Monday, December 20, 2010

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

     Today I want to introduce you to 22 pounds of trouble, named Bodie.  Bodie was a German Hunting Terrier, also called a Jagd terrier.  I originally bought him as a blood-trailing dog, and his primary job was to follow up wounded deer.  In a way, he excelled at this task.  I say “in a way”, because technically speaking, a blood trailing dog should never break trail to follow something else.
     Bodie followed blood religiously until he crossed a hog’s trail, and then all bets were off!  And you, my friend, suddenly found yourself on a wild boar hunt.  I was never able to break his natural instinct to follow a wild hog, as Jagd terriers were bred to be wild boar hunters.  Subsequently, most of my blood trailing was done on lead, with me bringing up the rear.  But he was an excellent trailer.
     The stories about Bodie are too numerous to cover here, but we’ll touch some notable ones, so you can get the flavor of my dog.  The first big adventure occurred in Austin, prior to Pam and I moving to Sabinal, TX.  One Sunday summer morning Bodie started chasing a three-legged tom cat, I’ll call Tri-pod.  Well, Tri-pod wandered into my yard, and then when he encountered the mighty Bodie, he jumped my yard fence and took off for home---with Bodie right on his tail.
     I took off in boxers and a tank top with bare feet, knowing if he caught the cat, I would only have a few seconds to handle the situation.  This was no time for changing into more appropriate clothes.  I caught up with them about two blocks away and Bodie and Tri-pod were in a full-blown war. 
     Bodie finally got the cat down and I swooped in and put the squeeze on his manhood, causing him to release the cat.  When I returned home, I told Pam that the police would probably be arriving shortly.  But nothing came of the event.
     Two weeks later, after doctoring Tri-pod’s handiwork on Bodie’s muzzle and belly, I couldn’t keep the infection under control, so I went to my vet’s office.  Doc says, “What has this dog been into?”  I explain the whole event and he walks me to the back room.
     There in the corner is Tri-pod on some sort of cat life-support.  (Don’t worry, Tri-pod hung on and actually recovered quite well).  I later found out his name was Captain Jack.  Feeling a sense of responsibility, I returned to the crime scene to discuss specials and damages (sorry, I sometimes revert to my liability insurance lingo) with Captain Jack’s owner. 
     The short version was Captain Jack’s little old lady owner had cut his leg off in the fan belt of her car several years prior.  I knew we were going to be OK when she says, “Ol’ Captain Jack gave that little sonofabitch a run for his money, didn’t he?”  She was country and old school, so everything turned out all right. 
     When we moved to Sabinal, Bodie was finally in his element.  We lived on 129 acres, and he was in heaven, hunting rats and coons in my quail house, trailing deer, and generally wreaking havoc on anything that moved. 
     I took him on a Nevada road trip and except for chewing my gearshift knob off, and an opportunistic badger hunt on Highway 50, (known as the Loneliest Highway), somewhere between Reno and Salt Lake City, it was uneventful. 
     Another time, Bodie jumped a nutrea (an aquatic rodent) on a jogging run in Barton Springs Park and received four big gashes in his face for the effort.  We horrified women and children on our bloody run back to the truck.  People were offering to whisk me off to the vet.  I calmly explained that this was routine business for us.
     Then there was our escapade in Willard, New Mexico.  I was there to photograph for paintings, and he slipped his collar on a cattle gathering, and it took me nearly 3 hours to find him.  He was in a hole baying the biggest raccoon I’ve ever seen.  They had obviously fought to some kind of draw.
      There was also the time I stopped at 2 AM at the only dumpy motel I could find on a lonely Arizona road.  I tied Bodie to the TV stand so I could shower.  When I came out of the bathroom, he’s marking the bed, meaning some sort of animal is residing there.  I turned him loose and he chased a foot long, blue Pack Rat around the room for ten minutes or so, until he ended the rodent’s run.  I slept a little better that night knowing he was with me.  (We slept in a cowboy bedroll on top of the bed, for obvious reasons). 
     As the title of this post indicates, it was the best of times with this little dog.  But if you live by the sword…..His undoing was a 6-foot Western Diamondback that crawled into our yard in Sabinal.  He killed the snake, with the help of my pit bull, Bunkie; but not before they were both bitten multiple times.  He was already fading fast and I ended his suffering with the cold steel of my pistol.
     It was my Old Yeller moment that I knew would come some day.  It was the worst of times that day.  I buried him and the bulldog at one of our favorite hunting spots on the little ranch. 
     But the story doesn’t end there.  A few months later, in Kentucky, I was able to track down a full brother to Bodie that was a stud dog.  I now have his niece and she has every bit the grit and drive of her uncle.  We call her Echo, and I’m sure you can figure out why. 
     The memories of my early career are bittersweet.  I loved going to different ranches and meeting new subjects, and having Bodie along made the traveling easier.   He was a great companion and not a day goes by that I don't miss him.

All images and content © Mark Kohler Studio.


  1. WHAT an amazing dog!!! And great stories.

  2. I enjoyed reading the background to your little girl Echo. What a character Bodie was with a very brave heart.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. They both have brought me a lot of joy.

  4. Mark, I loved your story even though it had sadness at the end. Bodie had a good life full of adventure. You my friend are a very good writer, as I'm sure you have heard many times. Thanks,

  5. Bodie sounded like a good dog and one deserving of respect. Thanks for sharing. You're right. Dog lovers absolutely love these kinds of stories.

  6. What a story and what a dog you had with Bodie. You are a strong person to take on such a dog. I loved reading all the Bodie adventures.