Category Archives: Dogs

You think this is fun?

If my kids were writing this blog, it would probably go something like this:

Dad is so nuts.  Every Saturday, I’m talking about every one, he’s all like “we’ve got to get up
at the butt crack of dawn and go do something.  It’s like he’s got this crazy lens for looking at “fun” and it’s all about hunting and fishing and Bass Pro shops and taking boat rides.  He’s out of his mind.

Yeah.  I mean, he’s always pointing things out to us, like the whistle that a wood duck makes, or how to tell when a snook strikes, that distinct “pop” sound . . .

How to tell which way a gobbler is going, and whether he’s already on hens.  The right time to take the ducks as they’re dropping into the decoys.  How to set the decoys out so that the ducks will want to land inside them, not outside.  How to let a shrimp drift just right, so it doesn’t appear to be hooked at all, but still be able to detect the bite . . .

I’m saying, he’s so bananas that he holds classes on the boat to teach us how to tie a knot, or bait a hook, or how to get more distance out of a cast.  I mean, who does that?

What high school freshman girl needs to know the difference between a full choke and improved cylinder?  What 8 year old boy needs to be able to identify every shark indigenous to Florida?

He’s even gotten us hooked on bird dogs!  Do you know how awful a wet Brittany Spaniel smells?  Like soured fertilizer baked on oysters . . . but my room doesn’t feel the same without that faint odor . . .

His latest thing is the smell of rubber boots – like some tire factory has captured their essence into a perfume . . . we get to the snipe field and he’s like “smell that – the dew? And the grass? The dogs and those boots?  Doesn’t it smell magical?”

He thinks this is fun?!?!?!?

We’re seriously thinking about having him committed . . . we just can’t find the time to do it . . . maybe after turkey season . . . no, then it’s tarpon time . . . then redfish . . . then dove . . . then ducks . . . deer . . . small game . . . oh well, maybe it is kinda fun . . .

At least, I hope that’s what they’re thinking . . .


on bird dogs . . .

I’m not exactly sure how or when my infatuation with bird dogs began.

I came by this naturally, by the way.  My maternal grandfather was a quail hunting tour-de-force, almost always with a pointer or 3 leading the way.

My dad raised beagles when we were very young, so gun dogs were abundant.  There were always 2 or 3 in the kennels, until a litter came along.  Toby and Max and Dutchess and Bear wandered through my adolescence with their tri-colored saddles and soulful howls.

But somewhere, and I don’t remember the switch exactly, we ended up with a Brittany.  Abracadabra was her name, which we shortened to Magic.

Magic was an appropriate name for her, as she promptly disappeared anytime there was gunfire.  She had those piercing green eyes that come standard issue on Brits, and I was determined to cure her of gunshyness.  My plan was two fold – I took my portable electronic drum sticks, complete with belt attached speaker; I would crank the lawnmower up, and have it idle in the background so my parents would think I was mowing, plus it added to the noise.  Then I’d stand over poor Magic, that speaker precariously close to her ears, and bang on those imaginary drums.

It didn’t work.

Copper was a natural, another Brittany who pointed a covey of quail his first time out.  He was dad’s dog, really, orange dappled with style on his points.  A freak kidney stone accident took him from us before his time . . .

Daisy was an English setter – a Llewellyn, to be exact, with blonde feathering beneath the silky white.  Daisy was another born natural, minus a couple of quirks . . . She covered so much ground that she’d be on point in the next county before you’d get near her; also, she hated me.  This one is still baffling, as when she was small she slept in my room, my hand in her crate all night.  But, for some weird reason, she would not come near me.  My sister, who never spent any time with the dogs, Daisy would lick her in the face; me, begging to show her affection, nada.  She would run in circles, just outside of arms reach the whole time I was in the yard.  In hindsight, Daisy was like a prep course for my first marriage.

Ozzie, the gigantic liver and white Brittany who towered over my mother but had no interest in hunting.  Swish, the ill named and incestuously bred Brit that yelped every 4 seconds for 7 straight days.

Even today, my house is alive with the clatter of nails on hardwood as two French Brittanys clown their way through life.

I’d love to romanticize the idea – a cold, rainy, winter’s night; the hunter sits in his chair, in front of the fire, reading a Ruark novel, the Brittany asleep at his feet, worn out from the morning’s hunt.  In reality, though, I’m probably watching a rerun of the Office, one dog chewing on my shoes while the other does lay in front of the fire, but not too close in case he farts and ignites the entire scene.  Having just taken them out to pee in the rain, the smell of wet gun dog mingles with the smell of the fire, some mystical humidifier from hell permeating the room.  My wife, like a million wives before, will come in to chastise the pups for some trash can they’ve overturned, or bed they’ve unmade, or chew toy they’ve created, and I’ll watch as they cock their head and look at her, trying to understand, and I’ll smile, and I’ll think . . . there’s just something about bird dogs . . .

38 lessons for 38 years . . .

