ALONG CAME KAISER
TIME FOR A PET
Shortly after getting home from the military service. I didn’t come home to the big farm house in a small country town but rather a big city. My family, had moved away from the farm I had grown up on and decided that it would be best for their lives. I missed the farm while I was away in the military. I didn’t have any pets at all. We had pets when I was a small boy growing up on the farm. Pigs , pigeons , horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, goats, and cows. I even had a pet Skunk! I decided that it was time for me to find a new pet.
We all talked about it each day at dinner While I was shopping for a place of my own to live and every one agreed another dog would be a nice pet since my last dog died while I was away. His name was Wolf since he was half German Shepard and half Wolf I never new how old Wolf was but I think he was more than 15 because he wasn’t a puppy when I got him. Now the question was; “What kind of a dog would I get this time? How big or small? What breed? Black or White? Long hair or short hair? Mom suggested a big dog, like a German Shepherd, or Saint Bernard, or even a Great Dane. I did not want a big dog! Especially one almost as big as a pony! I decided not to rush into anything and to look around at the local shelters, kennels, and several dog breeders in the area. I looked in the news paper too; but most of the dogs in the news were lost dogs!
I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, and decided to work out the choices based on my space, time, and money. I had already owned several dogs as a young boy, and knew what kind of trouble a dog can be. You know! Things like, How much does it eat? How much room does it need to run? How often does it need a walk? Then there’s the shots, and worming, and sometimes unexpected veterinarian visits, if he gets hurt or sick. Big dogs need big chew toys, that must be cleaned up on a regular basis.
Several weeks passed and I was out of town on a trip with some friends who asked if we could stop on the way out of town, and visit some of their old friends. We all agreed to stop before leaving town and within a few minutes we were there. The friends invited me inside to sit and relax while everyone visited for awhile. Shortly after I sat down, a little girl came into the room from outside with the cutest little puppy in her arms. I had never seen one with my own eyes in my entire life. I had seen these types of dogs in pictures, but I had never seen a Norwegian Elk Hound in real life This was not a very popular breed of dog in this part of the world because of its long thick coat of hair. In warm places, these dogs must have extra special attention to prevent heat stroke. They adapt well to cold parts of the world. They need good shelter from the sun and lots of water at all times when raised in warm or hot climates. Some people will shave their dogs long thick hair off to help keep them cool on hot summer days. Just to make sure, I asked, “Is that a Norwegian Elk Hound”? She replied; “How did you know” ? I said “I’ve always wanted one.” I told her how beautiful her puppy was, and she asked if I would like to hold it. I said “Sure; I love puppy’s and this one is so warm and fuzzy that I couldn’t resist“.
After we finished our visit with our friends, we began to head for the door. I turned to hand the puppy back to the little girl, but she asked if I would like to have a puppy? I said that; “ she needed to keep her puppy” . “ It would be very sad, if she were give it away.” She said; “No! “Not my puppy,” “We have four more just like this one.” I almost fainted as she darted out the back door.
Within moments she re-appeared with four puppies, two under each arm, I handed her puppy to her mom and took one of the four puppies from under her arm. I fell immediately in love! The puppy was licking my face wildly. It had the most perfect color of, and I was immediately attached to it. He had grey and black colors mixed on his whole body that seemed to disappear down his tail, Two of the puppies parents follow me around with the little girl inside the house. Now I could see that they were all Norwegian Elk Hounds. The momma dog kept a close eye on all of us, giving her approval of every thing that was going on, with her babies. Seeing the parents of the puppy gave me a good idea of how big this puppy would grow up to be.
I asked how much I would have to pay her dad for the puppy, but he refused; saying “As long as I know he has a good home I will let you have him .” We stayed a few minutes longer and let the momma dog smell her puppy in my arms. When everyone seemed to give their approval the momma nudged the puppy one last time on the nose and off we went, heading home.
