Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Dutch the Regal Jester

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Dutch the Regal Jester

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Dutch the Regal Jester

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Dutch the Regal JesterI 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.

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Dutch the Regal Jester
Dutch the Regal Jester

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.

Puppy Dutch

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.

 



Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Jake and the Scuba Mask

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Jake and the Scuba Mask

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Jake and the Scuba Mask

By Lynn Stacy-Smith

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Jake and the Scuba Mask Sussex County, New Jersey is hands down the hidden gem of New Jersey. Most people from outside the state do not believe me that it exists since the stereotype is that the state is a giant toxic waste dump. That stereotype could not be farther from the truth. Located in the Appalachian Mountains, my hometown of Andover was an outdoor lover’s paradise. It was also a fabulous place to be a kid or a Labrador Retriever.

When we needed to move to the Chicago area for Dad’s job, my parents did substantial research to try to find something even remotely as secluded and wooded as the home we were selling. Fortunately they found a house on a large wooded lot with a stream running through the backyard and promptly installed an in-ground swimming pool to make up for the fact that we no longer lived lakefront. It wasn’t quite as awesome as our lakefront paradise, but it was close. Snoop loved frolicking in the stream as did Cinder when she joined our family as an energetic little puppy.

A few years after we moved our beloved Snoop passed away, leaving Cinder an only dog. The next autumn, my father was bird hunting at a hunt club that had a litter of puppies that were old enough to run around the club and explore the world but not yet ready to go to their new homes. For three weeks in a row, one particular little yellow Labrador puppy followed my Dad around every chance that he got. On the fourth week, when the puppy was eight weeks old and ready to leave his litter, Dad could not resist the little pup and Jake headed home to meet the family he had selected for himself.

Jake was another of Dad’s heart dogs and was a natural bird dog. Cinder was more attached to my mother and did not have the same drive, trainability or temperament to be a hunting companion, so she was happy to stay home with Mom and me while Jake and Dad went on their adventures. Just like Snoop before him, Jake was an absolute sweet dog who loved to swim and play fetch with my brothers and me, chill out with us in our bedrooms or hang out in the family room when our friends came over, but the moment Dad came home, Jake was by his side. If Dad went outside, Jake went outside. When Dad went to bed, Jake went to bed. Dad was clearly, without a shadow of a doubt, Jake’s chosen person.

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Jake and the Scuba Mask
Jake fetching the fake plastic duck

Jake loved the swimming pool and walked down the stairs of the pool several times a day all summer, swam a few laps back and forth, and then walked back up the stairs. Cinder usually only jumped off the side when we threw a ball or a dummy to her, but Jake got in and out using the stairs like a human, very nonchalant and relaxed, just a dog going for a quick swim. If we were in the pool he would swim up to us and let us hold him in our arms like a child until he decided he was done.

An avid scuba diver, Dad adopted the practice of using his scuba mask and snorkel so that he could swim around to vacuum the pool instead of standing on the pool deck. It was extremely smart because the visibility was so much better and he could make sure he had vacuumed up every last bit of dirt or leaves and also free dive down to get any dirt at the very bottom of the pool.

Jake, I am your father!

I have seen a lot of people wearing scuba masks and snorkels throughout my lifetime, and essentially everyone looks bizarre in them. Dad’s mask was a full face mask, black and Darth Vader-ish, and Jake was about as much of a fan of the mask as Luke Skywalker was of Darth Vader. The first time I saw Dad put on the mask and snorkel in the pool, I could hardly breathe I laughed so hard at Jake’s reaction.

As incredibly smart as he was, Jake could never figure out that Dad was still Dad when he put on the mask and snorkel. He would bark and growl with his hackles up until Dad put his face in the water, and then watch him the entire time he vacuumed the pool. Sometimes we would look out into the back yard and see Jake laying on the pool cement, front paws dangling over the side of the pool with his blocky yellow head cocked to the side as he stared down at my father. If Dad moved to another area, Jake followed, watching his every move until he surfaced and Jake started his barking and growling all over again. As soon as the pool was clean and the mask and snorkel put away, Jake was his happy self again.

