The Perfect Stick

Gunnar the Pupper
by Fred Prout

For some of you, this may be another in a long line of dog/ cat/ bunny/ parakeet etc. stories. For many of you, it may be an allegory. Please let me know if it works.

For those of you who never met Gunnar, he was an eighty pound rescue dog of Collie/ Golden Retriever parentage. Although he loved us both, it was obvious he was Rita’s dog. He seemed to sense that he could help her. And help he did.One of his favorite jobs was to help Rita up and down hills when we went hiking.
I don’t know how, but, he knew exactly what he needed to do. Part of his hiking ritual was to carry a stick in his mouth. We had sticks, so why not. On a typical three hour hike, he would usually pick up and discard half a dozen sticks to carry. Very ordinary sticks. Not perfect.

One morning we got out of the car and Gunnar ran before Rita could put his leash on. After a moment of pure panic, he came running back to us with a stick in his mouth. Excuse me. Not just a stick. THE stick. The magical stick that called to him from the side of the trail. The perfect stick. We could tell by his body language that something special was happening. This stick was the perfect length,,thickness and balance. It was ideal.Perfect.

For the next hour he proudly carried his stick. Occasionally, he would look back at us to make sure we could share his happiness. He was overjoyed. Then, as it always does, nature called. He dropped the stick, lifted his leg and peed all over it.The no longer perfect stick. He looked up at us, and, I swear I could see tears forming. He was dejected. All this time.All this searching. Gone! Never to be found again. We went on many more hikes and he always found sticks. But not a perfect one.

Optional allegory. Most of us spend a good part of our lives searching for the perfect stick and never find it. For those fortunate few who do, hang on as long as you can. Because nature always calls.

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6 Responses to The Perfect Stick

  1. Kate says:

    Your allegory works great! You clearly held onto your ‘perfect stick’ until nature and fate called her to another adventure, one you couldn’t take with her.

  2. Joan says:

    A thought provoking morally sound message to be considered by all. Love it!

  3. Eric says:

    You brought back memories of my Border Collie.

    One time, he’d collected about four sticks in his mouth, and gave me that ‘Border Stare’… “OK, let’s play, what am I paying you for?”

    Told him that, if he wanted me to throw a stick he’d better drop one……he moved them all around in his mouth, (whether checking by taste, circumference, or density I’ll never know).

    After some consideration he spat out the least desirable stick…..THAT one was mine to throw.

  4. Val Carano says:

    Yes … it works for me Fred! Love it!

  5. Edith Vondall says:

    Great story and I remember Gunner.

  6. Steve Jones lot 102 says:

    I also remember Gunner, great dog thanks for the memories Fred

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