I’ve had it with that dog. No more watching TV with him in my cabin in the basement. He’s turned into a Trumpkin.
Who could imagine? Birch is a handsome, mature, intelligent gentleman of the famous Elhew line of English pointers. Together we have pursued wily ringnecks and devious ruffed grouse in the fields and woods of Michigan, Iowa, and South Dakota. We are a team, working together almost without words, communicating through some sort of mental telepathy. We are partners and buddies.
When I got sidelined with a bad hip and had to lay off bird hunting for a while, we made the best of it. We’d sit side by side on the battered old couch in my basement cabin and watch series like “Band of Brothers” and “Generation Kill “on HBO. If he’d been an imbiber, I’d have shared with him my favorite bourbon, Bird Dog Whiskey, the bottle of which had a picture of a beautiful pointer on it.
I should have seen the signs. Together recently we watched “Max,” a film about a war dog whose Marine handler is killed in Iraq. Max, a Belgian Malinois, a breed that closely resembles the German shepherd, is adopted by the Marine’s younger brother, and together they take on a group of bad guys selling illegal guns.
Working with the smugglers are a pair of thuggish Rottweilers. Slavering over the thought of ripping into the boy, the two canine villains must first get past Max—to their everlasting regret. Outnumbered and outweighed, Max outfights and outsmarts the Rotts and sends them packing. One of them he even throws into the river.
Of course I was cheering for Max. But when I looked over at Birch, I could see that he was aglow with admiration for the Rotts.
He seemed to admire their bullying ways. He was impressed with their heavy bark, their contemptuous sneer, their arrogant glares — all so foreign to his own personality. Unwisely perhaps, I said nothing.
It only got worse. Over the long fall and winter months, with the two of us denied the fresh air and thrills of the great outdoors, we took to watching the talking heads on CNN, Fox News, and — forgive me — MSNBC. And, of course, who could miss the sneering and snarling of Donald Trump? Snarling at Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina, he resembled one of those Rottweilers.
I knew I had a problem when I saw the look on Birch’s face as The Donald filled the screen. You would have thought Birch was looking at rare T-bone steak. It was the same look that I’d spotted when we watched Max.
Needless to say, I did a lot of soul searching that night. The Birch I raised was a sweet, loving little guy who loved people, woods, fields, and, above all birds. He was so bright as a pup that for the most part he was a self-taught bird dog, and as for obedience he was always eager to please. In fact, I made it a point to keep him away from trainers who were wannabe Marine Drill Sergeants. He responded to a gentle touch, learned quickly , and went on at 18 months to place in a Ruffed Grouse Society field trial.
Could it be that my Birch feels overlooked by the elitists who run the society he must live in? Maybe he feels stifled by a politically correct culture that embraces free range chickens but is ignorant when it comes to the beauty of the wild pheasant or thundering flush of the grouse. Or could it be that he sees the canine world being overtaken by effete little lapdogs who yip and yap instead of barking like a real dog? Have people and dogs forgotten that man’s best friend is a descendent of the wolf. Yes, the Big Bad Wolf.
I don’t know the answer. But we are done with politics. From now on we’re going to watch Michigan Out-of-Doors and the Outdoor Channel.
I’m glad dogs don’t vote. Or is The Donald going to “fix that” too?.
Oh, and not to be politically correct, but I’m sure those two Rotts are sweethearts in real life.