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“The Booger Dog” an Ozark folk tale from Vance Randolph’s “The Talking Turtle and Other Ozark Folk Tales”

“One time there was a fellow that believed in all kinds of signs and omens, so he couldn’t get no rest at all. Whenever he seen something out of the ordinary, he figured the Devil must be at the bottom of it, or maybe witches. You take a fellow that believes them things, and he is always worried about something or other. He spends half his time cooking up charms, and quoting verses of the Bible, and burying stuff at the crossroads, and making marks on the front door, and all such as that.

“Well, this fellow got to worrying about a big black dog that come around the house every day. Nobody in the neighborhood had a dog like that, and he thought there was something spooky about it. Finally he fixed up a big dose of strychnine, and put it in a piece of meat. The black dog gobbled up the bait, and then it had fits. When he seen the black dog lying there the fellow was sorry he done it, because maybe it was just a natural dog after all. But when he went out to milk the next morning, there was a big black dog a-frisking round just as lively as ever.

“What had really happened was that he put too much strychnine in the meat. Everybody knows that if you feed a wolf too much poison it makes him sick right away, so he will throw it up and get well. The neighbors tried to tell the fellow about this, but he didn’t take no stock in it. From that time on he figured the varmint was a booger dog, that couldn’t be killed with poison nohow.

“Next time the black dog come close to the house, the fellow give it both barrels of his shotgun. And while the dog laid there a-kicking, he run out with the chopping-axe and cut its head right off. ‘Maybe that will settle your hash,’ says he. And then the fellow went to bed, with the door barred and the latchstring pulled in. But away along in the night he heard something outside. The moon was shining bright, and there was the booger dog a-running around lively as ever, carrying its head in his mouth! When the neighbors heard that one the all just laughed like fools, and the fellow got so mad he wouldn’t talk about it no more.

“That same week he seen the booger dog with its head back on the same as ever, so the fellow got him a silver spoon and hammered out a big slug. He loaded up his gun, with the silver bullet instead of shot. When he pulled the trigger this time, the black dog fell over just like it done before. Then the fellow carried brush and poles, and built a great big fire out by the gate. When the fire got to going good he drug the dead dog out there, and throwed it in the fire. He just kept a-piling on wood till the carcass was burnt plumb to ashes. Then he went to bed, so scared he couldn’t get much sleep. But after two days went past without no sign of the booger dog, the fellow got to feeling pretty good again.

“About a week later some of the neighbor boys come over, and they wanted to know how he is getting along with the booger dog. The fellow told ‘em what happened, and they went and stirred around in the ashes a long time. When you burn up a common carcass there’s always a few black bones left, and some teeth. So when the boys couldn’t find nothing only wood ashes, they began to feel kind of spooky. They all knowed in reason that a natural dog couldn’t carry its head in its mouth, like the fellow said. But if the varmint was a genuine booger dog, it is something else again.

“There is lots going on in this world that people don’t know about, like them miracles in the Bible, so the boys figured the booger dog story might be true, after all. It ain’t no use to argue about things like that, anyhow.”