Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Voices from the Past: A Fish and a Dog (1895)

The following story--perhaps the greatest dog and fish story ever--came from the Penn Yan Express for 03 June 1885.

A Dog and a Fish

A day or two ago a party of exposition people consisting of Mr. Arthur E. Rendle of New York city, Messrs. Frank and Charles Earle, sons of Mr. Parker Earle, chief of the horticultural department of the exposition, and Mr T.N. Miller made a fishing excursion to Davis bayou, about four miles from Ocean Springs, Miss.

The party was away several days and by the united efforts of all the members thereof they succeeded in capturing one fish. This was sufficient to furnish them with material for a capital fish story, which Mr. Rendle told a New Orleans Times-Democrat reporter in the following words.

"While we were waiting one morning for a fish breakfast that Miller and Charlie Earle were pledged to supply us with, Miller noticed a long pole in the water some distance up the bayou which is about fifty yards wide at this point. It floated down the bayou until opposite our camp and then suddenly turned and went backwards quite rapidly. Then we saw that it was a fishing rod and that a big fish must be attached to the line. All was excitement at camp. Our breakfast was assured us provided we could capture that fish. How were we to get it? We had no boat and the bayou was deep, the water cold, and our fishy friend on the other side of the bayou, say forty rods away. Somebody suggested making a log raft and Frank Earle eagerly grasped an ax and was about to make some young pine trees sick, when Charlie Earle sang out, "why not send your dog for it, Rendle?"

No sooner said than done. 'Charlie,' my water spaniel, a magnificent waterdog who likes nothing better than swimming and diving had his attention directed to the fishing-rod by a stone thrown in its neighborhood. He swam toward it, divined his errand, grabbed the rod at the thick end, and proceeded to swim back with it. Our 'breakfast' at once noticed that somebody else was bossing that rod, and he began to object very vigorously. He tugged at the line, the dog tugged at the rod and for a few moments, it was a question who would win. Finally, by a supreme effort, the fish made an immense dash and actually pulled the dog (weighing fifty two pounds) completely under water

First round for the fish.

'Charlie' came up looking half drowned, but still holding the rod in his mouth. He dropped it, however, and swam to shore looking very puzzled and annoyed. Having taken a breath, he was a second time dispatched to secure our breakfast, which was now careering madly up the stream, no doubt "chuckling to hisself as how he had fooled that dawg."

'Charlie' again swam to the rod, grabbed the big end and began hauling it to shore. All was quiet until about half way to the shore, when the fish began to give battle. The struggle was tremendous, but resulted in a victory for the fish who again pulled the dog under water.

Second round for the fish.

The dog again returned to shore, and was again sent out after our breakfast. He grasped the rod for a third time and with a look of desperation on his handsome doggy face, and a feeling in his breast, no doubt that the honor of his race was at stake, he swam toward the shore. The fish tugged and tugged, but slowly and surely, 'Charlie' reached the shore, and at last laid the rod at my feet, and then I landed a magnificent redfish. As a matter of fact, this was the only fish caught on our fishing and ducking expedition.

We fouud out afterward that the rod had been pulled by the fish at the end of it from the hands of a farmer's daughter who had been fishing near her father's home. We found the owner, and returned the rod."

-- Dr. Todd

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