38 Things I’ve learned as I passed 38 late last year:

  1. Never make the first or third out at third base.
  2. Girls LOVE getting flowers.  No matter what they say.  “Don’t waste money on flowers” is the “do I look fat in this” of gifts . . .
  3. Dogs are important.  Pet them.  Spend time with them.  Their only true fault is they don’t live very long.
  4. No matter if it’s week 42, and she’s wearing an “it’s a girl” t-shirt, and an OB is following her around, do not, under any circumstances, ask if she’s pregnant . . .
  5. Make time to write.  Or run.  Or read.  Or whatever makes you tick.
  6. Sometime, within the next 18 years, your kids won’t be here every day.  So turn the TV off and spend time with them.  Read to them.  Build a fort or bake a cake or ride a bike.
  7. Intentionally add value to people.  Every day.  Got that from John Maxwell.  Should tattoo it to my forearm.
  8. Choose trust over suspicion.  It’ll get everyone further.
  9. Try to watch as many sunsets or sunrises as you can.
  10. Be nice.  It’s honestly easier.  Ask people, as often as you can, “Can I do anything for you?” . . . mean it . . .
  11. The person on the other end of the line is someone’s husband/mother/daughter/brother.  They got up this morning, just like you did.  It’s not their fault that Dell outsourced support to India.  Yelling at them won’t make Dell rethink it.  It won’t make you feel better.
  12. Listen to “All I Want for Christmas” in July.  Or September.  Bonus points if you crank it up with the kids and belt it at the top of your lungs.  Double bonus points if you roll the windows down and belt it out as your middle-schooler walks into the school.
  13. When you roll your eyes, and you’re on the phone, people can hear it in your voice.
  14. Catching the fish again is better than eating the fish.
  15. Never tap a white tiger on the nose with a microphone.
  16. Clarification on number 11.  It may actually feel better while you’re doing it, but you won’t after you hang up.
  17. Remember who you are.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  18. “the Art of Possibility” is one of the best books of all time.  Pick it up again from time to time.
  19. ALWAYS thank veteran’s for their service.  And hold the door open for the person behind you.
  20. Don’t shoot the ducks after they’ve landed.  It’s not sporting.
  21. They will remember that you made time for them, took them hunting, took them fishing, rode bikes; the time you were PRESENT.  Yeah, that’s kinda the same as number 6, but it bears repeating, don’t you think?
  22. Take care of your back
  23. If you feel it in your gut, you should probably follow that feeling.
  24. Red Sox, Ohio St. and Gator fans are the WORST.  Try to avoid mixing with these fanbases, and, under all circumstances, don’t date them . . . .
  25. Dressing nice and dressing inexpensively are not mutually exclusive.
  26. The Cubs don’t win in the end.  Ever.
  27. Close doesn’t count.  Wait – that’s not entirely true – sometimes close does count.
  28. Black and white is a hard way to live; gray is way easier
  29. Do NOT judge others.  You cannot possibly know all of the factors surrounding their situation.
  30. At 30, your body stops being resilient to cheeseburgers for breakfast.
  31. It’s impossible to listen to the opening of “Sweet Home Alabama” and not feel happy or sing along with the chorus.
  32. Kiss your wife. Every.  Day.  It’s easy, and fun.  Make it required.
  33. Snook always bite better on an outgoing tide.
  34. Make time for grandparents.  They can be gone very quickly . . .
  35. Don’t be resistant to change.  Change is your opportunity to change, too
  36. Spend money on good shoes and a good coat
  37. Watch “White Christmas” with your family at least once a year.
  38. Say “I love you” – but think about the fact that you mean it, don’t just tag it onto the end of phone calls and visits.

Things I think . . .

  • I think we have a pond in our back yard.  It’s about 1 1/2 acres of surface area, and it’s overgrown, and it attracts alligators and otters.  On Monday, Finley decided to do some laps in it – right after I gave him a bath.  And I had to go in after him.  I was displeased.  My father, however, who was there to witness the incident, was more than pleased.  In fact, I think he may start a blog and join facebook just so he can talk about it.
  • I think, in a completely related event, I want to sell Finley on Craigslist.  Ad will read: “Free to a good home: dog.”
  • I think Gilly might not be okay with that.
  • I think there’s collusion going on in our neighborhood Fantasy Football league – a dad/son combo down the street is swapping players back and forth with each other to circumvent bye weeks.  Olivia is marching up and down the street in protest, ranting and raving like a lunatic, garnering support to shoot down their latest trade.  I’ve never been so proud.
  • I think I went to church twice last week – once on Sunday morning, once on Wednesday night, to Awana, with Will, for Dads and Doughnuts.  One of these two outings will result in a blog post on Friday.  Trust me when I tell you – do not miss it.
  • Gilly:  Which—if I may—can I just say that I am completely ashamed of what I used to do at church? I used to be in charge of making it “relevant” and “cool” and making videos and graphics and lighting. Turns out, Jesus is relevant without my help. And really, Jesus is what people want when they walk into a church building. Not videos and cover songs and pretty lights. I know this now, because after many years of church detox piled on top of many years of not-easy life, all I want is Jesus. No lights/videos/sirens/dancers necessary.

