 Folk Arts student who got it from Lisa Keoku about 1971. Both girls gave this ending, “I’m going to throw him up one more time and if he don’t fly, I’m going to kill him.” I felt that “I want a refund” made a better ending and decided to tell the story from the dog’s point of view.
15. A Fresh Turned Trail
Notes: A FRESH TURNED TRAIL see Botkin, Treasury of Western Folklore, p 512, rev.ed., New York, Crown Publishers, 1975, “The Smart Coon Dog,” ed. By B. A. From Idaho, A Guide in Word and Picture,WPA Federal Writers’ Project, 1937.
14. Ring and Pepper
Notes: RING AND PEPPER was collected from Coreen Brewer of McKee, Kentucky in 1979. Coreen learned it from her husband, Eugene Green, also of Jackson County, Kentucky, somewhere about 1960.
13. A Tale from Egon Mountain
Notes: A TALE FROM EGON MOUNTAIN was collected from Etta (Bolton) Gulley of Clairfield, Tennessee in 1979. Etta heard this story from George Mallicot of Egon, Tennessee about 1960.
12. Old Cold Nose
Notes: OLD COLD NOSE was collected from Genevee Marlow of White Oak, Tennessee in 1979. Mrs. Marlow learned this from Lou Mallicoat of Duff, Tennessee in the 1970’s. The motif is widely known in differing variants (see Snake Bit)
Notes: SNAKE BIT was taken from Bob Terrell, columnist for the Asheville Citizen, daily newspaper of Asheville, North Carolina. This particular telling was by Loyal Jones, Director of Appalachian Center at Berea College in Kentucky.
10. Rover in the Nantahala Gorge
Notes: ROVER IN THE NANTAHALA GORGE was collected from Karen Solesbee Boll of Franklin, North Carolina in 1977. Karen composed the tale as an assignment for the Folk Arts class at Berea College. It demonstrated how ‘creative’ works draw from a base of cultural substratum. He grandparents are from Nantahala.
9. The Dog and the Buzzard
Notes: THE DOG AND THE BUZZARD was adapted from Foxfire Book, ed. By Eliot Wigginton, 1972, pp 228-229, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1972 as told by Bill Lamb.
8. A Cold Trail
Notes: A COLD TRAIL was collected from J. P. Fraley of Boyd County, Kentucky in 1979. I met Mr. Fraley at a May Day festival at Hindman Settlement Schjool on the banks of the Troublesome Creek where Mr. Fraley was a guest fiddler. He was a well travelled mining consultant but grew up in eastern Kentucky which has a strong folk culture.
Also heard from Marcella Morgan of Leslie County, Kentucky who was told the tale by her father, James Baker.
7. A Shocking Tale!
Notes: WHEELCHAIR CASE was collected from Karla Thomas of Ashland, Kentucky in 1980. She learned the tale from Albert York who learned it from his father, George York.
6. Wheelchair Case
Notes: WHEELCHAIR CASE was collected from Brenda Russell of Lexington, Kentucky in 1979. Brenda got the story from her father, Clayton Russell who got it from his uncle Clarence Lakes in 1976. Her story identified the boy as a “colored boy.”
Curt Begley, a Berea College bus driver and native of Berea, gave another version: A dog would tree coons and climb the tree to fetch them down. He had gotten three coons and was packing the fourth off the limb when he fell off a limb out over a cliff and broke his back. The man took him out in a wheelbarrow but the dog tried to tree three more times on the way to the vet.
An engaging version from “Deacon” Hembree of Galena, Missouri was presented in the December 1977 issue of The Ozark Mountaineer.
5. The Accordion Dog
Notes: THE ACCORDION DOG was collected from a Berea College student in 1976 and has since been heard in Strasburg, Virginia and a couple of other places. My source did not liken the dog to an accordion—that is my invention. Two friends told me a “dirty” version, one from his childhood in Cherokee County, North Carolina in which the dog is in a car which wrecks and both dog and its owner end up in the hospital. The owner, when he comes to, sees the dog on the rug next to his bed and asks the doctor if that is his dog. The doctor answers in the affirmative to which the man says, “What’s that collar thing around his neck?” Is this the original tale?
See also Botkin, A Treasury of American Folklore, rev. ed., New York, Crown Publishers, 1975; “Fay Hubbard’s Dog” pp 511-512 from Idaho, A Guide in Word and Picture, Federal Writers’ Project, 1937.
Also, Fireman’s Fast Lane Hound, Crown Publishers, 1944, Chicago Dentist Folklore by Jack Conroy, Manuscript for WPA Federal Writers’ Project.
4. The Spiral Chase
Notes: THE SPIRAL CHASE source is unidentified. However, H. K. (Bud) Rayfield, my wife’s cousin’s husband of St. Charles Missouri, told me this same tale but without the spiral portion. He probably heard it from Chester Cooper on the electrical crew in Lincoln County, Missouri.
Notes: COOKIE was collected from Bobby Fields of Hyden, Kentucky. This is a true story.
The use of the word trotline is available on Wikipedia. Some dictionaries suggest a French origin. Could there have been a connection with French trappers in pioneer times? Or is trotline related to a trot-rope used to exercise horses in which each end of the line is tied to a tree and the bridle is attached to a ring?
2. On a Saturday One Spring.
Notes: ON A SATURDAY ONE SPRING was collected from Tommy Anderson of Brasstown, NC in 1967 (see also episode 1. THE SKINBOARD). I have not heard this tale from other sources.
1. The Skinboard.
Notes: THE SKINBOARD was collected from Tommy Anderson of Brasstown, NC in 1967. It was The Skinboard and On a Saturday One Spring of this collection which started this compiler on a search for additional dog tales. Tommy was raised in Green Cove not far from Dog Branch where the local saying is “There are more Greens on Dog Branch than dogs in Green Cove.”
I have subsequently heard The Skinboard tale many times in North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The epilogue about finding the dog in Kentucky was made up on the spot by Bill Sparks of Paint Lick, Kentucky about 1976 as we swapped tales in route to a country dance engagement in Cincinnati, Ohio.