Tennessee is full of hills and dogs. Our technique for responding to dogs has improved, and the fear that I carried for the first two days of biking in TN has abated. This fear reminds me of many of the readings I’ve come across in both historic fiction and nonfiction alike. I’ll summarize some of the reading experiences that relate to both dogs and the Under Ground Rail Road.
1. The Slave narratives include a story of a woman (slave) who ran away. She was hunted with dogs, and when she was found the dogs attacked and ripped of her breasts. The teller of this tale goes on to say that the woman was able to have children, but had to have other women feed her children. I remember having trouble believing this story when I first came upon it. No more! There are dogs here on chains (thank god) who nearly choke themselves as we pass by. And the brutality/ferocity of dogs seems to increase as their numbers increase. Dogs have group think too…. The Slave Narratives have a complex history and I recommend anyone interested in reading about them to find the book Unchained Memories.
2. In the time traveling neo story Kindred a free Black woman is caught trying to help her husband (or lover?) escape to freedom. She is nearly killed by the dogs that are sent after the pair, stopped only because a man expresses his desire to purchase the ‘free’ Black woman.
3. Mississippi and other states had laws denying slaves and sometimes free blacks from owning dogs.