Sportsman and dogs go hand in hand in most circles, many anglers I know also bird hunt and their bird dogs are the focus of many conversations. Some of these dogs are worth thousands of dollars, their Parents and siblings prized dogs with some sort of credentials I rarely understand the meaning of. My Family was for the most part not made up of Sportsman, at least not to the degree to own bird dogs, but we did grow up with a boat dog. My Grandfather and my Father were both at one time in their life considered professional water-skiers, before I was born my Grandfather ran these "ski shows" where they would create pyramids of people on water ski's, did all kinds of trick skiing with my Grandmother on his shoulders and my Father was a stellar slalom water-skier and also did bare-foot skiing among other things. By the time I came along, the ski shows, and competitions were all in the past, but we lived on a reservoir and I grew up in a boat at least 5 days a week several months of the year. Our Correct Craft ski boat had an over-sized engine to pull up those pyramids of people and the drone of that 455 Buick engine was something I fell asleep to numerous times as a small child. We had a boat dog named Ginger, she was a mut and much of my youth was spent throwing a frizbee hour after hour for this dog, she lived to chase that round disk, seemingly never tiring. The excitement she would portray when that boat was hooked up to the truck is something I will never forget.
Several years ago, I decided I too wanted a dog of my own, at that time I had finally after years of struggling to build a solid clientele began to book trips consistently. As an independent guide on a lesser known watershed as far as the fly-fishing community was concerned anyway, this was no easy task. I wanted to rescue a dog from a shelter, and it was important to me this dog would tag along with me basically everywhere I went, including guide trips. I got online and found this pet finder website where I started my search for a dog that was a Friendly breed and not some ankle biter lap dog. To my dismay, when I would explain to these people that I wanted to be able to take each dog I inquired about for a boat ride to make sure they could handle life on the water, these people would time and time again turn me down to adopt these dogs because I didn't have a fenced in yard, dogs didn't belong on boats and all kinds of crazy reasons I found to be unbelievable. I will never forget this one lady that was caring for a dog until it got adopted sent me photos of the dog and her kitchen was so filthy the house should have been condemned. She had the nerve to tell me I was a cruel person to expect a dog to always be riding around in a truck or boat once I explained why I wanted to adopt a dog to her. It was after this experience I put up a post on Facebook venting about my experiences with these crazy people fostering shelter dogs until they were adopted. One of my Friends seen this post and immediately thought of a dog her stepson was trying to find a home for, life had gotten in the way and he simply didn't have enough time to show his dog the attention she deserved.
Later that day, I had myself a boat dog, a Bloodhound named Jessie. As luck would have it, she loved riding in my truck and boat, but unlike most labs, she didn't want to jump out of the boat all the time to take a swim. When the boat motor wasn't running, she was totally chill, often sprawled out on the deck of the boat snoring, but as soon as that motor fired up, like most dogs, straight to the bow she went. The downside to a hound, if they aren't kept on a leash, they tend to wander off, following their nose to wherever it may lead them. It was for this reason, a couple weeks after I got her, I decided to let her run loose on this island below Berrien Springs Dam. Within 2 minutes of letting her loose, here came a Deer running right past me with Jessie in hot pursuit, I thought to myself, perfect, she will never catch that Deer and will get some exercise in the process. Bloodhounds are not known for a desire to swim so I assumed the island was a safe place to keep her contained. 20 minutes went by and my phone rang, it was an angler telling me he had my dog and was calling me as my number was on her collar, I assumed he had saw her running around the island and thought she didn't belong there, but he then explained the Deer had swam across the river on the other side of the island to get away from her and she swam across in hot pursuit. I pulled anchor, drove over to where she was and right before I got there, she apparently got away from the guy who had her and was standing there looking at me as I drove up. I hopped out and when she saw me coming her way, she began to run as if this was a game. That hound made me chase her in my waders all over town, always staying just far enough ahead I couldn't catch her. Finally, as if she sensed I was on the verge of collapsing, she stopped and let me catch up, we then began the long walk back to my boat.
After that day, it would be a long time before I would let her roam free again. I will leave that story for another time, since that day Jessie and I have travelled all over this country and had quite the series of adventures before winding up back here in Michigan. These days we are both enjoying a life still full of adventure, but certainly living a much more domesticated lifestyle than in the past, something I think we both are very happy about. To be continued...