Conservation Warden Clark Delzer was walking among the jammed parking areas surrounding a Shawano County public hunting area on opening day of the 2019 gun-deer season when he was a bit stunned by what he saw.
“I see this dog running up to me,” Warden Clark said of a golden retriever that seemed to be all alone and happy to see a potential new pal. “Who takes a golden retriever out on opening day and then leaves it out of their sight?”
A breed known for retrieving shot waterfowl with a general all-around friendly and intelligent nature, the retriever came bounding to Warden Clark to say hello, pet me now — as dogs tend to do.
“Hey buddy, you don’t have orange on and you kinda look like a deer,” Warden Clark said to the dog encountered at a dead end of the road leading into the hunting acres.
So, the warden and the dog started walking the road, hoping to find its owner still in one of the vehicles. No luck. He turned around saw the dog returning to its apparent original trek of heading into the woods — bad move considering how much this dog could have been mistaken for a deer.
“This is not safe,” Warden Clark said as he made a dash for his truck. He swung open the passenger door of his warden truck and whistled to the dog to come back. It did, dropped its rear a bit but stopped short of jumping in. Warden Clark could sense the dog’s desire to jump in, but from the ground up into a truck seat would be a big leap for an older dog. “I scooped him up and put him in my front passenger seat. He loved it there. He road shotgun as I drove and made phone calls.”
Warden Clark couldn’t find an owner’s tag on the dog; however, there was a rabies tag with a phone number. “It was to an Iowa veterinary office. And they answered — at 7:30 in the morning!”
Thanks to the Iowa office staff, Warden Clark got the owner’s phone number, called and left a voice mail. Warden Clark was driving in the area when he came upon a hunting cabin with the door open. “This must be it,” he thought to himself. He didn’t have to wait too long before someone appeared and said, “Oh, that’s Keystone. He must’ve gotten out.”
Happily, Keystone — who apparently needs no key to escape — was back with the owners. Sadly, Warden Clark lost his co-pilot. “He was a sweet dog and really cute.”
But Keystone lives on in Warden Clark’s memory — and on his passenger seat. “I’m still cleaning out the dog hair.”