The Dog Drawer

I grew up in a rural area of deep south Texas in an agricultural community where, as a kid, I conjured up some pretty glamorous and exciting ideas about faraway city life. It’s no wonder I went to college in Dallas and stayed eleven years for a corporate career in Dallas and San Antonio. But in those years the lure of the city life wore thin and eventually wore out. The fates were good to me though and caused my path to intersect that of my intriguing future husband, Joe, who lived on a small ranch just outside San Antonio. His home was surrounded by acres of grassy fields and lightly wooded pastures, reminiscent of the openness where I’d grown up. The only thing better than his place was the man himself and his exhilarating enthusiasm for the sporting life, which was a whole new world to me. He introduced me to sailing, dove and quail shooting, deer and turkey hunting, duck hunting, and snow skiing. I wasn’t just an observer. I packed the spinnaker, shot, cleaned and cooked birds and deer, and came down Aspen Mountain my third day on skies.


After a couple of years, one day, out of the blue, he said, “Let’s get married and you’ll have a life you never dreamed of.” Oh, I’d dreamed of it all right, I’d just never mentioned it to this extremely eligible bachelor who was thankfully having a reverse midlife crisis. I’ve often kidded him since then about how lucky we are that I happened to be crazy about him, because I probably would have married him anyway just to live with him on his Texas Hill Country ranch where the longhorn cattle roamed.

So we were married and after our African safari honeymoon, I moved into his house and was given dominion over the enormous lawn, as well as the kitchen… except for the “Dog Drawer.” It was a big kitchen and there was plenty of storage, but it still seemed odd to keep the dog stuff in the kitchen. I mean there was a laundry room with drawers and cabinets, a garage with shelves and bins, and even dog kennels with storage. Why not put the dog whistles, retriever training dummies, ear drops, flea powder, doggie treats, shock collars, leashes, chew toys, etc., etc., in one of those places? But this was his castle and if he wanted the dog stuff next to the oven, I could live with that.

It was in March one year when I started to notice an occasional faint foul odor in my kitchen. This was the country, so a dead mouse came to mind, however this was a strange scenario because the odor sometimes went away, but when it was there, it was growing riper. I’d thoroughly searched my domain for the source of the stench, but to no avail. This was getting serious because guests were coming to dinner in a couple of days and I considered an odiferous kitchen a reflection on me personally. The evening before our dinner party, Joe and I crossed paths in the kitchen doorway and I gasped, “You stink!”

“It’s not me,” he replied. “It’s these,” and he held up his hands draped in a dog whistle, retriever training dummies, puppy treats, and fishing line tied to two quail wings. He’d come from the Dog Drawer in my kitchen. Every quail hunter knows how bad the insides of even the freshest dead quail smells, and I’m here to tell you that week-old quail wings aren’t far behind!

The pieces to my smelly kitchen puzzle immediately began to fall into place. We’d given our two young sons a golden retriever puppy for Christmas and our pup was now five months old. Joe had been playing retrieving games with him over the past week after the close of quail season the end of February. Fresh quail wings are obviously excellent retriever training tools, right? And they’d obviously be stored in the Dog Drawer when not in use, right?


Well, it’s many years later now, we’ve moved on to a bigger ranch, and we’ve built ourselves a new home, where we still have a Dog Drawer that, believe it or not, is still inside our house… just NOT in my kitchen!

Ann Kercheville is President of Joshua Creek Ranch. Located in the renowned Texas Hill Country just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio and 90 minutes southwest of Austin, Joshua Creek Ranch occupies a uniquely diverse terrain including miles of Joshua Creek and Guadalupe River bottomland planted in fields of grain crops for prime upland and deer hunting habitats. You can visit their web site at


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