Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cloning is for sheep

He's not the same as the last one.  The last one was throttled pretty much like a Chinese firework: lit or waiting to be lit.  When he was lit there wasn't much you could do but sit back and watch him go.  While there was the occasional dud, most of the time it was quite a show.

This one lacks the affinity for briars and the horizon and is much more methodical about his work.  He goes about it like an engineer, thorough, precise, never a danger of overrunning a covey.  It's likely a consequence of having never seen anything outside the confines of a training field until now.  You take this for granted with a pup you've brought along since the day he was born, hour upon hour spent learning the sights and smells and sounds of the woods long before his first formal lesson.  Caution and fear get left behind in those early days without conscious thought.  Same reason you teach a kid to ski before he's old enough to fully understand the side-effects of gravity.

I'm not so sure I'd be interested in having the same dog over and over anyway.  Let's face it, there's no such thing as a perfect bird dog.  All of them have at least one annoying vice whether it's humping house guests, whizzing on your lawnmower, swallowing birds whole or whatever that we could just as easily live without.  Imagine how that would grate on you over a lifetime?  It stops being cute after twenty or thirty years.  As I see it this could be the silver lining in outliving my dogs - I get to have so many different ones salt and pepper the days until I'm gone.

Science being what it is there's a legitimate possibility that in our lifetime we'll have the option of ordering up another bird dog just like our current favorite, if you're into that sort of thing.  Read the fine print, though, 'cause while he might look the same and share some of the same mannerisms, he won't be a full-on carbon copy.  Identical twins aren't even exactly the same. The wild card is personality and how it develops, the character that defies science and makes each living being unique.  And thank goodness.

Call me boring but right now I need a dog that wants to work a bit more slowly.  I just don't have the mindset to deal with another Magellan.  The two of us will plod along, maybe making a little more time for the grouse woods, a place that gratefully accommodates meticulous sorts.  Steering far clear of any field trials I think I'll be quite content to simply watch my dog do what he does, however he chooses to do it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Maybe they won't notice

I picked up my dog from the trainer today.  The kids are giddy and I'm grinning again and tomorrow we're headed out to see what he can do.  Although the calendar says Christmas was two weeks ago I'm not so sure.  See, last year I was without a bird dog, something I never thought would happen yet through forces unimaginable it did.  So I've been looking forward to this day to say the least.

Unfortunately it's just one day and then I'm back to the office, one of those "life ain't fair" moments.  I'd be lying if I said the thought of loading the truck and taking off for the rest of the bird season hadn't crossed my mind.  With more than a twinge of envy I've read about the guys who do this.  For someone in my shoes it sounds like a deal with the Devil.

Something tells me I'd be missed on Monday morning.  What would they say, all of those people I wrap myself in every day?  Two kids searching in vain for someone to chase them, tickle them and ask about whiskers for the ninety seventh time.  A wife who, among other things, rightfully expects me to do my share of raising these kids.  And a slew of people at several companies who want to know when they're getting paid, what do do about this that's broken and this that came in the mail and this that wasn't like this yesterday.

The truth is that I dearly love most of these people and honestly like the rest of them.  Otherwise it would be easy to load the truck and head out.  But screw the easy button, isn't there a pause button I can push?  I've heard about people who take sabbaticals, just set everything aside and take off for a few months or a year or so at full salary.  I need to read that book.  In the meantime I suppose I'll do the responsible, logical, mature thing.  Then again, they're calling for snow on Monday.