Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Some Unique Dogs of Deer River

Almost every family up north hunts.  I could give you a statistic, but I'd probably be making it up.  Therefore, I can say almost every family up north has a hunting dog.  These dogs are usually a good mix of Chesapeake’s, Labs, Springer’s, German Sheppard’s, a mix of all kinds of bird dogs, or just simply a mix of the neighbor's dog down the road a mile with the other neighbor's dog that's down two miles after a result of a naughty night between the two of them sneaking out after all the good little dogs had gone to bed.

Deer River dogs are not your typical pet-type of dogs.  They are usually tough dogs that can brave the 20 below (average) winter weather with just their thick coats.  They are trackers and protectors.  They are beyond intelligent.  Well, most of them, anyways.

I know my parents always felt safer letting us kids go off and play around the farm, knowing we always had a trail of two or three big dogs following us.  When we would go to play in the woods, these dogs have not only helped us find our way home again on a couple of occasions in which we got turned around, but we also knew that they would protect us from any wild animal that we could possibly encounter.  Yes, growing up on the farms in Deer River I never had to worry about pedophiles or rapist.  Instead, we had to worry about wolves, bears, and bobcats.  Our dogs would have defended us to the death if necessary.  Even when we would play in the fields and would lie on the grass making shapes in clouds, one of the dogs would come and stand over us- almost as if it was protecting us as we appeared vulnerable.  I always felt safe with a good hunting dog around. They were our Guardians.

They were also full of more personality than I’d ever seen in a dog before.  A few examples of what I mean:

Emma:  Emma is my dad’s latest dog.  She is an adorable black and white mix and has no idea how large she really is.  She has been known to affectionately knock my 5 yr old on the ground in attempt to jump into her arms.  As she navigates around the living room, her tail acts as a machete, either splitting things in half, or clearing off the tables in a single, delightful sweep.  Despite her huge appearance, she is still a baby at heart and will tote around her stuffed teddy bear after a long, tiring day. 

Water is her favorite and she cannot pass any body of water, no matter how big or small without resisting the urge to completely engulf herself in it.  She will then emerge, covered in a sticky, green swampy mass and naturally feel compelled to wait until she is right next to someone dry to shake her body free of the green particles and water.

Dooger:  Dooger was rescued as a puppy as some nasty folks apparently thumped him and his brother on the head as puppies and left them in the woods for dead.  When my family discovered this, despite the fact they knew they didn’t need another dog; they had no choice but to rescue them.  The other puppy was found a home with other friends and Dooger was left with my family, and quickly learned how to become a real farm dog.
Dooger believed the herd of cattle was his.  With his herd, came great responsibility and Dooger never fell short of ensuring that each cow was safely transported back and forth across the road when needed.  If a calf escaped, he awaited the signal from my uncle and would swiftly round up the baby.  He never let the bulls intimidate him, and would stand nose to nose until they obeyed Dooger’s directions.  My uncle never had the need to speak a word and Dooger was so intuitive and a simple point was all that he needed.  To this day, Dooger still has his little lump on his head, but remains the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.

Millie:  As I sat around talking to family outside one recent crisp fall day, I couldn’t help but notice this big dark dog come settle near my feet that had lugged a chunk of firewood to gnaw on.  For some reason, she loved the taste of wood.
Her favorite pass-time was to cut down trees.  As soon as she heard her master get out the chainsaw, she would skip happily into the woods to begin helping cutting down trees.  Her job was the young saplings that would bend easily.  She would literally stand under one of these small leafy trees and jump up, grabbing as near the top as she could with her mouth and as she landed on the ground again, pull the top of the tree over until the thin trunk at last gave way and snapped off the top of the tree.  As you gazed out into ‘her’ forest, you would see a multitude of saplings that were snapped off at the height of Millie’s leaps. 

Like our own children, we all believe our dogs our the most unique and interesting of all the dogs out there.  But as any true dog lover could tell you- each dog comes to assume its individual role as a member of the family, and always with great pride.   What makes them unique is what wins a place in our heart for them.  It's why we fall in love with our animals and will take on another in need, despite the fact that we already have way too many animals! 

A pic of me & Emma- she's trying to give me a kiss.  I ever so subtlety pretend to look the other way turning my head, hoping she won't realize the truth and be offended, as it could forever drive a wedge in our relationship.

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