Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “retrieving”

Beau’s Fulfilling Day


Miss Sugar, Art Advocate, invited several artists to our ranch for a Plein Aire event, which is French for painting outside, a term I just learned and am sharing with those of you who, like me, were kicked out of French class in 7th grade.  Anyway, the artists are painting ranch scenes and Sugar provided lunch and drinks.  Beau provided a fun challenge: try to keep brushes away from him.  Eventually, out of mercy for the artists, we chained him up to protect them.  The long chain almost reached the canopy over the tables where lunch was served, so he went there, and some kind folks gave him some scraps, so he was glad to be within reach of the buffet.

Later in the day, Michelle, who has been living in Nepal for more than a year, arrived at the ranch with her friend, Holly.  They have been friends since high school.  They both played on the basketball team.  One would think that athletes would have quick reflexes, and maybe they do, but not so quick as to be a challenge for Beau, as proven  the next morning when Michelle’s mother made breakfast for, presumably, Michelle, Holly, herself and me.  As it turned out, she also made breakfast for Beau, but not for me.  I heard Michelle request of Beau, “Get out of here.”  Nevertheless, before he complied, he reached up on the counter and grabbed a bite.  Michelle reminded us that Beau is ill-mannered.  She is an Ivy League graduate and knows rudeness when she sees rudeness.  Apparently, it is rude to allow one’s dog to eat one’s breakfast off one’s kitchen counter.  Who knew?

That is not all.  The artists returned for Day Two.  One of them, a woman who claims to be educated with a Masters in Fine Arts, stopped at McDonalds for a “to go” lunch.  She foolishly opened the door of her vehicle without taking proper security measures.  Beau grabbed the McDonalds bag.  The “to go” lunch “went” — with him, briefly.  When Sugar retrieved it from the retriever, only a few french fries could be salvaged.

I know what you are thinking.  You are asking, “Why do they put up with such a thieving creature?”

I don’t rightly know.  I guess he grows on ya.  Plus, all these victims were warned in advance.

A Way to Skin a Rabbit — Unillustrated

There is, they say, more than one way to skin a cat. I contend that the same is true of skinning rabbits. Today’s lesson involves a cat and a rabbit. Now do I have your attention? Don’t shy away. There will be no photos.

In many of my posts, I have mentioned various animals. Beau, our male Yellow Lab, is featured in some of the more popular of those posts, including the most recent prior to this very one, which is about his dietary choices.

So, to continue on a related theme, I describe the scene of tonight’s meal at our home, prepared by Sugar, my trophy wife. We decided to eat on the front porch. It is covered, offering shade, unlike the courtyard to the rear. We had four companions, none of whom had been invited — two dogs and two cats.

After Sugar finished her meal and put down her plate, Beau grabbed her fork and went down the stairs to exit the porch. I suppose the barbeque sauce on the fork was the attraction or maybe it was just to tick us off.

Although he is nominally a retriever, in this situation he felt it was funnier to have me retrieve the fork for Sugar. So I went down the steps too. At the bottom of the steps was a sight to behold. I warned Sugar to not look, which, naturally, aroused her curiosity, and she, well, looked. Then she sort of moaned and then she definitely gagged. It was her own fault. Remember, I told her to NOT LOOK. She failed to thank me. Nevertheless, ever eager to please, I promised to get a shovel, and I did just that. What a good boy am I!

The title to this post hints at what I shoveled up. Yes, it was a rabbit. Well, sort of a rabbit, the leftovers at least. It still had a head attached to a spine, from which ribs were attached, and there was also a pelvis and legs. All but the head and the feet were pretty much skinned to the bone. I credit our cats.

Beau noticed my shovel and its contents, the skeleton, and followed me to the river flowing fifty yards from the house. I tried to flip the shovel so the remains of the rabbit would fly across the river to the other side. I thought that maybe coyotes would finish the job after nightfall.

It will surprise you that someone with my athletic prowess did not propel the skeleton sufficiently to clear the river and reach the far bank. Believe it or not, the rabbit’s remains hit the water and started flowing away, probably in violation of some E.P.A. regulations.

Beau, who keeps up on E.P.A. regulations, was concerned about the river being polluted by the rabbit carcass, apparently, although he did not specify his motive for jumping off the bank of the river, into the water, and swam to where the rabbit had hit the water. The rabbit remains had not, if you will, remained in the same spot. It floated for awhile and then sank. Beau desperately tried to retrieve it, as he does sticks and balls and, sometimes, birds. This rabbit did not float like those other things that he retrieves. Beau whined. He paddled. He had to tread water to keep from floating downstream. It obviously bothered him that he did not find the rabbit. I told him that it was okay. (I really did not want the rabbit back, nor did Sugar.) I called him off the task, but he was reluctant to quit. Eventually, he left the river. He was probably tired. He seemed kind of down. He acted ashamed. I petted him as he laid on the porch. Then I went inside.

I hope that rabbit does not reappear in the morning. The cats seem to have an endless supply of rabbits. Sugar can attest to that.

The Passing of the Ball

Our dog Max, a Yellow Labrador Retriever, definitely received the memo (and genes) about retrieving.  He was not “taught” to retrieve.  He started when he was a baby puppy, just weeks (not months) old.  He would follow a little rubber ball the size of a jacks ball rolling across the floor, pick it up and bring it back.  He did have to be taught to drop it.  He learned he had to drop the ball or stick for the game to continue.  However, we had to be quick or he’d pick it up again.  He developed the ability to anticipate where the ball is going and sometimes beat it by going farther (and faster) than the ball traveled through the air, needing then to come back for the ball, like football receivers sometimes do.

Consequently, he became the “ball bully” at dog parks throughout the area.  Dog owners have had to recognize that bringing one’s dog to a dog park to play fetch can be less fun when a yellow streak beats your dog to its own ball EVERY TIME.  It would be like taking your middle schooler to play catch with a football and Champ Bailey kept intercepting it.  No fair!  We have had to apologize over and over and ultimately stopped taking him to such parks, out of kindness I suppose, for the lesser beings.

At the ranch, retrieving can be even more fun for a water dog because there is a river into which objects may be thrown, provided they float.

Max displayed an additional talent for an aspect of retrieving beyond rudimentary fetching.  That is,  on the rare occasions that he lost sight of a ball that landed in the tall grass, Max was not perplexed.  Instead, he gladly went about the next task, which was sweeping the area  in a series of half circles while his tail wagged like a metronome and his nose was held near to the ground.  He covered the ground in a systematic manner with confidence that he would eventually find the hidden ball.  To him, the balls were not lost — merely hiding to make the game more interesting.  His interest did not waiver.  He kept at the sweeping until he successfully found the ball.  He was an excellent example of persistence.  It was something that he was not taught.  I would not know how to teach that.  It was a gift delivered through genetic excellence.  Some have it; some don’t.  You can’t put in what God left out.  God did not leave out the instincts that Max was destined to enjoy.

I have read that a genius is compelled to follow his or her path.  For example, if Mozart had not had piano lessons, he would have played regardless.  He had to.  His talent, his genius, compelled him to be a musician.  Max was born with a genius for retrieving.  He had to use his superior talent in such endeavors.  That is how God made him.

Max went to be with the Lord on January 3, 2013.  1-3-13.  He was born the day after 9-11-01.

Rover, our German Shorthair Pointer, like all other dogs on earth, never had a chance when competing with Max in chasing balls.  However, he tried.  Today he brought us a ball, one belonging to Max, the orange rubber ball with the jingle inside, and we played fetch.  And Sugar cried.  It is very clear that Rover learned from the master.  The torch, I mean ball, has been passed.


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