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NALC Registered Breeder Since 1996

Specializing In Natural Bobtails and Natural Rearing



Remembering Bobtails

by David Traxler

David Traxler is the son of Vernon Traxler, an “old-timer” in the world of Catahoulas.
For more information on Vernon Traxler see Tribute

  The first one I ever saw was when I was 6 years old. I walked out the  back door and there he was. Almost as tall as I was, kind of gray-black  with dark black spots all over. He had a white patch on his chest and  no tail. Both eyes were brown with lines of white running through them.  Almost as if they were divided like a pie. Part of his left ear was  gone, and an ugly scar ran from the back of his head, over his ear,  almost to the end of his nose.He had encountered a large wild boar when  he was still a pup, and obviously the boar had won. There had been many  battles with wild hogs as well as black bear since then. Old Bob wore  many scars.

  I would waste away the hot summer afternoons of my youth laying in  an old swing in the backyard. Bob would lie next to me. While my grandpa  would scratch my back, I would scratch Bob. As my little fingers would  discover a scar on Bob, I would raise up, take a long look at it, turn  to my Grandpa and ask, " What happened here Papaw"?   Then as my grandpa  would start the story, I would lay back down, close my eyes, and dream  of the great hunt my grandpa and Bob were about to go on.

  They all started the same. He got his first Catahoula from his grandpa  when he was about my age. His grandfather had settled at the mouth of  the Red River where it dumps into the Mississippi. He had married a  half French/ half Choctaw Indian woman and they had a trading post as  well as a ferry to cross the rivers. For a small fee, he would put up  travelers, ferry them across one of the rivers, or trade them something.   One fall, he traded 10 pounds of salt and a ferry across the Mississippi  River to an old Catahoula Indian, for a white female cur. She had light  blue eyes, several dark spots on her hips, three legs and was pregnant.  She had seen her better days, especially since a black bear had torn  off one of her front legs at the knee. Since the Indian had to cross  the river before high water, and he had several other dogs, with winter  coming on, and thinking that she would not be able to raise the pups  or hunt, she could be traded. On the other hand, my great great grandfather  needed a dog and since she was heavy with pups and bred to a half-red  wolf/ half cur male that the Indian had with him, the deal was made.

  Every winter, when high water came, everything was put on the ferry,  and they waited out the flood. They felt this was better than moving  to high ground because they always found a lot of stuff floating down  the river and he could still trade with the people going down river  to New Orleans. As fate was back then, winter came early and they moved  on the ferry before the old female had her pups. Two weeks later she  had four puppies. One died the next day, the other three lived. One  blue female was traded the following spring to a Choctaw Indian for  two pigs, one red female was traded to a half breed for a white female,  and the other, a black leopard male with a white chest a partial glass  eye and no tail was kept and named Bob.

 So was born the ancestry of the present day Bob.

  My ancestors as well as Bob's enjoyed many great hunts.  I got to hear  all this every time before Grandpa would tell me how Bob got the cut  that made the scar. The rest of the story seems to fade from memory  but the one thing that they all had in common was that Bob made a mistake  and paid for it with some kind of a cut.  Once I ask my grandpa if he  and Bob had ever been on a hunt that Bob did not get cut.  "Sure they  did," he said with a half smile, but that was the easy hunts, and they  seem to be forgotten in time. That's the way they are supposed to be.  Any dog could make the easy hunts; it was the hard ones that you work  for that would always be remembered.  Each one of those scars was lessons  in Bob's life that he had learned. Any dog could survive the easy hunts;  it was the hard ones that made him good. The trick was to not only being  there for the hunt but survive for the next hunt also.

  It was not easy being a Catahoula Cur. Not only did they have  to catch the animal; they had to catch them in such a way that they  would live to hunt another day. These things were not taught, they were  learned by instinct and by mistakes. When I got my own Bob and hunted  the same swamps that Bob's ancestors and mine had hunted, I encountered  many, many wild animals. Sometimes Bob couldn't hold them for me. Sometimes  he would not catch them when I wanted him to. Sometimes I would become  angry because Bob let them get away.  As I got older, I realized just  how good Bob was. He survived all those hunts as well as my temper so  he could hunt again.

  Bob gave me a lot of good memories; I cried the day he died. I buried  him in an old Indian mound close to where Choctaw Bayou runs into the  Tensas River.  Maybe I'm crazy for spending so much of my youth on the  back of a horse in a Louisiana swamp with a dog.  Before he died, Bob  gave me many things. Patience, Understanding and Perseverance were among  them. And how to survive and hunt again!

  That was many years ago and I thought this was the end of the story….I  did not think I would ever own another Catahoula; not after Bob. But  the spring of 1999 would bring me back to my youth. While playing on  the Internet, I found a web page by Don Abney. My parents had lived  next door to Don for many years in Abita Springs, Louisiana. One thing  led to another and I ended up at Mary Langevin's web page. There on  the Internet was a dog that looked exactly like my old dog, Bob! I waited  for what seemed like ages, but was really only a few months, for my  bobtail pup to be born. He will remember the many great hunts that I  went on with my first Bob and the many great hunts of our ancestors.  The smells of a swamp, the scent of a trail, the loyalty for his master;  he will already know these things, for all this knowledge has been passed  on to him.

His name will be Bob.



“Cats Cradle’s Cocodrie Bob”

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