Friday, March 13, 2009
Dogs and Deer Camp
There is no question that if everyone showing up at Deer Camp unloads a dog or two, it would become uncontrollable in no time. But as host of a deer camp, I have always brought a pup or two along. Sidney, our Black lab, loves camp and can't wait to greet all the hunters, congratulate them on their cooking skills, and poison test every meal for us. Plenty of the hunters have dogs or hunt over dogs and love to see the black flash around camp. Sidney generally sleeps next to my cot, but if it is exceptionally cool in camp, he'll sneak up into one of those fat easy chairs we warm for him every evening. If he cannot get one of those, he'll pop up onto the foot of my cot and sleep there. No, I don't mind. When we hunt during the day, he'll randomly choose someone's sleeping bag or bunk, and snuggle into their tangle. He knows not to follow any of the guys out into the woods or fields, and is smart enough to hang at camp as long as some laggard is always there (they are).
Sid is a good pup, but I do not hunt him. He was abandoned on our road late at night, and the next morning we took him in. He was about a year and a half, way underweight, and a bare raw scar around his neck from a rope. He was pretty nasty but eventually I caught and fed him. I turned him over to the humane society thinking that was the end of that. Not so! A week later I called to find out about him and they told me they were euthanizing him. Incorrigible, and a mean biter I was told. Untrainable. Riiighhhhhhhhhhhht...I've owned and trained Chesepeake Bay Retreivers, and labs, and this guy didn't look too bad to me. Hold him I said, I'll be right down, and he became ours. Within a month or two, it was clear he could never be hunted, but also as clear that he was as friendly and loving a dog as they come. So he just kind of lives rent free, and we love him for who he is. And part of who he is, is being at deer camp very year. He is whitefaced and old now, and the dreaded time is coming. Oh my, fellow hunters, is there any worse time? I can barely stand the memories of the loss of past pups. Here are the 1989 Oct entries in my hunting log at the time. They are of Callie, a Chesepeake born in California. Because I got her at two years I never trained her to water marking and hunting, but used her for upland only, and she was a sweet. In the summer of 1989 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Here we are in October, 1989, my Hunting log at the time -
"13 Oct 80 - Bird dog (her nickname) is sick - weeks to go...an angry tumor"
"17 Oct - Callie on pills but she is fading - wants to be close & be loved - such spirit- we're going on our last bird hunt this weekend.."
"21 Oct - Callie and I, my Birddog - we went on our last bird hunt, up behind Merricon. She loved it, one grouse she handed me, and did so well, and, when done I had to back the F-150 against a bank so she could get in. ... she was too embarrassed and proud to be lifted."
"Saturday I took callie for her last swim. Three throws of her dummy and she was beat, and done, but jubilant."
"Fri, 27 Oct 80 - Callie died at home - I was only gone an hour. Such class, she went this way to spare us. There'll never be a better or classier Chessie.
We buried her up back with her toys, a bone for chewing, a dummy, a snack, and grass seed for her tummy. She was buried cosy, wrapped in her beloved blankets from the Jeep"
Let me ask you, hunters. Do we ever weep for the loss of anyone or thing as we do for a beloved pup? I don't think so. What do you think?