Unfortunate Dog (The)
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UNFORTUNATE DOG, THE. AKA and see “Rye Straw (1).” Old Time, Breakdown. USA, Nebraska. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCC. R.P. Christeson commented that the "Unfortunate Dog" title was a "polite substitution, the original (Dog Shit a Rye Straw)" being "unprintable."
The three parts of this tune purportedly depict a constipated canine (1) suffering in labor following the unwise ingestion of too many rye straws; (2) howling in agony prior to relief; and (3) yelping while leaving the scene after the ordeal.
Seattle fiddler and musicologist Vivian Williams writes: "’The Unfortunate Dog’ was played by fiddler Jake Lake (originally from Cook County, Illinois) at the wedding of Henry Van Asselt and Catherine Jane Maple in a cabin on the Duwamish River, near Seattle, on Christmas Day, 1862, according to an account written by the bride's brother, John Wesley Maple. Other tunes played at that wedding: ‘Devil's Dream’, ‘Fishers Hornpipe’, ‘King's Head (The)’, ‘Gal on a Log’, ‘Arkansas Traveller’.” See Rye Straw (1) for more.
Source for notated version: Bob Walters (Burt County, Nebraska) [Christeson].
Printed sources: Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; No. 21, p. 17.
See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources