Friday, August 30, 2013

My Dog Rosie

My dog Rosie

April 16, 2013 at 11:32pm
My dog friends will appreciate this.

Fetch, It's Who I Am by Cyn Hanrahan McCollum

First Field Event
The first GA Specialty (92, I think) was my first. I had my first flat coat, Woodsong’s Damask Rose CDX. She was my heart. Rosie, The Rose Nose, St. Rose The Perfect (well after a few years, anyway).

Rose was the first dog I ever attempted field training with. She was a really calm house companion for the most part. She was an obedience ace. Who knew she would be such a beast in the field? Barking in the van, dragging me face first through the mud because I refused to let go of the lead after a shot and tossed bird. My fault, Rose, sorry. For some reason I was swayed by this word “steady.” We are entered in the WC and Unsteady Singles and we’ve been getting up and driving to muddy fields all winter very early in the morning because of the Florida heat. The group is convinced she should pass easily.

At the WC I park way up the road so she can’t see or hear what is going on (or at least I could delude myself that dog barking in the distance was not mine). A few numbers before us I bring her down. From that point on things get a bit fuzzy until we get to the line.

The field is a cleared grassy hill enclosed by trees just leafing out in spring. Quite pretty. I am shaking and Rose is vibrating, snuffing her nose and prancing her feet at least three or four times to my one step. But at least she is not dragging me.

The memory bird is up the hill a ways. Rose marks it. The first bird is ridiculously close. Judge says dog. I say Take It and she is there and back in a flash. I’m in newbie shock, this is all happening so fast and loud. Time seems to slow at this point.

I turn Rose to the memory bird and she looks. Judge says dog. I say Take It. She shoots off the line straight up the hill. The hill. Rose has never seen a hill before, we live in Flat Florida. Oh damn she stops short. She starts casting around. She looks at the first bird spot and starts toward it. Double damn. The judge says she’s switched in a quiet voice. Triple damn.

At that moment a breeze picked up. Rosie’s head lifts and she huffs the new scent stream in and out of her mouth and nose. She turns her head to the left, toward the gun. BIRDS!!! She charges over to the gun and seizes the mesh bag of dead ducks. The gun hollers and grabs the other end of the bag. A fine game of tug ensues. The gallery is suitably entertained. The judge chuckles call your dog, ma’am. She responds to my whistle. We leave the field with mixed emotion, me sad and embarrassed, Rosie proud and elated at her fabulous score of the most birds in one place ever.

The Paper
Rose was a working dog who took great pride in her jobs. She was demo for my training business, nanny to the pups that stayed here, benevolent alpha who could rain hell when needed, and my constant companion. At home she still needed chores, so I made fetch jobs for her. X V.2 and I taught her to carry the TV Guide to whoever needed it, which morphed into her carrying things to all the family members by name. Fetching dozens of things around the house by name. And getting the paper, of course.

The only problems with the paper were her high drive and the short depth of my front yard, and the errant arm of the paper delivery guy. Mostly in sight, but sometimes I had to point her in the right direction.

One morning, bed head, raccoon eyes, barefoot, wearing a tshirt and panties I open the front door with Rose in a sit at my side. Scan the yard, the paper is under the corner of the car a short angle to our left. Not too bad. I shift Rose a bit, show her the line and she sees the paper. I send her. She shoots off strongly, barreling straight across the street, the main drag in our neighborhood, and grabs the across the street neighbor’s paper. She flips around, tail trashing at high speed totally thrilled I have given her this longer fetch first thing in the morning.

Horrified my dog may be killed by a car I bellow DOWN! Rose drops like a stone, still holding the paper, puzzled by my out of context request, but ok, maybe this is part of the game. Her tail never slows.

I grab a leash off the hook and cross the street in my bed head raccoon eyed barefoot tshirt and panty ensemble, get my dog, praise her and go home.

Drinks In The Garden
At one point in my life I had a nice garden fenced off from the dogs so I could actually have flowers, a bird feeder, stuff like that. It had a gate. Rosie was allowed in with me because she understood what a privilege it was and enjoyed just hanging out with me. Sometimes on a nice evening we’d just sit, I’d have a cocktail and we would share a snack in the pretty golden light of just before sunset.

One late spring evening I carried a gin and tonic and some chips and homemade salsa out to the recliner. Rose lying in the grass at my side. There were doves on the fence cooing. It was so peaceful.

We sat midway between the fence and the corner of the house where the bird feeder hung. A dove decided to make a lazy arcing glide off the fence to the bird feeder, the apex of his low arc right before us.

Rose shot out of her relaxed down and caught the dove in flight. It protested. Mayhem for a few moments. I struggled out of the recliner. My dog’s head is encased in flapping dove wings. I see her jaws compress gently. Flapping ceases. I call her, Rose here, give. She does. Dove is alive but broken. She is vibrating and chattering her teeth in pride. At that point in my life I could not ring a neck, so I go out to the front yard and set the bird under a bush to gasp it’s last breaths. Mea Culpa.

Shaking, I cut back through the house to wash my hands. I go back out to the garden to see Rose finishing off my gin and tonic, the chips and salsa untouched.

About then the cat comes over the fence with the now dead bird to show us what the cat gods offered him today in tribute.

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