Years back I had an old birddog named Junior who I knew was a Christian, because he wouldn’t let me play the radio in my truck.

My truck only had one working speaker, which was the one in the passenger side door right next to where Junior sat. I couldn’t turn the radio on when he was riding with me, because he would take to growling and barking at the door. Junior might not have been the smartest critter on the planet, but he knew doors weren’t supposed to talk to you and, if one did, that had to be the work of the devil. No self-respecting Christian dog was about to put up with that.

My friends loved to tease Junior, so they never missed a chance to turn the radio on when he was with us. They loved it when he growled, because it was so out of character for him. Junior was a good natured, lovable old pup who never growled or did the “bad dog” bark. That is, unless he was defending the world from evil, talking doors.

Truth is, Junior was just plain goofy. He was a complete wash out as birddog. He never pointed a quail in his life. He was an even worse retriever. Junior’s attitude toward retrieving was “finders’ keepers.”

What Junior was good at was copying people. He learned to skateboard, because he saw me and my friends do it. He learned to swing in an old tire swing we had in the back yard, because he saw us do that, too. He’d stick his front half through the tire and run around with the back half until he got airborne. One day our neighbor, Mrs. Boleman, called me at work. She said Junior was stuck in the tire swing. I came home. Turns out dogs have pointy little elbows on their fore legs. Somehow one of his elbow spurs got stuck in the lip of the tire.

Speaking of Mrs. Boleman, she and her husband, Joe, drank coffee with Junior every morning on their front porch. And when I say “drank coffee with Junior,” I mean he had his cup, too.  The three of them sat together seven days a week every morning just after day break drinking coffee and talking about the world.

What Junior was really famous for was what he did when we passed under a bridge on the highway. When Junior saw we were about to go under the bridge, he ducked.

My friends would howl with laughter, especially my cousin Tim. There was nothing more Tim loved to do than tease Junior about bridges.

“Watch out, Junior,” he’d tell him. “We’re coming up on a bridge.”

Sure enough, Junior would see the bridge and down he would go. Once we passed under the bridge, Junior popped right back up.

“That was a close one,” Tim would tell him. “Ten more feet and it would’ve had you.”

After every bridge incident, Tim would say something to me on the order of, “I’m sorry, Cuz, but that’s got to be just about one of the dumbest dogs I’ve ever seen.”

Now and again, I’ll see a brown and white short-haired bird dog and I’ll get to thinking about old Junior. I think about how my friends laughed at him and how Tim called him stupid, because he ducked when he saw bridges.

Tim can think what he wants. Me, I look at it another way. Junior lived a long, happy life never having been hit by the first bridge. As far as I am concerned, you can’t argue with success.

Good boy, Junior.