June 14, 1994--August 21, 1999
I grew up with English Setters and Pointers for Quail hunting, and even though we didn't duck hunt, we never had a duck dog. Our oldest son didn't take up duck hunting until his 20's., and the friend he hunted with had a Golden Retriever that was a great duck dog. Soon Ron wanted a Golden of his own to train. I was a bit worried about bringing a puppy into the house--we had a 9 year old Irish Setter who had been "an only dog" since we got him as a puppy. I was not sure how Boots would take to having a puppy around.
However, we decided to give it a try and Ron found a 10 week old puppy. Our worry about Boots not liking the pup was dead wrong. They took to each other and became fast friends right away. Ron named the puppy Scooter because he liked to scoot his ball around the floor. he would push it then pounce on it as it rolled away from him.
Scooter liked to climb and we would catch him on the coffee table, on the back of the sofa, in a chair, usually with his rope toy or ball. At the time Ron was saving for a pick-up and I would take him to work in my car and pick him up. I would also take Scooter, and sometimes Boots with me when I would go to pick up Ron at night. Scooter would get up in the back window--and did so until he would no longet fit. People would pass me and look over, just smiling, and some would even point towards the back of my car, so I know they were smiling over Scooter in the window.
I would park outside the store and Scooter knew exactly where to watch for Ron. As soon as Ron came out, goodness me, that puppy was just one wiggling fur ball. Ron would get in the car and that pink little tongue of Scooters just couldn't lick Ron's face fast enough. I think he missed the trip to get Ron after Ron got his truck
Even with the company of Boots and me, Scooter missed Ron when he was at work. He would carry around any item he could find that had Ron's scent on it--shirt, sox, underware, bathtowel. It stayed with him until Ron got home from work. When Ron went to work at the dry dock and worked the graveyard shift, Scooter slept with me....and some item of Ron's. One of the funniest things he used to do was to acrually roll on Ron to put his scent on Ron's. I always told Ron, "Scooter is marking you as his own property."
Scince I had never helped train a duck dog, I was really not sure how to do it. We had started Scooter early on retriever, which he loved to do. We taught him to sit, stay, down,etc. Ron didn't take him first of season, but when he brought the ducks home, he would take one and like slide it across the garage floor and tell Scooter, "Get the duck Scooter." And Scooter did. But that is a lot different from actually being in a blind and going after a duck in the water.
He was barely 6 months old the first time we took him. Ron got a couple of ducks that day and each time he would tell Scooter "Get the duck" and Scooter would follow behind him. Ron would pick up the duck and let Scooter smell it. Same thing the second time, a couple of days later. Then came the big day, Scooters third trip to the blind. We were hunting from the shore blind and a drove of green wing teal came towards the decoys. Ron knocked down two, but neither was killed. By then Scooter knew what the sound of the gun meant and he was out of the blind ahead of Ron. One teal went left towards the closed end of the lagoon, the other went right towards the open water at the other end. Ron and Scooter started toward the one swimming right. I heard Ron say,"Go get the duck, Scooter" and to my amazement, I saw Scooter turn and go after the one swimming to the left. Ron didn't see him turn. By the time Ron caught up with his cripple and started back, Scooter had caught the other and was headed toward the blind. I can still picture Ron jumping with joy when he realized Scooter had the other teal.
I was just sick that I didn't have a camera with me that day, but I did the next time.And as soon as Ron knocked down a big Pintail, Scooter was out of the blind and after it. And he was not even 7 months old. He had such a soft mouth and never made a mark on any duck. He would by pass a dead one to go after a cripple. There were times he chased it so far we could not even stt the duck, just Scooter swimming. But he would come back with it. Then he would go after the dead one.
Up from the lagoon and behind us, there were some tanks, or ponds, depending on where you live, and ducks would often land on them. If ducks were not coming into the lagoon, Ron would "creep" over to the tanks. The first couple of seasons, Scooter had no idea how to creep, so I would keep him in the blind with me while Ron went to the tanks. When I would see Ron returning, I would let Scooter out. There was high weeds and he couldn't see Ron, but would stand on his hind legs and "dance" around so he could stay up as long as possible. The minute he saw Ron, he was off in a flash. But he did learn how to "creep" and was able to go with Ron to the tanks.
