From the day he was born, Jake was an athlete. When I first laid eyes on him the little yellow lab was curled up in his birthplace with mom nearby and he was squalling as only newborn puppies can.
On the second day of his life he crawled and squirmed his way into a nearby ditch while his brothers and sisters were satisfied to lie snugly in their bed. He was sure to be the alpha male of this litter.
When Jake turned eight weeks old he was given a new home with my best friend Steve Cisson and he continued to fulfill his early promise of greatness. Although bred to be a retriever he has proven to be much more. Coach Cisson started taking him to a boat dock at Lake Oconee and discovered he had great dock diving skills. He proved his mettle by winning his first competition as an air dog.
Jake’s versatility was still growing by leaps and bounds. He has proven to be a superior squirrel dog and happily trees every one of the creatures he can locate. His energy knows no bounds in this endeavor and continues to refine his skills in this area as well.
There are other impressive traits this young fellow has acquired. A recent run-in with an armadillo has established that Jake is proficient in the fearless pursuit of those aggravating yard destroyers. His master pointed out where the animal had been burrowing in the yard and Jake took it from there. He located the beast under a shed, flushed him and then chased the scuttling creature. In the process Jake’s teeth could be heard clacking on the shell of the armadillo as he tried to snap the animal up. Upon discovering that he was no match for the outer casing he smartly changed strategies and grabbed the tail and tried to sling the enemy into submission. His heroic efforts have resulted in a drastic reduction of yard raids by the neighborhood clan of armadillos.
We began to think that Jake had no failings. In addition to the above mentioned characteristics he is also a high quality ratter, a snake destroyer, and can nearly run down a deer single-handed. In our eyes all he needed was a cape with a big “S” on the chest.
All the hype ended one Saturday when dove season opened. Our field was primed and ready for the hunt. It was thought that this would be an easy chore for Jake. Gather up doves and get a little exercise. None of his valiant deeds would be necessary on this day and it started off much to Jake’s liking. While we put the finishing touches on our blinds he gleefully ran around checking for field mice and the like. When we adjourned for lunch he was exceedingly happy to take part. He blissfully munched on rib bones, beans, and pork chop leavings. It was obvious that Jake was taking great pleasure in the dove hunting excursion.
Alas, the façade of Jake’s skill and bravery completely crumbled in a single moment. When the first shot of the day was fired (just a little target practice before the birds arrived) I noticed that Jake took exception. His joyful demeanor changed at once as he scampered over to Coach Cisson’s chair and slunk down. Subsequent shots saw Jake’s head sink lower and lower and he flinched each time the shotgun roared. The only action I saw him take was to cut his eyes in the direction of the noise and then hunker down once more.
Later, the real shooting got hot and heavy up on the field and Jake was nowhere to be found. When we headed back down the hill at the end of the day he was still missing in action.
Upon arriving at the sally point we finally found him perched in the front seat of a pickup listening to the University of Georgia post game football show. He showed not the least bit of interest in the smell of the doves or for that matter even getting out of the truck. Jake’s image had been shattered and that big “S” on his cape had been torn to shreds.
Oh the agony of it: From Superman to Sissy in one day.
Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.