When I got the puppy home my mom wasn’t there yet so I gave him a bowl of water a tiny bit of food, we picked up on the way home. I even put a bow around his neck. I left him in the bedroom where he curled up for a nap while I went to the living room to wait for Mom to come home from work .
When she finally arrived home, and began telling me about her day, I forgot completely about the surprise I had for her. Suddenly she looked at me with a puzzled face and asked “What was that noise ?” “ What noise” I said , suddenly I heard it too. It was her surprise! Whimpering was coming from the bedroom room. She went to investigate and as she carefully opened the door, not knowing what she would find , let out a scream that scared both me and the pup. I backed up ,the pup ran between her legs towards the door, and we both stared at each other for a moment. Then she finally said; you did it! You found a new puppy.”
WHAT ABOUT A NAME?
I showed off my new puppy to all of my friends and relatives for a whole week without a name. We would drive down to a nearby park at the lake each afternoon and the pup would play with sticks in the water and sniff around all the trash cans and other peoples picnic blanket’s. He was friendly with everyone he met and I would have to watch him closely or he would jump on them and want to play in there laps. It seemed that every one had a good idea for a name for him, except for me. One of my friends suggested Fuzzy; another said that was stupid and suggested Fido. My other friend called both names dumb and that almost started an argument. I decided I better come up with a name soon or someone was going to be giving him a name that I might not like. It’s time to get to work on this problem!
For the next couple of days I wrote down ideas for a name and talked them over with my mom and dad at dinner each night. I still couldn’t decide. Saturday came and I had a whole day to think about a name. At noon I drew names out of a hat. That afternoon I wrote 10 choices for names on tiny pieces of paper , wadded them up into tiny balls, and threw them out on the floor for the puppy to choose, but he only sat there staring at all the tiny pieces of paper that made a mess all over the floor.
That afternoon my mom and I were sitting staring at the still nameless puppy eating his dinner, When I said to my mom that his colors looked like smoke from a camp fire. Starting at his nose they blend from black and white turning to grey and then they seemed to disappear as they gently rolled up and around his curly tail. My mom said, “Your right it does look like smoke, doesn’t it?” All of a sudden the puppy looked up at us and totally forgot that he had a bowl of dinner in front of him. He walked straight up to us staring, as if he had something to say about this whole naming game. Then the pup started back to his bowl until he heard it again. “Boy, he does look like the word “smoke” I said. Then suddenly he turned back to look at us again. I said to him “You like that word smoke, don‘t you?” He tilted his head to one side and stared hard at the both of us. “That’s it” I said. “Its settled, your name is SMOKE!”
Finally it was decided. We had come up with a name that not only I liked, but the pup seemed to like it too. Every time I said the word “Smoke” he gave me his full attention and would walk straight to me as if I had a magical magnet in my pocket. I called all of my friends and family to let them know. No more arguing , no more discussions, its settled! His name is “Smoke!” From now on everyone would call him Smoke. Smoke responded to the name so well that I thought it must be a perfect fit. Over the next few weeks Smoke learned his name well responding any time I called and came running anytime he got too far away at the park..
SMOKE’S FIRST TRIP
I felt new all over as Timmy put me in the car and we headed out the drive. I thought how nice it felt to have the wind blowing through my hair as I held my head out the window. We turned the corner at the top of the hill and I didn’t even notice that he made a different turn. We usually take a trip to the lake where I play every day. The ride was still short, but nothing looked familiar. I couldn’t find the door. It didn’t turn out to be a problem since I was scooped up in Timmy’s arms and carried straight thru the front door and inside. I was held up in the air for every one to see me. Immediately they started passing me around in so many circles that I started to get dizzy. Its my turn ! Its my turn! Was all I heard at first; then I heard wait a minute! Wait a minute! I want to see! And the circles began again. When the circles finally ended and I found my four feet on the floor. I couldn’t have been happier. As soon as the dizziness ended I sniffed around and found a place to let the pressure off my tummy. The puddle got so big I had to stand on three feet to keep from getting wet. All of a sudden the circles started again and the voices were louder this time yelling “Get him out of here”! “Get him out of here”!
