Noah's Ark

By: Reb McNally

And other unprovable myths!

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The debate about “the best bird dog breed ever” remains a continuing saga. The ongoing debate about the innate superior prowess of the different hunting dog breeds is topic oftentimes more contentious than a Biden voter who misshapenly steps out of an elevator into a raging Trump rally. Few topics elicit more angst. Religious wars have been fought, cous toppling super powers accomplished, and city boys dating farmer’s daughters have all occurred with less controversy than two upland hunters debating the superiority of their respective hunting dog breed of choice.

 

I contemplate such life altering questions while I am sitting amongst the early lunch crowd at Marge’s Dude Ranch. The predictable monday hustle and bustle is because

Marge is including free gooseberry pie alamode with the purchase of her weekly Monday pot roast special. The eager hungry mob has already consumed 90% of the Dude Ranches’ seating capacity. Local gossip, the news of the day and resident hunters converse, all impatient tenants anxiously anticipating their turn at the trough.  

 

I sit solitary today because my hunting buddy “Smirch” called off our hunt due to his wife, Betsy, experiencing a possible Braxton Hicks contraction (known as false Labor). Betsy is eight and a half months with child, so I am somewhat disappointed that Smirch allowed a simple “cry of wolf” to interrupt what would have been a fabulous day hunting Sharp-tails. Smirch was going to bring his rising star Chaz, a Hungarian Vizsla, to demonstrate the superiority of the breed on sharps. I have my own opinions on such weighty matters but was willing to keep an open mind. The ongoing debate on what is the best definitive hunting dog breed may never be settled.

 

My own personal research into the matter indicates the debate likely originating as far back as Noah when he had to choose which hunting dog breed to bring aboard the ark. I can only imagine discussions held amongst Noah and his family leading up to their departure on the ark. It probably went something like this:

Noah:  “Family, after careful consideration I have decided the prudent decision would be to take along a versatile breed. I have come to this decision based on the need to have a hunting dog breed capable of hunting fur, one that points birds, will retrieve in harsh weather conditions and protect the family against opportunistic predators.”

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Artwork created by Valery Siurha

Noah’s Wife, Naamah weighed in: “That’s all fine and dandy Noah, but I am not leaving my Labs behind. I feel they have similar protective traits, are very versatile, are better retrievers, will actually be able to flush the game into the air eliminating the constant false pointing of your versatile breeds.  You will have to leave the pheasants off the ark if you only take a versatile hunting dog breed because all your pointing breeds do is point the entire way through the corn fields as the Roosters run rampant! Plus, my Labs are a far better family dog choice than your damn Drahthaars!”.

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Noah: “Now Naamah, that’s completely uncalled for. You know full well that we have never had an incident regarding my Drahts and any of our family members. And furthermore…

 

Shem (Noah’s eldest Son) interrupts: “If we are really looking for just one breed with a superior prey drive, and nose, we must bring my English Pointers. We certainly don’t want to lose the breed’s superior hunting ability, after all, the Pointer’s nose has supplemented all other breed’s hunting DNA. And besides, my pointers are versatile, they will retrieve and tackle harsh conditions…

Artwork created by Valery Siurha

Ham interjects: “Whatever Shem! You were making a compelling argument until you suggested your English Pointers would consistently retrieve, let alone in cold icy waters. And talk about leaving animals behind, the damn things never retrieve! We will never find a dead bird in the brambles. There will be no more waterfowl hunting either! No, I believe the German Shorthair is the most well-rounded choice encapsulating all other breeds; they have the pointing ability of a pointer, and prey drive galore. They will retrieve anything and can handle all kinds of weather, plus they are deadly on fur!

 

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Artwork created by Valery Siurha

Ham’s wife had enough: “Ham, your German Shorthair pointers are so inconsistent in temperament, and hunting ability. It’s a total guessing game what ya gonna get every time you do a breeding.  They are a hodgepodge of every breed never properly mixed. Why don’t you just admit that you should bring your sister’s Deutche Kurzhaars so that we can get consistent breeding results?”

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Artwork created by Valery Siurha

Noah: EXACTLY my point!!! We need a versatile hunting breed. Now, I could be open to bringing the Pudelpointers instead of the Drahts, which would assuage your concerns Naamah. 

