Tag Archives: Catahoula Curs

The Hog Hunt

Here is another scene from The Avenging Angel, Book Three of the series. In Book One, The Last Day of Forever, there is another hog hunting scene. This one takes place ten years after that one. They have just arrived on the scene where the Catahoula dogs have a hog cornered. Little Zeke has not been seen since The Last Day of Forever. Theo is a new character in The Avenging Angel.

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Catahoula Map

We dismounted, and I retrieved two short ropes from my saddlebags. “You flip and I sit? Or I flip and you sit?” I asked Little Zeke.

He looked down at that hog, which was one about medium size, less than two hundred pounds.

Before he could answer, Theo did. “I’ll flip, you two old men take it easy and sit.”

We both looked at the grinning Theo like he might have had two heads.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“That puny little piglet ain’t no match for me. I’ll flip.”

Zeke frowned. “You ever done this before?”

“Plenty. We gonna jawbone about it or shall we get to it before he hurts one of the dogs?”

I looked at Little Zeke with my face wrinkled in a frown. He shrugged and said, “The boy says he can do it. Let him have at it, I say.”

“Very well, Theo. The pleasure is yours.”

Theo bowed deeply. “Thank you. You have the ropes ready?”

I held them up. “At your service, sir.”

“Then let’s get after it.”

“You coming?” I asked my father.

Pernell threw a leg over the pommel of his saddle and leaned forward. “This looks like it could get interesting, and I’m too old to outrun a hog, besides it could get a bit crowded down there with all of us. I’ll watch from up here.”

I tipped my hat. “Have it your way, but you’ll miss all the fun.”

“I doubt that,” he muttered under his breath.

We made our way down the side of the low ridge to the bottom. The hog was more interested in the dogs, and we tried to approach him from his rear to keep him from taking any interest in us. That didn’t last long. With Theo leading, Zeke and I following close behind, we were within about fifteen feet of the hog, when he suddenly turned on the two dogs on his left side and spotted us. He kind of lost all interest in the dogs then and came after us with the dogs in hot pursuit.

It was time to find a tree.

Zeke went one way. I went another, and the hog stayed on Theo. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone run so fast as that boy did that morning. Theo rounded a tree and reversed course on the hog. It took the pig but a second to figure out what had happened and reverse course, himself. Theo lit out, but the hog was gaining.

The boy headed for a tree with a branch hanging about six feet off the ground, and the hog was but three or four feet behind him—and catching up. I figured Theo would grab that branch and swing up into the safety of the tree, but he did something I have never seen before. He did grab the branch, but, hanging by his hands, he swung up and over the branch as the hog passed under and slid to a stop, confused and looking for Theo.

Completing his orbit of the branch, the boy landed right behind the hog, and pretty as you please, he reached down and grabbed him by his hocks, lifted his rear end off the ground, and flipped him on his side.

I looked at Zeke, and he looked at me. Neither of us could believe what we had just seen.

Theo still holding the squealing hog by his hocks and keeping him down on its side. “You two old men just going to stand there, or are you goin’ to come an’ help me?”

“Comin’, boss,” I replied as we rushed over and sat down on the pig’s side, pinning it. I handed Theo the ropes, and he hogtied it.

Zeke and I stood, and Theo stepped back, and with his hands on his hips he looked at the subdued hog with a smile of triumph on his face. “And that, gentlemen, is how you flip a pig.”

Zeke looked at me and shook his head. “In all the times we chased hogs together, I ain’t never seen you do a trick like that.”

I put my arm around Theo’s shoulders and grinned at Zeke. “I taught him everything he knows.”

His brow wrinkled, Theo looked up at me. “Even in your prime, you couldn’t have done that.”

I playfully slapped him behind his head. “Hush, boy, or you’ll be sleeping with the pig tonight.”

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Catahoula Curs Meet Mr. Fence

Way back in the eighties and nineties I raised Catahoula Curs. Started out with one female named Pawho. Bred her and got fifteen* puppies! I ended up keeping two puppies, one I intended to keep, because she was pick of the litter, a beautiful glass-eyed patched leopard I called Fanci. I got stuck with the other one, a brindle and spotted-up leopard male we named Caddo. Both turned out to be great dogs and very intelligent. I am convinced if I had spent more time with them, and knew what I was doing, I could have run Fanci in obedience trials. Caddo, on the other hand, was trainable, but he sometimes acted like a big duffus.

