One talented dog remembered
| They say that dogs are a man best friend and for me the statement was certainly true when it came to describing Daisey my golden retriever. She was an amazing dog, but more importantly a great friend who saw me through the ups and downs in life. She accompanied me on most drives to the local stores and acted very upset if she was not invited to go with myself and wife on outings no matter where we were going like she was family and in my mind she was.
Come Christmas time when opening gifts, she was the family member who always got something cool like a kid seeing that one special gift they were hoping for. I’ll never forget opening the gift box with a new silver colored choker chain and watching her jumping for joy seeing it and knowing it was for her. She acted like a woman getting some wanted jewelry for a gift, no different than some women I have known when I placed it around her neck.
What made Daisey a special dog was her love for fishing. She accompanied me on many fishing trips. When I pulled out her saddlebag from the garage, she instantly got excited because she knew she was going on either a fishing or climbing/hiking trip with me. For many years, she was my camping/fishing partner in the fall. She never complained about the accommodations of sleeping in a tent surrounded by a foot of snow or the rainy weather. She was just happy to be there with me doing what I loved doing.
Daisey was so well behaved that I didn’t have to think about putting her on a leash because she would walk step by step with me when we were in the wild. She would accompany me and my fishing partner Marlon Meade on our fall fishing trips and when it came to figuring out who would catch more fish, she always followed Marlon around the shore line. Marlon would hook up a trout and into the water she would go, assisting him with landing the trout by grabbing it gently in her mouth and placing the fish at his feet. This happened over and over and I know Marlon really enjoyed it too. She never once ever got hooked and that was amazing.
I could tell she enjoyed fishing a lot. On one visit to Big Bear Lake my wife and I went to Gray’s Landing. We walked out on the long marina pier and Daisey like all retrievers wanted to go swimming. I walked back to shore and picked up a handful of stones and back onto the pier. Then threw a stone off the end of the pier and watched her do a wild sprint and belly flop into the water. She was having a great time doing the dockside dog Olympics as I would throw each stone out a little further knowing she would not get the stone but then something really incredible occurred. She came up from the water with a 12”- 14” rainbow trout kicking wildly for its freedom in her mouth, all the while she tried to keep her head above the water. The trout managed its freedom from her jaws but I got the impression she just wanted to show us how good she was at fishing! My wife and I were awestruck. We couldn’t believe what our eyes were seeing. I praised her repeatedly and she knew she did something special by the smile on her face.
Her fishing prowess continued to inspire me especially on one particular cold snowy morning at the culvert on Habegger Lane up in the South Bishop Canyon. I was staying in a rental RV at Creekside RV park that fall and it was cold. The temperature that morning was 12 degrees out. I put Daisey’s wool sweater on her thinking she’ll need it just as I was layered up with thermal underwear under my jeans and we headed out the RV walking on 4 inches of fresh fallen snow in the gray light of the early morning. Standing on the dirt road over the metal culvert pipe I casted my 32nd ounce pearl white mini jig downstream into the whitewater tailings when my rod took a major bending. I hooked into a very large Alpers rainbow trout and I wasn’t quite expecting this to occur this morning as it became clear to me that I had forgotten a fishing net. To make matters worse, I was fishing with only 2 lb. test line and the odds of me winning this battle was mostly in the fish’s favor. I had to walk down off the road to get to the creek bank was the only choice I had to possible land this trophy size trout.
Carefully, I worked my way off the road and down to the snow covered creek bank all the time working hard to not break off this beautiful trout. I still didn’t know how I was going to get the fish out of the water without a net! Daisey was very excited as well as she jumped up and down in the snow watching me fight this hefty fish and after a few minutes I managed to gain some line on the fish, bringing it closer to shore. The water ran fast and was at a minimum depth of 2 feet at the creek bank in front of me. I had no choice but to go into the water and somehow, manage to get my one free hand under the fish’s belly and attempt to throw it onto the shore. Holding my fishing rod high in the air with my left hand I took the plunge.
It was cold. I mean really cold! The water was over my knees and for a moment all I could think about was this was a really stupid decision. I looked into the water and could see my hooked trout down about a foot or so under the water and without much thought reached into the frigid water and quickly placed my hand under the trout and with a mighty heave, lifted the trout from the water and onto the snow covered bank. Then, Daisey the fishing dog went into action. She knew the fish could kick its way back into the water and using her nose and paws managed to move the fish up high on the bank away from the creek’s edge while I quickly exited the freezing water. She then used her paws to hold the fish down until I was out of the water and could get to the fish. I removed the jig from the fish’s jaw and picked it up from the gills.
I was freezing cold. My jeans had ice forming on them in under a minute out of the water. I picked up my fishing rod and my prized Alpers trout and quickly headed back to my RV to get out of the wet clothes and warmed up before hypothermia could set in. Once Daisey and I got back to the RV, the wet frozen hiking boots and pants came off and I jumped into my sleeping bag to get warmed up. Once the sun came up, I wiggled myself out of my sleeping bag, put on some dry clothes and exited the RV to check on my catch in the large cooler outside the RV. She was a beauty alright and Daisey looked into the cooler sniffed at the trout and looked at me with a reassuring look that this one didn’t get away.
I took the fish to the café where Ron Scira (owner of Creekside RV Park) did the official weigh in. The fish tipped the scales at 7 lbs. 14 ounces. Ron got out his polaroid camera and was getting ready to shoot the photo of me and the fish and I had to stop him cold. “Ron, this fish is as much Daisey’s as mine” I told him. I insisted that she got into the photo and he snapped the shot. I then told him of the amazing feat Daisey had performed while I was getting out of the creek. He looked at Daisey and patted her head telling her she was a good girl. I think she knew he was congratulating her for her efforts in securing our catch.
A couple of weeks later the photo appeared in Western Outdoor News courtesy of Ron sending it in. A pleasant surprise indeed! (see photo below). Daisey was a very special dog. One of kind and she’ll always have a special place in my heart. The photo of us together with OUR memorable catch sits on my desk with great pride. Daisey the amazing fishing dog.