The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

John Hayes Hollow - Mad Dog

By Hazel P. Hedrick © 1985

Issue: April, 1985

john hayes hollowThe Belo Parker family circa 1925, by the corner of their house in the John Hayes Hollow. The little girl on the left is Hazel. In front of her is her sister Hessie. Seated is Hazel's Dad, Belo Parker holding Agnes. Hazel's brother John Henry is on the right, standing in front of her mother, Cora Moore Parker.The one thing that everybody in our part of the world was most afraid of was "mad dogs" (rabies).

Once, when I was about 9 or 10, I knew that my Uncle Coy had two dogs, Brownie and Honey and they had been sick. We called it having fits. Uncle Coy had them both tied up, so I was of afraid to pass by his house on my way to school. But, just as I was passing his house, I heard a dog making a strange sound. I looked back and there was Brownie going around in circles, his tail between his legs and foam running from his mouth. Somehow he had gotten loose. That dog started toward me and I started to run. I ran just as fast as I could all the way to my grandma Moore's. I stopped there long enough to get my breath and a drink of water, then hurried on to school after Grandma assured me the dog was not following me.

That afternoon, we kids went over the Vern Mountain home instead of by that road. I was afraid to go back by Uncle Coy's. We got home to find Aunt Kate helping Mama with the lard and sausage from a hog we had killed that morning.

Daddy and Uncle Coy went hunting for the dog that almost frightened me to death. They came in before dark and said they didn't see any sign of the dog. Aunt Kate, Uncle Coy and their child Winnie went home.

We kids did our chores while Daddy helped Mom with the lard and they put the sausage aside until the morning and fixed our supper.

After supper, Johnny and I were washing dishes. The other kids were getting their lessons and getting ready for bed. Daddy noticed there was no wood in the house to start the fires next morning. Johnny had forgotten to do his job and he was so afraid of the dark that there was no way he would go out and get his wood in the darkness. I had to take the lantern and go with him.

While we were loading wood on the wheelbarrow, I heard a noise like something wallowing in the leaves. I told my brother to hurry because I heard something I thought was the mad dog. I didn't have to say that but once. We hurried to the house, put the wood in its box and started to finish the dishes. Just then something hit the porch so hard and came against the door so hard that we thought it was somebody breaking the door down.

Daddy had gone to bed. All the kids were ready for bed except Johnny and me. We all ran for Daddy's bed. Before we got there, whatever was on the porch ran to the other door and came against it just as hard. All the kids started to cry and Daddy jumped out of bed and started putting on his clothes.

Then it came against the window. When it did, we saw it was Uncle Coy's "mad dog" Brownie. The foam from its mouth was all over the window. Mom grabbed a chair, spread a quilt over it and held it up to the window.

Daddy got the shot gun, loaded it and lit the lantern. He put on his coat and started for the door. Mom said, "No, Daddy, you can't go out there. That dog will bite you for sure." He said, "I have to kill it before it gets in this house."

I remember that night like it was yesterday. The dog kept running from door to door and trying to get in. Mom kept trying to get Daddy not to go outside. I don't know how many minutes this went on, but Daddy did go out there and he did kill that dog. I'll never know how he did it. He didn't shoot it. He couldn't hold the gun and the lantern too. He took a big stick. The dog got so close it got foam all over his overalls.

Next morning, Mom got up and boiled pot after pot of water with Red Devil Lye in it. She washed down the walls, the windows and the doors before she let any of us outside. Then, we went on to school as usual as Mom started canning sausage. Daddy made the whole scary world safe again.