Man’s Best Friend

dtlt-dogs

DON TURNER’S LIFELONG LOVE FOR DOGS

I have always grown up with dogs, and I can’t imagine a point in my life without a dog. I joke that dogs keep my blood pressure down, but no matter how much work a dog can be, I find their
company relaxing. A dog won’t argue, point out your mistakes, or turn against you. They just want to be loved and near you.

Growing up on a cattle farm, I was surrounded by farm animals, but I also grew up in a family of dog lovers. My dad had a longhaired Chihuahua named Bobo, whom he often set on the mantle to feed him treats. My grandpa was a big rabbit hunter, so he always had beagles. A sheepdog once wandered onto our property, and after we couldn’t find her owner, Lassie became our dog. I even had a boxer named Tiny and an English bulldog named Spike.

However, I was devoted to training my bird dogs to help me hunt. Toots and Sue were my two main bird dogs, and they were great partners for hunting down birds, even if they sometimes snatched my prey as a snack. Once, after I had shot down a bird, Sue ran into the brush to find it, but she wouldn’t come out. I kept calling her and calling her, and finally, she popped out of the brush with feathers around her mouth. I never did find the bird.

Toots was a smart bird dog. When I was training her, I would find birds and daze them, so they would stay down while we trained. Toots was meticulous, going row by row through the field searching for birds, and even as a puppy, she would point whenever she found one.

Today, my dogs do less hunting for birds and more scrounging for treats. My wife and I own miniature schnauzers, who are playful, fun, easygoing, and best of all, don’t shed. We have had two schnauzers in the past, too. These were Blackjack, who we called BJ for short, and Maggie, who was with our family for 14 wonderful years. She was a gorgeous white schnauzer.

We currently have Watson, age 8, and Molly, age 4. Molly is my shadow. That dog will follow me anywhere I go, and at night, she’s cuddled up right next to me. She is smart as a whip and doesn’t even react when we switch to daylight saving time. She knows when her dinner should be every night, and she snatches up her favorite toy and shakes it like crazy at mealtime, lest we forget to feed her.

Watson is more stoic. He’s a quiet, calm guy and the surveyor in the house, which is fitting given his name. We named him Watson because his dad was named Holmes, making for a fun play on the classic detective duo. Somehow, it just fit Watson perfectly.

The dog-loving gene didn’t end with me, either! My son was a canine officer for years, and he had three German shepherds. Those dogs were just like any member of the family, but they knew that as soon as my son spoke in German, it was time to go to work. Today, he has a dog that’s half-wolf and another dog who is a Great Pyrenees. These animals are a bit more work than the schnauzers in my home, but they’re great additions to his family.

And that’s exactly what you want out of a dog. Finding the right family for a pooch enhances the lives of the family and the dog in many ways, and I feel fortunate enough to have seen this transformation so often in my life.

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