In essence, my perfect bird dog got turned around, and I found him a mile or so away, in the front yard of a house with a dead chicken in his mouth. Needless to say, I was pretty much mortified! At the time, I knocked on several doors in the tiny enclave and no one was home. With a sigh of relief. I drove off on the way to meet a friend farther up the road. This year, on the way to meet the same friend, I found myself with a little time on my hands, so I decided it was time to make things right. It was the Day of Reckoning. It was time to 'fess up and do the right thing- albeit, somewhat late.
I drove to the area, found the house, and knocked on the door again. Once again, no one was home. Once again, I was a little relieved, but in an effort to get this behind me, I drove down the dirt road looking for anyone I could find. Two houses down a man was sitting on his porch. As I pulled up to his house, I was wondering just how I was going to explain this. I introduced myself and we made some small talk about the weather, hunting Ruffs, bird dogs, etc. Finally, I just came out with it, and explained the situation. I told him about Cap (who was peering out the passenger side window- undoubtedly scanning for chickens), about hunting in the area, chasing the dog down, finding him in the neighbor's yard with a chicken in his mouth. He was chuckling the whole time. I told him I was glad someone found it funny, but would he mind telling the neighbor (who was a mailman and never home during the day) I came back to face the music and explain the situation. By this time, his chuckling had turned to outright laughter. I offered to pay whatever the going rate was for yard chickens, if he would pass it along to his neighbor. With tears rolling down his eyes, he said I could keep my money. It was worth it, having provided entertainment for the past year among the 4 or 5 houses clustered along the river. He told me the story of the neighbor finding the dead chicken on the door stoop and asking around as to the means of its demise. No one would confess, so it was generally agreed the local Black Lab (who wandered in from across the road) was the culprit. Poor old Bob was in hot water for a week or so, he said. But, life got back to normal, and the "dead chicken incident" passed into the lore of the community.
I was relieved there were no other problems among the neighbors due to me and my bird dog. We talked a while longer (he was a Navy Vet, as well) and it was time for me and my chicken-killing Brittany to move along. I told him thanks and headed for my truck. Wait a minute, he yelled, you'd better apologize to Old Bob before you leave! I did just that. I walked to the dog, curled up under a pine tree, gave him a treat, and told him I was sorry for framing him for the killing of the chicken. And Cap was sorry, too! Old Bob just devoured the treat and rolled over for a tummy rub. I guess that was about as forgiven as I was going to get. I was happy to get it. All in all, we can learn a lot from our dogs.