Fortunately for most of us, we are able to welcome critters into our lives, and those critters enrich our time on this Earth. We all have our preferences as just what kind of animal we choose for pets. The majority of us choose furry creatures to share our existence. Cats and dogs, as well as numerous members of the animal kingdom become big parts of our families; sadly for some, their pets are their only family. And when we lose our beloved friends, the loss is never forgotten.
While I normally write about firearms and related subjects, this column is about our pets, our love for them, and a little way we can preserve their memory.
Over my six plus decades on our planet I’ve enjoyed the company of many animals. From Sugar to Archie, many fuzzy warm animals have played, snuggled, and even protected me. Each has been very special; I love and really miss them all, even the ones lost decades ago, and each had a unique influence on my life.
For those of you who are regular readers of these columns, you know how much I enjoy shotguns and shotgun sports. While I am passionate about the clay target sports, there is nothing in the shotgun world that compares with matching wits with the elusive ring-necked pheasant. Rarely have I been able to harvest a rooster on my own, and each one I have taken has been a triumph of perseverance, born of blind luck. These birds are different, they are colorful yet they remain unseen, they are really intelligent, and they are arrogant, just watch them. If you want to be a successful pheasant hunter, you absolutely need a great gun dog.
I’ve been lucky to hunt over a few really good gun dogs and I was incredibly fortunate to have an English springer spaniel that was the best gun dog I ever hunted over. When I was a youth, I collected lots of books concerning the outdoors, the subject of one was gun dogs. According to this guide, “if you want to hunt pheasants, get a springer spaniel.” Twenty years later Spot came into my life. Spot was the best hunting companion I ever had; we took dozens of wary roosters over the years. He’s gone now but he will always be part of my life. Another bundle of springer energy, Archie, now keeps us company, and at times that company can be raucously fun.
Now let me get to the point of this missive. I’ve found a unique way to keep the memories of our animal companions alive. An old family friend, Earl Fred of Helena, Montana and owner of Intarsia Designs, produces some of the most unique and intriguing artwork you will ever find. Earl creates 3D memories from wood. From a simple photograph he can produce a legacy for your family. Look at the photos that accompany this column. There are 35 pieces of wood in Archie’s portrait; freckles, tri-color, and most importantly the look of a proud young gun dog who just retrieved his first bird. The portrait of Spot was made from 42 pieces of walnut, aspen, mahogany, and Baltic birch, but it is the “look” that makes this combination so special for me. It is the same “look” Spot used to give me when I missed one of his hard-earned roosters. I knew he was, well, upset.
The cost of one of Earl’s masterpieces is about the same as a day’s outing. Earl also produces art other than that of our family friends; in fact, I think he can make just about anything come alive in his wood, just check out the photos of some of his other work. If you would like to contact Earl and have him preserve a memory for you, here’s how:
INTARSIA DESIGNS by Earl Fred
Display shop at
1614 Grant Street
Helena, MT 59601
Earl will also be holding an “Open Shop” from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on December 9th and 10th, 2017. Stop by and check out his unique artwork.
My dear friend Spot is once again giving me the “look” and this time I’m really enjoying it. Thanks for the memories Earl.
Be safe and good shooting.