Raining here this morning ...supposed to rain all day, so my hunting buddy Gordy Eastwood and I cancelled our groundhog hunt. Ol' Joe Boy would have been along as a draw dog today.I was out back talking to and petting Joe Boy yesterday afternoon and couldn't believe how much white is mixed with the red in his muzzle now. Makes one realize he is getting older even though I consider the white in his muzzle a little premature as he is just 7 years old. That said...in genuine Airedale fashion, he still loves to play like a pup whenever the opportunity is there. I got Joe Boy almost as a throw in deal while at Al Kranbuhl's buying a pup. I must admit I pestered Al to let me get Joe Boy too who was a little over a year old at the time....and he gave in....something I owe him for bigtime.
Getting older myself...he probably hasn't been hunted as hard as many of the dogs in my past. Still....he has been a good one, and has done some things, the memories of which will never be forgotten. He has been on two fox over the years. One I released and gave a good head start, the second one was bolted by my JRTs. Exactly how he did it I don't know....but he managed to track (by air scent with head up), eventually catching up to and catching the fox in both cases. The story of the fox we bolted and he ran down is on the board somewhere. Then there was the day we had him out with the little terriers and they had a coon cornered in a huge debris pile. While they were baying the coon Joe Boy was baying into the pile 20 to 25 feet away. I remember saying I wished he would shut up. We were working our way with a bar and shovel down to the terriers when all of a sudden I heard that Airedale roar right under my feet and a coon squalling bloody murder as Joe Boy was squeezing the life out of him. He traveled in the vicinity of 25 feet thru that pile, just like the den terriers do to get to that coon. We dug down and broke through to Joe Boy with his jaws around the neck of a very dead approx. 20 lb. boar coon. I couldn't have been more proud of him.
He has been on many coon hunts, and although he isn't a real tree dog, he goes along on every chase and is always at the tree. Of course, he loves to kill coons and specializes in it. In fact, every time I shoot a coon out of a tree it always lands a foot or two in front of Joe Boy and he is immediately on it. Can't say as I know how he always manages to be where the coon is going to hit the ground...just know that is the way is happens every time.
Although not a real tree dog I also always figured it was good to have him along at night for coyote protection for my cur dog Frostie. It was just something I said....but then one night we did have coyotes come in on Frostie who was tonguing on a coon track....Those SOBs got the surprise of their lives when the silent Joe Boy cut loose with his roar in amongst them and ended up chasing them over the hill...before hightailing it back to get in on the kill at the tree where Frostie has since treed the coon. I am sure it would not have been a pleasant experience for the 30 lb. Frostie, if Joe Boy had not been there when those coyotes arrived on the scene.
He has flushed Turkeys, pheasants, and woodcock, and jumped rabbits as well. He has spent many a night in the woods on coon hunts and there was only one time that he wasn't at the tree when we got there. It was so out of character for Frostie to be treed and him not be with her, that I was really worried that something may have happened to him. While standing near the tree wee heard a muffled whining about ten feet away in some briars. Went over there to see Joe Boy backing out of a groundhog hole he had enlarged with a big old buck Possum in his teeth. LOL. I guess he was at the tree then got a whiff of possum scent coming out of the nearby hole.
When used as a drawdog he has always excelled. He has pulled and killed countless goundhogs...ans plenty of possums, and some coons too. He can dig with the best of them and more than a few times has dug and worked his own way in to the groundhogs...where he immediately eliminated them. Those groundhogs that chose to bolt always found out in short order what a big mistake they had made....because Joe Boy would catch them quick....and that would be that!!
I have many, many more good memories of Joe Boy hunts. I will never forget the night I saw something super bright white coming running straight toward me along the edge of a cornfield. Needless to say I was saying what the heck is this? As it got closer it turned out to be Joe Boy with one of those white plastic hanging plant baskets around his neck with the pot part "almost" in perfect position to look like he was wearing a helmet. Got many a laugh over that scene.
I was happy just to have a good, loyal, hunting dog and companion. Then it turned out that he was a good producer as well...and has many pups out there that are doing the job from small fry, right on up to treeing lion and bear. Yes...he has been a good one.
He worships the ground I walk on, as I'm sure you all have experienced with your own Airedales. How can you not love a dog that so obviously loves you? The white in his muzzle reminds me that he is getting older. Hate to see them start getting old. Old Joe Boy will have a home here until the day he dies....he has certainly earned that. I can only hope that he takes after his daddy, Al's Texas Sandhill Pete, who lived to the ripe old age of 16. If I sounded like I was bragging on him....I didn't mean to....as I said at the beginning....just reflecting on a good dog on a lousy rainy day.