Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your humorous stories here!
January 10th, 2000

The Calendar Dog

by Al Campbell

Have you ever noticed those outdoor calendars that feature sportsmen and their trusty dogs engaged in their favorite sports together? It melts your heart, doesn't it? I'm rather fond of sporting dogs and I own a camera, so I decided to try to get a picture fit for a calendar with my dog, (Buford), as the main entry.

Life can be pretty unfair at times. Although Buford is usually willing to go along with my hair-brained schemes, some sports proved to be too much for him. You see, Buford is a basset hound with a heart as big as a horse, but short legs that put him closer to the ground than most dogs care to stand.

My first try for a calendar dog picture involved Buford retrieving a duck from a local pond. It didn't take long to discover why good retrievers have long legs. It took Buford nearly half an hour to swim to the duck. When he did get there, he was too tired to drag the duck and himself back to shore. Have you ever noticed how cold the water is when it goes over your waders while you're retrieving your dog?

Maybe pheasant hunting would be easier. We practiced with a pheasant wing until Buford got used to finding the wing and standing on point until I got there. The reality of a field full of pheasants is a lot different than a mowed lawn and a pheasant wing. It took less than thirty seconds for Buford to disappear into the tall grass. After enlisting the help of several other hunters, we found Buford and the pheasant he was pointing to, or, in this case, the pheasant that was pointing to him. It seems the taller of the two won the stare down. It was a pretty rough experience for Buford. I never got him to follow a pheasant wing again.

Rabbit hunting turned out just as bad for my trusty hound. He has a good nose and was able to sniff up rabbits real easy. The problem came when the rabbit started to run. I can usually run faster than Buford, so it wasn't any problem for the rabbit to run him to exhaustion. I believe the rabbit took particular delight in watching his pursuer trip over his own ears as he tried to catch up.

You've seen the calendars with dogs accompanying their fly fishing masters, haven't you? I thought this would be my great chance to get a good picture of Buford in a sporting situation. It seems that any water that is deep enough to support the life styles of fish is also deep enough to sweep my basset hound off his feet. It took a half mile run and some serious dog paddling from Buford before I was able to grab his collar and pull him to shore. Have you ever carried a wet basset hound, camera and fly rod for half a mile? It's not a pleasant task.

I think Buford has figured out my intentions. He used to get excited if I grabbed a fly rod or shotgun. Now he runs to the other room and takes a nap every time I grab one of those dreaded items. You'd think he didn't want to be a calendar dog. Maybe it's better this way, he'd probably let the fame go to his head anyway. ~ Al Campbell

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