is an old axiom "To soothe the
woes of life, every man deserves one
good woman and one good dog".
I am fortunate, to fill that necessity,
good woman has been with me nearly
half a century; but, since it would
be appropriate to talk about her in
a sporting magazine, we will concentrate
on the second part of that old axiom.
The local coroner in Lebanon County
Pennsylvania had a reputation for
breeding excellent "bench leg"
beagles, primarily for field trials.
limited budget at the time did not
allow me the luxury of field trials,
all that I
wanted was a good dog for the rabbits
and pheasants abundant in south
central Pennsylvania at the time.
My wife and I went to the coroner's
to look over the newly arrived litter
of six or eight pups. It was love
sight when a handsome tri-colored
male tried to get to us through the
After careful consideration of an
appropriate moniker for a hunting
we decided to register the pup as
As it was
not allowed to keep a dog outside
in the area where we lived, Barney
a house pet. That suited Barney and
our house full of children just fine
became the best of friends. Son Dan
was especially fond of Barney. We
praised Dan for all of a sudden eating
all of his vegetables until we found
he and Barney had formed a partnership
when the veggies "accidentally"
the floor. Above all, he was my dog
- he could recognize the sound of
car's engine blocks before I turned
into the drive, and let out a howl.
concerned that all of this domestic
exposure would ruin him for hunting,
assumption soon to be proven false.
Barney could trail a rabbit at six
months of age, although his bay was
of a falsetto rather than the deep
baritone he later developed. When
season opened, he was nine months
old and joining my uncle Roy's beagles
Lancaster county, sharing his load
on our annual pheasant/rabbit hunts.
tired", muddy and full of briers,
he would curl on my hunting coat on
of the car for a well deserved nap
on our trip home. Somehow, by the
day, he had removed the briers and
groomed to his shiny tri-colored self.
A trip to Perry county Pennsylvania
with my friend Skip took Barney into
new territory where deer were as prevalent
as the rabbits he was intended
to hunt, a real challenge for Barney
- he soon learned not to chase those
industrial-sized rabbits. On that
trip, I scolded him for not staying
front when Skip said, "look,
he's on point". That didn't seem
right, a beagle is
not supposed to point. We turned back
and sure enough flushed and killed
large rooster. That happened several
times in Barney's career and we soon
realized he was not lying. On another
trip with Skip and Barney to an area
overgrown with briers, old Barney
worked his heart out and finally got
rabbit at which Skip emptied three
rounds from his pump and I my double.
never forget the look on that dog
as he stopped dead, gave us both a
look and refused to again pick up
True, he had a mind of his own. When
I had enough for the day, the only
Barney would false trail was to avoid
getting into the car and go home.
recall having shot an unusually large
cock bird with large spurs. I stuck
my game pocket and when we returned
to the car went to take the bird out,
only to have it fly from my hands
to the top of a tall pine. Slowly
the bird lost
strength and slid down the tree to
where Barney was waiting. Barney put
front paws on the rooster and in his
expressive way told me to make sure
the darn things were dead.
One of my favorite memories of Barney
happened one opening day of small
game season, when I, along with the
plant manager of the company I worked
for and a company veterinarian was
to hunt the countryside near Myerstown,
PA. The newly hired vet had an English
setter that he had flaunted as a top
dog out of the Purina Kennels. We
were to hunt with the English and
What happened in the car while waiting
for the plant manager told something
of the "English". While
my beagle had to ride in the trunk,
the "English" got to
ride in the back where the vet's Browning
"Sweet Sixteen" lay on the
Nature called for the setter and a
deposit was made right on the receiver
the Browning. We hunted hard that
day, with Barney getting up several
and bringing around rabbits. He worked
extremely hard while the "English"
dutifully walked aside of his owner.
When we returned to the car and were
taking game out of our coats, Barney
walked up to the setter, lifted his
and gave the appropriate "salute"
all over the side of the Purina Kennel
I was allowed "one good dog",
and while someday may have another,
none will compare with "Bring-home-the-bacon-Barney".