I pulled down my sun visor. It was your typical kind that sagged when you took it out from the little bracket. Taped to it were photos of my kids and fish I had caught. Sticking out from behind a rather large photo of a ten-pound walleye was a piece of paper with a phone number on it that was unfamiliar. It fell out into my lap and I threw it on the dash only to be consumed by the myriad of items only found on the dash of a well-loved pickup.
My dash had accumulated at least ten packages of snelled hooks, four maps that were all open to the same area, at least a half a dozen hats from companies that were no longer in business and a handful of sunflower hulls. My mind drifted as I questioned how they had gotten there. Doesn’t everyone spit them out the window once they’ve gotten that sweet morsel out of them?
Rolling along at a steady 65 mph, I was on my way to fish in Saginaw Bay for those world famous walleye that consumed my mind. It was then something caught my attention; a small dog, black and brown in color, just sitting next to a cardboard box. Had someone dropped it off there? I thought it was strange to see a lone pup like that on such a desolate stretch of road. When I got to Three Churches Corner, I had completely forgotten about the pup and my mind was back on the Bay. Saginaw Bay has always been noted for its walleye bite. It’s shallow when compared to the Great Lakes so drifting a night crawler harness loaded with a big fat leech is all
you need to get a boatload.
Shortly after meeting my guide, we were out on the water. We had only been fishing about two and a half hours when a big blow came in, pushing all but the foolhardy back to shore. We tried waiting it out; but the longer we waited the harder the wind blew, eventually causing us to decide to pack it in.
While back on the highway, my thoughts began to wander. Was that darn pup still there? Oh, surely not. Slowing down, I could see the box, but no pup. I felt somewhat relieved, thinking that its owner probably had second thoughts. As I pressed on the accelerator, something caught my eye from the other side of the road. Sure enough, it was the pup and he
started crossing the road right in front of me. He was carrying something in his mouth and was trying to get back across the road, probably to his cardboard box. Slamming on my breaks to avoid hitting him nearly put me in the ditch. He got to his box, hopped in and promptly lay down.
I got out and walked over keeping an eye on him the whole time. He did the same. As I cautiously reached down to pick him up, he began to wag his tail. That item he had been carrying was a kid’s sock; it was pink with a purple flower and the words Daddy’s Girl on it. Surveying the area, I realized there was no water left and no traces of any food. All sorts of thoughts raced through my mind as I convinced myself that I had just seen a coyote in the distance. What was a man supposed to do?
Upon reaching the next town, I stopped at the local Dairy Queen and bought a hot dog and some water. Those big brown eyes stared at me when I took the first bite. As I offered him a bite, he ate like his bellybutton was rubbing a blister on his backbone. I pulled into the yard, hoping my wife would have understood the dilemma I had been in. Unfortunately, when I got
out of the truck she greeted me with a terminal case of indifference. She didn’t want to hear about how the dog was stuck out there. She’s not cold-hearted, but we already had two other outside dogs and a passel of kids to take care of.
I said, “I’ll find him a good home, don’t worry.” The truth was I didn’t try. The kids took to “Boowie”(sounds like buoy) almost instantly. I think my two-year-old were trying to say ‘puppy’ but it came out ‘Boowie.’ There was an immediate bond that formed between the kids and Boowie. They were inseparable.
I vividly remember Boowie’s first encounter with a pheasant. As the pheasant had entered our yard, Boowie took off in his direction. He stopped only when the pheasant had ducked into the fence line. I’ll be darned if he didn’t go on point. We didn’t know what his background was; he kind of looked like a Heinz 57. His head was shaped like a pointer, his body resembled a beagle but he had big webbed feet. He looked like he was put together by a committee. What a sight he was! All I knew was the kids loved him and that’s all that counted.
That summer turned into fall and pheasant season arrived faster than I thought. Working two jobs did not allow me much time to spend with my shorthairs. I arrived home early one night and thought I’d take a trip down through an asparagus patch. As I grabbed my gun and headed out the door, there was Boowie right on my heels. I had no idea what to expect since I had never taken him hunting before.
We hadn’t gone a hundred yards when he went on point. I stepped closer and out flew a big rooster. I dropped the bird with one shot and stared, in utter amazement, while Boowie ran over and picked it up as though he had done it a thousand times. We were only able to hunt one other time that season, but I’ll be darned if he didn’t do the same thing again. Obviously, it was something that came natural to him. Through the years when he wasn’t with me, he was with those kids. It appeared as though a game called “go and get it” came natural to him also.
I had stoked a nice fire in the woodburning stove early that morning, as I headed off to work. For some reason that past year had seemed to be much cooler and fall had every indication of following suit. I remember thinking out loud, “Global warming my eye.” Shortly upon arrival the call had come in with news that my house had caught fire.
What was normally a rather short drive seemed to take hours as I fought off all sorts of images in my mind. As I pulled in, there stood my wife and kids in the yard.
A huge pile of embers smoldered where our home once stood. Our fire chief and long time friend greeted me saying, “Old farm houses don’t last long when they catch on fire.” It appeared as though the chimney had caught fire and spread from there. As the story unfolded, as usual, there appeared to be a real hero. Everybody had gotten out safely because of some little roadside mutt named Boowie. Apparently he jumped on everyone’s bed and barked until they woke up enough to realize something wasn’t right.
That was 11 years ago. Just yesterday we laid Boowie to rest. He lived a good life, running with the kids and hunting with me. After the fire my wife developed a love for him that rivaled her love for the children. We buried him with some of his favorite toys and that pink sock I found him with. By now, it was pretty tattered.
Somehow I think he still had a soft place in his heart for that little girl he was taken from so long ago. He had slept with it every night... and still does to this day. I have often wondered what prompts people to leave a dog or any animal like that. Could it possibly have been some divine intervention knowing that Boowie would perform an act of heroism and save the life of a family? Perhaps.
To imagine someone would abandon an animal for selfish reasons is unthinkable. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I was there at that time, on that particular day. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I’ve thought a lot about that fateful day I found him and I’d like to think I saved his life on that lonely road just outside of Three Churches, Michigan, but in the final analysis, Boowie really saved ours.