Things I think . . .

  • You guys . . . ya’ll know that song “Slow Ride” by Foghat?  Last night, I totally caught my wife singing it as “Snow Ride” which is kinda awesome.  She may have had a lot of glasses of wine beforehand.  Either way, it got me excited about Christmas . . .
  • Because this Christmas we’re going to Washington, DC.  I mean, not for Christmas (Barry never invites us to spend it with the fam), but the day after Christmas, we’re trudging to the airport at the crack of dawn and venturing to our nation’s capital . . . hopefully it’s all back up and operational by that point.
  • I had Columbus day off this week . . . I’ve never had Columbus day off in my life, but I did this week, and I celebrated in the ways a 15th century explorer only dreamed about – taking the kids to school, picking the kids up from school, fixing the kids dinner, doing homework with the kids.  Also, I took a nap.
  • Columbus day has also thrown a wrench into my blogging schedule.  Call it a blogger’s holiday?
  • I think someone brought mini-cupcakes into the office today.  If I were a super hero (I’m not saying I’m not – just can’t divulge that kind of information on the interwebs), my kryptonite would be mini-cupcakes.  Also dark chocolate.  Yoohoos.  Puppies.  Sweet tea.  New fishing tackle.  Boats.  Seafood.
  • I would be the worst super hero ever.  Entire comic book would be me eating things and hanging out on my boat with puppies while dastardly villains overran Gotham City.

Stuff on Coley’s Head

I’m not a hundred percent sure when it first happened.

I will gladly admit I got the inspiration from Dooce.

Coleman is our eleven (almost 12) year old French Brittany . . . he’s crazier than a sprayed cockroach.  He’s been with me through thick and thin.  He’s been to more states than a lot of people you know.  He’s played in the snow and and in the ocean and loves peanut butter almost as much as his family.  He is a fierce snuggler.  When I was living with my parents, I had a twin mattress on the floor and he slept on my pillow or on my feet.   The very definition of man’s best friend.

Anyway, somewhere along the way, I thought “you know, I bet that dog would let me balance things on his head” and the rest is history.

These are some of our favorite things on Coley’s head . . .

This is the first photo I can find of me putting something on his head.  Date on the photo file is June 18, 2009.  This Rays hat is still in my boat – it’s my good luck hat.  I love this picture because it looks like he’s smiling.


He loves seasonal stuff . . . lightweight and simple . . . with a little pumpkin . . .

During his short tenure as a member of the KGB . . .

Waiting for the Pilgrims to arrive on Thanksgiving . . .

Trying out for the role of a Shepard in the Christmas Story . . .

Showing the reason for the season (and, yes, those are ceramic Nativity figurines. And no, they were not harmed at all.  And yes, think about all the dogs you know.  Would one of them let you do this?) . . . Lots of people ask if the stuff falls . . . not usually.  I have tried some stuff that was doomed from the beginning: a lamp shade (freaked him out); Liv’s trumpet (couldn’t get it to balance, and it was really heavy); a lightsaber (I had the light and sound on, and it scared him (and me) to death.  We scrapped that idea); books don’t work well (I don’t know if they’re too heavy or what – just can’t make it happen)

Hoping for the opportunity to work at Gimbel’s or Macy’s

Jurassic Bark, anyone?

This is one of the coolest ones – I had been trying to do a cup for a while, but they’d always fall. We were driving to Orlando one day and I had this CFA cup, full; he was resting his head on the console, and I thought, “what the heck” – I sat it on his head at a stoplight, snapped the pic, and, amazed, left it there through three more intersections. He never flinched.

Irony. This is the stuff that makes all these pictures happen . . . (another aside – in 2010, Coley had a tumor removed from his head.  Stitches and scar and the whole 9 yards.  Never slowed him down or bothered him one bit.  I always wondered if it was easier to balance before or after; I really think it’s been easier after)

Easter morning. Similar to the CFA cup, this worked better when there were eggs in the carton . . . (did you know that the eggs in the blue carton, the mediums, are the freshest?  My grandmother, Ernestine, told me this years ago.  You can tell Gilly bought these eggs, because they’re not in the blue carton.  This isn’t important;  just thought I’d lay down some egg knowledge (get it – “lay down”))

Know what Costa Del Mar said about this pic – “cool” – no kidding – those boxes are hard to balance on a freaking shelf, let alone a round dog head.  The first time I tried it, I took all the sunglasses out of the boxes, but they were too light and went everywhere.  I had to put the glasses back into the boxes.  I also figured out I could stack them one at a time and spell out c-o-s-t-a vertically.  This one is one of my favorites.  It involved no treats.

I love the hats!

He got Hufflepup . . .

This is one of our most recent ones – a wine bottle from our wedding – it was empty, and it was HEAVY.  It fell the first two times, but we got it figured out . . .

Have you ever tried balancing something on your dog’s head?  Your kid’s head? Got any suggestions for stuff for Coley’s head? Are you on the Instagram? Hit me up @travis_thompson