Jessie, a Yellow Labrador Retriever - Part 3


[Jessie's First Duck Retrieve]

In the first two articles, you saw pictures of Jessie ranging from 3 months to 6 months old and the story of her estimated potential as not only a good pet, but also as a top hunting dog! Now, as promised, we will cover Jessie's first hunting trip to Brooks, Alberta which occured during the last week of October 1997. Jessie was almost 9 months old at the time, perhaps a little young to expect a lot but as you will see, we were not disappointed! Jessie and I travelled there with a friend that I have hunted, fished and argued with for many years, Al Kouritzen. But first, a short story about a misadventure that happened to Jessie at the end of September.

Jessie and I left Kelowna on September 25 pulling my 5th wheel to the Vancouver Gun Club which is located on Sidaway Road in Richmond. I had planned to participate in the PITA trap shoot there on the September 27 - 28 weekend. I was also looking forward to a day fly fishing for cohoe salmon on the Vedder River as I had previously arranged to meet Rod Kehler, a Vedder River expert, early Friday morning on September 26, the day before the shoot started. Rod likes to get an early start when he fishes so somewhat bleary eyed, I picked him up at his Abbotsford residence shortly after 4:30 am! We arrived at one of his favorite cohoe runs around 5:00 am, still well before daylight. We waited beside my truck near the river bank for enough light to start fishing and without thinking about it, I let Jessie out of the truck while we were talking. She quickly went down to the water's edge to nose around and soon found a fishhook baited with roe which she proceeded to swallow. I couldn't really see what she was doing because of the darkness but when she came back to the truck with a long length of fish line dangling from her mouth, I realized to my horror what had happened! I tried to gently dislodge it from her throat but it was no use as it was well down. I suggested to Rod that he may as well try some fishing and I would go into nearby Yarrow with Jessie to find a Veterinarian. As luck would have it, I spotted a sign advertising the practice of Dr. Leslie Ross. Although Jessie didn't seem to be in any pain, I wasn't about to take any chances so I immediately made an emergency call to the good doctor. It was not yet 6:00 am! About 15 minutes later, Dr. Ross arrived at her office and examined Jessie. She suggested an X-ray to determine the exact location of the hook and then surgery to extract it! So that morning, Jessie underwent anesthetic for the second time in her young life. As Dr. Ross thought it would be around noon by the time I could see Jessie after the operation, I went back to the river to meet Rod and also try my luck with the cohoe flies that I had tied for this trip. When I found Rod, he hadn't caught anything as the river was running rather muddy from the pounding rain that was still falling. Although I was very worried, I tried to quell any negative thoughts about Jessie not making it and started to fly cast for cohoe. [Jessie's First 
Bue Grouse] As luck would have it, I did catch a bright 6 pound cohoe that morning, as well as 3 released pink salmon. I visited a very sad young dog that afternoon with a 5 inch incision freshly sutured along the center of her stomach. Dr. Ross recommended that Jessie be kept in the Clinic overnight for observation and I decided not to shoot that weekend but instead, to pick up my dog the following morning if her condition permitted the travel back to Kelowna. The next morning, I could not believe how well and strong Jessie appeared! It was as though hardly anything had happened at all! Sure enough, within a week, Jessie was tearing around like any lively 7 month old pup. In fact, the day Jessie had the stiches removed by Dr. Kaplan in Winfield, we drove my 4x4 to a nearby ridge top where Jessie retrieved her first blue grouse! That was October 6, 1997, two days after Jessie had turned 8 months old.

[Ducks and Geese, a Lab's Delight]

Now let's jump ahead to the week of October 26 when we visited the friendly community of Brooks, Alberta, about two hours east of Calgary. A fellow trap shooter, Ted Kelter of Cochrane, with his 10 year old yellow lab, Sage, kindly guided us to some of his favorite hunting spots in the area on Monday, October 27. Ted's lab was an excellent, well trained hunting dog so we had no trouble in finding our limit of 6 pheasants. Jessie, I'm afraid, still didn't catch on to what this was all about and did not find or retrieve any of the birds. Ted then suggested that we look at one or two of his spots for ducks and geese. He unselfishly left Sage in his truck when we spotted some birds along a drainage canal. Ted proved to be a very good shot gunner as well when he made a triple on geese that flew out on his side of the canal. I dropped a drake mallard that came out the other side. Now came a real test for Jessie. Could she handle a retrieve of a big Canada goose? Her water retrieves on her first geese were in fact, terrific as she brought in all three geese in spite of a couple of wing whips from the first one! She also found the mallard some distance away and brought it to dry land in grand style, although with some reluctance to give it up to us once out of the water. About the third day of hunting, Jessie began to also get the idea of finding pheasants in that great Alberta cover. Her first three pheasant retrieves were spectacular as one was from very thick bullrushes, another on a running bird and the third was at least two hundred yards in water on a pheasant that fell that far out in a lake! .[Brook's Area Pheasants]

In all, Jessie retrieved almost two dozen geese, ducks and pheasants during the week at Brooks. Toward the end of the week, I guess she felt that with all her hard work, she should keep some birds for herself because she became more and more reluctant to drop the birds for us! Needless to say, every morning since on our walks up Knox Mountain, we work on a quick release of the fetching dummy! Jessie is now 10 months old and other than two broken toe nails from her enthusiastic retrieving, she is very healthy with no evidence of any problems from the fish hook swallowing. Now, if I could only cure her of jumping up on people during initial greetings. Patience, oh do give me patience!


Do you want to see the previous article about Jessie?

Jessie Part 1



Jessie Part 2


Your comments are welcome at dhaaheim@direct.ca or call Don Haaheim at 1-250-861-4192

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