Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jack Byrnes or Bernie Focker: Which Dog Trainer Are You?

If you're not familiar, the two character names in the title come from the movie "Meet the Fockers," where a soon-to-be newlywed couple must endure the first meeting of their parents. Jack Byners, the bride's father, is and ex-CIA operative played by the great Bobby De Niro. Jack clearly subscribes to the authoritarian style of parenting, obviously a derivative of his career and training--strict, rigid, and often unforgiving and unapologetic.

In the movie Jack is balanced by the groom's father, Bernie Focker, who is played by another Hollywood great, Dustin Hoffman. Bernie is a lawyer turned Mr. Mom and is way more sensitive and nurturing than Jack. Always proud, encouraging, and in defense of his son. The conflict in parenting styles comes to a head during a scene where Bernie is showing Jack and the others a room he's created in dedication and in memoriam of his son's childhood and early achievements. Ribbons and trophies everywhere. There is a disagreement over "celebrating mediocrity" which kicks off the conflict throughout the rest of the movie. I think there is an interesting parallel in the dog training world.

I can see where snippets of both philosophies can be beneficial in training our hunting and housepet companions, but I find myself standing fervently with Bernie. More on this later...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bad News Bears

Sage may effectively be retired just a week and a half from his fourth birthday. We've been dealing with an injury off an on since our trip to Texas in January. Sometimes after some hard work he'd show a slight limp and favor his left-front. We have done quite a bit of bikejoring through the spring and honestly I thought we had beat it. Then, after I get back from fishing I knew they needed some exercise. Sage couldn't make two miles without limping this time and upon inspection the joint was inflamed. I gave rimadyl a few days and it still didn't come down. No exercise for two weeks and still swollen. So I took him to the vet yesterday. He said it appeared Sage suffered an injury and the joint has calcified around the injury, and that likely he will be like this for the rest of his life. He suggested some glucosamine treatments and I'm researching those. I suspect he's in some pain because this spring he started growling without provocation, growling at me or my girlfriend, sometimes the neighbor kids, and at Ike. Other times he's sweet as can be.

I feel completely devastated, hopeful (or is it denial?), frustrated, regretful, and confused. I don't really know the extent of his injury, how it will affect him, or if I can break him of the growling. I've decided to get a second opinion so I will be taking him to a vet who has and hunts setters; hopefully he's got better news or suggestions. I'll post some pictures as soon as I can.


The week preceding the 4th of July I had off work. As mentioned in an earlier post, I had a wild hair to try to find some salmonflies out west or fish the grey drake hatch on "the Hank" in Idaho. Some plans fell through and with the truck already loaded and dogs with a sitter I opted to fish some familiar waters in the Ozarks. In all I fished four rivers in five days and had a really great time--it was like a complete decompression.

The first ingredient of a successful road trip of any sort is good music. Six months ago if you had asked me who my favorite band was I might have winced and squeaked out something like "Incubus?" I wasn't really sure. Then a good friend of mine managed to sink his hooks in, barbs buried, and now I'm reeling on Reckless Kelly. Really good stuff. The more I listen and talk about them to friends I find that they have a strong cult following with a host of other bands, and what I've sampled has been strong work. Streaming Pandora on a road trip is a great way to identify similar music to what you already know you like--or veg out and make the time pass a little faster.

The first two days I floated and fished what I consider my home river with two friends. We saw plenty of inept canoers, or is it canoeists? Whichever, they were entertaining. These pictures are of three separate canoes (note the fightened chihuahua's in the second picture).

Fishing was okay the first day, and dynamite the second. Most fish coming on a big Pat's or a pheasant tail.

From there I putzed around down in Arkansas for a couple days. They were running tons of water which limited fishing severely. I fished a spring creek new to me for an afternoon and found some really hot fish. I decided to cap the week with more time on my home river.

Found this in the water.

The fisherman's definition of irony: when the largest fish you catch all week is hooked in the ass.

Even threw some streamers...

I really need to fish more.