I AM JACK! Part 1

IAmJACKHi.  I am Jack.  I am a good boy.

I am really smart.  I am eight.  I like to hunt and play ball.  I am a Pointer.

I have lived most of my life with the very famous human, Loral I Delaney.  She taught me and my brother a lot about hunting with humans.  I am an amazing hunter.  I point to exactly where the birds are.  Then when they fly up and get shot, I go get them for my human.

One day I heard my human Loral I talking to another human about giving me away to another home.  She said she had too many dogs, and it would be a good thing for me.  She said it would help the new human to “heal”.

I was worried what that meant.

Then that new human came to see me.  I recognized her smell.  I hunted with this human and her German Short Hair and my Loral I, when I was very young.  I remembered she was nice, and convinced Loral I to let me ride in the truck instead of the kennel when we were done.

This is the human I am going to go home with?  Where is her German Short Hair?

I hear them talking about me.  A trial for a week or two?  See if I will fit in?

I was worried.  I want to fit in.  The human opened the back of her truck, and they put me in a kennel that smelled like that German Short Hair.  I searched anxiously for my humans eyes.  Loral I looked at me and said “Ok Patty, good luck, let me know in a week how you feel about Jack.”  And they closed the truck door.

I got scared.  I am Jack.  I am a good boy!

When we got to human Patty’s house she tried to lift me off of the truck to the ground.  I was embarrassed but grateful for the help.  She brought me to a big fenced in yard with lots of new smells and vertical objects to pee on. There is a strong scent of females here—where are they?  This is awesome!  I ran all around the yard, full of energy and excitement.  I couldn’t help myself, my long, wagging tail gave me away.  Although it was faint, I could smell that Short Hair everywhere.  When is he going to show?  Seems he hasn’t been here in a while.  Maybe he is with the females I smell?

MeetJack2I found out real fast that I don’t belong in the area where there are places to sit.  Those vertical objects should not be peed on.  I will try hard to remember that.  I will try hard.

This new human Patty brought out a brown bag, and pulled a red and white braided rope out of it and tossed it to me.  That was a surprise.  I gave it a sniff, wondering why she did that.  Then she presented me with a couple rubber toys, another rope toy, and an orange ball.  All these things for me?  What a grand surprise!  I collected them into a pile in the back of the yard and rushed to her to say thanks.

She pet me, grabbed me by the sides of my head, and told me I was a good boy.  Yes, I am!  I am Jack!  I wagged my tail hard to show her how happy I am to be here.  I rubbed on her legs like a cat, and looked up into her face.  Her eyes were sad.  I stood tall and proud for her.  I danced and jumped and wagged tail for her.  Every time she said my name I came right to her with great excitement.   She pet me and told me I was a funny boy.  Funny?  I thought I was being charming.  I will win her heart.

She started doing yard work.  I should help.  I danced in the leaf piles, and when she would bend over to scoop up leafs I’d sneak up from behind, thrust my head between her knees, look right to her face, and wag my tail.  Eventually she started to laugh.  Ha!  I am a good boy! But then she started to cry.  Did I make her cry?  Oh No!  She sat down on the wooden deck and cried.  I ran up to her with great excitement and enthusiasm.  Look! I have the braided rope!  I dropped it to her feet and nuzzled up to her chest.  She wrapped her arms around me, telling me I was a good boy.  A sweet boy.  Oh I like to hear that!  She hung onto me tight.  Then I knew.

That German Short Hair isn’t coming back.  That is why she is sad.  She has a broken heart.

Well, I am just the dog to fix that.  I will show her.   I am Jack. I am a very good boy.  I’ve been trained by a famous human and I am really smart, just like that German Short Hair was.  Smart enough to know that I can make this new human Patty happy again. Meet Jack1 That’s what I will spend the rest of my days doing.  I will walk at her side, wag tail, play ball, point birds, go get them, and cuddle up with her at night in gratitude that she is my human.  Just you watch and see.  I am no replacement.  I will be a whole new adventure for this human.  And I will win and mend her heart.

I am Jack.

Wait—what’s that?  Oh my, what the heck are those two blonde hair balls running towards me?  Are those her females?

Gulp.

