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October 2016


One Man and a Duck


I’ve prepared more than 100 newsletter column articles over the past almost 11 years. As I look back through them now, a few stand out. This article was originally printed in a 2009 issue of our newsletter, and I received a lot of comments about it at the time. I decided to rerun it this month with a postscript at the end.


The words “Persistence and Perseverance” came to mind as I prepared to write this column a few days ago. One of the things that I try to be persistent about is exercise. Red, my red Labrador retriever, always accompanies me when I run since I live in a rural area on SWRE lines that doesn’t have a lot of traffic.


Due to the rains of the past few weeks, the ditches and waterways south of my farm have been filled with water and have attracted quite an array of wildlife.


Recently as Red and I were running down the road between the ditch and the waterway, ducks flew off the waterway, circled, and then landed again.


Red, who loves the water, jumped in the waterway and began to swim around as usual. As I continued to run, I noticed that Red was about 100 yards behind me carrying something. After about a quarter of a mile on down the road my dog caught up with me. He had a duck in his mouth.


Now being a good retriever, he was just carrying the duck without clamping down on it and killing it. So I stopped my run and reinforced his actions of being a good dog and retrieving a downed duck. I took the duck and threw it up in the air so that it could fly away, but evidently the duck’s wing was injured so that it could only fly 20 or 30 feet.


Sure enough, my dog retrieved the duck and brought it back to me! After about three more attempts at trying to grant this duck his freedom only to have it retrieved back to me, I decided to finish my run… with duck in tow.


Now if you can picture this, I was running down a country road with my dog by my side, my radio headphones in my ears, while holding a duck that was moving his head forward and backward like he was either flying or swaying to the music! I was trying to figure out what I would say if someone came by, stopped, and asked me why I


was running with a duck!


Eventually I finished the run and jumped in my pickup so that I could outrun my dog back down the road to put the duck back in the water. But this is not the end of the story. For the next seven days when I ran, my dog retrieved that same duck over and over, and each day I had to go put it back in the water after my run. Day by day the duck was slowly recovering and flying greater distances, but that duck was retrieved more than any other duck in the history of waterfowl! The lab never hurt the duck but just liked carrying him around and releasing him… then retrieving him again. Red has his own version of “catch and release!” Thankfully, after seven days the duck recovered enough to fly away. My red Lab was persistent in doing what he had been trained to do, and the duck demonstrated perseverance in surviving day after day. Each day I finished my run with my dog and my duck! I really kind of miss running without my duck now!!


At SWRE we “Persistently” endeavor to try to provide you the best service possible, and we constantly “Persevere” despite many obstacles that confront us each day. Through our vision of Safety, Service, and Satisfaction we will stay “Persistent” and “Persevere”... one member at a time.


Postscript –


One Saturday morning last spring, as I stretched before I ran, my old dog Red licked me in the face and I dropped to a knee and gave him a big hug! A few minutes later, as Red and I were running down the road, I noticed that he was not closely behind me as usual. When I doubled back it was apparent that he had collapsed and died instantly – no pain! He was 13 1/2 years old.


Red and I logged hundreds of miles running down that old road. We endured varmints, wind, rain, lightning, heat and cold, but many of life’s lessons are learned as we persist and persevere running down those “roads” on the diverse routes through our life.


by Mike R. Hagy


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