The Dogs In Our Lives

Pepper, a mixture of beagle and God only knows what other breed, was the first dog the Pickle Queen and myself had. We kind of adopted the town mut and he more of less lived with us when he wasn’t out sowing his wild oats. He ate (chewed on) the window sill in our back entry, my boots, cap and hoodie. He wasn’t our favorite mut by any means.

Susie, a register black lab and field trial champion in Oregon, was taken in by us for a companion for Pepper after we had moved to Minnesota from Iowa. She was an avid duck hunter and was known to retrieve ducks from open water after crossing ice near the shore.

Duke, a registered German Shorthair, came to us when he was just a puppy. He joined Pepper and Susie and when all three were left with my folks, enjoyed digging moles in ‘Grandpa’s’ yard. He made one trip to the new lady vet in Edgerton to have a BB removed from a testicle after he decided not to listen to me during a pheasant hunt.

Brownie was a mixture between a ‘farm dog’ and a coyote we had after we moved to a farm near Pierpont, SD. After he killed 3 of our turkeys one morning, Olaf, our middle son, said, “When I seen you and Brownie head out thru the trees and you were carrying a gun, I figured only one of you would come back.” Smart boy, that Olaf.

After a few dogless years, Huck, a Golden Lab, replaced Brownie. He moved to Watertown with us and lived happily in town for quite a few years. He had to go back to with one of the PQ’s brothers as the allergy doctor said he had to go.

All five dogs held special places in our hearts and lives. We’ve been dogless for many years and need not make arrangement for their care when we get a wild hair and take off for an overnighter or longer time away from home. This almost changed a couple of months ago. Here’s what happened.

I was driving around the backwoods here on the Massanutten looking for additional hunting/trapping sites. I drove into one holler and in front of a shanty-style house, seen a sign that said “Talking Dog For Sale.”

After working up the courage to leave the semi-safety of our van, I walk up and rapped on the door all the while looking over my shoulder as folks here abouts don’t fancy to strangers as they may be revenuers. An older ‘gentleman’, wearing blue bibs and an old torn flannel shirt answered the door and told me the hound was in the back yard after I asked about the sign.

Going around the house, I saw a very calm, nice looking Redtick sitting near a doghouse wagging his tail as if it was glad to see a friendly face. He didn’t look abused, seemed to be well fed and had a nice coat, free from snarls. I figured he had a chance to be number six.

“You talk?” I asked.

“Yep,” the hound replied.

After I recovered from the shock of hearing a dog talk, I said, “So, what’s your story?”

The Redtick looked up and said, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government (Heaven only knows it needs help), so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running, but all the jetting around really tired me out and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger, so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. Then I got married, had a mess of puppies and now I’m just retired.”

I was amazed. I went back in the house and asked the man what he wanted for the dog.

“Ten dollars,” the man said.

“Ten dollars.” I stammered back. “Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?”

The man, buttoning up his shirt, answered, “Because he’s a bullshitter. He’s never even been out of the yard.”

It’s probably good I didn’t get him as the Pickle Queen doesn’t need something else to feed and care for.

Keep your fork

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