Friday, 22 October 2021 16:41

COLUMN: The ghost of Ol' Shag

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COLUMN: The ghost of Ol' Shag J.A. Bolton

A lot of you may remember the story I’ve told about my favorite pet and hunting companion, Ol ’Shag and how he was tragically killed while stopping for a train.

I’ve never told this next story openly to very many people, so I’m a little scared to speak of it now — but it’s always in the back of my mind. You see, I try not to dwell on it much because I’ve never believed in ghosts. But since Ol ’Shag got killed, some mighty strange things have been happening.

For instance, when I take my new coon dog hunting and he trees a coon, I can always hear two dogs treeing. But when I get to the tree, there’s just the one dog. Sometimes I can be sitting on my deck and hear what sounds like Ol’ Shag running a rabbit. The rabbit comes running across the yard but I’ve yet to see a dog behind him.

During stormy nights I hear what sounds like Ol ’Shag scratching at the back door like he used to when he wanted to get in out of the storm and take up his favorite place under the kitchen table. Well, I get up go to the door and slowly open it to only hear the wind blowing in the trees.

My little daughter, the one Ol’ Shag kept from getting bitten by a rattlesnake, has grown up now and has four children of her own. Each one of these children has heard the story of Ol ’Shag and what a devoted little dog he was.

My grandchildren come on a regular basis to visit us. It was on one of these visits not long ago that they asked if they could go on a hike through the woods behind our house. I told them yes, but to stay on the four-wheeler trails and I would join them shortly. All four of them trotted on down in the woods.

Well, I got busy and forgot about the time when, all of a sudden, I heard the sound of thunder. I dropped what I was doing and hurried on down into the woods to get the kids back to the house before it started to rain. I hadn’t gotten far when I heard it: the sound of children running up the trail hollering at the top of their voices.

“What’s wrong, what’s wrong,” I asked the children.

“It’s Little Jessie. We can’t find Jessie.”

I frantically asked, “What happened?”

The other children said that a large snake had crawled across the trail in front of them and they all ran — but when they stopped, little 4-year-old Jessie was nowhere to be found. Well, I told the rest of the kids to go to the house before it started to rain and that I would find Jessie.

I walked every four-wheeler trail I knew hollering for Little Jessie but to no avail. All of a sudden, the storm hit. The lightning flashed, the thunder roared and the rain seemed to come in buckets. I had hollered so much I could hardly talk, but I had to find Jessie because it was getting darker and the temperature was falling. Where could she have gotten to?

I finally just sat down on a log to get my thoughts together. Then, between the claps of thunder, I thought I heard the sound of a dog barking.

The sound of the barking was coming from way down in the woods where I happened to remember there was an abandoned cemetery and an old barn that stood nearby.

Could this be where Jessie was? Something inside of me kept telling me it might be Ol ’Shag trying to tell me where Jessie was.

The rain had almost stopped as I hurriedly made my way through the thick underbrush toward the cemetery and the old barn. Just as I reached the cemetery, the rain stopped and a big moon was rising. I could see the shadow of the barn descending upon the graves. A big screech owl was sitting high in the top of an old oak tree. I made my way through the graves till I came to the front of the old barn.

I called as loud as I possibly could, “Jessie, are you in there?"

In what seemed like an hour — but was probably only seconds — I heard a small voice coming from the back of the barn: “Here I am Pa,” as she came running and jumped into my arms. “Pa, I’m so glad to see you. I was so scared.”

“Don’t worry darling, Pa’s got you.”

As I put her on my back to take her home, I noticed her clothes were dry as a bone. "How could that be?" I wondered, but I figured I would hear all about in the morning.

The next morning, at the breakfast table, I asked Jessie what had happened the evening before and how did she make her way to the barn without getting wet from the storm?

“Pa,” she said, "when the snake crossed the trail in front of us and the thunder boomed, it scared me so I just took off running. Then I couldn’t find the other kids. I was so scared Pa, but then this little shaggy dog, just like the one you tell about in your story, came up to me. He barked a few times and was running back and forth as if he wanted me to follow him. He led me through the woods to that old barn just before the storm hit. He lay down beside of me to keep me from being so scared. But Pa, as I went to pet him, he was cold as ice.”

I asked Jessie what had happened to the little dog, 'cause I hadn’t seen him.

“Pa” she said, “when I heard you call, I jumped up and headed for the door. When I looked back, the little Shaggy dog was gone.”

And then she asked, ”Pa, do you think we can find Ol’ Shag?”

I said, “No honey, but I’m sure someday he will find us again.”

The very next day, I placed a small marker on Ol ’Shag’s grave which read, “Thanks again old friend.”

You see, I had discovered that an animal’s devotion to his master doesn’t always end at the grave.

J.A. Bolton is author of “Just Passing Time,” co-author of “Just Passing Time Together,” and just released his new book “Southern Fried: Down -Home Stories,” all of which can be purchased on Amazon. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..