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Canine Comics

Don Webster,

ogs, hunting dogs in particular, can be the catalyst of memorable moments, some of which tend to be on the humorous side. My first encounter with such an experience occurred one winter when I was six years old. I was spending the weekend with my grandparents who owned and operated a small dairy out in the country. My grandparents also raised poultry, and there was a large chicken coop next to the barn. During the middle of the night, I awakened to hear a ruckus taking place. I climbed out of bed and went into the kitchen, where my grandmother was pretty excited about something. “Wilbur, there’s a fox in the chicken coop!” she exclaimed. “Oh, all right,” Grandpa grumbled as he pulled on his rubber boots. He grabbed his sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun on his way out the door. “I’ll take care of the varmint.”

I followed Grandpa out the door. “Can I come along, Grandpa?” I asked.

“Stay behind me,” he said. Grandma handed me a lantern. “Take this,” she said.

We hurried across the barnyard toward the commotion in the chicken coop. Grandpa was leading the way as I carried the lantern behind him, shivering in my pajamas. Grandpa was wearing his red, woolen “long john” underwear.

As we arrived at the coop, Grandpa cocked both hammers of his scattergun and flipped the latch on the door of the chicken coop. Something brushed my leg as I stepped forward with the lantern, and I looked down to see Cletis moving past me. Cletis was Grandpa’s old Chesapeake Bay retriever.

Grandpa raised the shotgun to his shoulder, his fingers on the gun’s double triggers. In the glow of the lantern, I watched as Cletis walked up behind Grandpa, sniffing at something that had captured his interest. Without further ado, he stuck his cold, wet nose firmly through the open “trapdoor” at the back of Grandpa’s long johns. Grandpa let out a startled scream and the shotgun roared, discharging both barrels.

If there was a fox, we never saw it. I’ll forever remember my grandfather’s animated, colorful excuse to my grandmother about how he came to kill seven of her prized laying hens.

Some time ago, I happened across an article appearing in a Utah newspaper with the following headline: “Dog Shoots Owner in Buttocks”. The article went on to tell how a duck hunter laid his loaded shotgun across the bow of his boat, not realizing the gun’s safety was off while he set out his decoys, and his retriever somehow managed to trip the gun’s trigger, sending a load of pellets into the hunter’s backside. The hunter was able to drive himself to the hospital, where he spent a few hours having the pellets removed. Needless to say, when the word got out, he was the “butt” of several, crude jokes.

And then there was the hunter who sent his young Labrador across a deep channel to retrieve a pair of teal he shot.

The dog brought both ducks, one at a time, to the edge of the far bank, all the while listening to pleading encouragement, followed by stern orders, to bring the birds across the channel. Apparently thinking that he needed to deliver both birds across at the same time, and deciding that he was unable to do this, the bright, young retriever quickly arrived at a solution to the problem. He promptly ate one of the teal, and then proudly brought the remaining duck across the channel to his master.

And how about the hunter who pulled into a crowded parking lot at a shopping center on a warm afternoon, and rolled down the car’s windows halfway to make sure his Labrador retriever pup had fresh air. The puppy was stretched out on the back seat, and the owner wanted to impress upon the young dog that it must remain there in the seat. As he stepped away backward, he said emphatically, “Now you stay. Do you hear me? Stay! Stay!” The driver of a nearby car, an attractive, young lady, gave him an odd stare, and remarked, “…Why don’t you just put it in park?”

And there was the veterinarian who was worming and inoculating a litter of Golden Retriever puppies. As the look-alike puppies squirmed over and under each other in the box, the vet realized it would be difficult to tell the treated pups from the rest. So, he turned on a nearby water faucet, wet his fingers, and thoroughly moistened each pup’s head as he finished with it. After the fourth pup, the talkative owner of the puppies grew silent. As the vet sprinkled the last pup’s head, the owner of the puppies leaned forward and whispered, “I didn’t know they had to be baptized, too.”

And last, but not least, there was the boy whose parents sent him to Mississippi one summer to spend time with his redneck uncle who lived way back in the piney woods, and was a passionate coon hunter. The first night he took the boy hunting with him, he handed the lad a shotgun. “Do I get to shoot the raccoon?” the boy asked.

“Listen to me, boy, and listen good,” his uncle said. “Don’t shoot unless you hear me tell you to shoot. Do you understand me, boy?”

“Yessir,” the boy said.

The man owned a slobbering, frenetic hound named Old Blue, and in hardly any time at all, the frenzied, baying dog had a coon up a tree. The boy’s uncle climbed the tree, the limbs shook violently, the coon fell out on the ground, and the hound was on it in a flash. It was quickly obvious to the boy that his uncle had trained Old Blue to finish off whatever fell from the tree. Due to its perverse and violent nature, the manner in which the wild-eyed, salivating hound accomplished this task can only be alluded to in a discreet and opaque manner. To state that it was highly unorthodox is perhaps an understatement. At any rate, it is best left to the imagination…

The evening wore on, and Old Blue treed the fourth raccoon. There was a vicious and prolonged shaking of the branches, and the boy watched in shock and surprise as his uncle descended in mid-air from the tree. Old Blue, his eyes glazed over in fiendish, depraved anticipation, gathered himself to spring.

Even before he hit the ground, the boy’s uncle was screaming at the top of his lungs, “Shoot! Shoot, boy! Shoot Old Blue!”

Don E. Webster is, at heart, a writer. In his heart of hearts, he’s an outdoor writer. Aside from working several years for the California Department of Fish and Game as a young man, he worked primarily in automotive sales and management prior to retiring. He would have written much more, except that he’s spent entirely too much time hunting and fishing. Excerpts from Don’s forthcoming book on waterfowling, “Bury Me In My Waders – An Old Duck Hunter Recalls His Fowl Past” have been previewed on MyOutdoorBuddy.Com.

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