Bird hunters understand the deep affection and love for their dogs. We train them from pups to become our trusted companions. Many bird hunters hunt for their dogs, not just for the birds. Upland birds and waterfowl dogs are amazing critters. Nothing makes them happier than frost in the morning, brambles, briars, and a mouth full of feathers.
During our lifetime of hunting, we end up enjoying several dogs. We never get over the loss of a dog, but we get through it. The best way is to get another dog. Montana Grant is currently the proud owner of two German Shorthaired Pointers. Jag is 2 years old and just learning how to chase ringnecks, huns, and upland birds. Shelby is a black, 10-year-old, half GSP and half Golden Retriever.
Shelby has been the BEST hunting dog that I have been privileged to own. She loves children, other dogs, the outdoors, and birds. Ducks, geese, roosters, huns, quail, chukars, doves, grouse, sharpies, and woodcock have all been retrieved. When you hunt with Shelby, shells will be expended, and no birds are lost.
As dogs and hunters age, there comes a time when they may see their last hunt. Shelby is at that point. Until a few weeks ago, Shel was ready to go. Jag needed a mentor, and we were all set. Lately, Shelby began slowing down and getting lazy. It was time for a checkup.
The blood tests came back with kidney issues. The first vet was sad to report the problem and hope was dim. It is always good to get a second opinion. This opinion was more hopeful. More tests finally determined a kidney infection combined with a Lyme’s Disease connection. We are now going through antibiotics and other meds and treatments to help. Shelby has slowed her drinking and eating.
So, here we are! It is prime pheasant season and Shelby could be down for the count. So, we went hunting! What’s the worst that could happen. Many aged hunters would have no problem keeling over along a trout stream, mountain top, deer stand, or doing what they loved.
She knew where we were going. At first, she just laid in the back seat. “Oh crap, another trip to the Vet.” When the truck hit a gravel road, Shelby sat up. Her eyes were focused on the fields. When I parked the truck, she needed no help to get out of the truck. As I gathered my vest and gun, Shelby was excited to get moving.
We hunted a long edge of a wheat field. 10 yards of wheat was still standing. The other side was thick river bottom and cover. Pheasants frequent the spot since they can safely sneak in and out to feed. Shelby bulldozed through the cover and was covered in chaff, and wheat stalks. Her tail began shaking and suddenly she cracked on point!
The first point was a hen bird. She repeated this point with 4 more over the next 50 yards. Finally, up went a rooster. The cackling bird was headed over the thickest cover and rocketing out of range. I quickly shouldered my gun and took the shot. The bird disappeared into cover that was taller than me.
We went off the bank to find our bird. The cover was so thick that I could not see the dog or my feet. Suddenly, I felt a nudge at my ankles. It was Shelby with the bird in her mouth!
After the retrieve, I walked her over to the river. She jumped in and swam into the current. AAHHH!!! It must have felt great. She took a drink, shook off the water, and headed back into the next field. Time to hunt some more.
This health crisis has been pricey, but the Pet Insurance has been paid off. I recommend that all pet owners consider insuring their dogs. It’s a lot easier making decisions when money is not as big an issue.
Shelby seems a bit perkier now. Hopefully the meds will help her improve. If the new antibiotic shot can stop the kidney infection, we may turn a corner.
Huntem up! Good Girl Shelby!
PS, I wrote this article last week. Sadly, we lost Shelby on the 20th. The Vet came to the house. She had hunted her last and was done. When she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I am sure that she met her old friend Magnum. These past 2 Pandemic years meant that we spent every day with our Fur Babies. More than usual and not enough. We expect to see her lying on her pillow, chasing birds, or playing with her brother Jag. This will be hard, but we will get through it. Old Hunting dogs don’t die, they just disappear into the cover.