Thirty-five dollars was the hefty price that was placed on that ugly pups head. It seemed like a lot of money for folks who live out in the country with dogs being dumped near the house on a regular basis. Nevertheless, my mother paid it, for whatever reason we may never know. The dog at first did not deserve a name; we simply called her Dummies Dog Dummy. It was sort of a joke with us all, after all who in the world would pay thirty-five dollars for a mixed up pup. Time marched on and we eventually named the dog the creative name of “Speck.” She was white, with black and brown specks. Looking back, she may have been a Blue tick crossed up with a Blue Heeler, and who knows what else.
Speck lived when we were still able to let our dogs run freely. She ran with our old German Shepherd dog “Lucky.” She was lucky because dad did not shoot her when she strayed in. Speck made her first kill one summer day; it came in the form of a poor squirrel. How she got it, we are really not sure, but it was the beginning of a long line of animals that would meet their doom with ol’ Speck.
The early years of Specks hunting seem a bit hazy now, but I was pretty young when we first got her. I do remember how one morning we woke up before school with the dogs going crazy. Speck and Lucky were treed on the huge Mulberry tree out back. Speck was climbing on the back of Lucky and Lucky was returning the favor. It was a sight to see, they had managed to get about fifteen feet up the tree. This, if it is remembered correctly, was my first coon.
After I was given a .22/.410 over and under, at the age of twelve, nothing was safe. Everyday upon returning home from school ol’ Speck, and some of the other dogs that we had at the time, were always waiting on me. I learned later on in life that they usually hunted all day, until about 3:30, then they would return for me to go hunting with them. Speck would kill anything, and this is where readers may think this story goes from a simple tale to a tall tales about a dog that I have placed on a pedestal, but there are those still living who can testify to many of these accounts.
Speck, early on in life, learned that opossums could play dead. She absolutely hated that. She would begin at the head and work toward the tail, crushing bones with her powerful jaws. Watching her was like watching a dog eating corn on the cob, only the cob came in the form of an opossum. She also hated snakes, and she probably liked hunting them the most. She just did not like the way they continued to squirm after she had shook them to pieces. To cure this, she would literally skin them, upon completion she was satisfied that they were probably dead. A copperhead nearly killed her later in life, but miraculously she survived.
What about those lovely skunks? Oh my how she would tackle a skunk! Whew, the memories. I can nearly still smell them today. One stands out very vividly. Speck disappeared while we were walking through an open field one day, and she could barely be heard. Finally, it was discovered she was in a fifty-five-gallon barrel under ground that had a hole leading to it just above ground. She came out running and took out over the hill. “What in the world?” Running behind her I noticed she was sticking her head under the water at the ditch. She had been sprayed in the eyes by the skunk; her eyes were literally bleeding. She came out of the water after about five minutes and we passed by the barrel, she wanted back in, but I talked her out of it. We nearly made it to the top of the next hill, and I happen to look back and that stupid skunk had come out of the hole. He probably could not stand the smell himself. I said, “sic ‘em Speck,” and away she went, the skunk was dead in seconds.
Speck would take on nearly anything. She would even kill mice and large tadpoles when she was bored. She was a bit more apprehensive about two types of animals; deer and coyote. The only reason was because she knew they were too fast to catch, but if you shot at a coyote she would take off after it. If she could stumble on a deer that she could corner she would take it. One day I was walking in the river and she had somehow managed to corner a spike buck. I have never seen a deer use its’ front legs in that manner since. She would bay on the newly introduced river otter, she would tree a coon for hours (I believe her record was around six hours, dad wouldn’t shoot it our for her until his chores were done), and tackle a groundhog if she had to. She would even take on turtles. Many times, if she was able to, she would carry these turtles to the house so she could work on them for a few days. It was a good time killer for her, and she would eventually crack the shell all to pieces.
Speck to many, in today’s hunting world, would not be suitable. Most would consider her to be the trashiest dog ever. After all what kind of dog runs mice, tadpoles, groundhogs, deer, coyotes, skunks, snakes, opossums, turtles, otters, and coons. Keep in mind that hunting is about having fun, and I wish everyone could have a dog like Speck ,so that they too could have the fun that I had growing up. Whatever happened to Speck is to be speculated, but the road grader man brought us her collar, he had found it by our neighbor’s house. No animal could get the best of ol’ Speck, but a humans rifle had cut her life short. Her death marked the beginning of the end of leaving hounds loose. We had several dogs right after her, but they too quickly met the same fate. Speck you were a great dog, and I’ll never have another on like you.