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Fly Fishing, Grouse Hunting and Fine Bird Dogs Spoken Here!

Spare the Slipper and Spoil the Child


Gus is an only child. There were nine in the litter, but in our house, Gus is an only child. He probably has more freedom than any of the other dogs before him were allowed, mainly because the kids are all grown and have their own families and it’s just, She Who Must Be Obeyed, me and Gus. So, he reaps the benefit of having no competition for anything …and it’s clear he’s taken advantage of it.

I don’t think Gus knows the difference between him and us: From first thing in the morning when he lays snuggled up on my bed until he feels me stirring then inches his way up to my face until I scratch his back, to the last thing at night when I say. “it’s time for bed,” and he heads upstairs to the bedroom where he sits and waits until I’m in bed, then jumps up and makes himself comfortable until morning, Gus is totally engaged in our daily life.

Sometimes I think back about how things were when there were two types of dogs, house dogs and outside dogs. The thinking was, if you wanted a dog to hunt, you couldn’t spoil him and contaminate his nose by keeping him in the house; outside dogs had pens with doghouses filled with straw and a piece of carpet for a door. I knew a man who wouldn’t let anyone smoke around his birddog because he said the smoke disrupted the dog’s sense of smell. House dogs were pets and had no real purpose other than keeping you company.

Times have changed. I would never have thought that a dog, any dog, could get into my head. Seamus did and now Gus does too. I actually find myself trying to figure out what he’s thinking and try not to hurt his feelings …he pouts.

There is a line he doesn’t cross often, but when he does, off comes one of my slippers and he takes off and hides behind the dining room table. I threw it at him once when he was running around the house like a chicken with its head cut off and got him on his rear, from then on all I have to do is take off my slipper and he stops whatever he’s doing, heads for the dining room and waits for me to call him back. It’s like a time-out.

This slipper thing caught on; I’ve noticed She Who Must Be Obeyed reach for her slipper when she figures she should have the last word …that’s when I shut up.


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