Saturday, July 03, 2010

Boo hoo, bow wow

Henry never passed on a chance to hunt.

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

I thought I would be happily welcoming in this month at my desk at work.

On the wall of the cubicle I put up a calendar from the National Rifle Association, which features hunting dogs.

July highlights a springer spaniel with a freshly downed ruffed grouse in his mouth.

The dog is practically a clone of my beloved springer, Henry, who died in 2008. In September it'll be two years since his passing after a nearly 15-year run.

Problem is the photo -- a great one at that by Dale C. Spartas -- is close up. I mean real close. So close I can practically feel the dog's soft fur on his ears as if it was me about to take the retrieve from this warrior. And then there would be the cold bump of his nose from him jumping at the bird after he reluctantly gave him up.

If this all sounds weird to you, then I actually feel bad for you, because you've never felt the trials and tribulations of having trained a bird dog and walked the sacred ferns of a woodcock woods with him annually for more than a decade.

Those who have would understand.

I also realize I'm getting irritated as of late because it's really starting to sink in what I lost when he died.

When the pen gate was propped upright or the truck door slowly creaked open, Henry would hit the ground running with his nose planted on the ground. He was all business.

Sometimes I would get annoyed if we were in the backyard just hanging out and he was turning up the throttle.

Not anymore.

Especially with what I have now in Rusty. The only scent this mixed Lab locks in on is his food dish. Granted, he goes out with me when others won't, but I really, really miss the intensity a true bird dog brings to the mission.

So here I am two years later after your death, Henry, still trying to catch up with you.