Sunday, December 28, 2008

On the last hunt...

Yesterday was spent at the club as a scheduled work day. And old friend stopped in to pass some time and share some stories.
He's an old time birddog man, having trialed Britts years ago. In recent years, he just hunts his 13 year old Britt, and a young English Pointer that he's bringing along.. He was confiding in me that his old Britt was not feeling well... drinking alot of water and urinating frequently... He also said that she'd recently gone off her feed. I recognized the symptoms, and had a feeling that the future did not look bright for this old warrior that still had it in her to point a bird, maybe her last, that very day!
A call later that day in search of the owner with news of the blood work confirmed my suspicions..
It's always a sad day when someone is losing an old friend that they've pounded so many miles with in search of their quarry... For them, and for myself also, as memories flood back from the times I've been in that very position. Knowing it was time to release an old friend, but not wanting to start the painful process of going it alone without the old dog that meant so much, and only a short decade earlier had shown so much promise as a gangly puppy.
It was always my opinion that God, for whatever reason, played a cruel trick upon mankind by giving the man a lifespan of seventy or so years, and his truest companion only ten. Perhaps punishment for original sin?
But, I recently read an interesting observation by Bill Tarrant on this very subject, and it gave me a new insight into one of a birddog man's most crushing blows...
Tarrant expressed his idea that the reason dogs live only a single decade as opposed to our seventy to eighty years is that if a dog lived near as long as a human, the pain of his loss would be too much for us to bear.
That's an interesting concept, and one that could help some folks through their loss.

Following is a poem by Rudyard Kipling, that comes awfully close to explaining my thoughts today...

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;

And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--

Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find--it's your own affair--'ve given your heart for a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);

When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,

You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long--

So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling


  1. That's a great comment from Bill Tarrant, too. It's hard to imagine an animal companion that could love us any more.

    best wishes for 2009