a good dog

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Dec 26, 2002
unfortunately many hunters (and non-hunters) don't know what they're missing when it comes to dogs. there's a difference between a dog, and a good dog.

hera, my black lab, turned 12 back in may. we had her for about a year before my first child was born. hera was always careful around my daughter, and even in her hyper-energetic youth, never harmed the children. hera was there for #2 and #3 as well. she was an incredible family dog, and always kept an eye on the children. anytime a person got near the kids that hera did not know, she would put herself between that person and the kids. heaven help the person who tried to touch one of my kids before gaining hera's permission.

hera also hunted hard. hera and i would go out by ourselves for pheasants and usually have great hunts. she was the ultimate 'point and shoot' dog. she didn't wander aimlessly around fields, logging miles of unproductive walking. instead, she'd get into a field, cast about for a bit, then it was up to me to just follow her. we'd leave large swaths of fields untouched, yet we'd still limit on birds. she wasn't a great goose dog, but she could hold her own w/ geese. she was a great duck dog, but i never really got too deep into ducks, so she honed her skills on pheasants.

last fall, even though her endurance wasn't all there, we made a field and i figured the old girl would be ready for a rest in 20-30 minutes. my wife didn't want hera to hunt, saying she was too old. but i knew hera was good for a quick pheasant hunt. we got into the field and she started casting until she got to the field edge, where she sat and waited for me to catch up. 'get em up, hera!', and off we went. 15 minutes later she busted a rooster, and the 870 belched and feathers flew. hera made the retrieve, brought the bird back, and took off in a new direction. 10 or so minutes later i could see she was birdy again. she got 3 roosters up, i made a double, she made the retrieves, and we were on our way back to the truck. she was pretty proud of herself, a little prance in her step. it was great to see her so proud.

in january of this year we brought 'sabre' home - a 7-week old black lab female. hera had helped train several dogs in the ways of the world, and we thought having a pup around would be good for hera's old bones. sabre was an exciteable little thing, but hera taught her some manners, and taught her that the kids were off-limits. my son was playing tug-of-war with sabre, and when sabre went to re-grip the rope she accidentally got a little bit of my sons fingers. he started crying, and hera smashed sabre pretty hard, rolling her into the dining room chairs.

hera has made many miles, moving with us 4 times in s.d. and twice in wyoming. she's hunted pheasants, ducks, geese, grouse and doves in s.d., wy, ne, co, and mt. she's been a companion on scouting trips, and particularly enjoyed the missouri river. she once pulled a live fish from the missouri from probably 40 yards from shore, and she's snatched more than one live bird from mid-flight that dared get just a little too close to her jump height.

she was diagnosed with cancer this summer, and it was a sad day; but we carried on. friday morning she drew her last breath and we miss her terribly.

i hope sabre will be half the dog hera was. even if not, hera's memory will ensure i don't take a moment for granted.

i hope hera has found her release from her pain, and i hope she's found a good pheasant field.
I'm sorry for the loss of your family member Hera - because that's what she was, hunting well was just a bonus.

A friend told me the other day...'I strive to be half as good a man as my dog thinks I am.' I think it's a great philosophy.

Hera obviously thought you were a pretty good man by displaying that pep in her step.

I hope your family's grief is brief, and Hera's happy memory lasts a long time.


Dakotasin--Nothing to add that the others haven't already said. Sorry you lost Hera. Glad you've got Sabre now.

Somebody real smart once said that dogs live either far too long or far too short a life, to be a companion for a human. I dunno. I'd say "far too short," myself.

Shane has been gone now for about 20 years--I never expect to see his equal, and still sadly miss him. Dragon has been gone for about 10 years, and he wasn't the dog Shane was, but darn it I miss him, too. Heck, I still miss Freckles, the little dog I left home when I went off to college. Each one taught me some important things.

I'm going to leave off now. Everybody should have at least one really good dog--no, make that everybody who strives to be worthy should have at least one really good dog.

