November 17th, 2008 11:23 PM
The Flying Labrador
Miggy's most exellent post got me to thinking of some of my various hunting and hiking adventures, some of which are almost unbeleivable to the uninitiated but true none the less.
This story is about the tragic loss of my favorite dog, this one a Black Lab that was one of the best trained gun dogs that I ever had the pleasure of sharing time on Earth with.
We went hiking up on the Ozark Highlands trail once and got turned around. This is a famous trail that hikers come to trek on from around the country and it is noted for its remoteness and sheer beauty, featuring some of the best that the Ozark Mountains have to offer.
Notice I didnt say "lost" cause I knew what county I was in. I was turned around for a solid week. It's a good thing there's plenty of good water up there or I surley would have died from drinking creek water or at the very least gone crazy.
I had my highly trained black lab with me and she's the very reason that I am able to tell this story today, she literally saved my life. After the third day of wandering around after I had eaten my stash of food, I was getting mighty weak from walking up and down those ridges, trying to figure out which way was which, staying by the creek because my two canteens were empty.
I got so weak from not eating for a few days that I passed out and awoke because that Lab had licked me back to life. Realizing that I had Lab slober all over my face, I picked a stick and chunked it just to get her away from me. That stick landed right in the middle of Hurricane Creek and being the highly trained dog that she was, she jumped right in after that stick.
But she did'nt fetch the stick. Much to my suprise,she fetched a right nice 5 pound catfish and dropped it at my feet. Taking this as a sign from God, that perhaps he had more planned for me than I expected, I used what little remaining strength I had to start up a fire. I grilled that catfish and it was the best meal I ever ate. Even had a bit left for the Lab. After much praise and compliment, that Lab figured it had a good thing going. I'd heard my whole life that Labrador Retrievers were smart and I had taught several to hunt, but it just never dawned on me that you could teach one to fish too.
So, when I got hungry, I'd thow a stick in the water and that Lab would come up with another catfish...usually in the 4-5 pound category. I'd cook it up and we'd both sit there and eat it happy as could be. It was thing of beauty really, a man and and his dog living together out in the wilderness living as a man and his dog was meant to live.
Once it kinda messed up and fetched me a small one, about a 2 pounder. I voiced my displeasure at him that there wasnt enough for the both of us and that dog sulked and would'nt look me in the eye, it knew its messed up...but that dog was smart enough that it never again fetched me another fish that weighed under 4 pounds. I guess that they just have some built in instinct about the size of a fish or something. Anyhow it was working out well for the both of us and I was slowly gaining my strength back after purt near starving to death.
I had told my wife to give me a at least a week before calling someone to look after me if I came up missing. I became somewhat concerned that my time was about up and I started looking for a way to get back to my truck before she felt the need to call out the National Guard to come look for me.After mullygrubbing around, I finally heard a semi-truck jake braking from afar, up somewhere on highway 7 and knew what direction to travel to get the heck out of Dodge. Trouble was, I was so deep into the forest that it took me dang near another full day just to reach the highway.
It was there that fate took a nasty turn, so terrible it was that to this day I have nightmares about it.
It was getting dark and I was in sight of the highway, walking along a bluff that was over 150 feet tall, and at the bottom of it was the creek. I'd been using a walking stick to help me with the rocky trail that went up and down and I finally got to the top of the bluff.As luck would have it,Highway 7 skirted around the top of that bluff and I got excited when I could finally see the headlights of a car on the highway though the trees, and figuring I wouldnt need that walking stick anymore I inadvertently tossed it...right off of that danged bluff.
That Lab, being as hungry as I was from the hard trip from the creek up to the top of the bluff, didnt even think about it and it bailed off right after it.
I was in shock.My best friend went flying after a stick and that was the end of that. I'd been told that a man deserves one good dog in his life and mine had just bailed off of a cliff with a creek at the bottom of it.
Thinking that it may have hit the water and possibly lived, I went back several times looking for her.Every now and then I would see the remains of catfish lying up on the sandy creek banks with tracks of webbed feet around it and it would give me just enough encouragement to keep going back. Thats been over 20 years ago, and to this day when hiking the area I still catch myself looking for her.
I never saw that Lab again.
Its a pity too, cause I was seriously thinking of training it to catch Bass...
I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.
AR. CHL Instr. 07/02 FFL
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November 18th, 2008 12:44 AM
Ya gotta decide what sex the dog is first.
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