I don’t know about you, but I truly look forward to all of the great dog stories that readers and friends share with me for this Friday column. This week, while volunteering at Wheaton North High School, I discussed the adventures of Tom, Jenny and, of course, Hammer.
Hammer is a barrel-chested Golden Labrador Retriever who lives up to his name in more ways than one way. Hammer is much more than a family dog to Tom, Jenny, Matt, Michael and Christine.
Hammer is a hunting dog. Hammer is a dedicated family dog. Hammer is, well, a retriever!
Tom took the dog out to teach it to hunt. He would send the dog to fetch an item, would blow the call and Hammer would respond, just as Tom had called him; he stopped, turned to look at Tom and awaited Tom’s signal to fetch the item when told. He always brought the item back.
One time in 1996 when Tom, his hunting buddy and Hammer were out scouting a small lake in the UP of Michigan on Lake Mitigwaki; tall grass and cattails covered the area. Ducks seemed to flock to this area, always landing around the little island.
The first day of duck season, Tom, the buddy and Hammer jumped in his boat and motored out toward the island just before first light. Tom and his friend had never hunted a lake before and Hammer had never been on a hunt before; had only been trained for it.
The birds could be heard before they were seen and once the sun broke, they were visible, active and moving. Tom blew the call and the ducks flew toward them arriving directly overhead. Shots rang out; Tom hoped that Hammer would be able to track the hits. They scouted the water for the birds and then discovered that Hammer was no longer with them – he was in the water. The buddies did not think that they had hit anything and Tom was disappointed that Hammer was not listening and getting out of the water after all of the training that they had done together over the summer. In essence, Hammer was after Tom’s bounty and once, he, too, found that no birds were hit, he brought Tom back some empty shells simply so he did not go back empty handed. What a great retriever! He did not let Tom down!
Hammer does not only retrieve animals when he is out hunting. There was one specific occasion that Jenny will not forget because she got an extra special birthday gift from Hammer himself. She was sitting on her wooden swing with her young daughter, Christine, at the time and here comes hammer bounding up and proudly drops his gift to Jenny at her feet. His gift just happened to be a headless squirrel! That is a gift that any mother would be just thrilled to have.
Hammer also likes outdoor events such as camping with the male folk of the family, Tom, Matt and Michael. This group of hearty outdoorsmen was sitting around the campfire one night when all of a sudden, Hammer perks up, jumps up and runs smack into the woods. Tom jumped up behind the dog and hollered for him to come back. All of a sudden there appeared to be a ruckus and Tom, flashlight in hand, tracked the dog to the base of a tree where Hammer had chased a big old raccoon and had it trapped up in the tree. Hammer is dedicated to keeping his family safe and out of the way of rodents posing potential harm.
Dogs are so much more to families than they are ever expected to be. Since people are as dedicated to pleasing one another, this world eventually may just ‘go to the dogs!’