Man's Best Friends
Some days you get to be a part of something special.
I've known Harold for a while now, and we've worked together on a few events. He's a big personality, but not in a pushy way. He's got an unmistakable voice - I can always tell, from my back office, when he comes into the newspaper office to bring me something. I know he's a passionate Civil War buff, the kind of Mississippi State fan who drives to Omaha for CWS games, as well as being a businessman, dad and husband.
So, you think you know a person.
But today, I got to see something that REALLY makes him happy. When three yellow labs he owns found him in the field near where they are kenneled for training, .... well, you can imagine the reaction of the dogs. And he was similarly enthusiastic! There was no, "Get Down!" but only "Hey guys!!" and greetings for them all by name (Missy, Elvis, Gracie, Catfish and Gunner) in response to their EFFUSIVE, ENTHUSIASTIC GREETINGS (if Labs could type, I'm pretty sure they would always BE IN ALL CAPS!!!!)
A few months ago he asked me to plan on taking pictures of his hunting Labrador Retrievers, as they have all five earned their Hunter Retriever Champion titles. I've a background in dogs, so I understand the desire to preserve and honor that achievement, and looked forward to it. We scheduled a day to do it, and I forced Harold to get up early, for the best possible light, though he moaned about it. I was pretty sure the dogs would be wide awake, being Labs. I figured they aren't all as laid back as his constant buddy, Gunner, who is a regular at Harold's office in town. Gunner has always seemed most concerned with holding down a rug at the office, but apparently in his earlier life, he brought in hundreds of birds for Harold, and earned his HR Ch.
Taking pictures of any dogs is usually like herding cats, but this was a riot. The dogs were SO EXCITED! HEY, LOOK A PHEASANT!! HEY LOOK, HE'S DOWN ON THE GROUND! LOOK THERE'S... (fill in the blank)!!!! I'm pretty sure that if Labs could talk and type and text EVERYTHING THEY SAY WOULD BE IN ALL CAPS!! With the help of their handler/trainer Jesse Sheppard and his helper, they eventually all sat, for a few minutes, anyway, and we got some good shots.
In this bottom photo, you can see, from left to right, Gunner (laying down), Gracie, Elvis, Harold, Catfish and Missy.
On a sad note, it was probably Gunner's last day. After a working dog's lifetime of jumping into cold water in the winter, at 12, he's been slow for years, but the arthritis has finally won. He can't walk on his own anymore, his kidneys have shut down, and he was unable to do more than lay down. But he still wagged his tail, was bright-eyed, responsive and excited. I was humbled and honored to be able to take a few shots of him and Harold, as well as with his Lab family members, on what was scheduled to be his final outing.
The younger dogs showed their skills, with the help of trainer Jesse, and Harold. They managed to look very enthusiastic retrieving things that must certainly be less exciting than actual ducks!
Above, Harold lectures the boy dogs, pointing out how sorry they look letting Gracie be all gung ho.
Gracie posing prettily. Sorry, I had a favorite.
these photos are amazing Pam. I love Harold & Judy and you can imagine the love we have for trade dogs, especially Gunner. When I first met Gunner he came into the office with Harild and Zi said "Hey Gunner" as they both entered . Gunner immenditally jumped on top of my desk , papers flying everywhere and licked me across my face!! Of course he had my ❤️. He is a part of the State Farm family as well. Customers are always looking or asking about Gunner. Thanks for sharing these priceless photos with us.
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