Opinion Columns & Blogs

WALKER: Dogs I have known (Part two)

Now, Janice and I have Hershey and Cloie. I’ll get to Cloie in more detail momentarily, but first let’s give Hershey her due. Hershey is the sweetest dog in America, or at least we think so. She is the polar opposite of Bo Winkle. I have never seen Hershey even growl at anyone -- not even another dog. I take Hershey to ride in the back of the pickup several days a week. She loves to get in the pond. She also likes treats and great leftovers like Domino’s pizza. Hershey is a great dog and much loved.

Now, I want to tell you more about this interesting dog Cloie. Let’s start when she first took up residence with us. We’d feed her every day. But just because she gets fed doesn’t mean she’s given up her old ways. Example: She still likes to run through the fields making grasshoppers hop up into the air (grasshoppers do “hop up,” don’t they?), so that she can snap them up as a supplement to her Purina Dog Chow diet. And woe unto a lizard or mouse that strays into her path. Survival instincts, you know. And then there’s fishing and catching fish.

Cloie also catches turtles, turns them on their back and spends hours playing with them. Then they disappear. Do they get back in the water or does she eat them? It wouldn’t surprise me if she does eat them. I know she steals pecans out of the buckets under our carport, cracks and eats them. So, why not a turtle?

We have a small pond behind our house, and Cloie spends about one-half of every spring and summer day fishing -- and yes, catching two or three a week. This fishing dog stalks the fish. She stands stone-still on the side of the pond until an unwary fish (bass or bream) swims into her range. Quick as lighting, she snaps them up and then runs around the pond with the catch in her mouth looking like Bill Dance displaying a 12-pound bass. One difference in Dance and Cloie, though, is that Cloie doesn’t believe in “catch and release.” Cloie is a “catch and eat” dog.

Actually, we have four fishing ponds on our place, and I spend lots of time fishing for and catching bass. Cloie, who always goes fishing with me, knows that one of the small bass will be a treat for her, and she’s right. If I catch one of two pounds or less, it goes to Cloie, who immediately runs off about 50 yards or so with the bass and proceeds to eat the entire fish -- always head first. And woe to you if you try to retrieve the bass -- or I should say: Good luck in your trying, you’ll never get it back.

One other thing that I saw Cloie do that I could hardly believe. She dove off the platform that holds the feeder, head first, with her head down like a human (rather than up like dogs hold their heads when they jump into the water), and came out with a fish. Unbelievable. What a dog.

I shouldn’t conclude without sharing with you the best dog story I ever heard. It was told to me by Buster Byrd and in the presence of his younger brother, Chuck, who for many years was a law partner of mine. Here it is as told by Garland T. Byrd Jr. (Buster):

“Daddy wasn’t much on any animals that you couldn’t ride or couldn’t pull something or ones that you couldn’t eat. But he finally consented for Chuck and me to get a dog, a beagle hound, named Sam. He told us that we each owned a half-interest in the dog. I was about 10 years old, and Chuck was about 5. We were specifically instructed not to bring the dog into our brand-new house, which we had lived in for about three or four months and had new wall-to-wall carpet. Daddy and Mother went off, and we took the dog inside. At just about the time Daddy returned home and came in the door, the dog made a big deposit in the middle of the new carpet. Immediately, 5-year-old Chuck said to Daddy, ‘Look what Buster’s half of the dog did to the carpet.’ That’s when I realized that Chuck was going to be a lawyer.”

I can’t top Buster’s story, so I’ll stop with a final salute to some good dogs I have known -- dogs who have enriched my life. Blackie, Fritzie, Governor, Tux, Georgia, Hershey and even Bo Winkle. And then there is Cloie, irrepressible, irresistible, irreplaceable Cloie. Go you hairy dogs!

Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: lwalker@whgmlaw.com.