 

You can read all about the adventures me and my new human PR (Patty) are going to have together in the outdoors…. I will write lots of stories under “I AM JACK” in her blog category, “Words From The Wild”. I will be careful not to have many typos.  I am a good boy!  Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our journey together, and PR Brady AdVentures.

 

Buddy—A Series Of Adventures—Like A Bike

She first called the day I was packing for Leech with the girls. Thought I’d try a little deer hunting in those big woods.  It’s been difficult to go through the most glorious time of the year without you, Buddy.  Time in the woods with my bow would do me good.  Time in the gazebo thinking about you would be good, too.  I miss you so much, my boy.

“Hey, Patty, I was thinking on a little bird hunting. Wanna go?”  She asked.

And that was all it took. I fought hard to hold back the tears.  Hard.  Loral I is a good friend.  She is all about business with dogs.  I didn’t want to appear weak and cry.  Dogs die.  That’s life.  Get over it, right?  Well not so much for me.

So there was this long horrible silence as she waited for me to say “yeah, hell yeah, let’s go!” But I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t.

“I don’t have a dog.” I squeaked out on tightly held breath.

“What? What happened to Buddy?  Did you loose him?”

“Um, yes.” I forced out.  “Yes, on Labor Day.” I could feel my head pounding and the floor rushing up to meet me, so I quickly sat down, holding back hot tears and minimal composure.

Another long, horrible silence.

“Well that is too bad. He was a great dog.  You really did a good job with him.  But, I got dogs.  Lots of dogs. They need to hunt.  Let’s go!”

Buddy, I sat there trying to imagine going out without you. I couldn’t.  Just couldn’t.  You and I had countless great times hunting with Loral I and her various dogs.

“Um, but I’m heading out of town for a couple weeks, then I’ll see.” Ah, the perfect excuse.

Half way through my stay at Leech she called again.

“So, when you coming back? I got 7 dogs I gotta work, and I need your help!  Let’s go!”

And that was all it took. I fought hard to hold back the tears.  Hard.  Loral I is a good friend.  And truthfully, she is the only other human that I have the good fortune to hunt with for years.  Season after season of hunting alone, throws such a bittersweet twist to my passion for the outdoors.   Just the fact that she want’s to hunt with me, makes me cry with gratitude.

I can’t lie to her.

“I don’t think I can, Loral I. I, I, I just don’t know.”

Sure you can. It’s like riding a bike.  Buddy would want you to get back out there.  Let’s go next week.  You’re back then, right?”

“Okay.” I responded with a heavy sigh.

The next week I walked and walked trails, 3 miles to my stand, 3 miles back and the last time I came out of the woods I found squatters right on my trail. Good grief.  It was time to go home.  I packed up the girls and headed south.  I was barely unpacked before the phone rang.

“So, I can get us a field on Thursday afternoon. Does that work?”

And that was all it took. I fought hard to hold back the tears.  Hard.  Loral I is a good friend.  Clearly she thinks I am in crisis.  Maybe I am.  I can’t bear not having you with me, Buddy. But the fact that this accomplished, amazing woman cares enough about me to bug me this hard, well it means more than I can say.

“Okay.” I respond with a heavy sigh.  And I spend the next 2 days gathering up my bird gear, looking at your bird gear, crying about bird gear, and curling up on the futon in an emotional pile with the girls.  Your collar has remained wrapped around my right ankle since you passed.  I can’t imagine removing it so my boot will fit.  But I have to…I have to break that connection.

When I arrived to her house, we spent half an hour loading up dogs. She had 7 in mind to bring, ranging from 8 months to 3 years old.  Some labs, some pointers, all amazing.  The first dog we worked was an 8 month old tank of a lab—his name was Chocko.  The sheer joy he displayed romping through the field was infectious! I threw pigeons, and watched her work with him to figure out how to track.  We proceeded with Reggan, and Eva.

Then it was time to canvass a field that had actual pheasants in it. We had Topper and Lola out.  Topper was on my side of the field, bounding through tall grass.  A bird flew up right in front of me and I couldn’t even raise the gun.  It would have been an easy shot, but my head wasn’t in the game.  I turned away to the open field, hot tears falling behind my shooting glasses.  Topper was not you, Buddy.  I stood there, weeping, embarrassed, afraid I was doomed.  It happened again, and again, and again.  Thank goodness I’m hunting with an International Trap Shooting Champion.  Loral I covered me over and over in my pathetic frame of mind.

