By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer
While tenting along the Missouri River last July 4 weekend, my dad and I were joined by his bird dog.
Dash is a cool dog, pretty mellow, not a barker, but he comes with a lot of fur. I banned him from the tent after that weekend from all the hair he left behind.
When you find his yellow hairs between the lens and frame of your eyeglasses, it’s just too much.
Still, he’s a fun dog.
As a kid, my family always had a dog or two along on vacations, staked out in the campsite, running at large in the camper or (doing what they do best) quartering for game birds in the field.
No trip is boring with a bird dog.
On a winter visit to Watford City, my dad brought Dash, who tagged along on a hike through the Cartwright Tunnel.
While Dash was fascinated with the resident pigeons, Dad was sickened by the guano they left behind.
“I should have brought a respirator for this,” he groused.
Fortunately, no one got histoplasmosis.
On a summer trip, my parents let Joan Jett, Mom’s black lab pup, off her leash in a field at Fort Ransom State Park.
She ran away and leaped off a cliff into the Sheyenne River.
Fortunately, she was OK, just paddling around in the river below before she decided to come up, happy as can be.
Dash gets his bed in the backseat of Dad’s Dodge on trips to Devils Lake or deer camp, and he came along on spring break two years ago to find a turtle effigy near Zap.
His fur was still in the backseat of my Mercury Mountaineer when I traded it in Williston last summer.
And when the sunlight hits the air just right, you can see his hairs all lighted up as they float in the air above the bed he’s not supposed to be on.
Meh. I’ll change the sheets later.
Few companions are better than a furry, non-judgmental bird dog who’s always ready to join in the fun.
Of course, they have to like traveling too.
Dash is cool as a cucumber most of the time. His old partner Maggie was the opposite. Travel anxiety dog. Wonderful to pet. Bad to transport.
Meanwhile, Dash has joined us fishing the Missouri River and Devils Lake, combing through cottonwood trees and treading coulees of the badlands.
Cool as a cucumber.
I’ve read about Capt. Meriwether Lewis and his dog Seaman, the faithful Newfoundland who went to the Pacific Ocean and back with the Corps of Discovery, later to pine away and die at his master’s grave.
“The fidelity and attachment of this animal were remarkable,” scholar Timothy Alden wrote about Seaman in 1814.
Friends until the end.
Dash, of course, didn’t accompany my father on a three-year journey through the western wilderness, but the two of them hunt around the state in fall and winter, largely in pursuit of wily rooster pheasants.
He’s cool to trot alongside us on a hike in the Sheyenne sandhills (and drink all our water) or conk out in his box after a morning retrieving ducks near Binford.
Have bird dog, will travel.