We all have our firsts. Our first kiss, our first car, our first whatever; they all hold a special place within us forever. I often wonder if animals feel the same nostalgia that we do at times.
Now I am a little weird with this sort of thing anyway. I remember ‘firsts’ a lot more than my wife does. Well, she remembers them, she just doesn’t care as much. I am not talking about the big things however. I am talking about things such as ‘the first time I went on that mountain’ or ‘I remember my first base hit’ type things. I get tingly inside. She doesn’t care.
Of course, that is why you see my write a lot about things that happened in the past as I remember them with fond feelings.
That brings us to this week’s column. Another first. I have a new pup that is vying for my heart after my beloved Riley passed away. Ari is the name we gave her. Ari is a short form for Artemis which happens to be the Goddess of the Hunt, a bowhunter. Remarkably, Ari’s brother’s name was given as Riley. Obviously the Lord was looking over me with all of this.
Riley didn’t care much for the water. In fact, I once ran over him with the boat after he made a desperate leap from the bow. I had already prepared my wife that Ari was going to have to be comfortable with me in tight quarters while on the water, as I wanted her to go out on the kayak with me.
This is the story of Ari’s first kayak fishing trip. Ari does not get outside as much as I would like. We fostered for a while and one of our foster pups came down with parvo. Since Ari is still young, she still has shots to be received and we have had to keep a tight leash so to speak on her.
I would take her to safe places, and I have developed her into quite the model for my photography as my social media pages will dictate. It is hard to beat the look of a cocker spaniel pup, especially one with freckles.
Gradually I would get her more and more accustomed to sitting the kayak with the kayak in the yard. I also purchased a small doggie life vest for her. She would wear it every now and then in the house, just to make sure she didn’t panic with it one. All was working out well.
The time had come. Ari and I would go fishing as we had unseasonably warm December weather. I kept it simple, deciding to go out for crappie. Small minnow bucket with two rods set up with a single weight and a single small hook was all that would be taken other than a net, a Mountain Dew, a bottle of water for Ari, and a bag of Jack Link’s beef jerky for the two of us.
Ari was a little unsure of the situation as I pulled the kayak off the truck and drug it to the side of the lake. We were fishing a lake where I caught some of my very first fish, and where I carried my youngest son so he could catch his very first fish. See what I was saying about firsts meaning something to me?
But I picked up Ari by the handle on the back of her life vest and placed her in the kayak. I climbed in and pushed off before she could object. She first climbed in my lap and then a few minutes later climbed to the center console lid of the kayak and laid down.
The crappie didn’t cooperate. Never had the first bite from a crappie. But as I reeled in two bass and two chain pickerel, Ari didn’t mind at all. She behaved like a champ. I have a new fishing partner!
The sun began to settle along the tops of the trees on the horizon and I decided to paddle to another area on the way back in and try one more minnow. The rod bent double within a few seconds and I had something big. Another jack fish? A big largemouth? I tried to figure out how to tire the fish out without losing my hook or the fish, after all I was fishing with a small bream hook and was lucky to catch the fish I already had.
I was able to tire the leviathan down as he dragged the kayak around in the water, Ari sitting alert trying to figure out what was happening. Then I saw it. A good sized bowfin staring at me with its menacing eyes. I wrapped it up in the net and plopped it down in the front of the kayak.
Ari did not care too much for that bowfin. She whined and wimpered and tried not only climbing in my lap, but over my shoulder. Why the bowfin bothered her and the other for fish did not I don’t know. The pickerel were nearly as long and their jagged razor teeth and deep mouths are nearly as ugly and fearsome looking. But whatever the reason, Ari just did not like it.
As I paddled to the shore, the bowfin still netted, Ari made a flying leap to the safety of earth and bee-lining it to the truck.
I noted in my brain, Ari makes a good fishing partner as long as I don’t bring in a bowfin. I wonder what our second will be like.