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Scott Rall: Raider is one of a kind


The Globe outdoors columnist

There have been about a half dozen other topics that have surfaced since my last column, but I want to finish my three-part segment on dog personalities. I’ve written about Tracer, the very best of the three great dogs I own. Last week we talked about Sarge, Tracer’s brother from a different litter but with the same mom and dad three years apart in age.

My third Labrador Retriever is named Raider.  Raider is Tracer’s son.

As you can see, I am pretty enamored by this line of genetics. The pedigree of these dogs produces puppies with great desire and intensity.  

In the dog training world, I have a saying, and it goes like this: “There is nothing in a dog I can’t fix except lack of desire.”  When you supply the sire for a litter, you normally get paid the cost on one puppy or you can actually take an offspring. I chose a puppy.

His name was going to be Ranger. The idea lasted about 10 minutes until I told my Marine Corps son about it.  He strongly suggested that I change it to Raider.

In the second World War there was a group of soldiers called Marine Corp Raiders.  Raider it was. Raider looks like a much smaller version of his dad. He weighs about 50 pounds.  His dad weighs 65 pounds and his uncle Sarge weighs 70 pounds -- living proof that each dog is an individual.

All of the dogs came from the same genetics. My brother took a puppy from the same litter, and his dog Smoke has yet a totally different look him.

Raider is the only dog I had to work pretty hard on to make him not bark.  He will occasionally let out one woof when the house door opens, and my girlfriend does not think that is a totally bad thing.  I let it pass as long it is only one woof.

Raider was much like Sarge in that it took him till the end of his second hunting season to really figure out what he was supposed to do. I guess this is pretty normal. He is harder on the birds when making retrieves than my other two, but they are not chewed up or anything like that.  He just does not want to drop it quite as easily as the other pair.

Raider loves riding in the truck, and when it comes to a co-pilot on a long drive, he is the easiest to take along. He was the slowest to house train, about two months, but he will still tank up if you let him.

Tanking up is when he will drink from the water bowl until he looks like he is going to blow up. Does not happen very often, but I still have to keep an eye on him after supper. If he tanks up, he can’t make it till morning and will need to be let out in the night.

He has the best eyesight of all of my dogs.  We were on a South Dakota hunt in December and I was walking on the outside of a food plot with Raider.  The gunners on the end were about 200 yards away and Raider would run way out to the end of the field and make retrieves.  I could not imagine how he could even see the birds fall.

I have never been a fan of 85-90-pound labs.  A smaller retriever is easier to lift into the back of the dog truck. There is nothing a 90-pound lab can do that my 45-pound lab can’t except for maybe doing better in a dog fight -- which my dogs don’t do.

I have several chew bones on the floor in the living room.  More than one for each dog. It does not matter how many bones are not in use; Raider will always go steal a bone from a dog that already has one.  This merry-go-round is quite comical if you watch it for an evening.

Raider never pushes any buttons.  He is easy to be around and is virtually never in trouble. He actually likes hugs.  My other two dogs don’t.

Raider will stretch out across my chest and get about a 10-minute hug. Almost like he has been tranquilized.