Ripple, sure I know that word. It brings to mind a lot of fond memories. Some of my old childhood friends would say, “sure you know that word…you should…you sure as hell drank enough of it.”
But they would be wrong…not wrong about drinking the Ripple Wine but wrong about my having any fond memories of those Ripple Wine hangovers.
No, the fond memories are about my grandpa’s dog, Ripple. You might think that’s a strange name for a dog but ole Ripple came by it naturally. You see, in those days, my folks and I’m sure most of the folks around that part of the country didn’t name their dogs until the dogs earned their right to be named.
Folks figured there was no use in naming a dog until it really belonged to the name it was given. The other thing about dogs in those days was they had to be worth their keep. If they weren’t worth their feed…well, folks just took them out back and…bang.
I know you’re wondering what you would call a dog if you didn’t give it a name. For the first two years of Ripple’s life my grandpa just called him “Hey”. Some people had a habit of whistling for their dogs but my grandpa was happy just shouting “Hey” and then that ole black Lab would be right by his side.
Every time I went to visit my grandpa I would worry that “Hey” would not be around anymore but he always passed the tests that grandpa laid before him. He learned real fast not to bother the chickens and that his place was outside. My grandpa would not allow a dog in the house. If they needed a place to sleep inside they could use the barn.
By the time that “Hey” turned two he was becoming a pretty good hunting dog. He could find the birds and most times never broke his point. He never shied from the blast of a shotgun and he never took out after the birds until my grandpa said go.
While he was straining to get going after the birds he would stand with all four feet spread wide apart and shake but as his back muscles really began to develop he stopped shaking and started rippling. Yes, that’s what I said, he started rippling. His ripples looked just like the ripples in pond made by skipping stones.
The ripples would start at his butt and work all the way up to his neck. His head never moved or quivered at all. He kept his eyes on exactly where he had seen the prey go down. When the ripples finally reached his neck they would begin all over again.
At first the ripples would move kind of slow but the longer my grandpa made him wait the faster the ripples went so naturally, grandpa began calling him Ripple.
Ripple learned how to find and point out quail and pheasants with the best of the dogs. In fact he became a real good hunting dog. He would set his point and not move until commanded to do so. He would go into a perfect set with his head craned sort of away from his body, his left front foot would come up with his leg bent, his whole body leaned forward and his tail would get stiff as a board and point directly backwards.
But then his rippling would start and get faster and faster until he was released to flush the bird. Well this rippling never bothered my grandpa. He was sure it made ole Ripple just a cut above the other dogs so he decided to enter him in the county fair.
Grandpa bragged all over the county about how he had the best hunting dog in the state, of course when someone says that he has the best or is the best there is always someone that will disagree.
In my grandpa’s case, it was his cousin Arlo. Arlo personally knew of at least three dogs that were better and he bragged that he should know something about dogs because he was the judge at the county fair.
Naturally, grandpa had to enter Ripple in the competition that summer and, so the story goes, the judge, Cousin Arlo, disqualified Ripple because he moved when he was setting in his point. My grandpa argued that he wasn’t moving. He argue that it was a ripple in his skin but Arlo wouldn’t budge. Ripple was disqualified.
Grandpa appealed to organizers of the fair and cousin Arlo was disqualified as a judge because of the family ties. Grandpa strutted around the fairgrounds like a bandy rooster around a bunch of hens. He hee-hawed poor Arlo like he was a Jackass entered in the fair.
No, Ripple didn’t win a prize. Grandpa removed him from the competition. He said that getting the best of his cousin Arlo gave him enough bragging rights for a whole year.