‘The Old Brown Chair’ and Other Stories by Walter Smith

These stories were sent to me by a friend, Craig, who I met on the Jack Russell Terrier UK Forum – Craig has written the introduction

“I was cleaning up files on an old computer that I was about to junk and found this story. It’s not about Jacks, but I hope some of you might enjoy reading it.

“When my son was young, he very much enjoyed writing stories. He handed this [The Old Brown Chair] in to his English teacher, and was crushed when she returned the paper with this comment on it.  “Interesting story Walter – maybe if you spent as much time on your home work as you did writing this you would have higher grades in my call”

“I hope some of you enjoy it more then she did.”

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The Old Brown Chair

by Walter Smith age 9

My name is Walter Smith and I am the ‘official puppy picker outer’ for the Smith family. Not long after my 8th birthday, my Dad told me he had a job for me. We were going to pick out a new hunting dog, and it was my job to find the best one. I don’t know places very good, but we drove about 2 hours to an old farm. Around the back they had a big fenced in area with a building and a lot of dog pens inside.

The nice man that owned all the dogs let me in a little pen with some puppies. I played with them. I talked to them and got lots of licking and some little bites as well. I loved them all but didn’t feel best with any of them. My Dad said there were other puppies to see in about two weeks if I wanted to wait. Dad was very surprised when I told him I’d like to wait for the other puppies to make up my mind.

It was a long 2 weeks. Finally Saturday came and Dad had me jump in the car early in the morning. It was a long ride and I fell asleep. We stopped at Mickey Dees for a break and burgers, When we got there it was a different dog place. This time the puppies were inside the house. Most of the pups were shy, but one came right up to me and started giving me puppy dog kisses. I knew I had found the right dog, Welcome to the family Wizard Smith!

Over the next couple of months I learned a lot about training a puppy. I learned to use one word commands and that “come here Wizard” was not the same as “Wizard. Come.” Every day we worked on the words “come” “sit” “stay” “down” and “jail”. I got to ride the pony and have Wizard come with me in the back field.

Then daddy got a book on how to train hunting dogs. We read it together and re read some of the parts. We added new words like “Whoa” “Dead” “leave” ‘Easy” and started teaching him commands made by a whistle.

All the time we were training Wizard to be a hunting dog, he was also being my puppy and best friend. He slept with me and we played all the time. In the living room had a big area to play and we would watch TV together. On the south wall, right next to the window there was an old brown chair. It was brown leather, but the arm rests and back were stained dark with cracks in the old leather. There was a hole burned in one arm and the seat was cracked and discolored.  It was a chair that most people would throw out.

But I loved the old chair because it leaned back and in the morning the first sunshine would warm it up. I loved to curl up in the chair and eat my breakfast. But even with it being old, my Daddy would not let Wizard up in that chair. One time I got scolded and told that I was never to let Wizard up in that chair.

We kept using the book to train Wizard until one day I said “I wish we could have the guy that wrote the book help us” Well the guys name was Lem Jenkins and the book said he was from Monroe Michigan. So my Daddy got on the phone and was able to locate Mr. Jenkins. Then every weekend we would get up real early and drive about 3 hours to train there. My Dad learned how to put quail “asleep” for a while so they could put the birds out and hunt them up with the dog.

My Dad found a place near us where we could buy live Quail a dozen at time. He would go out first and set out a bunch of birds in the back field. Then we would get on the horses and call Wizard along to hunt up the birds. It was a lot of fun watching him while I told him which way to go with the whistle. After a while I would be on horse back controlling the dog while my dad was on foot with a shotgun. Wizard would find and point the birds, Daddy would flush and shoot them and on the “dead” command, Wizard would go out and retrieve them.

One day my Dad explained to me that we were going out hunting with his boss and “clients”. He made very sure I understood that these Clients were very special even if they were not very good hunters. We got up early and met the “clients” for breakfast. Then we went to a lodge where there were a lot of other people and a lot of dogs. When we went out, we had our own big field to hunt, but there were other groups hunting beyond the pines on both sides of us.

This would be the big test. My Dad and his boss had done this many times before. But the dogs from the lodge had a mind of their own and ran to far ahead and sometimes just ran back to the lodge.

We started in a corn field that went up a little rise. Almost at once Wizard came up on point. Dad’s Boss was close so he walked past Wizard and flushed a big rooster. There was all sorts of shooting and a few feathers came off the bird, but he locked his wings out and disappeared over the little hill. “He’s DEAD!”, the Boss yelled. Hearing the “dead” command, Wizard took off like a jet and disappeared into the corn.  “Get back here!” the boss yelled. Then the boss started cussing and complaining saying this was no better then the **** dogs from the lodge. About then Wizard appeared over the hill with a huge pheasant in his mouth. I almost don’t know how he could see where he was going. He ran straight up to the boss, dropped the bird at his feet, then circled around him and sat down at his side. Dad’s boss was so happy! We hunted for a while and got a lot of birds. Wizard was perfect. In the end there were 7 birds for each person, but the clients didn’t want all of theirs, so we took home a LOT of birds.

I have never seen Wizard so tired. He slept in his jail all the way home. When we went into the house he lay down in the centre of the living room and Daddy sat on the floor getting the cockleburs out of his coat. I watched from the Brown chair.

We went in the dining room to have a big meal. When we came back into the living room, Wizard was up in the brown chair. I was about to scold him when Daddy squeezed my shoulder.

“It’s all right Son.”, he said, “Its no longer ‘Merlin’s chair’. Its time it became ‘Wizard’s chair’. He earned it today. I’m sure Merlin would want him to take it over”

Now most morning Wizard will get up early and go in the living room and lay in the brown chair as the morning light warms its old leather up. Some mornings I’ll catch Dad sitting on the floor next to the old brown chair petting Wizard with tears in his eyes.