 

Noah’s third daughter found her moment: “If its versatility we are after, why not bring one of my English Springer Spaniels or my Boykins? The room aboard the ark is limited and they take up a lot less room. They can hunt with any of the dogs you have mentioned, plus mom we can for sure bring along the pheasants!

Noah’s other daughter chimed in: “Why don’t I get a say? My setters have the consistency of breeding, crazy prey drive, can be trained to retrieve, and an equal nose of a pointer. As far as family dogs go, my setters have an amazing “off -switch” and are adorably soft and lovable.”

 

Ham: Hell sister, that’s the point. We forever cleaning up after your setters even with the smallest of outings. If there is a cocklebur anywhere within two miles your setters are gonna find ‘em and then there is the insane number of hours spent pulling the prickly devils out! No way I is gonna agree to her Setters!!!”

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Artwork created by Valery Siurha

With that pronouncement Ham and his sons roared with uncontrollable laughter and ridiculing scornful grunts. One of the brothers bellowed, yea let’s take the little flushers, at least she didn’t offer her little Cocker Spaniels. And with that jabbing pronouncement the boisterous shaming hilarity resumed.  Finally, Noah gaining some composure said, “My precious but ignorant daughter, there will be larger waterfowl retrieving needs than yer smaller dog breeds could never haul out of them turbulent icy flows surely inherent in the post flood era. You wouldn’t want yer little dogs to drown try’n to drag a larger gander back on an impossible retrieve now would ya? And besides they is the only dogs worse to pull burs out of and groom than a setter.”  With that, Ham’s third daughter burst into tears and ran from the council hall.

 

Naamah had enough, “Noah! If you don’t apologize, I will insist we take the Golden Retrievers and I will make you pull burs until kingdom come!” the room suddenly became notably more civil.

 

Noah’s neighbor Leroy, who had decided to not go along with Noah’s ark building scheme, but still wanted to be part of the discussion piped in: “You all forgetting the best breed of them all, the Brittany. Not too crazy, loves family, will retrieve for ya, and won’t let roosters outrace their point. Hell, I got a litter coming up in just a couple of days. Them parents is proven hunters, and I will give you one whale of deal on two of em!”

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Artwork created by Valery Siurha

Shem stepped forward angrily, ready to come to blows with poor old Leroy, mostly because Leroy once sold Shem a French Brittany so gun shy the dog ran off for good the first time a thunder storm rolled in. Noah interceded, and said, “Thank you Leroy for your kind offer but problem with a Brittany is that aren’t the best at any of them things. They ain’t got the best point, they don’t range as far as a pointer or setter, don’t flush run’n roosters, retrieving isn’t their forte and then there’s the bur and grooming issue all over again. And besides, wasn’t that an unplanned litter anyway?”

 

Leroy growing red faced with increasing internal anger retorted “…well, it’s what they call line breeding!” Again, the laughter and again another attendee ran from the council hall in tears and anger, namely Leroy.

The discussion continued into the early morning hours. The committee meeting hall erupting periodically with angry insults and inuendo. Each family member arguing their case attempting to drown out other opinions.

Japheth, Noah’s wayward son, showed up late and attempted to sell the family on either his pair of Weimaraner’s or Vizslas. Shem proclaimed “…. well, your Weimaraner’s for the most part got the hunt’n bred right out of them, you may as well dress them up in girl clothes and try sell’n the pictures in some fancy fashion magazine. Worked once.  If we take the Vizslas it would require we kill some fur animal to make them a coat so they can even hunt colder climatic upland hunting conditions which would defeat the entire reason to bring that particular fur animal on the ark.” Japheth also angrily left the council hall in tears.

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As I sat in Marge’s Dude ranch waiting for the Gooseberry pie that comes complimentary with my Monday “Pot Roast Special” I saw Dan Steele come barreling in the diner with his two constant entourage buddies Chet and Larry right in tow.  Dan is a larger man, and his last name, Steele, a fitting namesake for this towering bully. I could see Dan’s two mongrel German Shorthair Pointers standing untethered in the back of his pick-up truck. Dan was proud of his Shorthairs which he had acquired four years ago from Glenda Jensen, the former county clerk.

