This past weekend was a harrowing adventure for my bird dog Beau, unfortunately I was 300 miles away from the action. Sitting in my apartment in Saint Paul, Minnesota I was relegated to checking my phone for text message updates pertaining to the pheasant hunting action in North Dakota. Not Exactly a dream scenario for me, but it was one I knew I’d eventually have to put up with.
Being a semi-broke college grad, I was lucky enough to have my dad give me a helping hand when it came to financing and training my pup. However, with this help came the caveat that he would be allowed to use her services a few times throughout the year. In the beginning I was so excited to bring home my own “tiny terror” (the nickname she earned for being a drywall chewing champ), that I gladly signed the dotted line and gave dad my blessing to borrow Beau at his discretion.
Little did I know how much worry and angst this would cause me. Being right behind your dog as he or she pushes through shoulder high snowdrifts or as they accidently fall through the ice on a frigid morning is one thing, but reading about your dog doing this is completely different. I think I finally understand my mom’s old saying that she “hoped for the best but anticipated the worst.”
Hoping for the best, I had to remind myself that I did indeed trust my dad’s judgment when it came to the situations he’d be presenting Beau with. However, could I trust Beau to treat him just as fairly? Beau and I had spent most of the summer and fall training and learning from one another. Building that special bond between you and your hunting dog doesn’t happen overnight, but when it does it’s truly remarkable. With the simple nod of the head or a slight puckered whistle she could decipher more from me than my hunting buddy could understand from a full sentence. Needless to say, many emails and phone calls about how Beau hunted were shared before she loaded up for the weekend.
All I wanted was for both parties to come back with tails wagging and smiles flashing, and they did. For the first time in years my dad was able to hunt behind a dog he could work with and he couldn’t have been happier. Their game bags were a little light by the end of the weekend but that didn’t damper the mood of man or dog, because it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself if you’re lucky enough to spend time afield.
Will I ever feel comfortable renting out my best friend? Probably not, but if it makes my dad happy then I can live with that – as long as his cell phone has service.