Nola doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as a stranger

Published 2:21 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nola is a lover, definitely a lover.

She believes everyone is her friend, even dogs that come out of their yards snarling and making other threatening noises. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of those.

Mostly, she runs into folks like Slim and his parents. Slim is a mottled gray, white and black shepherd that gets around on only three legs, but he does a lot on those three legs. He, too, is a lover.

We stopped at Slim’s house on Friday while his parents were having a garage sale, and of course Slim had to greet Nola. We were out for one of our walks. Of course, our excuse for walking is that Nola needs the walk, but while she enjoys it, we are the ones that really need it.

For all her seemingly self assurance going up to meet Slim, she still showed a little shyness at the end. It was okay in Nola’s opinion for her to smell Slim’s backside but not for him to smell hers.

Strange how dogs greet and meet, but that’s the way they do.

At eight months, Nola still is a bit rambunctious, but she’s getting better. After a few hyperactive moments with Slim’s parents, she settled down and mostly minded her manners.

I was worried she might be even more hyperactive than normal because the weather has been so cool that Nola is in her glory. Instead of getting hot and slowing down on the walks these days, she’s now leader of the pack. We have to step out to keep up with her.

Shortly after the visit, we were on our way again. Nola was happy that she had been able to have a little neighborhood doggy gossip with Slim and be petted by his parents. She also liked the treats and water Slim’s mother provided.

As we walked the rest of the way home, we pondered the way of dogs. The night before we had been to the Ducks Unlimited banquet and several of the items that were for auction there had to do with dogs.

There was a print of puppies of the four major types of retrievers used by duck hunters these days — a Chesapeake Bay retriever; the three lab colors of yellow, chocolate and black, and, of course, a golden retriever. I have read where the Brittany, the flat-coat retriever and the American water spaniel remain popular with some folks and how some the European multipurpose hunting dogs are making inroads, but I believe the Chessies, the labs and the goldens will retain their spot for sometime to come.

The golden, in my opinion, is the sweetest of the lot. Labs, though, are certainly the most common retriever used by duck hunters.

I have known only one person that owned Chessies, and he swore by them. He hunted big water up along the Tennessee River and occasionally went east and hunted salt water marshes and flats in the region where Chessies originated. He said Chessies are not as mean as their reputation but they are as powerful and tough as their reputations when it comes to seeking out and retrieving ducks in the harshest of weather, terrain and water conditions.

I have read where Chessies replaced another retriever that has always fascinated me in the literature, though I don’t think I have ever seen one in the flesh, the Irish water spaniel, also a tough and powerful retriever.

The Chesapeake Bay retriever, by the way, is one of the few breeds that have been developed in the United States and you can surmise the region from its name.

What I don’t understand is why goldens aren’t more popular as actual duck retrievers, but that’s probably just me. I think they make the best family dogs of all the retrievers, especially if children are present, besides being really good and strong retrievers. I think probably one reason from what I have heard some people say is their long hair and the way they shed, but they are still the sweetest of dogs.

Nola, when I get her trained, or at least as well as I can train her, like all my dogs will probably be the most spoiled one on the water, but she and her ways will suit me. As I have mentioned before, I shoot ducks close in both from my own knowledge of my shooting ability and to avoid the long and difficult retrieves I haven’t the knowledge or ability to train Nola to make.

The really hard part of the training for me is about to start — force training to retrieve. She’s a natural retriever, but I had impressed on me long ago the importance of the force training for that duty and I believe in it. It’s the one place in her training where I’m going to really have to steel my heart to Nola’s complaints and pouts. No, it’s not painful, though in some hands it can be, but it is tedious and boring.

I’ll take her for walks after the training sessions and maybe that will mollify her somewhat. At least she will have the opportunity to gossip with Slim and others along the way and tell them what a mean person I am.