Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bill Probert - The Dog

Note: This article was published in the Breckenridge News, Wednesday, September 20th, 1882.

Please take the time to read this newspaper article about the dog -- Bill Probert. I would loved to have had the chance to meet this author. He kept me laughing throughout. Enjoy.

Last night a very interesting reading of a paper on dogs in an English magazine brought vividly to our mind recollections of an old canine acquaintance of ours, who some years ago, was about as noted a character as the town of Mt. Sterling could boast.  Indeed, it was hard to tell if the Mt. Sterlinger of the days we write was prouder of his town having been the birthplace of Senator Garrett Davis, Chief Justice Marshall of California, or “Bill Probert,” even though the latter was only a dog.  But such a dog!

If gentility is an attribute of caninity, then Bill was a gentleman among dogs. There was nothing mean or low or currish about him.  He was high-toned in his conduct, and high-headed and high-stepping in his bearing. Courageous he was, as were all true-born Kentuckians, be they men or dogs. He had no more idea of fear than the late Live Forever Jones had of short hair. Had occasion presented itself, he would have tackled a lion without thought of or care of the consequences. Ostensibly the property of Tom Probert, he was his own master, and roamed about the town withersoever he listed, sure of a cordial welcome at every house he condescended to visit.

Bill was not popular among his fellow dogs. Had there been such things as a congress and popular elections among dogs, he would never have been chosen to represent his dogstrict. As became a dog gentleman, he was an ardent admirer of the pretty and sleek Blanches and Sweethearts of his tribe, but he held his nose high above the common Trays and Bones and Tigers and Lions that stooped to sentengery about the dirty alleys and backyards of the town. There was but one dog in that place that, in family and blood, anyways near approached the aristocratic plane, and that was Phil Reece’s Dick. They were rivals and, of course, inveterate enemies. They never met but to fight. Bill was low and broad and heavy little English bull terrier of a brindle brown color. Dick was taller and of the Scottish terrier persuasion.  Both were game from the tip of their nose to the end of the tail, and when they engaged in battle the conflict only when they both became too exhausted to stand on their feet.

Bill was eminently a friend to man, and hence was a great favorite with his two-legged 
acquaintances. But he was wary of forming intimacies, and never grew confidential. We do not remember but of one gentleman towards whom Billy exhibited aversion, and that was the late Judge Zeke Garrett. Judge Garrett at his prettiest would never have been accepted as a model for Apollo or Antinous by any sculptor of taste, and when he “made a face” his countenance was no mean representation of a masque of Hideous. It was Bill’s misfortune one day to display empathic aversion to one of Zeke’s faces, and from that time on, he never saw peace in the judge’s presence.

Such were Bill’s qualities of head and heart that Marion Botts, on the mornings after being overtaken in a bottled fault – a much too common experience, poor fellow – used to declare that “Bill Probert was the whitest man in town.” But then Marion, as with all persons who become headachy after exhilaration, was at such times given to cynicism.

But the time came when poor Bill lost the countenance lost the favor of that warm friend and staunch admirer. The breach came about in this manner. Marion had been over-stimulating himself and grown aweary. Sitting down on the stone sill under the show window of Wells & Thompson’s store to rest, he naturally dropped to sleep in the summer sunlight. Bill came promenading along, lost in thought, and got a casual glimpse of Marion’s legs. Had he not been wool-gathering, Bill would have known better, but imagining they were posts he sidled up and performed the usual canine libation in token of his appreciation of the uprightness symbolized by posts and pillars and trees. Marion, too wroth to accept the delicate attention as a compliment, looked upon it as an insult, and Bill’s name nevermore passed his lips coupled with commendatory phrases, but quite the reverse.

Bill was an ardent democrat, and attended all the meetings of that party at the courthouse. No man living can say that he ever saw him at a meeting of the opposition. He hated the negro as the devil is said to hate holy water. He was a staunch union dog during the war, and when Morgan invaded Mt. Sterling fought the Johnnies as any soldier of the blue. And his loyalty to the old flag did not cease when the war ended. When the long lines of confederates filed into the town to be paroled and wend their various ways homeward, being received with open arms by their recent foemen, Bill scorned to recognize the terms of the capitulation and continued the war against the conquered confederates on his own responsibility.

A strong tie of friendship existed between Bill and Hon. Richard Reid, now a judge of the superior court, a friendship that was severed only by Bill’s death. And Mr. Reid, as a token of regard and esteem, honored his memory and extolled his virtues in a brief biographical sketch couched in singularly beautiful and pathetic language.  He died decorously as he had lived an orderly life – except when battling with Dick Reese.

The Breckenridge News, Wednesday, September 20, 1882

1 comment:

  1. Wow! He had the gift of words and great voice. Loved it!


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