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A morning cup-a-joe with chocolate Britts
Michael O'Casey
Michael O'Casey's View from the Riverbank

I said many times that there are few things on Planet Earth more beautiful than a litter of Brittany puppies.  I’ve had that preference for over 50 years now, and it probably won’t change. Six of the little chocolate on white colored varmints arrived at our house on May 20, 2022, and our personal world has been brightened by their antics and rapid development since then.  My granddaughter’s female, Cocoa, is the dam, and my male, Ike, is the sire.  They are seven weeks old now, and Papa Ike is having second thoughts about the whole thing.  At first they were little fur balls he could tip over with a playful flick of his nose, and it would take them about five seconds to get back on their feet. Now they are quicker and more determined and swarm over him like excited yellowjackets.  Two minutes is about all he can stand.  Amos, an 11 pound male, nipped him on the nose Sunday morning which produced a startled “YIKE!” from Pa followed by a stream of canine obscenities that encouraged the surprised pup to head for the hills.

Usually I feed them right after daylight and sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee while they frolic. After yowling like a wolf pack when I arrive with the vittles, they burst out of the pen like an 1880s Kansas cattle stampede and attack the puppy chow with great vigor briefly before untying my shoes. Sunday morning they advanced to the next logical step. After they untied and loosened the shoelaces, Texas, a little fireball female with a white spot that resembles a Texas longhorn steer in the middle of her back, grabbed the heal of my shoe and took it off my foot smoother than a New York pickpocket. It took about five yards to run her down and reclaim the shoe. Most of my coffee was on the ground.  

It’s a well-known fact Brittanys don’t like chewing on cheap footwear.  Years ago, Danny Boy, one of my best hunting dogs in the 1990s, chewed the top off one of my Russell hunting boots. My wife reasoned that he was trying to make the boot more comfortable where my calf muscle expands, but I wanted to return the boots to the Russell Company and have two inches removed from the top to eliminate the chewed area.  Barbara vetoed that because she believed seeing the ragged top of the boot and remembering what I paid for them would encourage me not to leave them lying around. For once in her life, she was right, but I cautioned her not to let it go to her head. 

The little Britts are pointing dogs and a butterfly or sparrow can cause them to flash point momentarily when exploring alone.  But when grouped together, mob rules apply, and they pursue their prey like a John Wayne posse. A group of six pups chasing a butterfly can have an amazing resemblance to a demolition derby at the old Oglethorpe Speedway in Savannah, GA on Saturday nights. By the time they close in on the startled butterfly, most are sideways or upside down. 

But watching them play at daylight on a cool morning while enjoying a steaming cup-a-joe provides a few minutes of sanity in a world that has gone completely insane. They are bright-eyed and excited about life, and they evoke pleasant memories of dogs that created many good times with family and friends for more than five decades.  There was Bo, Doc, Mac, Buck, Danny Boy, Scout, Mike, Mickey, Major, Maxey, and Ike. Most, like Mac, were children oriented.  As a pup he often rode to the local 7-11 store in the basket of my son’s bicycle with my daughter riding on the back when they went after ice cream or a candy bar. The “No Dogs Allowed” sign in the store did not apply to Mac. My 9 year old daughter was afraid of the dark, and we placed the seven-week-old puppy on the foot of her bed to discourage night monsters. He took that assignment seriously and slept at the doorway of her room every night until she was in high school.

Some of them went with us to Tennessee, North Carolina, Arizona, Montana, the Dakotas, or Kansas in pursuit of quail, pheasant, grouse, and Hungarian Partridge. Lots of really good memories; maybe these rowdy youngsters will create more of the same.