Saturday, June 18, 2016

My first puppy.

 It is the off season. June staring July in the face more inspires lazy hot days, grilling in the backyard, and fishing than it does stories of bird dogs and calling ducks. Today I've been thinking back. Back before I had discovered the English setter. Before I knew how to call, or train a bird dog. Before I had a driver's license. Back to where memories become shadows and a boy wanted a long eared shorthair puppy so bad. It was summer then too I think.
My father was a backyard breeder of German Shorthairs back in the 1970's and 1980's. My parents were divorced so I got to visit my dad on the weekends. Often there were puppies at his house. Oh how I loved it when there would be puppies. Dad would let me play with them and I would try to teach them things in the back yard. I suppose that was the beginning of my desire to train bird dogs. Each week I would see less of them and sometimes a new owner would stop by to buy a new puppy. I don’t remember being overly sad that the puppies slowly disappeared. I did always dream of having one of my own, and often tried to talk my mother into letting me bring one home. We lived on the edge of town and I would try to explain that it would be perfect for me to have a bird dog to run in the fields on the wild pheasants that lived there completely unharnessed by a boy and his dog. It didn’t seem right that those birds should live in such a way. Again and again, year after year I would try to talk her into it and every time in her infinite wisdom she would say no. And then it happened. I went to visit my dad and he broke the news to me. There was a new litter of puppies, and he seemed really pleased with the breeding. There was one pup in that litter that I really had my eye on. She had a lot of white, and a few dark liver spots, with the biggest ears you have ever seen. I thought it was so funny that they got wet every time she drank water. I was so taken by her for who knows what
This is one of only two pictures I have of her
reason, but I knew my mom wouldn’t let me have her. I had even gotten tired of asking, and I am certain she was tired of hearing it. I made an agreement with myself that I would ask one last time. This puppy was worth trying. When she said no I would just never ask again, ever. While my dad drove me home in the car I planned my assault. I would tell her about the puppy and how cute it was, and her big ears, and about those poor pheasants living in piece, and on and on. However when I got home my game plan went out the window, and I could only get the courage up to just ask the question. I knew she would say no so as soon as the words left my mouth I expected to just say okay and turn and walk away. I was into my turn when she blew my mind. It wasn’t a yes, but she said she would have to talk to my stepfather. I was so confused. I thought I had the whole script written. Of course I knew he would say no because he didn’t really care for dogs back then. I went to my room trying to imagine what would make him say yes. I couldn’t really think of anything so I was beginning to give up hope when they came in together most certainly to tell me no. Instead I heard something like this. Blah blah blah... responsibility... blah blah blah ...feed it blah blah blah... clean up after it..... blah blah... yes blah blah blah Wait! Yes? Did they really just say yes? Was I really getting a puppy? They were still blah blahing all over the place but I was almost certain they said yes. And
My mom and Spider
they really did. I called my dad and I'm not sure if he was more excited or I was. That long eared white and brown shorthair pup became my first attempt at training my own bird dog. Never again did those pheasants in those fields have to live without being chased. I named her spider. I don’t remember why. I failed miserably at my first training attempt but she did turn into a bird dog of sorts. If nothing else she was steady on point and absolutely adorable.

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