Scott Rall: Big, lovable Sarge is 75 pounds of friendliness
BY SCOTT RALL
The Globe outdoors columnist
I wrote this column a few days ago and lost it in the world doc world. So this column in my series on dog personalities is running out of order.
A computer wizard I am not.
My dog dog of the week is Sarge. Sarge is the middle-aged dog of my pack. Tracer is 7. Sarge is 4. My young dog Raider is 2.
I recently retired Axle. He was a 9-year-old and now lives on the rug at my parents’ house. My daughter Brittany Remme will get him next fall. Sarge has the same mom and dad as Tracer but they are three years difference in age. I really did not need another dog when I got Sarge, but it was going to be the last litter from our breeding female Maddie. I wanted one more dog from the breeding before the opportunity rode off into the sunset.
Sarge and Tracer are brothers from different litters, but you sure could not tell it by looking at them. Sarge is really tall and lanky. Tracer is more middle sized. Sarge has one of those big blocky heads that Labradors were once known for. Tracer has a smaller, more pointed face and nose.
Tracer was so smart he almost trained himself. It took much less time and effort to get Tracer to a top-notch level, and Sarge took almost forever.
I could not understand how two dogs with the same parents could be so different. If you remember from last week, I said that no two dogs were the same. This is true, but I was hoping for lots of similarities. They were not evident in the first year.
Sarge has lots of brawn but looked a little short in the brain department. I used to say that if you got in a bar fight you wanted to be sure Sarge was along, but you need to be sure to tell him in advance who he needed to hit. Sarge is so lovable, but he is just kind of a lug nut.
It took until Sarge’s second hunting season to show me he had the brains to go along with his brawn.
I don’t pursue the characteristic of pointing in my Labradors. My saying is that if they point, that’s fine. I don’t encourage it, I don’t discourage it. It’s fine either way. Sarge turned out to have lots of pointing instinct in him. He will lock up on a point (this is where the dog stands completely still looking intently where the bird is hiding) almost all the time. Kind of cool to see a big lanky black lab staring where his nose is pointing. It makes shooting the bird easier as you can walk in close and then send the dog to make the flush.
Sarge, like my other dogs, does not have a mean bone in his body. My dogs don’t growl or stand up the hair on their backs ever. The difference between Sarge and my other dogs is that if another dog starts an encounter, he is more than willing to teach that dog a lesson.
I never let these encounters get out of hand. Dogs that are lovers live at my house. Dogs that are fighters go live in someone else’s house. I won’t tolerate a mean dog anywhere near me.
At age 4, the one thing Sarge has not learned yet is that he is a very big dog. When it comes to cuddling on the couch, he thinks he is a rat terrier.
He will start with his head in your lap. This works up to two paws and a head on your lap and finishes with the entire 75-pound black lap dog sitting on your lap. He is content to stay there all afternoon if let him. When my legs start to tingle from falling asleep, it’s time for Sarge to relocate.
If he rides in the cab of the truck, he will lay across the center console and lay his head on your right arm and stay there till you make your destination.
Opposite of Tracer, each dog is an individual. If you bump Sarge very lightly with the electronic collar to refresh his memory as to the here command, he will act like he got that same correction on the highest possible setting. When it comes to collar correction, he is the biggest wimp I have ever owned.
We always use the lightest correction possible, but in the end the dog owner needs compliance with the given command. Sarge very rarely ever needs a collar correction. I love this dog.
He is very different than Tracer when it comes to personalities, but after several years in the field Sarge hunts almost as well as his older brother. I would not have guessed this when he was 2 years old.
It is my intent to have multiple dogs, all of different ages, so as one retires I can bring in a new one to follow. This keeps my dog horsepower at its peak. There is likely a puppy in my future to replace the retired Axle. I wonder what personality he will have.