I thought heard a dog cry out last night.
I was laying in bed, turning, tossing, unable to sleep. It was one of those nights where the little things that trouble you keep you awake, little things that keep running through your head.
I got up and went to back of the house to the kennel room. The crew was all looking at me in through the kennels and I greeted them all. Opening each door and stroking their heads and holding their faces next to mine.
I Promise all of them a good run in the morning.
I pause and stand at the one kennel, the empty one. A flood of memories begin to emerge, a crescendo of memories.
I step back pull out the chair from the desk and sit down, staring into the empty space. The rest of the crew all lay down and continue to stare at me. I can hear the sound of tails lightly thumping the floor. These memories make me smile. I start to recount the travel, the places we’ve been. Those things that were troubling me moments before are pushed aside and I feel peacefulness come upon me, and I smile. The pictures on the wall all tell a bigger story than what they reveal. These pictures make me recall the wins, the near wins and the challenges that had to be overcome.
I begin to recount the things I saw that dog do. I remember the drive and heart of a champion.
I remind myself that when a dog is set to the task it was bred and raised to do, it sets us to a higher purpose. We are presented an obligation that we all need to commit ourselves to, so that these dogs can show us what they are capable of.
I could recount stories of wins and championships, but some of the most remarkable things I think of were when it was just the two of us, or when it was just John and I. Running the flat prairies, driving out so far he was a mere spec on the far fields and disappearing only to find him, after considerable amount of riding, standing point on wild coveys. I remember watching that dog run the piney woods of a plantation in the Deep South, finding a covey after other dogs could find none. I remember the anticipation I would feel when I would pull him out of the truck box up north in the grouse woods. I would Walk for miles behind him, and rejoice with one grouse and one woodcock after another. I would recount a blind retrieve on a wounded pheasant while guiding some hunters that could not fathom or appreciate what an incredible find and retrieve just took place.
Even as his head turned gray and white, his eyes cloudy and the years and miles of running began to take its toll, he still bounced around the house as those he were a puppy. No butter dish was safe in our house.
He would curl himself up into the tiniest ball beside me on the couch and sleep. If I moved or stood up, he would spring to action, looking at me wide eyed with the look of “IT’S ON, LETS GO!” His enthusiasm was contagious.
Just one more hunt, one more point, just one more time.
I think, I hope, he is in those secret grounds with the others that have passed through and shared their lives with me; JD, Dusty, Kansas, Jackie, Dolly, Voodoo, Splash, Jaeger. Any serenity or peacefulness that they were enjoying has just been shattered by the arrival of Farley.
I thought I heard a dog cry out last night…………………..it was me.
RIP Onpoint’s Farley Got Soul, August 2001 – June 2013