2018-04-11 / Editorials

Here’s to 20 more

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

Someone pointed out to me this week that it’s been 20 years since I got my first springer spaniel. Time really has a way of marching on, doesn’t it?

Glory, named for the University of Georgia fight song, came into my life in 1998. Had she lived three more weeks, she’d have been 15 years old. Milly, the current holder of the title “springer spaniel who lives at my house,” came along a short time later. Named for Milledge Avenue in Athens (do you detect a trend?), Milly turned four earlier this year.

When I was first approached about getting a springer spaniel, I had to consult the World Book encyclopedia — those were the pre- Google years — to find out what one looked like. Even though it only took a few hours to fall for the breed, I didn’t know anything when I got Glory as a pup.

Here are some things I’ve learned in two decades:

~ They are called “springers” for a reason. Teaching these dogs not to jump is about as easy as teaching poetry to a possum.

~ Springers have more energy than a room full of kindergarteners hyped up on Cocoa Puffs.

~ Springers can be the most destructive animals on the planet when they are puppies. In Milly’s first months with me, she chewed on my tennis shoes, a loafer, a page of coupons I got in the mail from Kroger, two different remote controls, my phone charging cable, a baseball cap, the channel lineup card from my cable provider, a ballpoint pen and a (full!) bottle of water. She was easy to track. After she chewed a hole in the bottle, she left a trail of water all over the house.

~ Springers produce — and shed — hair at an alarming rate. I’ve vacuumed up enough springer hair in 20 years to make 100 springers. If only I could produce hair like that. I’ve had no problems shedding it.

~ If, like me, you allow your springer to sleep in your bed, you will be relegated to only the amount of space you take up. Forget rolling over in the night. Milly routinely wedges herself in my back so it’s impossible to move.

~ If you are reading a book on the sofa and have been ignoring your springer for more than a few minutes, be prepared for her to drop a tennis ball in your lap to get your attention.

~ If you make the mistake of throwing the tennis ball for her, you can forget reading the book. Heck, you can forget doing anything for the next half hour. Springers do not get tired of chasing a tennis ball. Ever.

~ Neither of my springers have liked squirrels, so I have lived in a squirrel-free zone for a long time. Glory used to stand guard at the sliding-glass door. If she saw a squirrel, she would begin barking at a decibel level resembling a 747 until (a) the squirrel ran away, (b) I got sick of listening to the incessant barking and closed the blinds or (c) all the above.

~ Be prepared for your springer to love water. When Glory was less than three months old, she jumped into a neighbor’s pool. Twice. Milly would rather swim in Lake Lanier than eat.

~ Springers are the prettiest, sweetest, smartest, most loyal dogs I’ve ever been around, and I can’t imagine ever owning another breed. Here’s to another 20 years.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/blog/mitch.

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