The coon skin dog story
A Dog Story with a Not-So-Sweet Ending
(Warning: This story is about something some boys did to a dog, thinking that it would cure the dog of barking. The accidental outcome was deadly, though. So if you'd rather not read this story, skip to the next one. It's included here to show that Lincoln wasn't always the perfect boy we sometimes want to believe him to be.)
Abraham and his step-brother, John, liked to go coon hunting with other boys. Apparently, though, their parents did not often approve of them going into the woods at night to hunt coons. So Abraham and John made it a practice to slip out of the house. Their plans were frequently foiled, however, because their little yellow dog, Joe, would yap and yap, giving them away.
So one night the boys took Joe with them, and the boys efforts to teach the dog a lesson inadvertently turned deadly. This is what happened:
One evening Abe and his stepbrother, John Johnston, with the usual complement of boys required in a successful coon hunt, took the insignificant little cur with them. They located the coveted coon, killed him, and then, in a sportive vein, sewed the hide on the diminutive yellow dog. The latter struggled vigorously during the operation of sewing on, and, being released from the hands of his captors, made a bee-line for home. Some larger and more important canine on the way, scenting coon, tracked the little animal home, and, possibly mistaking him for a real coon, speedily demolished him. The next morning old Thomas Lincoln discovered lying in his yard the lifeless remains of yellow Joe, with a strong proof of coon-skin accompaniment."Father was much incensed at his death," observed Mr. Lincoln relating the story, "but as John and I, scantily protected from the morning wind, stood shivering in the doorway, we felt assured that little yellow Joe would never be able again to sound the alarm of another coon hunt."