'Scott Rall does Winnie the Pooh' is story behind raising first hunting puppy
We’re in the process of getting a new puppy, and it reminds me of the very first hunting dog puppy I ever had. I grew up with lap dogs, but this was a yellow Labrador named Scout, the first puppy from the first breeding at the newly created Round Lake Kennels around 1996.
I knew about as much as nothing when it came to formal training, so I made all of the amateur mistakes a person could make.
I call this story, “Scott Rall does Winnie the Pooh.” My puppy was about two months old and my wife bought a bag of dried pigs’ ears that were sold as chew treats at the time.
She fed Scout one ear and in two minutes it was gone. So, if one is good, then the entire bag must be better. The dog was sure happy.
It was about 2 o’clock in the morning and my wife elbowed me in the ribs and said, “What is that smeeeeeeell?!” It was my puppy so the inspection was my responsibility.
It was obvious that the dog had an accident in the plastic dog kennel she was sleeping in. I figured the first order of business was to get the dog out of the cage and cleaned up. The energetic puppy burst from my grasp and headed across the nearly white carpet on its way to the door. I caught up to her on the steps, and it was to the basement shower for a complete washing.
I tied her to a basement post and then went back to the task at hand. There were distinct liquid poop tracks from the second floor all the way to the basement.
It took 90 minutes with the carpet cleaner to fix that issue. I then went in and folded up the blanket in the cage and hauled it to the outside garden hose spigot. I washed up the big stuff and it headed for the washing machine.
What I did not know at the time was that it had dripped liquid poop from the second floor all the way out the back door. This started the carpet cleaning process all over again. It is now about 4 a.m. So now I am back to the initial job at hand, which was cleaning out the cage.
It smelled really bad, as in “take your breath away” bad. I got two rolls of paper towels and a garbage can and reached in and made the first swipe. All went well. I would take a deep breath and then move in for the swipe and exit before I had to inhale again. This went fine for the first few attempts. As I was working my way to the back of the cage, I took a breath and moved in deeper. This is where the tragedy started.
I got stuck in the kennel opening, and as I tried to back out, the cage just came along with me. I was running out of air and soon had to take a breath. I stuck my nose into one of the ventilation slots in the cage with the limited hopes of breathing fresh air and not the toxic gas that occupied the space inside.
My efforts failed. I felt like Winnie the Pooh who had stuck his head in a rabbit’s hole and while there, ate too much honey and was then unable to exit. Trauma was my only successful outcome. There I was at 4 a.m. with no help in sight. I covered about 12 feet across the carpet before I was able to free myself and, in the process, had knocked over the trashcan with much of the contents again landing on the almost white carpet.
I was actually going backward on this new dog owner effort. Well, it is now about 6 a.m. and I am out of carpet cleaner and paper towels — and new puppy owner excitement. Just as I was finishing up, my wife woke up for work and asked me what had happened.
I just walked away to the basement, took a shower, let out my new puppy for an additional potty break and headed to work as the circulation manager of the Daily Globe newspaper.
If only I had taken the whole apparatus, the cage and the dog to the basement before I started, this crisis could have been avoided. Did I mention I was a new dog owner?
There is a moral to this story. Never buy dried pigs’ ears as chew toys, and if you must, never give the dog more than one per day.
I have had many puppies since then, and I am really hoping my puppy can arrive in my home about the first week of August. This arrival will get me back to full strength with four black Labrador males ranging in age from 8 weeks to 9 years.
Life lessons are hard sometimes, but when it comes to dogs, they are all worth it to me.
Scott Rall, Worthington, is a habitat conservationist, avid hunting and fishing enthusiast and is president of Nobles County Pheasants Forever. He can be reached at email@example.com. or on Twitter @habitat champion.