“You must not know much about coon hunters and their dogs, if you think we would contaminate this burial place with poodles and lap dogs.” – Key Underwood
Taking place September 3, the Coondog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration is held in the world’s only cemetery just for coondogs, located in Colbert County, Alabama, 7 miles west of Tuscumbia. Established on September 4, 1937 by resident Key Underwood when he had to bury his 15-year hunting partner, Troop, the cemetery began on the site of a popular hunting camp where, according to the event website, “coon hunters from miles around gathered to plot their hunting strategies, tell tall tales, chew tobacco and compare coon hounds.” Starting with a rock chiseled with Troop’s name and burial date, the graveyard has since become a popular tourist attraction and today includes the graves of more than 185 coondogs.
Our mention of the event on the Deep South Facebook page last year ignited some discussion about the word “coondog.” “What the hell is a COONDOG?” asked one fan. Underwood’s quote at the start of this post helps to explain why coondogs are different from other types of dogs. A coondog is a huntin’ dog, as they’re called in other parts of the South, and men love them as much as women love their lapdogs.
Listed among the dead in Coondog Cemetery are Patches, Preacher, Smoky, Bean Blossom Bomma and Night Ranger. And etched along with their names are tributes like “A joy to hunt with” and “He wasn’t the best, but he was the best I ever had.” (The hound that was named Ralston Purina’s Dog of the Year in 1984, Hunter’s Famous Amos, is also buried there.)
A quick Internet search for the term “coondog” produced a recipe for Coon-Dog Punch. We’ll leave you with the tasty concoction below, something to sip on during the holiday weekend. And if you plan to attend the celebration, bring a lawn chair. Music and barbecue will be provided.
2 gallons Hawaiian Punch
1 cup sugar
slices of banana
1 liter grain alcohol
Leaving the rind on the orange, mix all ingredients in a large bucket or punchbowl. Stir before serving over ice, and wait for the coon-dog to bite!
Photos from coondogcemetery.com.