Love Laugh Woof Dog Stories: Jake and the Scuba Mask
Jake & Cinder enjoying the pool

Each week, Jake had the same reaction. Freak out, watch Dad’s every move, then express huge relief in the form of a wiggling Labrador body and super fast wagging tail when Dad emerged from the pool. He never jumped in to save him or went in via the steps like when he wanted to take a swim,  never tried to attack the mask, he just watched intently from the edge. Sometimes Cinder watched along with him and sometimes he did his pool patrol on his own.

I wish Jake could have communicated what he was thinking, if he was afraid something was attacking our father like a sea monster or if he had no comprehension that it was still his all-time favorite human in the entire world under that big scary mask. I can’t imagine what Jake would have done if Dad had worn an air tank!

Flash forward twenty years later and my husband has sometimes adopted this same method of vacuuming our pool, although ours is just an above-ground and takes a fraction of the time. Jackson and Tinkerbell have seen my husband and the kids in a variety of different goggles and masks and haven’t cared one bit, although ours are just for casual swimming or snorkeling, not professional scuba masks. They just glance at us and go back to doing their thing as if odd behavior from their humans is nothing out of the ordinary. If only Jake were still with us to tell them otherwise.

I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration. 


Love, Laugh, Woof Dog Stories: Snoop and the Red Lifesaver Frisbee

Love, Laugh, Woof Dog Stories: Snoop and the Red Lifesaver Frisbee

Love, Laugh, Woof Dog Stories: Snoop and the Red Lifesaver Frisbee

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Love, Laugh, Woof Dog Stories: Snoop and the Red Lifesaver Frisbee If you’ve read my book and my blogs, you know that my dad was extremely influential, if not entirely responsible, for my love of dogs. In fact it is not just me who he raised to be a responsible forever dog owner, but my two brothers as well; all three of us grew up into dog loving adults and Labrador Retriever owners. Yesterday was Dad’s birthday, and he is one of my most loyal readers of this blog. I thought it would be a fun gift this week to write a series of posts dedicated to some of the stories of our beloved dogs that did not make it into my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Owner. I hope that you will enjoy them and that you have some of your own family dog stories with your own forever dogs.

Snoop possibly awoken from a dream of frisbees

Snoop was my first dog and taught me what it was like to have a dog as a best friend when I was just five years old. A sweet and young black Labrador Retriever, Snoop was our playmate and constant companion, but as soon as Dad arrived home from work or from a business trip, she abandoned us to become velcroed to his side until he left the house the next time.

She was next to him when he grilled, when he was inside reading or watching TV, when he worked in his home office, when he worked on projects around the house. Snoop was also his beloved hunting companion and I remember her snoring away happy and exhausted in front of the fireplace after a long day of hunting ducks with Dad.

My Mom’s side of the family loved to vacation at Lake Champlain, Vermont, and we went there several summers with my parents and grandparents, where we stayed in rental cabins on Button Bay and spent our days swimming in the lake, going out on my grandfather’s boat, staring at the surface of the dark blue water looking for Champ, and generally spending family time outdoors. Of course Snoop was with us and would swim alongside us and run along the rocky shoreline in complete Labrador Utopia.

1970s Lifesaver Frisbee that was not destroyed by a dog

One summer I brought along my most prized possession of the summer: my red Lifesavers Frisbee. I don’t remember how I got it, but I had brought it on that trip with the express purpose of playing water Frisbee with my two half-brothers. Monday through Friday I was an only child, on weekends I had rough and tumble brothers to accompany me on adventures, hang out in our rock fort in the woods, and play Star Wars and other games. That Frisbee was pretty boring on my only child days, but I knew without a shadow of doubt how much fun we could have playing with it together, and our summer vacation would give us an entire week of fun.

