Being a serious dog person is hard sometimes. They never live as long as we think they should, and by God some holes are harder to dig than others?
Field Champion Purnell's Dead River Rebel was born in early October 2003. He was part of a litter out of our very best hound. (FC) Purnell's Greens Valley Dixie. We waited anxiously for this litter as we were new to field trialing and I was sure that one of these puppies we were waiting for was going to be my first AKC Field Champion! It turns out that their mother beat him to that, but I knew from the very beginning that this pup was going to be a good one. He started with a couple of his brothers the following Spring, at the Susquehanna Valley Beagle Club. We had brought the pups with us to get a little socialization. When the trial was over we took our little pack of puppies on to the snowy hill behind the club. It didn't take very long until little 4 month old Rebel was yipping after a bunny track. Man was I pumped! This was the first time we had taken them to field. From that point on, it became apparent that Rebel was born to a purpose. Running rabbits was all he wanted to do.
He was by no means perfect, but over the years he accounted for a lot of rabbit stew when other hounds had no idea there was even a rabbit around. I had a lot of fun running Rebel at the trials, he was kind of conservative and maybe a bit too careful when he was young. There is no doubt we left more trials early than a lot of people, but he never embarrassed me. He always gave 110%. After his third or fourth hunting season we could see a big difference in the way Rebel ran. He was way more confident and it showed in the way he would take control of a pack. Any time there was a break in the chase, we would hear Rebel's loud screaming squall mouth leading the way out of the check. Around that same time when we hunted he started to bring me the rabbit at the end of the chase. All of them, no matter what hound tried to take it from him. There was no way any other hound was getting that rabbit, and he gave them to me. I am not sure why but I like to think he felt the same about me as I did him?
Rebel and I spent a lot of time together over the next few years, we hit trials every chance we got, one of my life's proudest moments was his first AKC licensed win at Oil Creek Beagle Club. The Judges called out a nine dogs winner pack. There were a lot of very good hounds on the ground that day, there were more than a couple that needed points or the win to finish for their title. From the minute we unsnapped his lead, this one was Rebel's. We turned the hounds into a nasty swamp filled with skunk cabbage. I will never forget hearing Rebel screaming as he obviously lead the pack. These hounds ran the rabbit around and around that swamp with almost no breaks in the action. After about the fourth circle the judges started to pick up hounds. They were getting them one by one and each time I waited on pins and needles; praying to hear that scream that meant Rebel had found the next track and was still down. After a little better than an hour the Judges had picked up six hounds, leaving the final three still running the same rabbit they started at the beginning of the cast. The Judges finally called field trial and it was over. There was a lot of hand shaking and back slapping going on that day. We were some very proud beaglers standing around the swamp that day, and rightfully so. We all had just been a part of the smoothest, fastest and longest chase I had yet seen at a trial. I couldn't believe it when the Field Trial Secretary called out the second place hound-I can actually close my eyes now, many years later and feel it. After a few more years of great winners packs and many many great hunts, Rebel finished for his AKC Field Champion title with a win at York and Adams Beagle Club.
While the trials were a lot of fun, my best memories will always be of days spent hunting. Rebel and I hunted from Maine to Maryland. He ran a lot snowshoes and cottontails to the gun and gave me so many great memories. Way too many to list, but one day a few years ago he brought me a piece of a shed antler. It is about three inches long with the burr. That evening when I got home, I drilled a hole in it and it has been my key chain ever since?
I have been sad to see the last year or so that Rebel had lost a few steps and he was a bit slow to bounce back after a hard hunt. This morning after giving him his mornings treat and ear scratch, I went around to the other hounds. Just like every morning, they were singing to me and jumping the fence. Each one hoping that they were going to get the nod today and get loaded up for the evening run after work. I gave each of them their treats and ear scratches. At some point I noticed that all of the hounds had gone silent, and were quietly staring towards Rebel's kennel. With my heart in my throat I went to his pen and found that my old friend had crossed the bridge. When Rebel passed he was surrounded by his Sons and Daughters, Grandsons and Granddaughters. It will be an awful long time until the influence of Rebel is gone from the DeadRiver, maybe never. I hope never. I am very fortunate to have been able to spend the time I did with that old hound. He taught me a lot.
-Andy Purnell, LCS Customer Service
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