A Good Dog Can Be A Hunter's Best Friend
SO, I’M PICKING up a puppy today, a four-month-old Boykin spaniel.
While I’ve known many dogs in recent years, it’s been a while since I had one of my own. Having a dog is like having a child, with all the good and frustrations that come with the turf.
My recent doggie friends are more like grandkids. I can love on them, pat them, secretly feed them table scraps and then leave when I choose. That flexibility will soon disappear.
Picking a Boykin wasn’t something random. One of my best bird hunting buddies was a Boykin named Jack, owned and trained by another of my best hunting buddies, Jimaye Sones.
Jack never met a stranger and he liked his Uncle Ken. It used to amuse Sones when we’d be on dove shoots and Jack would always want to come sit by me. We’d hear Jimaye calling for him, but Jack would look at me as if to say, “Do I have to go?” I always told Jimaye the reason why was I was a better shot and the dog wanted some action.
Sones is a National Wild Turkey Federation member, as am I, and he regularly participates in Virginia Wheelin’ Sportsmen events. Jack was a fixture at the annual dove hunt for the last four years. As soon as he got there, he’d meander around the assembly room, socializing, his bobbed tail wagging for anybody offering a kind word or a smile.
Hilariously, Sones used to travel to some events in a motorcycle with a sidecar. Jack liked to ride in the sidecar, strapped in and wearing goggles!
Jack was a retrieving demon. When a dove plopped down, Jack raced to the mark like he had a rocket booster on his backside. On one Maryland duck hunt, he fetched 25 ducks for five people in the blind. One bird didn’t drop immediately and sailed a couple hundred yards into the woods. As we finished up and were collecting gear near our truck, Jack kept staring into the woods. He knew that bird was there and he wanted to go look for it. Sones told him to go and none of us were surprised when he appeared a few minutes later with a greenhead mallard in his mouth.
Sadly, Jack had to be “put down” about a month ago. He was 11 years old. He seemed to have a serious cold, but the veterinarian delivered a more devastating verdict. He had advanced cancer and was likely only a few weeks away from a painful death.
We all miss Jack. When Sones told me the news, he also told me he was looking at getting another Boykin, this one from a friend in New Hampshire. Sones had found the dog that sired the litter and he was keen on this dog’s bird-fetching pedigree.
“I’ve got a puppy picked out,” he told me. “His name is Harley. Maybe you should get his brother.”
That got the wheels turning.
‘Juice’ – Not
“I just might do that,” I told him. “What are they calling the dog?”
“You’re kidding, right?”
It turns out the puppy has been dubbed O.J. But that’s just short for Opie Junior. Opie is his dad’s name and, supposedly, he looks just like him so somehow Opie Junior got abbreviated to O.J.
“Well, I don’t think that’ll work for me,” I said.
The great renaming debate began. I knew I couldn’t give the dog a name that sounded like any of the routine commands I’d expect him to learn and obey. And I didn’t want some long name that would be difficult to get out.
Most of the early names under consideration were two syllables. An early favorite was Murphy. I’d probably call him Murph for short. I do have some Irish ancestry and visited there last summer and, well, it just seemed like a good name for this Boykin with the brown coat with just a slight hint of rust. Another one that had early interest was Boudreaux, owing to my love for most things Cajun, including cooking and jokes. That likely would’ve been shortened to “Boo.”
But, then I realized I didn’t want to hear that 1971 song by Lobo, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” playing in my head every time I called the dog. So, bye-bye Boo.
What else do I love? What might work?
Then, like a lightning bolt from a bottle, it hit me. Jameson. That would incorporate two of my favorite things. Ireland and triple distilled Irish whisky. I’m sure it’ll be shortened to Jamey, which is also good because I really like the work of recording artist Jamey Johnson.
Still, as some have suggested, I may not rush things. I may get to know the dog a couple days and see if his demeanor suggests an alternate name.
I’m open to suggestions. In the meantime, pray for us. It’s been a long time for me and I feel like paraphrasing the famous Butterfly McQueen line from Gone with the Wind: I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthing no puppies.
To keep up with Jamey, including photos and videos, please click here.
This article appeared in my outdoors column in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. To see it there, click here.