News Columns & Blogs

The fetch that begins every day

Evenings at home may come to a close reading in bed, working on the computer or catching one last look at the weather forecast.

The fetching of the newspaper begins every morning I’m home. All of them, no matter if it’s a 4 a.m. start for a duck hunt or sleeping in. No cup of coffee first, no turning on the news, no quick shower. The newspaper comes in before my day can progress.

When I’m gone Kathy has no choice but to participate in the program.

A large, black Labrador Retriever sitting in the hallway, tail thumping, staring first at us and then the front door is the morning reminder when we stagger into a new day.Hank's been fetching the morning newspaper for most of his nine years. It gives him the mental satisfaction of having a job within the pack.That simple task is an important part of our relationship. It’s one of Hank’s beloved jobs.

The main reason dogs are so easily trained is their ancient instinct to be part of a pack.

They don’t care if they’re the pack leader or a simple pack member, just as long as they belong.

And like in the wild, each member of such canine packs has their place and job.

Hank started fetching the newspaper as soon as he came to our home when he was  six-weeks-old. At first I teased him with The Eagle and gave it a light toss in our driveway. Within a week or so all I had to do was open the front door and he’d be off, returning within a few seconds with his tail snapping happily and the newspaper in his mouth. It’s as important to him as finding that mallard that sailed off before falling 200 yards from the blind.

He’s happy he’s done something for his pack-leader (me) and I’m happy I didn’t have to walk outside in the rain, snow or cold.

My neighbors are even happier they didn’t have to look at me stumbling down the driveway with a serious case of bed-head bad hair.