You never hear anyone say bad things about their own dog. They only talk about everyone else's worthless dog. Take Spot, the Dalmatian, for example. He belongs to my daughter, Kristin. Not only is he stupid, on his best day he is perfectly worthless. As my grandmother used to say, "He's as worthless as teats on a boar hog." Of course my daughter thinks he's the greatest and fawns over him constantly. My wife shares my opinion of Spot — two thumbs down.
Spot used to go with us when my wife, Patti, and I walked around the field next to our house for exercise. It's a mile and a half around the field and Spot usually ran 10 miles chasing burrowing owls. They played tag team as they buzzed and scolded him. By the time we'd get back home Spot would be so worn out he could barely walk.
I forgot to mention that Spot only has one eye. Yep, that happened one day as we walked around the field and Spot caught the scent of an irrigator at least a quarter mile away. I'll have to admit, the dog has a good nose and he used it as he ran straight as an arrow toward the irrigator.
All our yelling and whistling got the irrigator's attention as he noticed Spot headed toward him at 40 mph. Not knowing whether the dog was vicious, and there being no trees to climb, he did the only sensible thing. He took a full Ted Williams swing with his No. 2 True Temper shovel, which landed up alongside Spot's head. Spot didn't come around until we had been at the vet's for an hour. The vet said Spot had a detached retina and concussion. He still carries his head kind of funny.
A few years back my daughter had a black and white 4-H pig named Sunflower. For a week we had been helping Kristin work her pig, teaching it all the intricacies of showmanship. The fair was just around the corner and Sunflower, being like most pigs, had everyone in the family well-trained.
I was supposed to help out one afternoon, showing Kristin how to use the show cane when walking the pig. Driving into the yard, I saw the pig was already out of the pen and Kristin was standing by herself in front of the garage, both hands covering her eyes. No pig was in sight. Before I could stop my pickup and get out, Sunflower came scurrying out from behind the garage with Spot on top, attempting to make wild, passionate love to her.
There was little doubt Sunflower would have been enjoying herself if it hadn't of been for my wife, Patti, who was wailing on both of them with the show cane. Talk about Kodak moments and poor showmanship etiquette.
A few months later, Kristin was spending the day at a girlfriend's house and Patti took Spot's food to him. She came back a few minutes later, blood running down the calf of her leg, with Spot, dragging in the gravel behind her, at the end of his leash.
"That dog has humped his last leg," Patti screamed as Spot landed in the back of the car in a maneuver any professional wrestler would have been proud of. They disappeared down the road in a cloud of dust, poor Spot cowering in the back. I admit I kind of felt sorry for the dog.
Patti returned a few hours late, with Spot unconscious from the anesthesia and minus his dew claws plus a couple of articles necessary for reproduction. Spot was wobbly on his feet as Patti revived him and led him to his pen, where she unhooked his leash. As Patti turned to leave the pen, Spot came to his senses, jumped up and humped her leg for the second time that day.
Outdoor Tales columnist Al Kalin may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org