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Kirby: Wiley doesn't quite live up to his name
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It is common knowledge among outdoors types that the average rooster pheasant could whip a hunter in a fair fight. This is the main reason pheasant hunters go hunting armed to the teeth.

Bammer uses this logic to try to get me to take a gun on the opening of the pheasant hunt this Saturday. I do better with a camera or, even better, asleep in the truck where it's warm.

I have nothing against ringnecks. Besides, I have been pheasant hunting with Bammer before. Rarely does it involve any actual shooting. Mostly we drive around counting "No Trespassing" signs.

There's another reason I don't go armed: I might accidentally shoot something like Bammer's dog Wiley, the dumbest canine in North America.

Note: Please, if your dog could fly the Space Shuttle, do not feel the need to tell me about it. I would, however, like to hear from anyone whose dog is provably dumber than Wiley. It would help settle a bet.

Bammer likes to brag that Wiley is a purebred "sheptriever," specifically that Wiley is the product of a tryst between a German shepherd and a Labrador retriever, although a goat seems a far more likely candidate.

Wiley looks normal enough. Closer inspection, however, reveals that his eyes are closer together than in a smart dog and high enough on his skull so that there's no brain behind them.

What Wiley lacks in smarts is compensated for in tongue, 8 yards of prehensile sliminess. He once used it to lasso a Pop Tart out of my hand from the back of the truck.

None of this would be bad if Wiley could hunt. He can't. Mostly Wiley inspires new forms of profanity in his honor, which we practice yelling in the direction he was last seen.

Futility takes on a whole new meaning when you spend a morning yelling, "Get back here, you @&%*!" at a dog three-quarters of a mile away and too stupid to obey even if he weren't up a tree.

Thanks to Wiley, last year's hunt lasted 10 seconds. He was so excited that he got out of the truck 45 mph too soon. We spent the entire morning at a vet's.

This was still a better hunt than the year Wiley got his head stuck down a hole. What his head was doing in the hole is unknown. But he managed to hook his collar on a root and couldn't back out.

After an hour looking for him, we found him asleep with his head still down the hole. Finally freed, he was no more embarrassed than he was the year he caught his tongue on barbed-wire fence.

All of these were still better than the year we were eating lunch at the edge of a field and a police car pulled up with Wiley in the back seat. What followed was a 50 lesson in the difference between domestic turkeys and "really big pheasants."

Yesterday, Bammer told me not to worry. Wiley was too old to hunt anymore. He would be staying home from now on.

All the more reason not to take a gun.

---

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby welcomes mail at 143 S. Main St., Salt Lake City, UT 84111, or e-mail at rkirby@sltrib.com.

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