By Jason Parker ~
Way back when I first started duck hunting, I came to the realization that I wanted a dog to share the blind with me, so after researching many different breeds I decided on a Labrador and began looking for puppies. Since I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, I found a guy named Jim Mortenson at an auto junkyard just north of the town I grew up in who had a litter of black lab pups on the ground. I drove there right away, and I think I only had about $100 in my pocket but I was going anyway.
When Jim heard my sob story, he said he had this little female that may not make it because she was the runt, but if I wanted to try saving her I could have her for $50.
I suddenly found myself going home with this three week old pup in my lap that needed round-the-clock-care. Since she wasn’t getting all the nourishment she needed, I stopped at the local vet clinic on my way and picked up some puppy formula and a bottle and the rest was history. I named her Malley and we had 15 good years of hunting adventures together before she crossed over into that big marsh in the sky.
A couple years later, I was at our cabin, with my dad, talking about dogs, when he said, “Oh I forgot to tell you, Jim told me to tell you to stop by.” I asked why and he replied that he’d asked about how Malley was doing and he had to give him the sad news that she’d passed.
On the way home that weekend, I stopped by that old graveyard for cars and a flood of memories came rushing back. Out of the shop came Jim, wiping his hands on a greasy rag like mechanics often do, and after exchanging pleasantries he said “Go over to that shed over there, I have something for you.” When I opened the door there was this jet black puppy looking at me, a lab pup. “I want you to have this pup,” Jim said. “I always enjoyed hearing your dad talk about you and Malley.”
Without hesitation I scooped up this big male pup and I handed Jim a hundred dollar bill. I had to give the man something for this beautiful dog.
On our 2 1/2 hour ride home, I kept looking at him on the passenger seat. I hadn’t planned on getting a pup, but holy smokes I couldn’t wait to begin training him! My mind was racing. By the time we got home, he had the name Gunnar, and when I whispered it his head popped up like he knew it. He gave a big puppy yawn, tongue sticking out of his mouth and I swear he smiled at me….
Read the full article in the July 2017 issue of Able Outdoors magazine. Subscribe today!