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The Dog That Raised Me

by Walter Smith age 8

I had a wonderful friend while I grew up.  He loved me, he protected me, and he took me on great adventures.  It wasn’t his real name, but I called him Red.  Red was a Golden Retriever.

I don’t know when I first came to know him.  I see pictures of him and me when I was a baby in diapers.  I just remember him always being there.  I remember him coming into my room when I was mad and I would cry into his fur.  I can remember when I was hurt and he would lick me better.  Red was a hunting dog, so every fall there was days we were apart.  I remember the first time he left early in the morning with my Dad and came home after dark.  He was full of burrs and his tail was bleeding, but the first thing he did was come to see me.  Dad and me picked the burrs and Dad taught me how to be a dog doc.  Now I go with Dad most of the time and it’s my job to take care of Red.  I make sure he drinks water from his bottle and I carry a first aid kit in case he gets hurt.  Lots of times I have had to pull a thorn and put medicine on the wounds.   We are all tired when we get home, but the next day I give him a bath.

When I was young and just starting to walk, my Mom says I would hold on to Red and he taught me to walk in days.  Not long after, he taught me to run and we drove her crazy.

When I get home from school, we go out on our own hunting trips.  Some times my friend Brian will come along. We throw sticks in the air and pretend to shoot them and Red will always bring them back. We have lots of land to hunt on but I always comb Red out when we come in.

One time when we were out hunting, we saw a bow hunter.  He was not supposed to be on our land.  When he came toward us, Red got between us and barked his scariest bark.  I ran back to the house with red right behind me and told my Mom.  The Hunter came up to the house and said he was sorry he scared me and said that he had arrowed a deer over in the state game area and tracked it into our land.  Mom put on outside clothes and we went out to help him find the deer.  Red and me are real good at tracking deer and we found it soon after he showed us the last place he had tracked it to.  The guy had never killed a deer before so Mom took out her knife and cleaned it for him.  Mom went back to the barn and got the tractor and they put the deer in the front loader and took it up to the house.

I loved Red so much and he taught me so much, but the last thing he taught me was the worst thing in my life.  My Dad explained that Red was very old in Dog years.  Daddy told me he was 118 years old in dog years and he had a wonderful life.  But now he couldn’t run with me, and some times he couldn’t wait until he got outside to go.  And I knew he wasn’t happy.  I hated his little cry when he wanted up on my bed, but couldn’t jump up anymore.  So one day we had a day to remember all the wonderful thinks we knew about him.  Daddy and Mommy and I told stories about all the wonderful things he had done with us while he laid his head on my lap.  Then the Vet came and gave Red a shot while I petted his head.  Red went to sleep and never woke up.  Thank you Red for being my very best friend.[/quote]

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The day Red Saved My Life

by Walter Smith age 8

Red and I go hunting a lot. One day I changed my clothes to go out but my Mom was giving Red a bath because he smelled real bad. I went outside and found a nice stick by the apple trees to use as my gun. I hunted the hedge row toward the back of our land. A big pheasant got up and flew away from me. BOOM! BOOM!, I got him. If Red was with me I would have tossed a stick and he would retrieve it for me just like real hunting. I turned into the low lands and hunted toward the Pond.  Worril! A Woodcock took off. POW!  Too late, he ducked behind a tree. Only Daddy is fast enough to get Woodcock.  If Red was with me we would have gone to see if he landed and we could get another shot at him.

I got real quite and snuck threw the Cattails. There he was, Mr. Wood duck. God must have had a real good day when he made the Wood Duck, it’s the prettiest duck there is. We don’t shoot Wood Ducks. I hunted around the pond and found some Green Heads. I picked up a rock and threw it in the water and they took off. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!  If Red was with me I would have thrown a stick into the pond so he could go get it. Red loves the water. I walked back to the Big Oaks. Somewhere up above me a squirrel started scolding me. They can really make a lot of noise. Up in front of me I watched a big black squirrel run along a branch and jump to another tree. He was so big I thought the branch he landed on would break but it didn’t. POW! I got him. Red would have found him and brought him to me if he were here.

I changed direction and walked threw the hawthorn and Sumac toward the Cedars. A rabbit jumped up and ran for the cedars. POW, POW, POW. I followed him into the Cedars. Before I was born my Dad had taken the back 40 and planted 1000s of Cedar trees. Over the winters the deer would eat on the Cedars and what was left would grow bigger the next summer. This made some real weird looking trees and they were a little bit scary. Flapppppp! A Pat flew up and weaved between the trees. I went after him to see if he landed but the Cedars were too thick to see. It seemed dark inside the Cedar stand so I started walking back to the house. I walked a long time and was still in the Cedars. It was scary. I stopped and tried to figure out what to do next.

Daddy had taught me that late in the day if I put the sun on my right, I would walk south and the house was on the south of our land. Only I couldn’t really see any sun. It seemed brightest in the direction I was walking so I turned to my left and walked for a while. I was really getting scared, I wish Red was with me. I started crying and yelled at the top of my lungs RED! RED!. Then I thought more. The trees where planted in rows that went east and west. So if I only walked across rows, I would be walking towards the house. Then something jumped up and ran a ways from me. I was really scared and cried and shouted for Red over and over. Then I heard a coyote howl and it was getting dark. Brian’s Mom’s dog was killed by a coyote last week. I cried and screamed for Red. I didn’t know what to do. Then I heard something running threw the brush toward me. The coyote was coming to get me!

Then the coyote barked. It was Red coming to save me. Red showed me the way back toward the house and when we got to the edge of the clover field a 4 wheeler saw me and raced across the field to pick me up. A few seconds later I was riding behind my Daddy with my arms tight around his waist. I will never go hunting without Red ever again.

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