Once after shooting a group of ducks that pitched into a “tank” on our lease in Lampasas (West Texas), Joy disappeared into the tall grass surrounding the tank. Truth be told, I was getting a little nervous, but Joy wasn’t one to abandon a retrieve if she could get to the bird. After what seemed 20 minutes, Joy returned to hand, whined, turned back to where she came. I made Joy stay as we continued hunting.
When the hunt was over, I gave Joy the command, “Fetch Up” to pick up any stray birds. Off she went in the direction that she had earlier taken. I loaded the decoys and guns into the truck and started driving in her direction. Probably 200 yards from the pond, I found Joy standing at a fence, whining to get through.
I opened the gate, released Joy again and I drove through the gate. I watched in amazement as Joy chased down the previously wounded duck, completing a 500- yard retrieve.
I always let Joy run free when I cleaned the kennel on Sunday mornings. Once while I was washing the runs down, unbeknown to us, Chief (Joy’s 6-week-old puppy) jumped/fell into the swimming pool. After some time, he got tired, could not get out of the pool and was about to drown. Joy heard his yelps, ran toward the pool, leaped the hedge surrounding the pool and dove into the pool. She swam to the puppy and pushed him to the steps of the pool with her nose so he could get out. She looked at me and I stared in open mouth amazement. For a moment, we were frozen in a silent tribute to her wisdom.
Above all, there are Joy’s eyes. It is a wonderful thing when a dog speaks to a man with her eyes. She often sat at my feet, looked at me long and hard. Someday, perhaps, I shall know it all. And she did tell me more, as the years grew with her, and for that I thank our God for that experience.
Few things can get as close to a human heart as a lab. Whether it’s a big-ole head lying in your lap as youread the Sunday paper, kicked back in recliner; a shoe reduced to toothmarked, shredded, loose conglomeration of cow skin; or a dripping shadow delivering duck to hand, Labrador retrievers are a part of us. As to all dog lovers, there is always one special, mine was Chip’s Pride & Joy, “Joy” to me.
A lab is the best friend of more people than any other. It is the laid-back devoted nature that endears the lab to us. Those who have turned away intruders, awakened families to dense smoke, and thrown themselves before more than one child, pulled other children from family swimming pools. Truth is, labs can feed you, heal you, defend you, help you, delight you, comfort you…
Captivated by that mellow warmth that all labs transmit to the softness of their petal shaped ears, the wisdom and kindness radiated by their deep amber eyes, to that clump of muscle arching over the massive shoulders that is so great to grab and chug in playful jest. The lab’s coat needs no reinforcement and was already adapted to all extremes, the flat, thick hairs so close together that they make an almost waterproof surface.
They share your every emotion: birth & death, joy & sadness, gain & loss and hope & despair.
Give the lab a gun and the owner wouldn’t even need to go along on the hunt. The sound of a shot and the splash of a duck have the same effect on the lab as a trumpet call to an old warhorse. Without a second’s hesitation, they will plunge into the icy water for the retrieve.
Want to know who is your best friend? Simple. Put your lab and your spouse in the trunk of your car for an hour. Then open the trunk and learn who is “happy to see you”!