I was raised on a farm in the Midwest, so I was surrounded by a lot of animals.
I had two pets that made a lasting impression on me.
I was 9 or 10 years old when my dad gave me a beagle puppy he’d gotten from one of our neighbors. The puppy was sired by my dad’s dog, Duke.
I have several family members who are big rabbit hunting enthusiasts, so the puppy Dad gave me was to be my first hunting dog.
I named him Champion, and the name really fit him. He loved to hunt rabbits, and he became one of the best hunting dogs around.
Champ and I became best friends – going on grand adventures in the forest and around the neighborhood. He was always looking for a rabbit. We had many fun-filled experiences together.
Then, when I was 19, an old stray cat happened onto our farm, and he immediately stole my heart. Because he only had one eye, I called him Popeye. He was the friendliest cat I’d ever met. He was very laid back.
The first winter after Popeye showed up, he would follow Champ and me when we’d go hunting.
That hunting season, my uncle Bert and I would go hunting, and Popeye would follow along.
One day, Uncle Bert suggested I let Popeye run the rabbits, knowing that Popeye always followed along behind Champ when he caught the scent of a rabbit.
So, the next day, we left Champ at home, which he wasn’t happy about, and we took Popeye hunting.
Sure enough, Popeye caught the scent of a rabbit right away. His meowing could be heard through the woods. My uncle and I got three rabbits that day.
Whenever I’d tell people that I had a cat that ran rabbits just as good as any dog, they wouldn’t believe me. So, I’d take them hunting with me to show them I was telling the truth. They were always amazed.
Both Champ and Popeye are gone now, but I think of them often.