Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Life as an Irish Setter

"Fast in the field, with a clown-like personality." That is how this breed was once described.

I inherited my dog, Emmy, when a dear friend of mine drowned. Her family asked if I wanted her. I did, as I knew her and she would be a part of my friend's life I could hang onto. She was lonely when we first had her. Big as she was, I used to hold her and feed her by hand until she got over it.

I took her out to a friend's field and let her go. She zoomed off to the the distant field edge before she returned to me. I felt a kinship to this breed as I learned how they hunt, though I do not hunt.

In World War Two the U S Navy asked mathematicians to describe the most efficient pattern for destroyers to sweep for submarines. They could have watched this breed search for game birds, as they do this by instinct. No one has to teach them.

Where do I come into this empathetic relationship with these setters? The clown-like personality part is easy, but sweeping the field came a lot harder. I have searched for knowledge as she did birds, but in my case with a lot of false trails.

Once in a woods behind our house, I stopped to rest against a tree. My wife spotted me and let Emmy out, telling her, "Go find Gerald." I watched with fascination as she charged off searching for me. She really could follow a scent trail with speed. She overshot her search for a moment, then came back right to where I was sitting.

Oh, for the talent of my dog, not to be deceived but for a minute! My life has led me in so many wrong directions. I was tempted by a number of cults. They seemed to have what I was searching for.

Worst of all, churches were not interested in such problems as doctrine. They had "other fish to fry", such as increasing membership, acquiring more real estate, and fellowship dinners with people who did not know whether the Gospel of Luke was in the Old or New Testament. Nice people, some of them, but they could not guide me. I was on my own.

Dogs are lucky. They just know things, with no doubt whatsoever. I found the truth,eventually. Or rather it found me. I only wish I could have found it as fast as Emmy could follow a trail.

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