Unlike other cabin dwellers, Doug and Kristi Sampson can leave the dog untied and not worry about where she is. They know when they're at the lake that Abby, their 5-year old golden retriever, will be in the lake.
The Sampsons brought Abby to Nokay Lake five years ago. The pup took to the new element she found offshore and has been there ever since, chasing minnows and other fish that swim in the shallows. At times she submerges her head below the surface, the better to see what lies beneath.
A few weeks ago the Sampsons heard a loud splash and looked up to see Abby on the lawn with a 2-pound sucker -- not a dead fish that had washed ashore but a live fish plucked from the lake. Abby had proven she was capable of retrieving both game and fish.
"She was out there guarding it," Doug said. "She laid by it for a while. I got a few pictures. Eventually I buried it. It's the only one she's caught as far as we know."
Abby's new-found fishing success is credited to a refinement of technique. She once patrolled in a figure 8 pattern but has learned that by standing still the fish will come to her. The unsuspecting sucker got a little too close.
On land, Abby climbs as high as 6 feet into a tree to pursue squirrels. About the only critters she leaves alone are the neighborhood ducks. She also enjoys other forms of recreation.
"She rides with me in the paddleboat," Kristi said. "She doesn't do her share of the paddling, though."
The first time the Sampsons brought Abby to the lake in the winter she was dismayed to find frozen water. She walked onto the ice and sniffed about.
Now in her prime as a fisherdog, Abby will get even more fishing time next year when Doug retires from his job as deputy sheriff of Chisago County. If Abby upgrades from suckers to gamefish the Sampsons might one day have a fish fry, courtesy of their dog.
VINCE MEYER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5862.
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