Yes, the fact that I had Catahoulas had something to do with the name of my books. That and the fact that my maternal grandmother was from that part of Catahoula Parish that became LaSalle Parish when it was split off in 1910.

Back to the dogs.

Caddo and Fanci 2Fanci was a tattletale. Whenever Caddo or the little mixed breed mutt, Spuds, that Heath brought home as a worm infested puppy did something Fanci didn’t agree with, like a five year old, she would come running to me and “tell on them.” She used barks and whimpers while trying to lead me to the offender. This usually involved escapes by one of the others, especially the smaller Spuds. “Bark, whine, bark!” (Translated, “Come quick, Spuds is out again!”)

I used that as an excuse to do my “what is it Lassie, Timmy fell down the well?” impression. Fanci would looked at me strangely, then start tattling again.

Spuds was a notorious escape artist, mostly by digging under the fence. He never went far, and after he had his romp, I would find him waiting at the gate to be let back in. Guess he forgot about the hole he dug under the fence? Since he weighed less than half that of the Catahoulas, his holes were too small for them. So, Fanci would come and tell on him, while the big duffus Caddo kind of danced around excitedly and agreed with Fanci. And I had to go find Spuds and fill the hole—again.

The Catahoulas eventually figured out they could join the Spuds Escape Parties by making his hole a lot bigger. They would range further. After a few of these round-ups, I got serious about this and bought an electric fence. I spent one whole Saturday stringing bailing wire suspended on PVC pipe insulators along the top and the bottom of the fence.

Since I was going to be shocking my dogs with it, I decided I should test it. DANG! That got my attention! Once the dogs “met” Mr. Fence, they got no closer than three feet from it after that. Me too, except when I was in a hurry and ran into the wire at head level by the gate. I would catch the wire right across my wire rim glasses and sparks would fly before my eyes! The dogs were probably thinking hope it hurt! A lot!

The problem with electric fencing is anything that touches it grounds it, effectively turning it off as long as the ground stays attached. At that time, we were fighting a troublesome vine that kept popping up all over the yard and attaching itself to the wire along the ground. The stuff was like Kudzoo, growing about a hundred feet a night. Maybe the electricity was stimulating growth? Somehow the dogs figured out that Mr. Fence wasn’t working any longer and tunneled under the fence and the wire. You should have seen that hole!

So, I had to go around the yard and remove that vine and anything else green that had grounded the fence. The three dogs stood around and watched with amused expressions. When finished, I figured the dogs needed to relearn that Mr. Fence bites, so I grabbed the nearest one, which happened to be Fanci, and dragged her over to the fence and touched it with her paw. She let out a yip, and everyone got the message.

That lasted until the vine came back. I swear those dogs knew that wire was grounded in less than 24 hours of the event and were under the fence immediately thereafter. So we lather, rinse, and repeat, but this time when I grabbed Fanci for a demonstration, she threw herself out and went completely limp like a child throwing a temper tantrum and bellowed like I was torturing her. Spuds and Caddo tucked tails and got scarce then. When I let go of Fanci, because I was laughing so hard, she decamped and watched me suspiciously from about 20 feet away. But they all got the message.

That lasted until the vine attached itself to the wire again, and we started the process all over. With Mr. Fence hot once more, I looked at Fanci, and with tail tucked, she started backing up, so I figured to use my dog whisperer psychology. With all three dogs intently watching, I went over to the fence and pretended to touch it. I jumped back and yelled shaking my hand like it hurt. It worked! All three dogs tucked tails and disappeared.

This became a ritual around the Casteix homestead. About every two weeks during the summer, the dogs escaped and I cleaned the fence and pretended to be shocked. Sometimes when I didn’t have time to clear the vine, I just did my shocked act, and they stayed away from Mr. Fence. Eventually, they must have figured out I was faking it. And under the fence and wire they went.

Lather, rinse, and repeat.

*UPDATE: Ryan (in the picture above) reminded me she had fifteen puppies. Now where did I get nine?

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Filed under Catahoula Books, Family History