Think fondly and often of Hera. Take Sabre for a good run.
Sorry for your loss, we have had to watch three good dogs go over the Rainbow Bridge in the last three years, and it never gets easy.
I give my condolences to you and your family, good dogs are special. Hope your pup brings you good companionship as well.
Very sad to see a good dog go. Our current lab is 7.5 yrs old. I try to give them the best 12-13+yrs possible, still no fun at the end though. They are definitely one of the family.
thanks, fellas.

if you've been there you know what its like. if you haven't, brace for impact - its gonna suck. exponentially if you have kids.

kinda funny - the habits you get into. i am always the first one up in the morning. i pour a cup of coffee and go let sabre out. then i just wait for hera to get up because when she got up it signalled the start of my day - time to get her out, get in the shower, get the kids up, and all that.

well, hera wasn't there this morning to start my day. i was 10 minutes late for work... heh, miss that dog in so many ways!
Sorry for your loss sir. My good dog was Poncho a black lab that we had for 12 years. I have since had several dogs but none ever took the place of my lab poncho. I got him when I was 8 years old and he became my hunting buddy. Now 13 years later I still miss that old fool. I have only hunted waterfowl one time since we lost him. Just not the same anymore.
I read this last night, after hunting without a dog, and after a few beers; and it made me really sad. I had to put down my dog Mixie in July-she was 13. My mom's dog was diagnosed with cancer last month. So it's been hard with the loss of best friends. I have two dogs now -- both not hunting dogs. But most dogs can flush right? So after reading this post I decided to take my dogs out hunting grouse. I figure they can at least flush.
So I drive up Onion Valley road, and get out about 9,000 feet elevation and start to hike along a wooded stream. I get back about a quarter of a mile and let the dogs off the leashes. They take off and start sprinting. I call them back but they do not come. So I fire a round off the get their attention.
And it did. Sadie bolted back toword the car (JJ was fine though, and has potential!). I then realized I have never fired a round near the dogs, and had no idea how they would react. Then the term gun shy comes to mind, and I realize that it means more than not being able to pee in urinals. So I start back to the car, but I had really hiked through a all kinds of chapperal--it was not easy going.
When I got back to the car there was no dog. I called and whistled, but nothing. The road went up, about another 2 or 3 miles, and back down to town, about ten miles. I slowly drove ten back to town with out any trace of her. I got some gas, and drove back up-- still no sign, and it is dark. I was pretty freaked out, and really mad at myself. I tied my t-shirt to my tow light cable, and drove down the mountian. I feel like a complete idiot. Here I wanted to spend more time with my dogs, but I didn't even think about how they would react to the sound. I hope my dog comes home, or someone finds her as she has my address, phone number etc. I am worried becasue it is mountian lion, bear, and coyote country. At any rate, my hunting high has reached a new low. So I can relate to you Dakota. I'll keep ya all posted on the Saga of Sadie.
I used to do a lot of coon hunting...and have had to leave a dog that didn't come in more than once.

I would always lay my coat down near where I was parked and leave it...about 90% of the time when I went back the next morning, there was a pooped out coonhound curled up asleep on my coat.

I learned that trick from my Grandad (an old coon hunter and fox runner from way back)...its not 100%, but if the dog is very attached to its owner (and most are) it stands a good chance of working.
dako,A dog is the only creature on this planet that will love someone else more than themselves their entire lives. Losing a dog is like losing a family member. Sorry for your loss.
I can't add anything more than whats already been said.

I had to put down my Brit over 2 years ago at the too young age of 13. She'd been half blind and incontinent for a year, but I just couldn't be the one to say "today". Finally had no choice when I realized that she was miserable and no longer enjoying life, and who was I really keeping her alive for? I'm not ashamed to admit I cried all the way home from the vet. It's hard to let them go.

I'll leave with a quote from a Greg Gamme, a poster on Bullseye list.

Speak to me kindly, beloved master. Revel in my unconditional love, and give me every minute that you can spare, for my time with you is short.
Your faithful dog

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."

My condolences. I've been there before, and will again. Man, Deacon is almost 11.

It's never easy. Take care.
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