 

Glenda had come to have the shorthair puppies from an unexpected litter which had surprised her one early December morning. Glenda’s husband Jack had passed away and Glenda had grown lonely. She had the choice of dating the town’s only eligible bachelor Chet, Dan’s buddy, who owned a barely profitable pig farm on the west side of the valley- or adopting Tilly, an aging German Shorthair pointer abandoned to the local pound. Glenda opted for the latter.

 

When Glenda adopted Tilly, she was told the dog was abandoned when her previous owner’s two other German Shorthairs, Tilly’s parents, had escaped their Kennels and had killed Greg Jones’ prized organic chickens. The previous owner, who she was told was some former local bowling “champion” guy, had fled town under threat of pending legal action leaving Tilly behind and uncared for.  The pound was completely unaware Tilly was pregnant having forgone the usual spading requirement protocol due to budgetary issues. There was of course no way to know the breeding or sire. When the surprise litter arrived, Glenda, who had always wanted to visit Maui ever since her sister had returned home from the tropical island boasting of tan muscle-bound natives and perfect pina coladas some twenty years ago, seized the opportunity. She took out a listing in the

Enterprise classifieds. It read: “Champion’s bloodline German Shorthair Puppies, parents are proven bird dogs! This is a once in a lifetime breeding, will take offers on a first come first come basis.” Dan was first in line, Chet and Larry gobbled up the two remaining puppies. Dan still brags that his dog Misty is the “pick of the litter”. Subsequently, Glenda did end up sipping perfect pinna coladas on a translucent beautiful Maui beach served by a tan muscle-bound waiter. The two fell in love and Glenda never returned back to the mainland.

As the front door chimed, announcing additional visitors to the diners unmatched eatery, I looked up and beheld Brad Walters, a pompous audacious man followed by “Clingy Tingy” as we called him, Brad’s right-hand man. Brad only hunted purebred blueblood English Pointers. Brad owns the town’s cement plant which provides him with the financial resources to purchase any hunting dog he pleases. He had read all the books and magazines and had come to the self-educated opinion that English Pointers were the definitive best and only possible hunting dog breed.  He flew a prized breeding pair of Pointers forthwith.

 

I hunted with Brad once, and every time a bird flew and a shot was issued his dogs ran back to the truck in panic. Brad, thoroughly humiliated and embarrassed, never invited me again, claiming his shock collars were defective and had shocked the dogs inadvertently. Later it was discovered that 90% of all the dogs purchased from this snake oil salesmen/pointer breeder were naturally gun shy.  Truth is that Brad had bought the dogs sight unseen from this slick Willy Tennessee pointer breeder who had placed a fancy add in a national magazine which read: “Champion bloodline English Pointer Puppies, parents are proven hunters! This is a once in a lifetime breeding, will take offers on a first come first come basis.”  

 The natural rivalry between Brad and Larry was legendary in these parts. Darla made the inexcusable mistake of sitting the two groups within ear shot of one another. It would be only a matter of minutes before more mundane and civil discussions with topics such as the differences in religion, or Socialism vs Capitalism, would be replaced with a debate between English Pointers Vs German Shorthair pointers. The next two hours may as well be Noah’s ark discussion held all over again.

 

Darla had already left my ticket. I hurriedly placed my only money, a $50 bill, on the table, and hastily slipped out the back delivery entrance, change be damned!

 

Truth be had, there really are different strokes for different folks and oftentimes preferences change with the passing of time, added experience, or even changing geographical living locations may necessitate a different hunting dog breed. A person’s individual hunting application really determines what the best hunting dog breed is.

In my case I find it much more convenient to just have 13 different hunting dogs and eight different breeds. Paige my wife, tells me that such an approach is akin to sitting on the political fence being both a democrat and a republican at the same time. Ha! Well at least I won’t be angrily running out of any room in tears any time soon.  

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Siurha’s animal art includes great collections of art prints, leather belts, caps, bronze pins, sculptures, representing hunting dog breeds, birds and wild animals.

All these creative works are devoted to multifaceted wildlife and thrilling moments, giving a viewer a chance to see the world through the hunter’s eyes.

A special thanks to Valery Siurha for providing most of the artwork displayed in this article.

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