Picking a pup on the Willow Flowage

A choice that I have had over my head for the last seven weeks may seem more important to me then it would to the average person. That choice is to pick a female pup from Fire’s litter of four pups, of which three are females.

The pup that I keep has to pull a sled, carry a pack, fetch a duck, be cool around people in many different situations and at times be alone and not have that be a big deal.

I have first choice but have let some family members pick a pup and so that only left two to choose from. My 25-year-old stepson, Travis Dushek, is probably the most active outdoorsman/redneck that I have ever known and Travis is getting the pup that I do not take.

Here is the problem and it is a pleasant one: both of these pups are so cool that I could not make the choice. Here is my solution: I was going to do a simple twoday canoe camping trip on Oneida County’s Willow Flowage and see who I like the most.

Tuesday, July 5

High 87, Low 61

Wanna make sure you get from Point A to Point B as quick as possible with two pups in a truck that has no air conditioning: keep the windows down all the way, turn on the music and drive. From the time I started driving until I hit a boat launch on the Willow, I only stopped at stop signs. Heat kills dogs!

So, I turned double nickels on July 2. I was stung by a hornet the night before and it would appear that, as it has the last three times, hornet/bee stings can really mess up my life for about three days.

Anyways back to the trip. I am packing the canoe with gear and my plan is to paddle, troll by pulling a Top Raider and catch a world-record musky. The payoff will be so big that I might be able to get my air conditioning fixed (this is the third summer).

The pups were excellent in the truck. One is Ash (Trav’s) and the other is Ruby! In typical Walters fashion, I put them in the canoe and bon voyage, we are off.

Oh wait, first I made a long cast with the Top Raider and little did I know that there was a power line over my head. After a little line cutting, I got my bait back.

I use a kayak paddle that I built in ‘86 and I totally love paddling a canoe. So, now the theme is paddle, fish, observe pups, camp, swim, eat, fish, cook on a campfire and see how the pups are in a tent.

The Willow is super cool and I strongly advise checking it out. The pups are flawless. On one experience I am standing in my canoe and casting as the wind pushes me perfectly. A big fish missed the Top Raider.

I found an excellent campsite and it even had a pile of firewood. I put homegrown beefsteaks, broccoli and potatoes in aluminum foil with onions on the side of the fire and cooked them for three hours (an excellent meal).

Tonight, I paddle trolled, explored and cast with the pups in the canoe. Again, they are flawless.

While sleeping on the ground with a pup on each side of my head (one of them had gas) I was attacked by a playful pup that went right for my left eye – first its foot then its teeth. That was a crazy way to wake up.

So, I wake up and rain is in the air. I dress like a fall hunt with knee boots, long pants and rain gear, and break camp.

I am making the journey back to the truck while fishing, not caring about a light rain and knowing that soon I will catch the world-record musky, do it in a canoe and I can get my air conditioning fixed.

Hard rain is about to hit and I am a mile from the landing. I see movement on the side of pontoon boat that is parked at a pier and that does not make sense. After taking a better look I realize that it is a young kingfisher (a fish-eating bird) that had the misfortune of flying into the side of the boat. On its fall it slid down and into the doorjamb of the boat.

The bird was in tough shape and had already lost all of its feathers on its neck. I had seen its parents back a ways and came up with a plan.

After removing it from the door jam I put it in my lap and at this time a very hard rain began. The young kingfisher was very weak.

I found a piece of driftwood, put the kingfisher on it and all of a sudden my young friend hated me and started making the kingfisher cry. I paddled out to sea and observed and soon mama or papa flew over and I can only hope everything worked out.

So, now I am in a true storm/ downpour that was kind of dangerous. One pup is in the back of the canoe, the other in the front. The seas were high and I was only thinking about making it to the boat landing when I heard a splash from behind.

It was a pup in the water and I was a ways from shore and had to do some emergency maneuvers really quick. At first the pup swam towards the canoe, then shore. I scooped it up and headed to my truck.

At this point I had not picked out my pup. I figured this was a sign, and Travis you got a dog that knows how to swim.

On the ride home it was quite the opposite of the day before. The windows were up and the heater was on.

The choice has been made!


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