July 13, 2015

Louisiana Hog Dogs Back to Work - 1950

The following article appeared in the March 31, 1950 edition of the Altoona Mirror in Altoona, Pennsylvania:


Louisiana Hog Dogs Are Put Back to Work
By William Johnston

Jonesville, La.--The floods brought a new moment of glory back for the hog days of Catahoula parish, a vanishing breed that is the pursued instead of the pursuer.

Once more the dogs were out in the pecan and oak woods, looking for droves of hogs, turned out to fatten on the pecans and acorns, and wild after a few months of freedom.
As soon as the dogs found a drove of hogs they started nipping at the meanest looking boars they could find.  It was for the good of the hog, which would have drowned if the floods caught them.
But the boars, with savage grunts, took out after the dogs with all the sows, shoats and pigs following them.  The dogs led the hogs into pens and jumped into the clear on the other side.
Farmers closed the gates in the pens.  Thus some thousands of hogs were saved from the floods.  The renaissance of the hog dogs brought a touch of nostalgia back to Allen J. Swayze, aged 75, a retired Catahoula parish stockman.
Three generations ago there were three big families in Catahoula, the Swayzes, McMillans [McMillins] and Alexanders, and they probably developed the hog dog.
Thirty years ago the Swayzes, McMillans [McMillins] and Alexanders owned 30,000 hogs among them.  Everybody in Catahoula parish doesn't own that many hogs now.
"All this high water and the bad feeding just don't make woods hog raising as good as it was," Swayze said.  "They still got a few dogs that can work hogs.  But nothing like we used to have."
"A good hog dog might be yellow or leopard or have dark blue spots on a white or gray coat--look something like a hound, weigh about 60 or 70 pounds."

Altoona Mirror - 3/31/1950

"But a good hog dog won't have any hound blood at all.  Hound blood ruins a good hog dog, makes him timid.  They ain't exactly a breed.  We just call them curs.  But the best ones usually have glass (light colored) eyes."
"You have to train a hog dog a little.  But he takes natural to finding and driving woods hogs."
"I guess the best ones I ever had were a female named Tollie and a couple of males, Ring and Drummer.  Two or three of us neighbors would saddle up and take the dogs out in the swamp.  Tollie was a good find dog.  She'd locate a herd on a ridge and start circling."
"No barking, like hounds, unless we on the horses didn't know where they were.  Then the dogs would bay.  Drummer was my driving dog.  When the herd was pretty well gathered up, I'd yell at Drummer to get up front and start moving them."
"Drummer would nip and the boars and lead sows and all those hogs would rally, their tails rubbing and their faces pointed outward.  They'd lunge at Drummer and he'd take off in the direction we wanted to go.  Tollie and Ring would be follow dogs."
"If a hog tried getting out of the herd, he'd get chased back.  We'd move along like that as much as five miles.  Two dogs can handle as many as 100 hogs and not lose a single one."

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