During the summer months - At precisely 11:30am - a very popular spectacle can be witnessed outside of England’s Buckingham Palace: the changing of the guards. Lasting roughly 30 minutes, weary guards are swapped out for fresh bodies with greater precision than a Swiss watch. Surrounded by pomp and circumstance, tourists can be seen snapping photos and admiring the scene before moving on to another source of entertainment. Over the past week it has become clear to me that Buckingham Palace isn’t the only place to observe this symbolic change.
Since I was nine years old I’ve been lucky enough to have the same hunting dog by my side. Always retrieving ducks and pheasants with unwavering enthusiasm, her past 14 years have been filled with fond memories and funny moments that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. However, this past season she made one thing clear: she wanted to collect her 401K and was ready to pass the torch on to another deserving pup.
Coming to the realization that your best friend is no longer physically able to keep up with you is a heart breaking one and my only resolution was to simply get a puppy. Pushing away any thoughts of betrayal and hoping that my old wonder-mutt would be able to teach the new dog a few tricks, I made a phone call. At the other end was Justin of Hunters Point Kennel in Marshalltown, Iowa and a few months later I had a beautiful yellow Lab puppy in my arms.
Her name is Beau and she’s been with me for exactly one week.Full of energy, enthusiasm and bold as can be, she’s exactly what I wanted out of a puppy. In time I’m sure my old friend will take a liking to her (once Beau leaves her tail alone) and I’ll be able to throw doubles off the front porch for them. But until then, I’m just going to take note of the wise old sage watching the puppy from a distance and remember the past while looking forward to the future.
Every year this happens in households all across the country. There are no bands playing, no one is marching in step and neighbors don’t need a guide book to understand what is going on. This is the way our old hunting dogs would want it. They’ve dedicated themselves to doing our will and putting smiles on our faces and the only thing they want from this “changing of the guard” is a pat on the head, a spot by the fireplace and the feeling that they’ve done a good job. However, a retirement fund full of raw hides and tennis balls doesn’t hurt either.