My Dog the Debater

The label on the container claimed that there were 650 individual cable ties of a variety of color-coded sizes held within. The images would have you believe that anyone who purchased the package would live in an organizational nirvana. Never again would saggy bicycle cables, power cords, or speaker wires taunt from the shadows.

It never occurred to me to dump them all out across the garage floor and see if the claims were true. It hadn’t cost enough for me to feel injured if it wasn’t so, and I couldn’t imagine living in a world where 650 wasn’t more than enough to take me to the grave.

But I am not a puppy debater of the Airedale breed in pursuit of the truth.

Finnegan is my son’s first dog. No amount of discouragement concerning his impending departure for college could dissuade him from using a large part of his summer’s earnings to bring the puppy home.

Our family has a long running love affair with the breed. They are courageous of nature, and suitable for all forms of hunting adventure. Outfitters around the world use them to keep bears out of their camps and run lions up trees. Not too big, but large enough to put down any fox, coyote, or coon that should threaten the family hen house. Teddy Roosevelt took a pack with him on his final African safari and claimed that they could do the work of any other dog then whip that dog in a fight.

And oh... do they love a good fight.

Throughout the years, Finnegan’s predecessors have saved my children from a variety of injuries involving rattlesnakes, badgers, and the errant kicks of angry mules. If you have ever been kicked by a mule you would marvel at the courage necessary to put your body between one of those hooves and a child. Only a mother’s love or that of an Airedale has that kind of determination.

But this morning I am less than amused by Fin’s hunt for the truth. I have spent the better part of twenty minutes bent over, collecting, and then trying to reinsert the cable ties that once hid their true number behind the label. After what must have been the better part of an afternoon spent distributing the contents, the puppy gave up the count.

He also has tried to unpack a cardboard box containing mother’s new china, and I happened to look out the picture window just in time to see him running across the yard with my son’s debate evidence flapping gleefully in the wind.

Never in my life have I personally been witness to the carnage associated with the worn out school house excuse of the dog eating one’s homework. But this puppy leaves tooth impressions on every page he tears out just before he releases them individually into the wind just to watch them take flight and giving chase.

We are training Fin to gather shed antlers and he is proving to be both willing and adept. If he doesn’t destroy the training dummy with his teething, we might just have him ready for the spring season that keeps hinting of its arrival.

Fin’s canine mentor is getting long in the tooth. Angus also carries Airedale blood but has reached the age where packing on pounds is more important than chasing cats or scaring deer away from the garden. He is a good teacher for the puppy who can now watch cars go by without giving chase and knows better than to pester the horses.

The sentimental side of me imagines that Connor knew we would miss him too much if we were left all alone. Finnegan might be his attempt to leave someone to care for us after his too-soon departure in a year. Perhaps there was no better use of my time than counting cable ties as I pick them individually up from the floor on my way to the six-hundreds.

But that is debatable. 

Columnist: Bob Speirs

Bob Speirs – owner and operator of Crow Creek Wildlife Management Service in Spearfish, South Dakota has been writing award winning articles, stories and poems that entertain and educate hunters for over 15 years. Known for his outstanding whitetail management and hundreds of satisfied customers, Bob’s unique perspectives and insights help to educate and entertain hunters everywhere!


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