So how did I come up with the name Grey Dog Maple Farm? Many of you have seen pictures of Smoke, our Weimaraner, but he’s not the name sake of the Farm. That honor belongs to Dale, the dog in the picture above. For more than ten years Dale was my friend, my teammate, and my partner in crime. Dale went everywhere with me and survived some extraordinary events by my side.
When I was first looking for a dog, I wasn’t even thinking about Weimaraner's. I wanted a German Shorthaired Pointer. Those are a medium sized, high energy, upland game dog. My girlfriend at the time wasn’t impressed though. She thought their speckled coloring made them look dirty. She was equally unimpressed with the name I had in mind, Possum. I know that’s an unconventional name, but it was supposed to be a hunting dog, not a pet. After some heated discussion I said, “Fine, I’ll just get a plain grey dog with a plain name.” With that compromise in place, I started looking for a bird dog that would fit those requirements.
Weimaraners are a large; high energy, pointing, upland game dog. They were originally bred for and used by Royalty to hunt large game such as bear and deer. As large game hunting began to decline, they were trained to hunt smaller animals like rabbit and bird. Weims are also a companion animal. They attach quickly to their owners and want to spend all of their time with them.
I found Dale through a friend of a friend. I can’t remember how much he cost, but I do remember he wasn’t free. Because this dog was supposed to be a hunting dog and not a pet, my dad and grandpa helped me build and outdoor kennel big enough for him to live in full time. After having him for a few weeks though, I found out my girlfriend was bringing him inside after I left and then coming home before me to put him back outside. With winter closing in and Dale secretly spending his days inside, I knew he wouldn’t be acclimated to the weather. I decided to make him a house dog and we bonded instantly.
Dale was with me through breakups; new homes, a marriage, my first son, and he was there when I first started making maple syrup. As time went on his gray face whiskers turned to white. Dale was quickly becoming an old man and I had to accept that he wouldn’t be with me forever. I wanted to find a way to memorialize him, something that would stand the test of time. Grey Dog Maple Farm was created in his memory.
A couple of years after Dales death, we decided to get a new dog. I figured our two little boys should have a best friend just like I had. We drove to Southern Indiana to get Smoke and brought him home to Gray Dog Maple Farm. Smoke grew up fast but there’s still a little puppy left in his play. He keeps the boys safe and makes sure the property is patrolled.
Weims are well known for their courage and protectiveness which is an added bonus we’re happy to have. Their size and strength make them formidable should the need arise.
Smoke helps across the farm. Whether we’re putting out buckets, working on equipment, or taking the goats for a walk, he’s there to help. When the boys are hunting frogs, Smoke is right there with them, getting as muddy as possible. If I’m out on the tractor, Smoke is a row over trotting beside me.
Smoke is the new face of Grey Dog Maple Farm. As we continue to grow he’s a part of every step. His curiosity puts that nose into everything we do and his heart is there to make sure we’re always safe. When the snow starts to melt and the sap begins to run, stop by and meet Smoke. He’ll be in the woods of Grey Dog Maple Farm, making another batch of Swamp Sugar with me.