I Remember When . .
| I don't remember who gave him to us , but
when we got him, he was a skinny, unkempt little puppy, cowed but
friendly. We placed a paper on a table and sat him on it. A large bowl of
food and milk was brought in for him. He filled himself until his little
tummy almost touched the table. I was just a kid at the time and Spot and
I sort of grew up together. We became the best of buddies. I don't
remember ever striking him, though I'm sure I did give him some spats to
get his attention during his pupppyhood. The name came naturally, since he
had two or three large dark spots with a smattering of very muted bird-dog
like spots covering his otherwise white coat. I talked to him as if he
were human and he responded as if he were. Spot seldom had a need to fear
me. He always just tried to please and was happiest when he was pleasing
Later, when Spot grew to adulthood and I was old enough to take the gun to the fields, we would go hunting together. He was with me when I bagged my first mess of ducks. Later, I taught him to retrieve. He was a natural. Once when we were headed for the pond, he was ranging some distance ahead as usual and I was concerned that he might get to the pond first and startle any ducks that might be there. I stopped and in a moment he glanced back to check with me, as he always did. When he did this, I motioned for him to come to me. Now whether he understood why I did this or not, I don't know, but he came to investigate and I told him to stay with me. He learned immediately to come when I stopped and motioned. After a few times like this, I no longer needed to motion. As we neared the pond, he would stop and wait for me and then follow me to the pond, unless it was an unfamiliar pond. Then we would use the old stop and motion routine. His policy was to sit quietly behind me and wait until I would shoot. Once I did, there'd better be a duck in the water, because that little bundle of energy would spontaneously bound over the dam and leap into the water. If he was disappointed when I missed, he covered fairly well, but was highly elated when I didn't miss. Here was another chance for him to get active, and knowing how much it pleased me, made his joy all the more. We were hunting at Frank Fennell's pond once and I winged a mallard drake. The drake fell in the water with Spot in hot pursuit. He would almost get to the drake and the drake would dive. Spot tried and tried until I was afraid he would wear himself out and drown . Because of this, I called him back to the bank. He got close enough to barely touch bottom with his feet, when I could almost see the wheels turning in that wonderful brain. He made a u-turn and headed right back for the duck. When he had gotten almost as close as he had before, he leaped from the water and nailed that duck, yeah!. Don't ask me how, I don't know, but that's just what that dog up an' done]. I have a picture of him proudly carrying that one out of the water.
When the oat threshing was finished each summer, a huge straw stack was always left in the field for the cows to eat holes into while filling themselves with roughage. That was also the time when copperhead snakes began shedding their skins, so they could grow a new one for their continuing growth to fit into. We could barely wait to go play on this one. This was also the time when Spot learned his first painful lesson about copperheads. I was near the top of the stack, while Spot was on the ground, when I noticed a copperhead in a coil on a ledge. I called for him to come up where I was. Though he had never climbed a straw stack before, he immediately knew he could, or I wouldn't have asked. He loved to kill snakes. He would shake them viciously. He came bounding up the stack spying the snake at once and never broke stride. The problem was, when a snake is shedding it's skin, it doesn't see so well and will strike at anything. It did just that, catching Spot on the tip of his chin. This had never happened to him before. He jumped , clearing the surrounding stack below, landing on the ground. As he alit, he leaped to the quarry, it seemed all in one motion, ran back and tore the snake to shreds. After that, his face swelled to the size of a bulldog. He was very cautious around snakes after that.
I've seen him shake fish out of a large water snake. I saw him crush a fair-sized snapping turtle after the turtle bit him. He would also pull a really neat trick once in awhile, but never very often, as if he was thinking, boy howdy, I'd better not do this too frequently or they'll catch on to me. But what he would do, when he decided he really needed to be in the house badly, would be to hold one front paw up and walk down the walkway limping and quietly whimpering to the front door. Why, of course, who wouldn't let the poor, injured little fellow in. He really needed help. Once he was in and the door was closed, down would go that foot, miraculously healed and he would be prancing around, happy as a lark. Kinda' reminded me of a Killdeer protecting her nest and leading one away from it as if she was crippled.
Once my dad was losing control of the cattle. Spot had never been trained to herd cattle, but dad sicced him on them anyway. Spot, aiming to please, gladly got right out into the middle of the fracas and started barking, nipping and chasing cattle------in all directions. Then dad threw rocks at him. He would never chase cattle for my dad after that. If dad tried to, he would just duck his head and mosey off. Then dad would tell me to sic him on them and when I did, Spot would burst to response.
One day my father and a neighbor were cleaning out a water hole. I think Spot may have wanted to show them, he was just as big and brave as any dog. The neighbor's dog was a big boxer. Spot decided to flex his muscles a bit and started growling courageously at the big boxer, not knowing much about the reputation of a boxer at the time. He was soon to find out. The boxer met the attack head-on and soon they were in the middle of the water hole. The boxer was holding Spot's head under the water. He would have drowned if dad hadn't use his shovel on the boxer's head to make him turn loose. Spot had had enough. He ran full speed the full quarter mile to the house. When he got there, mom was just coming out the front door. She wouldn't let him in the house, though he tried hard. I'm sure we all remember the old two-holers. Well that was where my mom was headed. Spot stayed right up against her until she got there and then beat her in the door. I know they must have been a strange sight, there, side by side. When she left, so did he. She wasn't aware of why he was acting so strange, so when she went into the house, he tried to go with her. She wouldn't let him, so he went under the house. Another painful lesson under his belt. One that nearly cost his life.
I'm not saying this was the smartest dog in the world. I know he wasn't. But everything he knew how to do, he did gladly and very well. On the other hand, I wouldn't have wanted to play dominoes with him. I hope dogs have souls and that Spot is this day in dog Heaven, smiling down on us.
Harry Shumard----Class of '43