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Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

In his younger days.

In his younger days.

Unlike your grand nephew, you didn’t throw up on the way home from your breeder – a strike in your favor I should have appreciated more at the time. It seems like for your entire nine years of life, you’ve been thinking of your human pack’s needs as much as your own, concerned with how we feel, what we need, and how you can help.

I’m glad to have shared much of your life with the Upland Nation. Your television pack extends to the four corners of the earth. Your many fans have watched you grow from gangly pup to noble dog, elegantly covering ground like a pronghorn.

You’ve slowed since your last birthday, content with shorter runs, even walking on lead with your alpha female human, almost prancing alongside your Corgi packmate. That Corgi has become more than a walking partner, though. She keeps you on your toes, if only in self-defense. Her yips aren’t just puppy joy, she adores you. She loves your size (a challenge to a short dog), your floppy ears (yum), and most of all your tolerance of her pushy inquisitiveness. You are a tolerant stoic, the good example the rest of us should emulate but seldom do.

Even Manny has mellowed in his long-term project to become the alpha dog, perhaps in deference to your advancing age. I see you both sharing a field again some day, maybe just in my mind.

Until then, you will still get the first “up” on hunts. You’ve earned it, putting up with my so-called training and dismal shooting. You will also have the best spot on the bed in the morning – after I’m up but your alpha female isn’t (you both deserve the extra rest).

And when you’d rather watch from the driver’s seat as Manny and I blunder through the puckerbrush, know that he will be carrying more than your DNA into the field, he will be carrying on your legacy.

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It’s your seventh birthday, Buddy. “Lucky,” in most people’s books.

I don’t know who’s luckier – you, or me. You are a rock, and you ROCK. Steady, loyal, sensitive and tolerant … of your nephew Manny and my training foibles, for starters. On your birthday, I’m reminded again of the many milestones

A few birthdays ago ...

we’ve passed together: launching two TV series, the arrival of one pup and the passing of your uncle, health crises for both of us, rough times and smooth sailing. Always (always!) you were there with a head on my knee when I needed it most.

You were our first “store bought” dog – lithe and light, even as a pup. Your conformation is the envy of every other wirehair owner. The weekend I went to Idaho to get you, three others left town for points north and south, returning with wire pups too. I’ve hunted with them all, and still believe you’re the strongest, fastest, with the most stamina. Some day, all of us will share a field together!

Okay, so you’re not the best retriever in the dog world. Your “drive-by” fetches get the birds close, but sometimes they’ve still got some steam. That chukar in the Pueblos that glided over a mile after you put it down two steps from me? You’re forgiven, even if you hadn’t found it after I’d given up at the bottom of the draw.

When we have coffee in the morning, your long-distance gaze is puzzling to me. Are you looking for birds? Guarding the back yard from flower-eating mule deer? Or is that just a way for you to relax and take in the smells and sights of a happy home life, shared with a most appreciative owner?

You run faster and climb higher than your nephew, producing birds we’d never find otherwise. You’ll go anywhere for a bird, including that ice-covered river that almost took you away from me for good. And when the day is done, you’re a good sleeper too – settling in and quiet in those places where dogs aren’t allowed but you are.

And more recently ...

You are an ambassador for our shared passion. From banquets to barrooms, you’re the laid-back, tolerant life of the party. And when I need a fifth, sixth, or seventh take on a “Buddy & Me” segment on the TV show, you wait patiently for me to remember my lines and hit my marks.

You have a stoic streak, that has only gotten stronger with the arrival of your nephew. Maybe because of his energy and curiosity, maybe simply from maturity, maybe it’s rubbed off of me. You’re now a “senior dog” in the industry parlance, but not in my book. You move like the wind, floating over sage and lava as if wearing Mercury’s winged sandals. When a truck full of their own Labs and shorthairs are available, my hunting partners choose you.

And so do I.

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I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a challenging 9-1/2 months since I picked you up in Idaho, especially when you threw up on my lap as we crossed the border into your new home state. You were the last, roly-poly holdout, thrown

No birthday cake for this one-year-old, a Real Bird Bumper will do just fine, thank you.

in with another litter to keep you company until I could finish a shoot (with one of your sisters, of all things).

I asked your breeder for a small, light-colored male … a clone of your uncle Buddy was my ideal. You turned out big and dark, but everyone here has grown to like your bright eyes beaming from that dark chocolate face. Your red beard completes a very handsome ensemble.

You’ve certainly found a lot to carry, chew, swallow and then share with us later. Your menu has included deer legs, hooves, an entire (dead) red tailed hawk, horse manure, small rodents, unidentifiable hides, and number one (so far), a bear arm, claws intact. Furniture and clothing must taste good too.

At least you’re not a biter. In fact, you are a poster boy for “social animal.” If dogs could join Rotary, you’d be the greeter, welcoming everyone to meetings. You run full-out toward any person, dog, even cats, and do your best to make friends with sniffs, licks, rubs, and the occasional hump. You love to play, and I love that about you.

And while you are still not “top dog” around here, your uncle is deferring more and more often to your size and alpha attitude. Sometimes you could use more finesse, but we understand it’s genetic, and inevitable. But even after a particularly rough debate over who is in charge, you’re willing to cuddle with Buddy, lick his ear, and let bygones be bygones.

You’ve been a real test, Manny, trying our patience at every turn. But when I saw your eyes light up at the first whiff of pheasant in California, you had me. When I found you honoring your uncle’s point in the tall grass on our first Kansas hunt, all was forgiven. Happy birthday, and welcome to our family.

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