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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Local Golf
August 22, 2017

RJ Smiley

Nutmeg was the most beautiful girl in her class! Proof: She was an AKC Champion. She was the smartest girl in her school! Proof: Her instructor in obedience school told me so.

If Nutmeg had been a daughter, those testaments would have made any parent proud. Nutmeg was my dog! She was a registered Hungarian Vizsla, a hunting dog - and also a lap dog that loved to cuddle.

Over the next few months, Critters On The Course will share several wonderful stories of Nutmeg - the wonder dog and... certainly this man's best friend.

I was raised in western Kansas by a father who loved hunting pheasants and quail. We always had at least one bird dog bitch, with a litter of pups in the dog pen. My dad and his hunting buddies were involved in a constant competition, trying to own the best bird dog.

I first became acquainted with the Vizsla breed at a party, hosted by a co-worker of Bev, my wife. The second that I laid eyes on her, I knew she was a hunting dog; Dixie stuck her warm muzzle into my hand, wanting to have her ears scratched.

Linda, the party hostess, said, "You must know dogs. I can see that Dixie likes you."

I quickly learned that Linda was a nationally known Hungarian Vizsla breeder and a judge at the AKC dog shows. She told me about the breed and explained what great hunting dogs they were.

About six months later we were planning our annual quail hunting trip to Kansas with my brother, Goose, and his son. Bev mentioned that we were going to Kansas to hunt quail. Linda instantly asked, "Would you like to take Dixie? She just won a hunting competition."

When Bev asked me if I wanted to take Dixie I was very skeptical. I learned long ago that no "real hunter" would loan his bird dog. I remember conversations between my dad and his buddies that went something like this, "I would loan out my wife before I would let some rookie hunt over my bird dog."

At the time neither Goose nor I had a bird dog so I consented to hauling Dixie to Kansas for a weekend quail hunt. When Bev took over driving on the second leg of our road trip, I got in the back seat of our suburban - Dixie promptly crawled onto my lap. She wanted some love! I said to Bev, "I can't believe we are taking a ### damn pet on a hunting trip! I never saw a pet that was worth a #### as a hunting dog."

"Linda says she is one of the best!"

On a crisp Saturday morning we got out of the car on the farm that my brother had earlier obtained permission to hunt. It was a perfect spot, a knee high grassy meadow with a maze field on one side and a wooded creek on the other. We hadn't walked 50 yards when Dixie froze in a picture perfect, three legged, point. "She doesn't look like a pet to me," Goose dryly smiled.

As the covey broke, Goose, who could always shoot quicker and straighter, knocked down two birds to the left and I got one bird in three shots. In about 15 seconds Dixie came running through the grass with my bird in her mouth. She dropped in at my feet and took off to the left at full speed. She found Goose's first bird quickly and delivered it at my feet. It took her about a minute to locate the third bird. As she dropped it at my feet she looked up at me with a questing look on her face. In an instant I motioned to the right, where the majority of the covey had gone, Dixie was gone. To say that we had a successful hunt was an under statement.

A few months later I called Goose and told him we were getting one of the pups in Dixie's next litter. "I knew you were going to buy one of those dogs when she delivered that first bird at your feet."

For thirteen wonderful years Nutmeg patrolled our golf course occasionally catching a gopher while she greeted every guest.

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