Of #Dogs and Men
October 12, 2012
On my fifty-third birthday, over seven years ago now, I bought myself a dog. Not just any dog, mind you, a Chesapeake Bay retriever.
My wife and I drove to Lafayette, Louisiana, and met the breeder, who delivered Caddo to us.
Caddo is no ordinary dog. On the dog intelligence scale he ranks three rungs up from genius.
This can create problems. When a man’s dog is smarter than he, the man must learn to adapt.
Over the years, Caddo has whipped me into shape. If I want to understand the world, I just look at him, and he gives me a read. He knows when things are right, and when they are wrong. He senses intruders and labels them as dangerous or safe. He manages the household. He corals the other dogs and instructs them when they are out of line.
Never let a Chesapeake Bay see you with something in your hand.
He will retrieve it and your hand.
One of my favorite stories about the breed comes from a friend of mine who bought a Chessie as a duck-hunting dog. One day, his Chessie went next door, crawled through the neighbor’s doggie door and commenced to pull all the curtains down in the house. To the tune of several thousand dollars. My friend got rid of him.
He just didn’t understand Chessies. Caddo would never have done something like that. He would have picked up the phone and told the neighbors to get rid of their ugly-ass drapes.
If you are considering getting a dog for a pet, there are a couple of things you really need to know about Chesapeake Bays. They are one family dogs. They are one-dog family dogs. They don’t play well with other dogs unless forced to. This is because they don’t consider themselves dogs.
If you want a watch dog, though, you’ve come to the right place. When I am out of town, my wife lets Caddo sleep with her. “Sleep” is not the right word. She sleeps. Caddo stays on high alert. He sits on the bed and watches the hall. Nothing is allowed in the hall. Don’t even think about it.
I started training Caddo when he was seven weeks old. That took about twelve minutes.
“Show me once what you want me to do, then shut up and get out of my face,” he said. Of course, he feels free to disregard any commands that are silly. He is not a trick pony.
So if you want to improve your life, get a Chesapeake Bay retriever. And get out of his way.