Monosyllabic Pedantry

Friday, January 20, 2006

Who gets the air?

Zachary got very protective of my niece, Harper Lee, and followed her around everywhere.

My father had a saying,"He's breathing air a good dog could have." This saying impressed upon me the worthlessness of certain people and the value of a good dog.
My family's had a dog my whole life. My father, and necessarily me, bred labs because we were a duck hunting family. We also hunted grouse and deer, but the dogs were designed for ducks. If you haven't been around a well-trained bird dog, you've missed out. A wounded duck will dive under water and grab onto reeds on the bottom. He'll die that way and not come up. A well bred lab will dive under water for a duck. It's a sight. Our lab would lie motionless by her food bowl. When birds would come by to eat her food, she would whap them with her paw. Then she would carry the stunned finches to my father, who would praise her and set them aside to gather their senses and take off. A good bird dog does not harm the birds she's carrying.
One of the labs we had was named Floyd Patterson, because he was big and black. Labs typically run 60 to 85 pounds. Floyd was 140 lbs if he was an ounce. He'd come up to the dinner table and set his head on the table with all four paws on the floor. He had a scar between his eyes where he was hunting grouse and he walked through a barbed wire fence. It didn't slow him down.
But labs are gentle creatures. I never saw Floyd in anger except one time when our female lab, named Trouble, got out of the yard and was being "hit on" by the Irish Setter next door. Floyd cleared the fence with no trouble, and my father had a long talk with the neighbors, apologizing and promising to pay all the vet bills.
Another dog we had growing up was a German Shepherd. This is all before I could remember. Apparently, this dog bonded to my older sister. One day, my sister did something wrong and my father went to punish her for it. This German Shepherd saw what was happening and got between my father and my sister, folded his ears flat, curled up his lips, and let my father know that, No, he would not come near that girl.
Shortly after I moved to Georgia, I worked in a deli with a woman who was the wife of a retired New York City cop. To say that this guy had seen it all after 25 years, would be an understatement. I remember when she told me that you can't walk in Central Park at any time of day. You will get mugged in broad daylight in front of 100 people. The ONLY thing that would stop a mugger is if you had a big dog, because the muggers knew that dogs were not afraid of guns, and would attack them.
When I took a job with a company that required me to travel a lot, I decided to get two big dogs (they were puppies at the time) to stay at home with Mrs Schwartz, because I knew that nothing in the world will protect her like a dog.
If I ever had a kid, I would make sure that the same week the kid came home from the hospital, I would bring home a large breed puppy.
Dogs are pack animals. If you raise them with this in mind, where else are you going to find a killing machine that will literally give it's life to protect members of the pack?
My dogs (110 pounds each) are the gentlest creatures in the world, when I'm around. Mrs Schwartz has plenty of stories, where she's in the front yard with them and a salesman pulls into the drive way. All of Zachary's hair will stick up, and he will emit a low growl out of a Stephen King novel. The salesman will literally throw literature on the ground and dive back into his car.
You just can't get better than that.


  • Okay. I admit that I'm just sidetracked and awed by the fact that your niece is named "Harper Lee". That is too cool.

    Now I gotta get me a baby girl so I can steal that one.

    By Blogger Kat Coble, at 7:06 PM  

  • Yeah, my sister's favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird.

    It is pretty cool.

    By Blogger Exador, at 8:05 PM  

  • The best part is that when your niece hits fifteen and hates the world and wants to make some kind of rebellious statement about the injustice of life, she can insist y'all call her Capote, which I also think has a nice ring to it.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I love your dog posts, especially the ones with pictures of said dogs.

    By Blogger Aunt B, at 4:04 PM  

  • b,

    Enough with the Capote. That's just a rumor to scare dumb hippies.

    By Blogger Exador, at 4:51 PM  

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