#1: Not a Scaredy-Cat
I could tell when they were getting ready to take us out and I would get all jumpy with excitement. The other dogs would get annoyed and tell me to sit down and stop bouncing into them. When old T-Bone was nearby, he would give me a history lesson about other golden retrievers he had known from the ranch who had hunted with famous humans or who had done extraordinary things, like Bull who cornered a mountain lion on his own in a canyon or Maggie who killed a rattlesnake. I think he wanted me to be impressed by the dignity of our breed so I would wait calmly, but it never worked. All those stories make me even more eager to get out. I wanted to chase down a deer or to surprise everyone with something I sniffed out and caught in the grass.
There was something that I didn't like about hunting though. The humans had these guns that would explode. The sound of the explosions was so loud it hurt my ears. After a loud BANG, I wouldn't be able to see, I would start to cry and sometimes I even piddled a bit. Some of the other dogs would laugh at me but I couldn't help it. I don't know how they weren't scared. The explosions were very loud and they hurt my head and I had seen how the guns could blow things apart.
One day as we were being driven out to hunt, a couple of Labradors started making fun of me in the back of the truck, "Spike's not a dog, he's a cat, a scaredy cat. Meow, meow, scaredy cat Spike."
I was so mad at them that when we stopped and all jumped out, I ran around to the far side of the truck. I was sniffing around there, not really paying attention so it totally surprised me when BANG a gun went of very close. Aoww, my ears hurt and I started crying. I saw another human lift up his gun so I started running as fast as I could, hoping to get far away before the next shot.
As I ran I heard one of the humans yell, "SPIKE! Spike, come back." But when I slowed down I caught the scent of a rabbit in the grass. Sniff, sniff. Sniff, sniff, sniff. I followed the scent. Suddenly a rabbit jumped out from behind a clump of grass and started to run. I was off. If you've never chased a rabbit you have no idea how fast they run. I run pretty fast though, and since I'm bigger I was sure I could catch him. We ran and ran until he dove into a hole in the ground. I couldn't follow him because the hole was so small I could only fit the tip of my nose into it. I tried to dig him out but the hole kept going. I realized it must be one of the doors to the rabbit city I'd heard other dogs talking about. Since no dog had ever been able to dig to all the way to the city, I knew the rabbit was gone.
I sat there for a minute panting, and looked around. I didn't see or hear anything familiar - no other dogs, no humans talking, not even any guns. I guess I had been so focused on the rabbit that I hadn't paid attention to where I was going. While I sat there trying to decide which direction would take me back to the truck, I heard water running. I was very thirsty after my long run so I followed the sound to a small creek where I drank and drank. The creek was full of interesting smells. Lots of other animals had been there very recently. I could smell some dogs and sheep, lots of sheep.
Now you're probably thinking that I should have finished my drink and gone back to the truck to go home. Maybe you're right. But you have to understand, back home I never got to be around the sheep. Winston and Higgins, the sheepdogs, got to spend all day running after the sheep. They even got to sleep outside with them sometimes. But none of the hunting dogs were ever allowed near the sheep. So I just had to find them. Off I ran.