Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Hunting dog knows it’s time

October 18, 2000

I am having to watch what I say around the house. Not because I have a toddler, but because I have a dog a hunting dog.

It's about time for Brady, a 7-year-old golden retriever, to go to work for three months tracking the scent of pheasant and quail in Nebraska. It's a job he takes seriously, but with the excitement of going to recess in the third grade. He loves it, he's good at it and, unfortunately, he anticipates it.

During the off season, Brady is content to chew on tennis balls and the last matching pair of socks in the house. He eats table scraps and chases the cats. He likes his ears scratched and curling up on his dog bed at night.

He is a normal dog.

But then, summer fades into fall. Temperatures fall, making the air cool and brisk. Trees start dropping their leaves. The first fireplace in the neighborhood drapes a burning smell across the neighborhood.

And Brady goes ballistic ... nuts ... psycho. He thinks it's hunting season. The ball is forgotten. He doesn't sleep at night. He sprints for the front door every time it opens. His nostrils are in high sniffing gear.

It feels and smells like hunting season. But it's not even close to opening day on Oct. 28. How do you tell that to a dog?

Well, believe it or not, I do try to explain it to him. But I do it without using the word "bird." That just sends him over the edge. His long ears perk up high. His hound dog lips quiver. His tail crashes back and forth. And he begins bounding around the house, smelling for a bird that does not exist.

In his already sensitive state of mind, I also have to avoid using any word that sounds like "bird," such as word, third, iceberg ... you get the point. It all sounds the same to him.

Brady's pre-season energy does help his normal dog body get into shape for pushing through tall prairie grass. It's tough work that is hard on the body and paws (and is often good for at least one visit to the vet office).

I've heard others tell of similar experiences with their hunting dogs, but it is a characteristic that must be saved for the truest of hunting dogs.

Because as Brady impatiently waits for that turn down the dusty, rock road to his favorite hunting spot, his companion Murphy, a 5-year-old golden retriever, hasn't noticed that life has changed at all.

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