AND YET ANOTHER DOG NAMED SPORT
by Leo Doucet
One year Charlie Traer, a friend, asked me if I wanted the dog his
brothers had bought on the Gaspe Coast and taken to their home in
Dalhousie without getting prior permission from their mother. I remember
the mother as one who always complained and never seemed to agree with
anything or anyone. Perhaps that was only my perception of her, but
anyway she wasnít too pleased that Charlie always hung around with our
group (read gang) of friends.
I gladly accepted the dog but thought him odd coloured and rather scrawny. Charlie told me that he was an expensive dog and insisted he would be perfect for hunting. He couldnít remember what kind of dog it was but his information concerning the dogs future hunting capability proved correct. Dad was less helpful, he had never seen one like it and was skeptical it would amount to much.
Mom, as usual, didnít think much of him but he was friendly and I liked him. After about two months Mom told me I had to get rid of him. For one thing he would not eat raw meat or chew bones that I could get from our grocer Purdy Butland, instead I had to boil this stuff before he would touch it and Mom considered that too much of a bother, besides a dog so fussy didnít belong in our house.
My cousin, Stanley Drapeau, came to visit a few days later and I gave him the dog. The Traerís had named the dog "Sport" and the name stayed. Stanley took the dog home to Balmoral where in about a year it had become fully grown and showed excellent qualities. A month after I had given the dog away Charley came to the house one day and asked my father if he would shoot their other dog, a very small all white long haired animal that had gotten sprayed during a battle with a skunk. He said they had tried washing it in everything but could not get rid of the smell. Dad and I took the dog into the woods where a shotgun blast ended the problem.
The next day Charley came over and told me they wanted Sport back. I told him that it was not possible because I had already given him away. He and his brothers didnít like that at all.
Stanleyís father spent his winters in the Kedgwick area woodlands where he would be awarded a wood cutting contract by International Paper. He would then employ a cook, wood cutters and horses to cut and haul the logs to the nearest frozen large brook or river. In preparation for the winter operation my Uncle would take with him two or three pigs and a cow as a source of fresh meat and milk. When the weather was suitably cold each of these animals would in turn be butchered.
They had had problems however. In the fall bears used to sneak in at night and get at the pigs. The previous year a bear had so badly mauled a cow that it had to be butchered at a time when it was too early for the meat to keep. This time he took Sport with him as a watchdog and it worked. Sport could detect a bear every time one came near. The bear would then be shot with a cartridge loaded with coarse salt that caused enough pain to keep the bear from coming back.
One day that Spring, my Uncle spotted a big buck deer a short distance from the camp. Being low on meat for the cookhouse he told Sport to "Go get him". The dog was off like a flash and within a few minutes the deer was coming straight for the camp with Sport hot on its heels. It took my Uncle so much by surprise that he didnít have time to get his rifle. The dog then stopped right in front of my Uncle and just wagged his tail. No amount of coaxing would get him to go after the deer again.
The episode was not forgotten and a week or so later the dog was taken hunting. It was not long before a deer was spotted and Sport told to "Go get him". In a short while he was back with the deer just keeping ahead of him and my Uncle had an easy shot from about ten yards. Several more times that spring Sport was used to bring a deer within close shooting distance. If the shooter missed however the dog would not make a second attempt.
The next winter the contract called for the cutting of wood on a Provincial Game Reserve so the dog stayed home. Stanley hitched the dog to a sleigh and did very well. During the Easter school vacation I spent about a week with them and every day my Aunt would send Stanley to the store about a mile away. The Country roads were not opened so we would hitch up the dog and run the errand.
The following fall a neighbour had been guiding three American hunters and wasnít having much luck. He knew about Sport and asked my Uncle if he would like to do the guiding for the last few days of the hunting season. My Uncle agreed and took Sport with him. On each of the next three mornings the hunters shot a deer within the first hour of hunting. All that had been necessary was to say "Go get him " and the dog came back with a deer. It was then discovered that Sport was a "Blue Tick". The American hunters offered $300.00 for him, a small fortune in those days but my Uncle refused to sell.
One summer my Uncle was out on the back of his farm cutting the winter wood supply. My other Cousin, Raymond was with him and they had Sport with them. It was a hot day and Raymond had been asked to go to a spring several hundred yards away and bring back a pail of cold water. Raymond is somewhat handicapped in that he was born without the middle joints in the fingers of his hands and toes. He is six and one half feet tall and wears unusually thick glasses. He is however a very clever and intelligent fellow. On this day he was walking behind the horse and was approaching his father with the pail of water. All of a suddenly a big buck deer came straight at him with Sport right behind it. The deer passed alongside the horse and seeing Raymond at the last moment attempted to leap over him. The head and antlerís cleared but the deerís chest collided with Raymond, laying him flat.
It was a while before he came to. At first he thought the horse had reared and fallen back on him but his father had seen it all. Raymond was not fit to cut wood or do anything else for the next few days.
One summer while visiting with my cousins we decided to go fishing. We selected some deep holes in a marshy area which, we had been told, contained big trout. The holes were the result of marle (a natural fertiliser) being dug out in the winter when the water was low and the area just frozen enough to support a horse drawn sleigh. My Aunt had warned us to be careful because the marsh was soft and treacherous besides being full of creepy crawly things. She had insisted we all wear boots to protect our legs from leeches.
My problem was that all I had with me were sneakers. She went into a backroom and brought out my Uncleís knee high boots. They were a prized possession as they were "John Palmerís", easily the best one could buy. Equipped with steel caulks they were only used on the log drives in the spring. She told me to put them on when we got to the marsh as they were waterproof, and to be sure not to leave them behind. My Uncle was not to know we had used his boots. We did catch a dozen or so large trout but they had a muddy taste and were not good eating.
The boots were too large for me and I had taken them off on the way back. Since Sport loved to carry things in his mouth I had gave him one to carry. All went well until we got to a very large hayfield that we had to cross. All of a sudden Sport took off into the tall hay and no amount of calling would bring him back. Occasionally we could see the hay waving a long way ahead and knew it must be him. Finally he came out at the other end of the field and circling came running back to us panting and wagging his tail, but without the boot.
We could not now go home. The more we coaxed, begged and threatened the dog the more he just wagged his tail and looked dumb. We searched the field as best we could but knew we would never find it. Finally, in an act of desperation, I grabbed Sport by the collar and rubbing the other boot all over his nose told him to 'GO GET IT". He took off and in a few minutes came back with the missing boot. Now we could all now go home.
They still had Sport when I left for the Army in 1944.
This page was designed by Irene Doyle Feb. 1998