Lola’s Limp

For several years, Lola has occasionally limped. Off and on, usually more in cold weather, but the limp has always dissipated and eventually gone away.

Last fall, during duck season, the limp didn’t go away and continued to become more obvious.

Not wanting to admit that my dog needed help, I waited too patiently for the limp to leave. Finally, my wife, Linda convinced me that it was time to go to the vet. The vet didn’t have an answer, but once he was involved, there was no more putting off action.

X-Rays revealed some arthritis in Lola’s front right leg and also in her back. Arthritis was something with which I was familiar.

The vet suggested several paths that we could take. I was reluctant to give her treatment, but we began to give her pills that could possibly reduce inflammation. The pills may have helped a little, but the limp eventually grew more pronounced.

After a few months without significant progress, we decided to give Lola a series of shots. At first she received two each week. After four shots, we reduced the shots to one per week.

One night she vomited violently and was quite ill. After a few days of rice and cottage cheese, she was better, but we decided to quit the shots. The cure seemed worse than the problem.

In the meantime we reduced her exercise to about half of what we had normally done. Taking her for walks every other day and shortening the length by about 50%.

I also purchased a leg brace believing that restricting the motion of her right front leg would limit the effects of the arthritis. The brace seems to be helping. Here’s a video of Lola with the leg brace on.

And here’s a close up of the brace on her leg.

IMG_1846 brace on leg

The brace originally had three straps that wrapped around her leg, but it didn’t fit her right and the bottom of the brace dug into her foot. I sawed off about an inch of the brace and now use tape to wrap the bottom of the brace to her leg. It seems to be working and she’s not limping as much.

Lola’s nine now and I know from experience that all dogs suffer from some malady as they grow older. I’m just hoping that we can keep this issue under control and that she can continue to hunt next season. Time will tell.




Lola Meets Mr. Bobcat

A little over two years ago, Lola and I came across a bobcat while walking our normal hiking route. The cat didn’t hang around very long and Lola became quite excited, but that was the end of it.

A few days ago we were walking the route again, and Lola began barking in the exact spot where the cat had been hiding on the previous encounter. I immediately reached for my iPhone and you can see for yourself what happened. This is a testimony to the fact that wild animals have places where they hang out repeatedly over time. This cat was probably laying in the same spot as on the previous encounter over two years prior.

Although Lola probably outweighed the cat by 25-30 pounds, the cat was the taller of the two and seemed to have little fear of the dog.

Why I Always Hunt Ducks with a Retriever

When you own a dog, you always have a hunting partner.

A good dog is as excited about hunting, or more so, than you are.

Today Lola once again proved that a dog is invaluable when it comes to retrieving your game.

About mid-morning on a recent hunt, a pair of specs lifted off from a field to the northeast of us and climbed into the air over Fred. They were up there, but Fred decided to take the shot. As the birds turned back to the north, one of them slowed and descended, but did not drop out of the air for about three to four hundred yards.

From my vantage point, I could tell that the bird had died before it hit the ground. It came down at the opposite side of the pond, and disappeared behind a wall of cattail. I had a good line to the bird, but didn’t know how far behind the cattail wall it had reached the ground.

I decided to go after it with Lola. It was slow going while crossing the pond as the bottom was slippery and the water deep enough to be disconcerting. When I reached the wall of cattail, Lola turned left and disappeared for a moment. I called to her and led her out of the pond onto the berm. From the berm, I sent her across a canal on the north side of the property and she searched unsuccessfully for the goose. She returned and searched the tall grass along the road on both sides.

I concluded that the goose must have fallen into the thick cattail and it came down so hard that it must have buried into the thick mass of bush. As much as I hated to give up, the effort seemed for not and I was impatient to get back to hunting. But, I didn’t completely write the bird off. I figured Fred and I could come back after we finished hunting and maybe we would find it then.

About two hours later we returned. With field glasses we scoured the field to the north. If the bird were there, we would have seen it – plus Lola had already checked it out. We searched along both sides of the berm again with no results. Once again I concluded that the bird must have come down in the thick cattail. I told Fred that I was going back into the cattail to see if there was any chance of recovering the bird from the thick cover.

As I walked through the path we’d made through the cattail, I remembered that Lola had briefly disappeared previously (maybe because she had smelled the goose) and decided we should go down wind of that area to see if Lola might go to the bird. Near the spot where she had disappeared previously, I led her into the wind and we made our way along a narrow path through the cattail. It was easier going that I had anticipated. Then Lola’s pace picked up. Maybe she smelled the bird.

I made it through the tunnel of cattail and popped out onto a very small opening in the cattail where the surface of the water was exposed. There before me stood Lola next to the downed goose.

It is amazing how many birds you can recover with a good dog. Fred was impressed.

A good dog not only finds your birds, but gives you confidence to go after birds that dogless hunters would give up on.

A good dog not only finds your birds, but gives you confidence to go after birds that dogless hunters would give up on.

Wednesday Duck Hunt Best Of Year So Far

Took my own advise and got out duck hunting on Wednesday. The ducks cooperated.

