Hound History with Tami Harbolt: Continuing Education About the Human Animal Bond; March 2021

Saying Goodbye… When our beloved pets die, we typically mark their passing with a ritual of some kind. Sometimes we even lay them to rest in a special place. This is just what Key Underwood did in 1937, when his hunting companion of 15 years, Troop, passed away. Underwood buried him at a place where the hunters would often camp, because it was Troop’s favorite place in the world. He marked Troop’s grave with a stone and chiseled the dog’s name on it. Troop was “cold-nosed,” meaning he would follow a raccoon’s cold trail until it grew fresh and wouldn’t give up until the critter was treed.

That one marker resulted in the only cemetery dedicated to hunting dogs in the world. The Key Underwood ‘Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard is near Tuscumbia, Alabama. 185 verified hunting hound dogs have had the honor of burial in this historic graveyard. They are the only breed of dog allowed in these hallowed grounds.  Each year on Labor Day weekend, hunters gather on the grounds and hold a festival to celebrate these dogs. Events include music, dancing, food, and a Liar’s Contest.

Pet cemeteries have existed since Neolithic times. The earliest human graves have been excavated with the remains of puppies and dogs cradled in the arms of the people buried there. One grave is as early as 15,000 BCE. The Greeks believed that dogs would accompany our souls to the afterlife and carved their images on tombs and gravestones. A very famous episode of The Twilight Zone explored this topic, when an old hunter died along with his hunting dog and when the dog was denied entrance to heaven, he too decided that heaven was no place for him. Magically, he traveled on down the road and encountered another trail, where he learned that the first place had not been heaven at all- but a trick played by the Devil. St Peter informed him that loyalty and fidelity were important to God, and he and his dog were welcomed to the Real Heaven. Watch it with lots of Kleenex!!

Many people had to rely on hunting dogs for survival in the old days, and even if we aren’t as reliant on them today, we can observe the skill and purpose these dogs were bred for.  WAGS has a couple of ‘coon dogs and one of my best friends accidentally adopted one a couple of years ago. What they thought was a beagle pup kept growing and is now a Treeing Walker Coon Hound weighing 100 lbs!

Sources:

The Key Underwood ‘Coon Dog Memorial Cemetery: www.coondogcemetery.com

“Hauns Go West” a video about the Underwood Cemetery https://youtu.be/Fs0VUxVnWLg

Bark Magazine “Dog Burials in Ancient Times” https://thebark.com/content/dog-burials-ancient-times#:~:text=A%20form%20of%20simple%20dog,that%20has%20over%201000%20dogs.

“Burial of Women with Young Dog” https://ugmp.co.il/en/highlights/burial-of-woman-with-dog/

Harbolt, Tami “Too Loved to be Forgotten: Pet Loss and Ritual Bereavement,” 1993. https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/theses/3296/