For most of my life a dog has been part of the family. What type of dogs you ask? I don’t know. They were mostly black dogs of dubious bloodline and parentage who came either from a shelter or were castaways from somebody else. When I retired, I decided I was getting the perfect, pure-blood hunting dog.
This was not an idle decision. Since most of my time would now be spent in pursuit of outdoor adventure it seemed logical. I wanted the hunting companion shown in all those magazines. You know, the dog pointing, diving into water, laying birds shot through my expert marksmanship gently at my feet. This, after all, is what the canine marketing machine said we should want and, regardless of expense, purchase.
The closest I came before to a pure-bred dog was our Siberian Husky, Halo, who passed away a couple of years ago and must be in that big winter playground in the sky. She was also a castaway, probably from someone who didn’t have the strength, or desire, to run for miles while your arm was being pulled out of the socket. She might have been a pure blood but we’ll never know, we picked her up at the shelter in Monroe. She had been an abused, castaway that Brian convinced me we needed. Of course, a couple of months later Brian went off to college and hasn’t returned home to live since. This, of course, left the walking, feeding, etc., to me. Halo was more of a model type than hunting dog. She knew she was good looking. She had no problem either digging under the fence or somehow jumping over it to strut her stuff all over the neighborhood. The world’s worst watch dog.
After we moved to Montana, I began to search out purebred hunting dogs and began my well-planned propaganda campaign on Kathleen who was, initially, cool to the idea of a dog. After all they are like having children in the house and require a similar level of commitment. Anyway, I looked into Retrievers, of various colors, and breeds. I looked at Pointers and Setters whose names indicated they originating from various foreign countries. I read pages of marketing material and AKC descriptions in my attempt to find the perfect hunting/companion/watch/protection animal. How hard could that be? First, I would decide on the perfect breed and then I would find the perfect breeder.
As my thousands of followers and readers know from my last blog there was a mountain lion on our property. This wasn’t any old mountain lion, this was a hungry mountain lion who killed a deer and then dragged it down our driveway and up the mountain. This is the same driveway where Kat and I take our daily walks to the road and back, a round trip of about a mile. The western forest that had been so exciting and welcoming now seemed more ominous. Reality had entered our homestead.
Have you ever felt the hand of fate touch gently on your shoulder?
I had been keeping an eye on local shelters. Yes, I know that’s not where you find the dog described above but I did anyway. Dogs at the shelter were very often either pit bullish, and I didn’t want that, or small chihuahua type dogs. The day after the lion appeared, they had two new dogs, a Labrador looking dog and a very large dog. “Let’s go check out the Lab,” I said to Kat.
Mountain lion in mind she agreed.
The Lab-looking dog made the Eveready Bunny look like a mellow machine. This dog never stopped moving, jumping, sniffing, etc. A little too active for this now senior citizen.
“Can we check out the big dog?” I asked.
“OK,” Kat said.
Walking to Hercules’s pen we had to pass every other dog in the shelter. They barked and jumped and scampered around their pens as we passed by. Each had something to say but I wasn’t hearing it. When we got to Hercules’s pen he was sitting, regally, calm, and stared at me without making a sound. His brown eyes caught my blue eyes and held them. You can call me crazy (I’ve been called worse, remember, I was a sailor) but I heard him speak to me. “I’m ready to come home.”
He now stands guard as I work outside. He runs point when we go down the road. His deep, bellowing bark echoes down the canyon letting everyone, and everything, know there is a big new dog in town.
What kind of dog is he? I guess there’s some Great Dane, maybe Mastiff, probably not Chihuahua, but I don’t know. Does it matter? He’s a mutt like me.
I’ve decided he is the first of the breed, a Montana Mountain dog.