Archive for labrador retriever

More on Maddie – no better friend…

Posted in Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on December 5, 2014 by stflyfisher

Those who follow this blog know a little about Maddie. I posted a piece on our adoption of her, or perhaps I should say her adoption of my family about a year and a half ago. She was a “return”. Previous owners had adopted her as a young puppy but we believe may have found her too much to handle. So she was lovingly taken back by her wonderful shelter, Every Dog’s Dream, in Greene, NY, and after we saw her photo, it was, as they say, love at first sight…

Most people know that Labs love the water. But Hound / Lab mixes like Maddie – well, I wasn’t so sure. As near as can be guessed, Maddie is a Redbone Coonhound and Labrador Retriever cross. She has the ears of a Lab, the head of a coonhound, the coat of a Lab and the tail and deeper chest of a coonhound. She’ll bay like a coonhound, even stand up to a tree if she’s chased a squirrel, yet she also has a deep bark that warns with authority. She’s goofy, playful, wicked fast, retrieves, and loves her toys…

A dog's gotta have toys...

A dog’s gotta have toys…

Maddie first met water not long after we adopted her in March of 2013. And beautiful Jones Park, profiled here before, was the site of our first forays in field and stream. Maddie loved the snow and the woods, but ice and water took some getting used to. The first time I crossed the brook there, she paced back and forth on the other side, whining aloud before finally being coaxed across the frozen surface of the brook. From there though, she started liking water, and these days that little brook is a favorite of hers.

Beautiful Jones Park - this little brook was Maddie's intro to the wonderful world of woods and water...

Beautiful Jones Park – this little brook was Maddie’s intro to the wonderful world of woods and water…

But that was generally shallow wading with the exception of a few few plunges in chest-deep holes. It took most of this past summer before the Susquehanna River dropped low enough for easy wading and the perfect opportunity to introduce Maddie to real swimming and maybe even some river fishing. My first trial would be a “no pressure” jaunt to an area above the Campville fishing access where there was a lot of water with a gradual transition and areas shielded from river current. We took a ride there one Sunday summer afternoon. While I had my fly rod, the goal was to wet wade and fish casually, inviting Maddie to join the water and “fish” with me.

It’s never an issue getting Maddie to take a ride in the car. Open any door and she’s eager to climb in and take up position in the back seat. She’ll then plant both front feet on the center console and look forward, or roam across the back bench seat, poking her head out either open window, ears flapping in the wind. It’s a sight to see in a little Subaru Outback and reminds me that one day I really do need to get a pick-up truck…

Cruising and scoping out the countryside, Maddie style...

Cruising and scoping out the countryside, Maddie style…

So after we arrived at the large DEC access, I took a few minutes to rig up, and then set off up-river, through the woods. Maddie was all over the place in her usual land rover style; sniffing, marking, chasing chipmunks and squirrels – all good doggie stuff. We walked out to a large rocky bar on the river and there we did a little wading as I cast my line. Maddie never strays afar – possibly an attachment issue from her past. She was right by me the whole time. I waded into the river until she almost moon-walked the bottom – and that was good enough for our first adventure. I didn’t want to push it.

Maddie wades the Susquehanna shallows...

An intro – Maddie wades the Susquehanna shallows…

The following week we repeated the same exercise. Maddie was a lot friskier, chasing plovers, wading in where I fished while watching the fly line where it entered the water. We waded deeper this time but I wasn’t having much luck with the bass. Eventually we headed to a feeder creek with a very deep hole. I spied a bass in the hole and cast my olive soft hackle bugger across the pool. It was like ringing a dinner bell as 4 bass quickly emerged from the green depths. These fish had most likely been trapped in this hole all summer – the feeder creek tailed out to a slight trickle before entering the river – and as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers in a spot like that. The biggest of the bass struck my fly aggressively, not wanting to let such a meal get by, and a good tussle began. The fish darted towards the security of a downfall and root ball. I put the brakes on while hollering for Maddie. I lipped the bass, removed the hook, gave Maddie a chance to say hello, and then released the bass. Maddie literally dove right into the hole in pursuit and soon experienced water without bottom. She came dog-paddling back, no worse for wear, and a certified swimmer!

Scoping out the faster water....

Surveying the faster water and making Dad a little nervous from afar…

I was thrilled, but never doubted she could do it. So we returned to the river the following week with a plan to explore a little more. I wondered, would she travel down to the honey hole – the one where the bass could be big – the one I loved to fish?

We got to the access and this time took a wooded path downriver. The path paralleled the river for a bit and then veered off along a river braid. As we hiked, Maddie would dash down to the river braid and then charge back up to find me, flying up 6 foot banks like they were nothing. Soon we came out where the river braid re-entered the river at a beautiful bay that I love to fish…

This is sweet water for fly fishing and fishing this spot gave Maddie the opportunity to explore the river-side and take a swim.

Loving the river...

Loving the river…

Soon after arriving, I cast and swung my olive soft hackle bugger through a chute of water from the river braid and that proved to be a little too much for one nice bass. The fish took the fly solidly and went airborne with the hook-set. Maddie rushed in deep where the bass zigged and zagged, trying to intercept it. At one point it darted between her legs!

