Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Dutch the Regal Jester
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
I once read an article that referred to the German Shorthaired Pointer as the “Regal Jester”, a description that I found to be utterly perfect the more I got to know our own German Shorthaired Pointer, Dutch. Up until Dutch came into our lives, we had lived with only Labrador Retrievers, first Snoop, then Cinder, then Jake and Jake’s son Beau. Considering that Labrador Retrievers are definitely not low energy dogs, the fact that there was a breed more energetic and silly than a Lab was a source of constant entertainment.
Here is an excerpt about Dutch from my book, Love, Laugh, Woof:
When Cinder was around eleven years old, she became sick and passed away. Jake and Beau were still young and loved hunting more than anything else in the world, but they had both begun to have severe grand mal epileptic seizures and Dad was hesitant to take them on bird hunting outings because of their frequent episodes. He had been doing a lot of research on German Shorthaired Pointers and was planning to get one as his next dog. He had located a professional breeder and put a deposit on a puppy from the next litter.
One night when I was visiting for dinner, he told Mom and me, “Now this puppy is not going to be as warm and loving as the Labs. This breed is a bit more aloof, so don’t be hurt if he doesn’t want to cuddle and lay on top of you like the Labs.”
“That’s ok, we’ve got Jake and Beau to love up on, don’t we?” I replied in my doggie voice, getting down on the floor to play with them. “Yes, you will give me all of the loving I need, right? This new puppy can be hunting all the time if that’s what he wants!”
A few months later, Dutch came home and I headed over to my parents’ house to meet the “aloof” puppy. As soon I walked into the house I spotted him curled up in a ball within the rungs of the kitchen chair, a silky dark brown puppy, covered with white speckles and large round brown patches. He woke up a few minutes after I arrived and we took him outside to relieve himself.
His business finished, I could not resist scooping him up. He was one of the most beautiful puppies I had ever seen in my life, and how aloof could a puppy possibly be?
Dutch nestled into my arms and started to lick my face. “Oh yes, you are so aloof, you don’t want anything to do with us humans, do you?” I cooed to him in my sing-song puppy voice.
“Well, don’t expect that to last too long, he’s going to be all about the birds,” Dad said.
Dutch did indeed grow up to be a fantastic bird dog, but when he was not training or hunting with my father, he was one of the most goofy and funny dogs I have ever known. He also failed brilliantly at being aloof and was one of the most snuggly dogs to be a part of our family.
My father recently told me that Dutch was the easiest dog to train that he’s ever worked with. All of our dogs were beautifully trained by my father, both for general obedience and manners at home as well as for bird hunting. Dogs who hunt birds have to be well-trained for several reasons, including their own safety so that do not run off and into harms way and so that the birds that are killed are never wasted. I remember being at the house hanging out with my Mom on many occasions when Dad was training Dutch and I still recall his excitement at Dutch’s intelligence, work ethic, and trainability.
As Dutch’s “big sister” my goal was simply to play with him. I lived in an apartment across town from my parents and without a dog of my own, I went to visit their dogs on a regular basis to get my dose of puppy love. Beau and Jake were big sweet yellow Labradors with very chilled out personalities, the kind you read about in British novels set in the countryside. Dutch was equally sweet but had an energy that could power the world. Training or even a day of hunting merely put a dent in his energy stores.
From a very early age, Dutch developed a habit of bringing a toy with him every single time someone came to the front door or entered the house. While Beau and Jake were immediately at the door, Dutch would come trotting over with his unique German Shorthaired Pointer gait, his stubby docked tail wiggling back and forth happily, a fleece toy dangling from his mouth the entire time. If he could not find a toy, he grabbed the towel that my mother kept by the door to the back yard to wipe the dirty paws.
One day I went to visit my parents and the dogs and let myself into the house. Dutch had been upstairs in the master bedroom and grabbed the first thing he could find to bring to me: the king sized comforter off the bed. I laughed as I watched this big, strong, sleek and muscular dog drag a fluffy, king sized, down comforter down the first half of the stairs, around the corner of a landing, and all the way to the main floor. I remember my Mom exclaiming from her bedroom, “What the heck happened to my comforter?” as I laughed out loud at Dutch’s antics.
Dutch kept this habit his entire life. Through a series of events that I talk about in my book, Dutch became my dog when he was eight years young and every day when I arrived home from work, there was my Regal Jester with a toy, a blanket from the back of the sofa, one of my many throw pillows, or even now and then a piece of clothing from my bedroom. He never chewed it or destroyed it, simply carried it in his soft bird-hunting mouth to greet his humans or guests.
When Babe, Dutch and I moved in with my husband and his kids, they were thoroughly amused by this big goofy dog who suddenly had a whole new world of things to carry to the door or from room to room. At the time the kids were four, six and eight and the family room was a veritable treasure trove of sweatshirts, socks (if you’ve had human children you know that they remove these things throughout day no matter where they are), toys, doll clothing, TV watching blankets. Dutch was in his glory and the kids giggled uncontrollably when they’d walk in the door and find him standing there, his happy stubby tail wagging, with their sock or a Barbie dress dangling from the side of his mouth.
Perhaps what made Dutch’s love of greeting people with things made of fabric so funny was that he had been bred by the top German Shorthaired Pointer breeder in the country. From German stock, he was a large, elegant dog with beautiful lines and a stunning and unique coat that shone like silk. The German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America describes the breed standard on their website as, “The overall picture which is created in the observer’s eye is that of an aristocratic, well-balanced, symmetrical animal with conformation indicating power, endurance and agility and a look of intelligence and animation.”
Dutch was all of those things, and I firmly believe that the mixture of that stunning, aristocratic appearance with their completely silly temperament and quirks are what combine to literally make their owners and friends laugh out loud on a daily basis. Dutch was certainly not the only GSP to live up to the Regal Jester nickname, I see it all the time in a group of German Shorthaired Pointer owners on Facebook and their photos and videos make me laugh out loud as I remember my own silly aristocrat of a dog greeting me at the door with some sort of textile hanging from his mouth.