The phone call reached the house and barn through a common line. I heard the ring but figured someone else would pick up. The yell from my wife just about lifted the roof and needed no repeating, “Bob, your dog just grabbed the neighbor’s cat!”
I’m stealing a line of questioning from Kevin Woster’s blog, but I have no doubts on the question of whether hunting dogs lie. Recent scientific studies have documented that the average dog has a human vocabulary of 165 commands if you include facial expressions and gestures. Really smart dogs can have a vocabulary of up to 250 commands. Human children of two years of age have a similar vocabulary. Researchers have proven that babies as young as six months old have mastered the art of deception to get what they want, either through fake laughter or crying.
I have personally been lied to by a series of two year olds over the years. Any adult who has ever heard a crash, walked into a room with a broken cookie jar, and asked the question, “Who did this?” has been met with one of the great universal lies of all time, “I don’t know.” Even though the room might be devoid of any other culprits, the child will act as if they were surrounded by kids with crumb-covered faces. I truly believe that I once owned a genius of an Airedale. He actually helped me raise three of my children through their second years and instructed each, after teaching them to secretly feed him from their highchairs, in the fine art of deception.
I flew out of the barn yelling the dogs’ name, “Elgin! Drop that cat!” I couldn’t see him yet, but he only had half a mile to cover after being caught in the act. I rounded the corner of the barn and came in sight of his kennel. Sitting quietly, chest heaving, but acting as if he had never left, was my big black and tan Airedale. If he could have whistled, he would have blowing a tune, and if he could have had his front paws held behind his back to hide any contraband he would have been doing that too. He had his head turned and he refused to make eye contact. He was desperately trying to act as if he had no idea what I was yelling about and that he was hurt that I would even for a moment think him capable of any dastardly act.
Unfortunately he had made the sprint home without considering the fact that a full grown housecat was hanging around his neck like a bandana, desperately holding on for dear life. Even with four sets of cat claws dug into his neck as if he was some furry tree, Elgin did his best to persuade me that he had never seen a cat and had no idea what the heck I was talking about.
This incident happened years ago and the cat made a full recovery and is still around while Elgin has been gone for a year now. Lying requires an understanding of right and wrong and the strong desire to not be caught in the latter. If you have ever seen a guilty dog trying to hide his mistakes, you too know that hunting dogs lie.
I heard my first bugle of the season last weekend and archery elk started yesterday along with the opening of dove season. There are many more grain fields in the area this year than in seasons past and dove hunting should be good until the first hard frost. I’m seeing many more of the Eurasian Collared doves and their greater size makes them more appealing for the table. I myself find it challenging to even hit a dove early in the season and the ten dove limit is just about enough for one man’s meal. Maybe taking a few of these invaders will let me gather enough for friends. Did I mention that the bucks have come down early from the hills? It might not be officially fall yet, but hunting season has begun.