Angel Fish


This was a fish day. As a Navy boy, that is a good thing. A buddy of mine once told me that any day you come home and your hands smell like fish is a good day. So today was a good day.

During my days in uniform, there were a lot of good days. Dolphins surfing the wake of the ship. Gray whales spouting spray as they migrated along the Pacific coastline. Hammerheads – BIG hammerheads – hovering beneath the garbage scow in Diego Garcia, waiting for a morsel to drop overboard.

All good days.

Today was kind of like that, only smaller. I took my daughter to a wilderness park to watch massive trout and sturgeon circling beneath us, then to the aquarium where we watched and even touched sea life. Then my neighbor brought over some fish he had caught in Alaska. My hands smelled like fish. It was a good day.

Yesterday was not.

At least for my dog Angel. I had been fishing, as Navy veterans tend to do, and my hook got stuck in a tree. I tugged and tugged until it ripped loose. On the recoil, the treble hook embedded itself in Angel’s leg.

It was a one-in-a-million shot.

Over the years, I have had dogs who were stoic. They could endure pain or miserable conditions with little more than a quiet whine.

Angel is not one of them.

She squealed – ironically – like a stuck pig. A massive stuck pig with vocal chords the size of Texas. If there had been a fire truck nearby, she would have drowned out the siren. A harrier jet could have taken off in my back yard and no one would have noticed.

My wife held her down and I pulled out the pliers. We thought of cutting the hook, but chose not to for a couple of reasons. First, it wasn’t in too deep; and second, it was a brand new spinner. After some thought and a quick examination, I grabbed the hook with the pliers and yanked. With one final from-the-depths-of-hades yelp, Angel was free.

Any day you come home and your hands smell like fish is a good day.

I’m not sure what it means when your hands smell like dog.


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