When I was around 12 years old, my mother decided she wanted to breed and show dogs, so she bought a pedigreed poodle name Jon Pierre. Man oh man, was she proud of her purchase and she wanted to include me to help her train Pierre to be a show dog. She introduced me to a few of her friends that groomed and trained these fancy dogs and commenced to teach me the fine art of training and breeding. I spent time with these folks learning what I wanted and mom left me to it thinking I was going to take care of business.
Now mind you, at 12 years old, I was already an accomplished squirrel and rabbit hunter. I was also left to myself quite often while mom and dad worked. Now, not that I’m faulting my parents but as a 12 year old, I defined the word precocious and was quite inventive. Got into trouble quite often as a matter of fact because of my inventiveness.
On a crisp fall day, I took off to do some hunting in the woods in front of the house, and as I left I heard Pierre raising a ruckus because I was leaving without him. His cries sounded so pitiful that I went back and put a lead on his collar and brought him with me. I figured there wouldn’t be any harm, because when he walked with me on a lead, he was fairly quiet.
Well, we got into the center of the wood, and I kept seeing Pierre’s ears lift and he started sniffing the air for something. That’s where my better sense left me and I said to myself, lets just see what this sissified dog can do. I turned him loose and said “go get em boy”. You’d think he was a Bluetick or Beagle hound with years of experience finding game. That rascal went right up to a tree that I’d already checked and started yapping. And what do you suppose he found that I missed? There were 2 squirrels hugging the tree.
Well, that was early in the morning. With Pierre leading the way, happier than I had ever seen him, we bagged 8 squirrels well before lunch. What I thought was a girly doggy, turned out to be one of the best treeing dog’s I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. When I got him home however, his fur was so matted with burrs, I had no choice but to get the clippers out and shave off all that fluffy fur. Wow, to me the little white dog really looked like a real dog after the bubbly, rounded, foolishness was cut off him. He seemed happier getting rid of all that stuff the doggy barber had done to him than I was.
After lunch, my newly found hunting partner and I went to a open field on the other side of the woods and wouldn’t you know it, he flushed out two rabbits. I hollered out to him to “back off” the chase and he did it without a moments hesitation. Boom, I shot one of the rabbits, whistled, and he went straight to the one I shot, picked it up, and after a second or two of playing with the dead critter, brought it right to me. He was a natural for sure.
Now as you might have guessed, I was in trouble. When mom came home and found out she didn’t have anything that resembled a show dog and who had done such a terrible crime, the paddling commenced. Oh, and I took it like a trooper too with Pierre looking on like he was saying; “what are you getting beat for”? Mom then went and called one of her show dog buddies and told them what I had done, and what I told her that Pierre did for me. As I understand it, her buddy told her that the dog was ruined, and she would probably have to find another. They said he still could be studded out seeing he has such a fine pedigree, but it was all over but the crying when it came to get him to win in his class.
Now, I don’t believe that for a second. I still don’t believe it even to this day some 46 some odd years later. Pierre was one smart critter and could do anything he set his mind to. But to be honest, I didn’t tell mom that. Throwing her hands up as if surrendering, mom gave me the dog for my own. Besides one other dog I owned after that, Pierre was one of the finest hunting dogs I ever had the pleasure of stepping into the woods with.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the poodle originated from the spaniel and has quite a few varieties in its own family. Hence, Pierre’s natural hunting ability. The resemblance between the Maltese dog and the small white Poodle (French Poodle) seems so strong that they’re almost the same dog. The toy poodle, who years back used to go by the name Lion Dog because of his being clipped so he had a mane and a tuft at the end of the tail. The smaller water spaniel actually was the Poodle and the old fashioned large Water Spaniel was selected from the same water loving family of dogs. The resemblance between the Irish Water Spaniel and the Poodle is something you wouldn’t fail to recognize. So hunting is in Pierre’s blood. And for sure, this breed is smarter than most other breeds. Here in the States, we have had few specimens of other types of Poodles, but the small toy Poodle is the most popular. These little canines are frequently seen in paintings and drawings of fashionable ladies of a hundred to a few hundred years ago.
But Pierre proved himself to be a friend and hunting partner to a young boy. I think about him often.