By Shari Sullivan
There is no doubt about it – people love their dogs. Here in Alabama that is even more evident when you pay a visit to The Coon Dog Cemetery. It’s one of a kind and it is dedicated to this one specific breed of hound dog. And it’s not easy task to have your own coon dog buried there.
Established in 1937
Key Underwood loved his coon dog ‘Troop’. When Troop died, Mr. Underwood decided to bury him in their favorite hunting spot. He and Troop had hunted for coons in this same area for over 15 years, so it just seemed appropriate for Troop to be buried there. So, when Troop left his owners side, Mr. Underwood wrapped him in a cloth sack and dug a 3 foot deep hole and buried Troop in his favorite spot. He then found a large rock from an old fallen chimney nearby and chiseled Troops name and the date to use as a marker. Unbeknownst to him, the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery was born that day.
Coon Dogs Only
Coon Dog hunters are a close knit group and they all love their dogs. To be buried in this cemetery, a dog must meet certain qualifications. According to the official Coon Dog Cemetery website https://www.coondogcemetery.com/index.html these are the requirements for your coon dog to be buried here:
- The owner must claim their pet is an authentic coon dog.
- A witness must declare the deceased is a coon dog.
- A member of the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Inc. must be allowed to view the coonhound and declare it as such.
What is a Coon Dog?
A coon dog, or a coonhound, is an athletic, sporty and tenacious breed of dog that will always follow it’s nose. Coonhounds are specifically known for being the best raccoon hunters, hence the name coon dog. According to the American Kennel Club ( https://www.akc.org/ ) there are six different types of coon dogs.
- Redtick Coonhound
- Bluetick Coonhound
- Black and Tan Coonhound
- Redbone Coonhound
- Plott Coonhoud
- Treeing Walker Coonhound
You can find photos and learn about their individual characteristics here: https://www.dogsplanet.com/en/adopt/types-of-coonhound/
I spent a January day at the Coon Dog Cemetery with my grand twins and great nephew and we had so much fun reading all of the names and epithets that had been inscribed on the headstones. Most of the graves are marked with handmade and even hand carved markers. The dogs name, owners name, breed and dates of birth and death are on most of the markers. Some of them have special tributes too. Here are some of our favorites:
“Bragg… The best east of the Mississippi River”
“Black Ranger… He was as good as the best and better than the rest”
“Doctor Doom.. When the hunt was in doubt, Doctor Doom was still out”
“Ruff… Positively great dog”
“Straight Talk’n Tex… Ability and class in one”
“Spot… A joy to hunt with”
“Barney.. Will be hard to replace”
When to Visit
There are 185 certified coon dogs who have been laid to rest here in North Alabama in a beautiful forest that is filled with memories of good dogs and their adventures. You can relive some of those if you happen to be in the area on Labor Day each year. The annual Labor Day Celebration features food, music, arts & crafts and even a Liars Contest where people see who can out-tell one another with their outlandish stories of their coondog adventures. I think I know where I’ll be this year on Labor Day! Maybe I’ll see you there!