Within seconds I found myself outside again, only this time, in the back of the house. I took a stroll as far as I could but, a big wire fence kept me from going very far. Oh well, there was lots of stuff to sniff and trees to look behind, so I played around the yard until someone called my name. Smoke! Smoke, here boy! I found myself in one of the strangers arms and within minutes we were backing away from the house and back on the road again.
I didn’t get to hold my head out the window like before, but, cold air was blowing on me and it felt good after playing outside behind that house. I laid back listening to the rumbling of the cars along the road and soon fell asleep. When I woke up there were strange smells everywhere. It was confusing because I didn’t know where to start sniffing. There were huge animals all around me they called horses. All I knew was that they were saddling the horse and I did not want to get near them. They were Big! I found a huge mountain of dirt that burned my nose to smell it, wagons with wheels on all four sides, and funny flat shovels that all smelled the same. Big blocks of straw were piled so high that I couldn’t climb on top of them. I must have played for hours around the new place finding something new around every corner.
Suddenly something caught my attention and I ran as fast as I could to catch it, but it ran straight up a big tree. Then there was another one and I chased it. That one too went up a tree, and before I knew it, I was getting tired of this game of chase. I was hot and thirsty and found a stream of cold water to drink from. I decided to go back and smell some more around the new place with the horses, but I couldn‘t find it again. I walked for hours along the stream where there was cold water and drank whenever I was thirsty but I never saw that pile of dirt that burned my nose, or the people, or the horses and it was getting really hot so I decided to stay close to the cool stream of water.
I finally came to a hill with big poles holing up the road so the cars could cross the stream and as I climbed to the top of the hill one of the cars stopped and opened a door and I jumped in. It wasn’t Tim and nothing smelt familiar but the cool air blew on me as before and I laid down in the seat and went to sleep.
WE NEVER STOPPED LOOKING
When my sister came back from the stables alone, her tears explained everything to me. She had lost Smoke at the stables. She said Smoke was having fun playing and sniffing around , so she left him there to play while she went for a ride, Smoke must have wandered off and no one around the barns saw where he went.
I drove to the stables every day and called out for him along the stream that ran near by. I talked to people living near-by. I made posters and nailed them to posts. I handed them to people driving by and workers at the stables, but no one saw any signs of him anywhere.
A couple of months went by before the sadness began to go away, and every time I drive by the stables or stream I think of Smoke and look around just in case. One day my sister called me crying and saying how sad she was that she had lost Smoke. I told her that she didn’t know that much about young puppy’s and had no way of knowing that they will wander far away if they don’t have a fence or a leash to tie them up, or someone to keep a constant watch out for them.
When she finished crying and we talked some more she announced to me that she would have a surprise for me later that day. I drove home that afternoon and as I pulled up the driveway to the garage the door flung open and she was standing there with another Norwegian Elk Hound puppy on a leash.
I was almost crying myself when she handed me the leash and said I found him through a professional Breeder just for you. She presented me with the American Kennel Club papers and said I know he won’t replace Smoke, but at least he will keep you company on those drives by the stables and along the stream every day. I named the new puppy Kaiser since it was already a part of his registered name. It didn’t take long before we bonded as best friends while we hiked and played along the stream everyday. We moved far away from that city to a much cooler part of the country. Kaiser learned to hunt and swim in the cold waters of the north and enjoyed playing in the snow each winter. We lived together for the next 13 years and always stayed close to each other except when he got on the sent trail of a deer or Elk in the woods, but he always yelped loudly so I could hear him and keep up. Eventually I would call him off the hunt and we would return home safely. Arthritis and a tumor took Kaiser’s life, but I will always remember how he comforted me and helped me to over come the loss of my first Norwegian Elk Hound, Smoke.