On the first day of our vacation we all headed down the massive flights of wooden stairs to the water, our arms laden with supplies. Our huge black inner tubes from the inside old tractor tires were pumped up and ready, Mom’s raft was inflated, snacks and drinks were packed, and I had my red Lifesaver Frisbee. We were ready for fun!

Once in the water I showed the frisbee to my brothers and we decided that not only would we play in the water, but we would all get on our inner tubes to play. Those old black inner tubes from trucks and tractors were the best floats, so much more durable and able to withstand rough housing than the easily popped versions made today.

We each got on our tubes and positioned ourselves in the water in a triangle. Of course none of our throws to each other were remotely accurate, which also added to the fun because it means we would each launch ourselves off the tube in an effort to catch it, and then swim after it to get it to throw it to the next person. In fact I am quite confident that we were all intentionally inaccurate just to make the person to whom we were throwing jump off and fetch it.

There was a dock on our beach and my grandfather’s boat was tied on the opposite side of the dock from where we were playing. After a little while Snoop noticed that we were playing a game without her and she ran out onto the dock to watch us. As she watched the red Lifesaver Frisbee flying back and forth, she grew more and more animated, her tail wagging furiously, her mouth open in the classic Labrador Retriever smile, tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth. She ran up and down the length of the dock repeatedly, happily following the frisbee as we threw it to each other.

On the next throw to me, my older brother whipped it over my head and it landed in the water about ten feet away from me, and about five feet from the end of the dock. I dove off my tube and swam to get it, but as I was halfway there I saw Snoop crouching on the dock, figuring out the angle for her jump. “No, Snoop! No! Stay!!” I yelled, swimming faster.

Like most dogs, Snoop understood Geometry better than any human, and she landed precisely in front of the frisbee with one leap and snatched it up in her mouth. Like any good hunting dog, she swiftly turned and swam to shore with her possession. “Snoop has the frisbee!!!!” we all yelled to our parents and grandparents on the shore.

“She’s a hunting dog, she has a soft mouth, she won’t hurt it!” Dad called out to me. I was swimming as fast as I could to catch her, but I had been delayed by making sure my inner tube did not float away, so she had gained a lot of ground on me.

I was still swimming back to shore as I watched our perfect hunting dog reach the beach and then race past my father across the sand with my red Lifesaver Frisbee in her mouth. “Snoop, wait!!!!” I called frantically.

“It’s ok, she’s not going to harm it, Lynn, calm down!” Dad said.

I was still swimming as I watched her take my frisbee down the beach and in a matter of seconds put her big paw on one end and start chomping on my prized toy. By the time we got it back it was no longer a beautiful perfect red circle, an oversized version of the best flavor of candy there ever was, it had been reduced to shards of plastic and Labrador slobber on the rocky gray sand.

“Snoop, you ate my frisbee!” I said to her in disbelief, and she looked up at me, tail wagging, pleased with herself and her frisbee destroying skills. I wanted to cry with disappointment over having the toy for such a brief amount of time, but as all kids growing up in the 70s knew, you did not cry over such trivial things or you would receive “something to cry about” although looking back, nothing actually happened after those words came out of our parents mouths.

I picked up the pieces and headed back to where the family was camped out in lawn chairs on the beach, Snoop trotting alongside me, sniffing her way back, blissfully unaware of the havoc she had wreaked on my plans to play Frisbee every day my brothers were with us. “Huh,” Dad said, “I didn’t think she would chew it! She would have never done that to a duck!”

Of course this story has lived on for decades, and it my most vivid memory of our vacations in Lake Champlain. A few years later we discovered an amazing place in Upstate New York and that became our new vacation tradition and the location of so many family memories. I still love to tease my Dad about his perfect Snoop and her soft mouth and how she would never ever chew up my beloved red Lifesavers Frisbee.