A nice smallmouth landed with aid of a water dog - note the paw in the upper left...

A nice smallmouth landed with aid of a water dog – note the paw in the upper left…

Soon enough I had the bass lipped, then removed the fly and put it down for a picture – Maddie’s paw included. Maddie began pawing the bass as I put my camera away and that was enough to send it off in a big swag of its tail.

Soon after hook removal, an errant "pat on the back" sent this bass fleeing...

Soon after hook removal, an errant “pat on the back” sent this bass fleeing…

But as the saying goes, all good things must end. So it was for our river sojourns. Not long after enjoying these visits to the Susquehanna, the rains came, the river rose, and then the cold swept in. Summer faded to fall and then to “see you next year”. No matter, it was great to have a fishing buddy on the river with me…

Relaxing on the deck with a glass of wine after a good day on the river...

Relaxing on the deck with a glass of wine after a good day on the river…

And borrowing a prophecy picture from my original post on Maddie, I’d say she’s turned out to be quite a friend for a fly fisher…

Oh the places we'll go...

Oh the places we’ll go…

Advertisements

Say hello to Maddy…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on March 2, 2013 by stflyfisher

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

Will Rogers
Will Rogers said it best: dogs are good. They live their short lives on this earth looking up to whomever walks into their lives and this goes back to early man who was looking for a guardian, hunting companion, and beast of burden.
Dogs have come a long way, all in service to man...

Dogs have come a long way, all in service to man…

Dogs don’t judge; they are the very essence of unconditional love. Come home from after a bad day, depressed, tired, even angry, and though they’ve been home all alone, they come to you, tail wagging, as if Jesus Christ had just come back to earth.
Long are the tales of a dog’s absolute devotion and loyalty. Hidesamuro Ueno brought his dog, an Akita named Hachiko, to Tokyo in 1924 and every day when he left for his teaching job, Hachiko would stand by the door and watch him go. The Akita would then arrive at the local train station at 4 p.m. to meet his owner when he returned from work. Ueno later died of a stroke at work, but Hachiko continued to return to the train station every single day for the next 10 years until his death in 1935. A bronze statue stands at Shibuya Station in honor of Hachiko.
Hachiko: loyal to the end...

Hachiko: loyal to the end…

Then there’s Hawkeye, the Labrador retriever, that showed dogs too suffer from heartbreak. During Navy SEAL John Tumilson’s funeral, Hawkeye was seen ambling up to his owner’s coffin and then dropping to the ground with a heaving sigh.
Hawkeye, a chocolate lab, grieves for his fallen owner...

Hawkeye grieves for his fallen owner. No greater love…

Indeed, I remember my grandmother once saying she never trusted any person who didn’t like dogs…
Up until very recently, I’d been dog-less for too long. I grew up with dogs, after all, starting with Cocker Spaniels, thanks to my grandparents who bred and showed them. Blue Bay was their kennel – home to many champions of conformation and obedience. Years later my wife and I owned Basenjis, a unique hound breed out of Africa, known to many as the ‘barkless dog’. We showed Kephas (our male) and Yodie (our female), and after finishing them as AKC Champions, they had a litter of 5 puppies. The litter pick, Blue Bay’s Violet Memory, was named in honor of my grandmother and was my way of thanking her for bringing dogs into my life. ‘Violet’ produced many champions. One of her descendents was the first black and white Basenji to win the breed at Westminster.
Kephas and Yodie passed on, as all dogs do, and we took a break from dogs. It was nice at first not having to walk a dog in the pouring rain or frigid cold, shouting under one’s breath every expletive known to man in front of ‘just go…!’, and yes, the house seemed a lot cleaner, dirty laundry left undisturbed, cherry cheesecakes not yanked off tables, etc., etc., but after a few years without panting and yodeling and all those dog antics – comic and touching – well, something was missing. My wife stood fast for a while, claiming she wanted to enjoy the house ‘chew-free’, until out of the blue, she noticed this picture in the news…
Those eyes...

Those eyes…

The rest, as they say, is history. A week after noticing this Lab / Hound mix, we all went to see her. The bond was immediate and magical. It wasn’t another week before she was brought to us, courtesy of Every Dog’s Dream, a pet shelter in Greene, NY. Maddy wagged into our lives and where my wife saw a good walking companion, I immediately dreamed of a fly fishing friend.

Maddy...

Maddy…

It turns out that Maddy was one of a litter of 5 puppies born somewhere in South Carolina. The litter had been left to a high risk shelter, where dogs are often put down. Fortunately, Maddy and her litter-mates were sent north. Audrey at Every Dog’s Dream referred to Maddy as an adorable, big hearted girl who had good manners and liked being close to her humans. Our adoption proved she was more than right.

While pure-bred dogs have their place in life and certainly serve a purpose, the sheer number of homeless dogs continues to sky-rocket. Many of these dogs are real gems, such as we have found in Maddy, and all they’re looking for is a chance to warm a heart.

My plans for Maddy include lots of love and play, obedience training, and ultimately, a seat beside me on the way to flowing waters.

LetsGoFishing600px

I know the Lab part of her breeding will win her over to water and I’ll promise her this…

“Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!