The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge


By Ed Young © 1996

Issue: Summer, 1996

Beagle (noun). One of a breed of small hounds having short legs, drooping ears, and a smooth short coat with white, tan, and black markings. That was the definition given in the American Heritage Dictionary, and that didn't sound like Pete at all. The Encyclopedia Americana wasn't any better; they didn't even try to describe him. All they said was that the Beagle Hound was in the Sporting Group - Hound and in the sub-group Scent Hounds. They did say that the Beagle had an excellent sense of smell and generally trail ground borne scents. The Beagle will keep the game running and circling toward the hunter. That's a little closer than the dictionary, but it's still a long way from being anything like Pete. Why, they didn't even say the Beagle (Pete) was a rabbit dog, and everyone knows that.

Pete was my dog from the time I was nine until I was fifteen. He was kind of short, but his ears didn't droop; they flopped. You ought to have seen him when he ran; those ears flopped up and down so fast you almost wondered if he were going to take off. Pete wasn't allowed in the house, but except for that and when I went to school, he followed me everywhere I went. Sometimes when I was at school, which was more than a mile from home, I could hear him practicing hunting rabbits. I knew it was Pete from the way he howled; when he was on a scent, he sounded like someone was beating hell out of him. The howl just didn't quit.

Pete was more than just a dog; he was also my best friend. I never told anybody some things I told Pete. When I was down, we would go back in the woods, by the creek, and I'd tell him what was bothering me. He'd sit and cock his head from side to side and listen to my sad tale of woe as I tossed twigs and small stones in the creek. When I was through, I'd give him a hug, and he'd lick the side of my face and ear telling me everything was all right.

We sure hunted a lot of rabbits together, but sometimes he'd get in trouble. Once, he chased a rabbit in a bunch of briers someone had cut. The pile was about as big as a house. Well, the rabbit went in and ol' Pete went in right behind him. The rabbit came out, but Pete didn't. He was right in the middle of that bunch of briers, and no matter which way he moved he got stuck. Pete just laid there and howled. Do you know it took me most of the day to move those briers so Pete could get out? I ended up with more cuts and scratches than that ol' dog.

The first of April 1947 my parents told me they had sold the place, and we were moving to California; I was fifteen years old. Pete wouldn't be able to go with us. A few days later, a man came in a station wagon, "who would take good care of Pete," and took him away. Pete stood up in the back of the station wagon, with his feet on the back window, and watched me as the car drove away. I went out behind the garage, where no one could see me, and cried like a baby.