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Gould's hound-dog yarn spun with stuff of legend

By Gene Langley / September 19, 1985



The Fastest Hound Dog in the State of Maine, by John Gould. Illustrated by F. Winderoth Saunders. Thorndike, Maine: Thorndike Press. 95 pp. $6.95. When you have a hound dog from Mattawamkeag with hind legs like a kangaroo, you've got the stuff of legend.

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This is an American whopper, yarned out for us by Down East troubadour John Gould. And he's still in good voice in this reissue (it's been through many printings) of his classic tale.

It seems that our hero sets out on the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad from his home in Wytopitlock to go to Mattawamkeag to buy a dog.

A fine, fast-looking dog is found, for the shrewd sum of 75 cents. Bringing him back to Wytopitlock on the train, our proud new owner is told by the conductor that dogs, however fast, cannot ride in the coaches. 'Gainst rules. Upshot: Hero bets conductor 50 cents that the dog can trot along tied to the back of the train. So done.

We soon find out just how very well the dog (he was fast) did, and just what happened to the hotbox.

Things like hotboxes are carefully explained in the author's notes, which he says are filled with penetrating analysis, even some scholarship.

Talking books via audio cassettes are controversial these days, but here is a story, coming from the oral tradition, that would make for great listening. John Gould, step up to the mike for the next edition!