A Doggie Thank you

Picture an early fall day in the Big Woods of Minnesota. I'm about age fifteen and have borrowed my Grandfather's truck. My companion is a thirty pound, curly haired dog of mixed ancestry named Blackie, a seasoned hunter. About a half mile out of town, I take a left turn and come to a rolling stop on a dirt trail.

Blackie and I exit the truck. For a moment I'm caught up in admiring the spectacular beauty of the woodlands. Trees are still fully leafed with a touch of red—just easing into stands of oak and sugar maple.

Shotgun in hand, the two of us move on up the trail. Abruptly, only twenty paces ahead, a flash of gray...ruffed grouse color explodes...up and away through heavy foliage. Cocking the hammer on the old twenty gauge, I quickly fire. Countless leaves are peppered, but a trace of grouse is revealed as several feathers float on down. Hurriedly, I move to where a downed bird should be and whoa...there lies my bird. I have shot my first ruffed grouse, or partridge.

Eager to pass the big news on to relatives, we hustle back to town. Blackie and the grouse are safely stowed away in the bed of the truck. It's noon and they all will probably be over at Grandma's house to savor some of her great cooking. I drive into the yard and park right next to the kitchen door. Quickly they spill out when I tell them I've something very special to show them.

 

All are gathered near the rear of the truck. With a flourish, I drop the tailgate and there sits Blackie facing me. His muzzle, head and chest are swathed in grouse feathers. His eyes peer out at me through the feathery maze and they seem to express...a doggie thank you. Closely I scan the bed of the truck...feathers, feathers and more feathers...plus a pair of grouse feet. Nothing else.

 

In the time, perhaps 10 minutes, I drove back to town, Blackie downed my trophy bird. Never at a loss for food, for he feasts on scraps from the butchers 's wooden block in my Grandather's grocery store. Amidst the chuckling, laughing relatives all I could say was, "I guess he had a taste for wild game." 

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