Ice around the edge of the ponds was an indication of the temperature and mallards began to lift off the water as I slid my one-man Final Attack duck boat into the pond.

My optimism grew as more mallards took off in front of me. I have a hard time remaining calm when this happens. Duck fever was setting in.

With five decoys in place and Lola on her stool, I pulled on the jerk string and it wasn’t long before birds arrived. A single drake mallard passed by low from right to left. I followed it with my gun barrel and decided to go for it. Down it went into a thick tule patch.

Lola popped off her seat and I got her headed in the right direction. Circling the area where the bird went down, she got wind of it and climbed into the tules. After she found it she stood on top of the pile and refused to bring it to me. With considerable effort I climbed onto the tule hill and grabbed the duck. I had no time to play around. Who knows for sure why dogs do things, but I think she likes to lick the blood that flows from the ducks wounds.

Any way, I probably wouldn’t have retrieved it without her.

And so it went for the next two hours. When it was over I had six greenheads out of the eight I shot at. Not bad.

Most of the shots were close and the birds worked well. They were wary and quite a few refused to come within range. They were in good shape, large bodied and yellow skin – which I consider a sign that they were not yet stressed from the winter weather.

Had the local MDF committee over for barbecued ducks last night and the birds were delicious.

Lola had a good day retrieving - with a couple minor exceptions.

Lola had a good day retrieving – with a couple minor exceptions.

Dog Tales

One-dog man climbs hiking trail and hears a woman’s voice above him.

“My dogs aren’t social,” says two-dog woman.

“OK,” replies one-dog man, “I’ll hold my dog here while you pass.”

“That’s my trail,” answers scowling two-dog woman, “I made it.”

“OK,” replies one-dog man, “I’ll go around you.”


Same day, different trail.

One-dog-white-dog man sees black-dog woman approaching with three young children.

White dog runs to greet black dog. Black-dog child yells, “Stop!”

White dog stops and black dog approaches. They begin to sniff each other. Black dog and white dog smile.

Black-dog woman says, “Can they pet your dog?”

One-dog-white-dog man replies, “Yes.”

Children and dogs smile.

Three-child-black-dog mother says, “Tell the man thank you.”

Children chorus, “Thank you.”

One-dog man says, “You’re welcome.”

Cats and Dogs

Sometimes dogs and cats get along, but only when they get to know each other at an early age. This fearless tom cat named Spike was friendly to my old hunting partner Valentine.

Dogs and cats were created to be different. Lola likes our two Siamese cats, but they hate her. She tries to play and all they want to do is run away or scratch her eyeballs out.

Lola thinks just about everything is her friend, but that doesn’t stop her from chasing it when he runs or retrieving it after its dead.

Here’s one that didn’t get away from Lola.

I’ve huned enough with Lola to know when something is up.

Last week we were hiking in familiar territory. We took a lesser-used ridge, with no trail, down a hill. It was only about 200 yards between trails, but as soon as we left the beaten path, Lola became animated. she put her nose to the ground and then jerked her head up as if expecting to see something, but nothing was there.

Not wanting her to get carried away, I gave her a soft comeon and she turned in the direction I was heading, but then she gained speed and before I knew it she was face to face with, and five yards from, a full-grown bobcat.

This cat was similar in size to the one Lola discovered.

The cat stood as tall as possible and Lola let out a sound that can only be described as hounddoggish. The cat tried to high-five Lola and they broke off. The cat jumped off a steep bank and my hollering stopped Lola from following.

For the rest of the hike, I could tell Lola was a bit off her game. I think she felt like a baseball player after taking a fat pitch. She’d liked to have had the opportunity over again.

No labs around this house.

Do Dogs Smile?

Yes they do.

Val, a Labrador retriever that now hunts in the happy hunting grounds, was a very happy dog. She had a smile on her face most of the time, until she got so old that everything ached.

My young lab, Lola, was very fond of Val. Val tolerated Lola and even warmed up to her after a while. Lola is all dog, she likes humans, but (I think) she prefers the company of dogs.

A morning ritual at my house was for Val to retrieve the newspaper. She was good at it and I’d give her a treat after she brought me the paper. Lola would just stand and watch. On occation, I attempted to get Lola to retrieve the paper while Val was alive. She wouldn’t do it. She’d just watch Val and beg for a treat of her own.

I worried a little about how Lola would react when Val was no longer around. Sometimes dogs react very negatively when the leader of the pack disappears.

After Val was gone, Lola was a little down, but after about a week she seemed to perk up.

When I awoke this morning, I laid in bed and actually thought about Lola’s attitude. For one thing, a happy dog is a better hunter and companion.  Now it’s been over two months since Val’s departure and I’ve been a little conerned about Lola’s attitude. She seems serious all the time and hasn’t been flashing her dog smile that is very charming.

On the other hand, she has started retrieving the morning paper, something she never did while Val was alive. This morning, I opened the gate and pointed her to the paper. She darted to it, picked it up and ran back to me – dropping it at my feet and flashing her dog smile.

I guess she’s doing OK.

Lola on the job