You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to crack this case: How Watson’s bark found it’s bite.
It’s a touching fish tale, with a story full of twists and turns and an ongoing happy ending in progress. In this case, Watson is a two-year-old Airedale Terrier who adopted a lifelong fishing buddy, retired Ruston Police detective Jay Kavanaugh. While Watson was initially afraid to get in a fishing boat because of the loud outboard motor, he and Jay have become inseparable on the water. When Jay lands a big crappie, Watson brags to all who can hear with a big bark. When the fish comes aboard, it is not allowed in the livewell until Watson has a chance to give it a little bite of his own and escort the fish to the tank.
“Sometimes he will almost fight me for the fish,” Jay says. “I have to hold him by the collar to get the fish in the livewell.”
Thus, the answer to how Watson’s bark found it’s bite! The whole account is worth sharing, and best told from the beginning, which starts here: In 2010, Jay’s wife and love of his life, Terri, passed away. She picked their dog, Daisy, as a puppy. Jay and Daisy became tight. She would go fishing with him some, but mostly just slept in the boat. But last February, Daisy had to be put to sleep, which as you can imagine, put Jay down in a deep funk. But miraculously just a few days later, a day that was Jay and Terri’s 40th anniversary, along came Watson.
He had a loving owner, but circumstances led him to need a new home. Jay got a call from a friend close to the situation who thought they would make a great pair and “like an idiot, I said yes.”
“Since the first time I got him in the boat after he got used to the sound of the motor, Watson has been my partner, Jay says. “He’s like a dang four-year old sometimes and takes a lot of patience, but he’s my dog and if I’m going fishing, he’s going too.”
Watson is not a passive participant.
“If we are spider rigging and haven’t gotten a bite for a while, he’ll be up on the front of the boat, looking at the tips of the poles wondering what’s wrong,” Jay says. “But the minute he sees the pole bend, he’s jumping around and hurrying me up to get the fish in the boat. A couple of times I haven’t noticed a bite and Watson has. He’ll be up in my lap trying to get my attention.
“Sometimes when I catch one, trying to toss the white perch into the live well is like trying to hit a jump shot over Karl Malone. The other day he came up front and rested his head on the depth finder. I’m not sure if he was tired, or just trying to tell me we were fishing in the wrong place.”
Watson is always into something. One trip, Jay had about a dozen big shiners in the top tray of his Engel bait bucket. He turned to get one, but they were all gone. There was wet-faced Watson letting out a doggie burp and grinning as only a canine fishing partner could. On occasion, Jay has left the lid off the livewell only to turn and find that Watson has bobbed for a crappie, drug it out on the boat floor and started scaling it with his teeth.
On one trip, they were fishing in a stump flat and Jay heard a strange gnawing sound. Watson had leaned over the side of the boat to chew on the top of the stump he held firmly in his front paws.
“Watson never met a stick that he didn’t like, even if it is a stump,” Jay adds.
Jay and Watson went to the boat show this past weekend. More people recognized Watson than they did Jay. They spend a lot of time on the water and have gained notoriety on Facebook (where Watson Kavanaugh has his own page, by the way). Jay says he sometimes has a hard time recognizing people in their boats, but Watson lets people spot him a mile away. No matter where they are fishing, people will ride by and yell “Hey Watson. You catching any?”.
The timing of how all this worked out is “a God thing” in his life, Jay says.
Which leads us to this. The relationship between them is like a real life chapter of the book, “A Man And His Dog”. In the book, the man and dog are walking down a road when he suddenly remembers his dog had died, and how he is dead, too. He comes to a magnificent gate and asks for some ice water. The gatekeeper says “sure”, gives him a glass and says “Come on in. This is Heaven”, but you’ll have to leave your dog. We don’t accept pets.”
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.
After another long walk, he came to a dirt road which led to a more simple gate with a man leaning against a tree reading a book. He again asked about water and was given some, and so was the dog. Then they were invited in. The man asked where he was.
“This is Heaven,” the reader said. “That other place is Hell. They lied. But we are happy that they screen out the folks who’ll leave their best friends behind.”
In Jay Kavanaugh’s world, that decision is elementary, Dr. Watson.