Those crossed front legs say it all. You are unflappable, Manny. At ten weeks old on the vet’s table, you laid down, crossed your forelegs and surveyed your new domain. In the crate this morning it’s how I found you.
You knew I’d soon open the door with a creak and turn you loose on the limitless prairie. You were polite enough to let me open your great uncle’s box first and let him stretch his soon-to-be eleven-year-old legs. You are good in that way. For a while.
So you’ve learned a variant of patience in five years.You’ve taught me that as well.
You’ve roamed the woods, prairies, scablands and cultivated fields of a dozen states. Covered more miles each season than most dogs do in a life. And you’re always ready for more. You’ve learned that my lacing tall boots and the smell of Hoppe’s #9 means birds, and that a long drive always means hunting at the end – at least in your book.
You’ve brought me woodcock and ruffies from Wisconsin, ringnecks in six different states. You are magic on valley quail, and thankfully, an eager hill climber for elusive chukars. Bobwhites, sharptails, Huns … you have gently delivered them all to my waiting hand.
You’ve panted through tules, trembled on icy bluffs, and given your all in more habitats than I can count, but by morning you are up and at ’em, ready for another day on anything that flies. In the meanwhile, you’ll roll over and snore. Loudly.
Our first five years together were a rural-road’s-worth of ups and downs, some deep dips and towering peaks. But we made it, and you’ve become a fine bird dog in spite of your owner’s mis-steps.
Where you got your positive attitude and hopeful lust for doggy life, I’ll never know. I’m just grateful you have it, because it rubs off on me. To some, it looks more like bafflement (that beard helps), but I know deep inside it’s wonder … at the entire world, but especially at anything with feathers.