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The Trouble with Dogs

Thu., March 20, 2014

This Chesapeake Bay retriever reflects the enthusiasm and non-bias retrieving skills most dog owners are familiar with. (Associated Press)
This Chesapeake Bay retriever reflects the enthusiasm and non-bias retrieving skills most dog owners are familiar with. (Associated Press)

I ran into my buddy, Mac, at the Valley White Elephant recently, and he told me he didn’t get in much bird hunting this year. Seems he and Alice are still having problems and his heart just wasn’t in it.

It really bothered me to see how unhappy Mac was, but I remember telling him a long time ago when he first became infatuated with that long-legged, big-chested lady, she’d be a hard one to keep close. My Sadie was the same way, pulling everyone around in the draft of her enthusiasm. I never could keep up, and she broke my heart. My advice to Mac was to get professional help. It would be a crying shame to have a big, beautiful golden retriever like Alice and not be able to use her for hunting.

It seems most of my friends had dog troubles this year. I talked to Frank Abbot right after the season ended and he told me he and his two new Brittanies had been out several times, but usually only the dogs enjoyed themselves. Evidently, the female, Cynthia ate the back seat of the Explorer early in the season and when the male, Danny, finally began retrieving, he showed a preference for cow pies. Frank said he would put a pheasant and a cow pie side by side and Danny would grab the cow pie every time.

I guess an occasional cow pie is not as bad as what my friend Ed’s big black Lab retrieves. Sam’s very first retrieve this year was a porcupine, and that’s pretty much what he concentrated on the rest of the season – except for the last two weeks when he was under a vet’s care for an infected quill that eventually came out the top of his nose.

Ed was so lost without the dog in his duck blind he took to cursing his hunting partners just to keep in practice. That didn’t make him very popular, especially with Steve, who was still a little uptight about the indiscretions of Nettie, his Chesapeake Bay retriever.

Nettie is the only dog I know that brought a television antenna and an ironing board home, but I was even more amused when she developed an affection for retrieving chickens. Steve lives in the country, and Nettie has an uncanny ability to dig out of her kennel. After a time or two, she then followed her instinct to retrieve, and when she found a neighbor who was raising free-range chickens just a half mile away, she zeroed in on this white birdie bonanza.

Fortunately, Nettie is the most soft-mouth dog you’d ever want to hunt with, so all the chickens she brought back to Steve’s house were very much alive. Steve didn’t think it would be good for his career if he was accused of chicken theft, but he was too embarrassed to confront the neighbor, so each time Nettie brought home a chicken, Steve would round it up and return it after dark.

This went on for nearly a month until he was confronted one night with a bird in a gunnysack by the owner of the chicken ranch. It took a lot of talking to convince everyone of his intentions. Nettie now has a cement floor in her kennel, but Steve’s wife leaked the story and now one of Steve’s friends calls him at odd times and makes clucking noises over the phone. He’s suggested I should stop doing that.

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