Boots died when Scooter was only 3. Even though Boots was not a duck dog, he loved the water, so we buried him just off the trail down to our blind.There is a half buried tree trunk there and is a marker for finding Boots' grave.Well, Scooter always had to "water that trunk" on his way to the blind and on his way back to the car after the hunt. Boots died July 9. The first day of duck season, in Nov, Scooter went right to that trunk, but instead of "watering it" he just sniffed and sniffed, and then went elsewhere.Same on the way back to the car. We decided after 4 1/2 months he must have been able to pick up Boots' scent. From that day on, he never "watered" that trunk again, but always went straight to it and sniffed around...and went on. This went on through two seasons.
On the next to last day of season the year Scooter was 3, he cut his "wrist" pretty bad while retrieving a duck. We think it was probably on oyster shells, but could have been a bottle. Ron came home in a panic. there was a lot of blood and the cut was bad, but nothing to panic over. But this was Scooter's first injury. We got him in the bathtub and cleaned up and I called our Vet.He said for me to bandage it and if it didn't stop bleeding, bring him in. But we stopped the bleeding. Ron would not hunt the next day because Scooter couldn't. Ron had 99 ducks and wanted to at least get one more to make 100 for the season, but he would not go without his hunthin buddy. Oh, he had registered Scooter with the AKC as "My Huntin' Buddy."
Scooter was just about 4 when he balloned up and started losing some fur. Diagnosis--thyroid. But pills and diet soon had it under control and his fur came back thick and the pounds came off. Then just before season opened, he developed a limp. We'', I probably don't have to say what that was--hip dysplacia. Ron was not going to hunt him that year, but our vet said to take him as long as he wanted to go. Did he want to go? He just had to see Ron get his gun, even to clean it, and he was dancing around. If he heard the decoys rattle, he was dancing. If he saw Ron in Camo's, he was dancing. By the time we were in a couple of miles of cutting off to go to the blind, he was standing there on the seat whining and dancing. (Ron NEVER allowed Scooter in the bed of his truck.) We had pain pills for him, but never gave them to him before we went hunting. We did not want pain to be hidden or to be disguised. When we got home we would give him a bath in the tub of warm water, and then give him a pain pill so he could sleep and not hurt.
Ron married and moved out, but could not take Scooter to the apartment. No problem for us, we loved him. But he missed Ron. He would lay in front of the window in Ron's old room, his head resting on the window ledge, watching. Ron would come by almost every day, and often brought a shirt or something for Scooter to carry around. To this day, over 5 years later, I have never washed his nose prints off the window, nor washed the window ledge--I painted the entire room except for that ledge!
Then in Aug. 1999 we were told to evacuate for Hurricane Brett was headed this way. Ron, his wife and their 3 week old son headed for my brithers' in Austin. I was behind them with Scooter, Buck, and our cat. My husband is a long haul truck driver and was off north somewhere. Getting out of here was a nightmare, 6 hours to go the first 100 miles. But we finally got to Austin. The dogs, cat and I were staying with one brother, Ron and his family with my youngest brother. I had been there a couple of hours and I got some dishes and went to feed the dogs. Buck was on the deck, but no sign of Scooter. A few minutes later we found him out in the yard dead. I had to call over to my other brother's home to tell Ron and that was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Ron was crushed. We ended up burying Scooter up there on my sister-in-law's family land, along with several of their dogs.
When I returned, I think I cried almost 200 miles home. I could not believe our dear Scooter was gone at barely age 5. Oh, it was determined he had a heart attack, and instant death. His death so hurt Ron that Ron barely hunted that year. As a matter of fact, he had hunted very little since, and not all last season. He says it's just not the same wothout his "Toot-Toot." I am trying to talk him into hunting this year, but I don't know if he will or not. Scooter was his very first dog, picked out and paid for by him, all the vet bills paid for by him, all food, treats, etc, paid for by him. They loved each other so much, and as Hunter was my soul mate of dogs, Scooter was Ron's. We still miss him so much.
Scooter had a couple of quirks. Right off the bat I found he was scared of thunder and I thought, "oh no, he will never be a duck dog, he is gun shy." WRONG big time. The first time he flinched at the first shot, but never agaib. We think it was because he knew where the sound was coming from when Ron fired, but had no idea where the sound of thunder was coming from.
Then, if anything was out of place in a room he noticed it right away. If something new was there--like a pair of crutches propped up on the back of a chair--he would stand back, neck stretched, sniffing, trying to figure out what that strange thing was. Hw may stand there 5 minutes before moving closer, such a funny little guy.
We miss him still, we will miss him forever, little Scooter, our great "Duck Dog"
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