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Story ID:1329
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Gilboa New York USA
Person:Huggy Bug
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By Fred Wickert

Early in the morning, October 11, 1978, a new litter of ASCOB Cocker Spaniel puppies was born in Mountain Stream Cockers kennel in Gilboa, New York. Tae and I were elated. There were two males and three females.

On the third day there was trouble. One of the males had been pushed away by the mother. Its body temperature had dropped and it was not strong enough to nurse with the others. It was surely going to die.

Tae, my wife, began the long ordeal of trying to save the puppy. We gradually warmed the puppy to increase his body temperature. We inserted the appropriate size plastic tube into his stomach. A very dangerous process, because if you get the tube in the lungs, you will drown them.

Using a syringe attached to the tube, the warmed formula was slowly forced into the stomach. Tae repeated this process every three hours for several days, and slowly the puppy began to respond. The body temperature increased to normal and the puppy gained a little weight, though it was much smaller than the others in the litter.

When the puppy appeared to be strong enough, we re-introduced it to the rest of the litter. The mother sniffed it, and accepted it. Tae had saved the puppy. She continued to nurture it and when they were all nursing, Tae insured he had a nipple of his own and was not pushed away by the bigger puppies.

When the puppies reached eight weeks of age, we sold the other male puppy to some very nice people. All three of the females showed promise so we planned to keep all of them for showing and breeding.

The puppy Tae saved was named officially with the AKC registration, Mountain Stream Driftwood. For his call name, we gave him the name Frankie. He was so loving and always wanting a hug that we soon forgot about Frankie and began calling him Huggy, and Huggy Bug.

There were weekly dog handling classes held in Middleburgh and we attended them regularly with our puppies. Tae always took Huggy. There was a female from the litter that showed tremendous promise, and Huggy adored her. He protected her fiercly and spent as much time with her as he could. To us her name was Mandy, but officialy she was Mountain Stream Meandering.

I tried to talk Tae into leaving him home. I tried to get her to let me sell him as a pet, but she was emotionally attached to him and wouldn’t hear of it. He was small and frail looking for a male. I knew he was never going to amount to anything and I frequently told her so. She refused to listen. She was never going to sell that dog and she was going to show him, no matter what I said.

There was another couple living in Middleburgh, who showed dogs. Their names were Bob and Leslie. They showed a different breed but we usually traveled to the same all breed dog shows, so we usually traveled together. One day, Leslie proposed a wager with me. She said that she wagered Huggy was going to amount to something, and that Tae was right, and I was wrong. She said if she won the bet, I was to eat a crow. I told her I agreed if she provided the crow, and prepared it, but that I got to determine how the crow was to be prepared. We agreed and shook hands on the wager.

I imagined that Crow must be some awfully tough eating. I wasn’t really worried mind you, but I wanted to be prepared. In the same town Leslie lived there was a Conservation Officer I knew. He had eaten all sorts of exotic wild game. He had been on safari in Africa and so forth. I approached him one day and asked if he knew any way to cook a crow so that it was edible. He replied that he thought there was. He told me to first obtain a five-gallon pail. He said after the crow had been cleaned to place it in the bottom of the pail, and then fill the pail the rest of the way with red wine. He then instructed to cook the contents of the pail at a simmer until all the wine had cooked off, and then perhaps the crow could be eaten. He knew of nothing short of that.

As Huggy got older, he began to fill out and put on muscle. He began to look like a very pretty dog. Before long I was beginning to admit to myself that I might be eating crow. To add insult to injury, every time Tae or Leslie saw a crow while we were traveling, they pointed it out to me.

We showed Huggy at a number of Match shows through the winter months. For those who don’t know, at a Match puppies under six months may be shown and there are no points awarded for winning. Ribbons and sometimes trophies are given. When he became six months of age, we began showing him in point shows from the puppy classes.

When Huggy reached eleven months of age, I entered him for the first time in the open class. The show was in the Eastern States Exposition building in Springfield, Mass. Tae was handling. She is a far better handler than I and usually did the handling unless we had more than one in the ring at a time. That day, Huggy won Best Open Dog, Best Of Winners and Best of Variety. He went as the best ASCOB Cocker Spaniel into the Sporting Group competition, where he won fourth place from a group of the best of breed for twenty- seven different breeds of sporting dogs. Most of those he defeated that day were already champions, and he was only eleven months old. I had lost my bet with Leslie.

Of course, Huggy continued winning, and being handled by me, he won Best of Variety that summer at the Mid-Hudson Valley Kennel Club show. He was good enough he could even win without Tae’s superior handling skills. At the American Spaniel Club specialty show in January, Huggy and Mandy together won Best Brace In Show. (See DUMB LUCK, www.ourecho.com)

Leslie began asking different hunters in the area to get a crow for her. Several told her they were happy to do just that. My being the Police Chief in Middleburgh, they were going to love watching me eat that crow, but fortunately none ever produced a crow, and I never had to pay off that bet.

First photo, Tae winning with Huggy Bug in Springfield Mass.

Second photo, Fred winning with Huggy Bug at Mid-Hudson Kennel Club

Third photo, Tae winning Best Brace In Show at the National Specialty show in Newark, NJ with Mandy and Huggy Bug