Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

They Don’t Know…

“They tell you not to cry.

They tell you he's just a dog, not a human.

They tell you it will pass.

They tell you that animals do not know that they must die.

They tell you that the important thing is not to make them suffer.

They tell you that you can get another one.

They tell you it will happen.

They tell you there are more unbearable pains.

But they don't know how many times you've looked your dog in the eye.

They don't know how many times it was you and your dog that looked in the dark.

They don't know how many times your dog was the only one by your side.

They don't know that the only one who hasn't judged you is your dog.

They don't know how scared you were the night his moans woke you up.

They don't know how many times your dog has slept next to you.

They don't know how much you've changed since the dog became a part of your life.

They don't know how many times you hugged him when he was sick.

They don't know how many times you pretended not to see when his hair was getting whiter and whiter.

They don't know how many times you've talked to your dog, the only one who really listens to you.

They don't know how good you were to your dog.

Little do they know that only your dog knew you were in pain.

They don't know what it's like to see your old dog trying to come over and say hello.

They don't know that when things go wrong, the only one who isn't gone is your dog.

They don't know that your dog trusts you, every moment of his life, even at the last moment.

They don't know how much your dog loved you and how little he needed to be happy, because you were enough for him.

They don't know that crying for a dog is one of the noblest, most meaningful, truest and purest things you can do.

They don't know about the last time you rocked him hard ... being careful not to hurt him.

They don't know what you felt when you caressed his face in the last moments of his life"

- author unknown

I probably need to add that I have not experienced a recent loss at my kennel but I share this for all dog lovers and especially for two dear friends whose own tears are streaming this week.  

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Beeps and Bells, Tech in the Field


Friends will recognize this as the ever-present mess at the end of my kitchen table. But what it represents is my conflicted participation in technology in the field.

I started using GPS collars many years ago when my finest grouse dog ever, Patch, was almost 12. I watched her one day in the woods as she stood paused on a check back to where I was and I realized that her hearing was failing. Her increasing deafness meant that she was unable to track my opposite-of-deer-stealth through the woods and if she could not catch a glimpse of my movement then she didn’t know where I was. I figured that if she was unable to locate me then I had better be able to find her.  So an ugly, clumsy Astro collar joined her simple leather collar with the brass bell, and a handheld unit took up space in my minimal vest.

After Patch passed, the Astro was used only in Montana and Kansas where the dogs range far and wide and can be on point 400 yards away without me knowing.  Many visitors feel that the woods here in northern Michigan are vast and remote but in reality, roads and atv trails are crisscrossed throughout and never far away. Being able to look at the handheld and see where my dogs are has become a crutch of sorts and I use the collars daily.

This year I added a Fenix watch which works along with the Garmin handheld and despite my initial thoughts that it was overdosing on technology I have to admit that it actually simplifies things. A quick glance at my wrist tells me distance and direction for each dog and I just leave the bulky handheld in my pocket.

I still don’t use the stimulation/shock option on the collars; I simply don’t need them for my dogs. However, I have trained them to come around when I tone (beep) them on the collar which works well on windy days when they cannot hear my somewhat puny lip whistle and I am making a turn or heading back.

So, each day I come home and dump the mess of gadgets on the table and dutifully plug them into their chargers. When ready to go again the collars beep as I turn them on, I put the handheld into the vest, the watch on my wrist, and the dogs all dance at the door, each hoping that it is their turn to have a collar strapped on and be loaded into the Jeep.

I still, however, truly miss the countless days when I simply pocketed a few shells into my jeans pocket, slipped the bell collar over the chosen setter head and walked out the door.

Bells now sit as dusty memories on a shelf.