She didn’t say a word, either, about my gross inability. I just shot and shot and missed and missed, until I was reaching for another box of shells.  It was a long afternoon.

Then we went back to the trailer and took out Pistol and Ice; a couple of 3 year old pointers with stark white and black speckled short hair. Buddy, I’m pretty sure you hunted with them when they were mere puppies, showing them the ropes.  They moved like liquid silver, especially Ice.  Their boundless energy, long tails wagging, and serious nose commitment to the ground felt like home.  They both ran to my side, flanking me as if they wanted to guide me.  We headed down the field with Loral I off to the far left.  Then they both froze in place. I stepped ahead and a rooster flew up in front of me. FirstBirds2014

“BOOM!”

It spiraled to the ground and both dogs ran for the fetch. I became anxious, wondering if they would find the bird the way you can find the bird. Rule number one, trust the dog, it’s what they do.

Yeah, Loral I is right, it’s like riding a bike.

Apparently, I’ve been cured. Thanks, Ice and Pistol.  And endless thanks to you, dear Loral I, for making me get back on that bike.  I am so grateful for our friendship.  Can’t wait to go again!

Buddy Boy McBrady
Gone Forever Bird Hunting as of Monday, Sept 1st 2014 at 3:30 pm
“Find us some good fields up there, boy, and I will see you again soon.”

 

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our journey together, and PR Brady AdVentures.

 

 

 

 

The Game Tracker, Part 1

In the beginning, I was the girl in the background, ease-dropping on the “guy conversations”, wanting to know more.

Oh, but I wasn’t invited into those dialogues. Instead my curiosity was met with sarcasm. I endured smirks and taunting’s, like “What?  You want to shoot Bambi? Awwwwe, you wouldn’t shoot Bambi, would you?”

Once I finally expressed interest to a more temperate boyfriend, I became the girl wearing mismatched, oversized men’s camo clothing.  Clunking along through the woods with my size 7 feet in a men’s 11 Sorels.

From there, I trailed behind several boyfriends, trying to do exactly as told; walk quietly, no sudden movements, sit still, stay down wind. Oh, how cute I was.  Oh, how patronizing things were sometimes.  I was “darlin” and “sweetie” and “hon” a lot.  I would be told “horror stories” about field dressing and blood trails, challenging my sensibilities.

Then I built my own bow.

I was given a hodgepodge assortment of 5 arrows.

I practiced daily.

I became a really good shot.

In 6 years and 4 boyfriends, I spent many days in the field, but had yet to bag my first deer. It was in those early years that I discovered a few important things, like; not all guys were good hunters, and watching a guy take a 250 yard “Hail Mary” shot across an open field while screaming out obscenities might not be the thing to emulate, and what it took to unwrap and eat a snickers bar without getting caught. It was in those early years that I discovered my paralyzing, unconquerable fear of heights, and my intuitive comfort level being alone in the woods.

I discovered hunting was my calling.

Shortly after those 6 years of trials, tribulations and “ah ha” moments I landed the dream job that would shape the rest of my life: selling ads for a leading hunting magazine. The floodgates of knowledge and opportunity opened up for this girl in a matter of weeks, as I met virtually every major manufacturer and personality in the hunting industry over the winter.

I found a new circle.

And it wasn’t at all like the one I started out with.

The first “real” hunting attire I was given was more exciting than getting a diamond ring. A complete TreBark camo outfit—still the most cherished articles of clothing I own.  And although I was proud as punch to show off my self-built “compound bow in a kit”, Olympic Champion Ann Clark had other plans for me.  Suddenly I was the proud owner of a Hoyt Specta bow, which I still have today.  Then, Jim Dougherty presented me with a dozen (yes, a whole dozen!)  matched arrows. Clearly, my new colleagues were determined to have me “dressed for success”.  Soon I was to find out why….

That next fall I was invited to be part of the Inaugural All Woman Bowhunt, hosted by Bob Eastman, President of Gametracker Company. An elite group of a dozen women from the outdoors industry banding together for a week of media blazed deer hunting on Bobs private property; the “Tens Or Better Ranch”.  The group included amazing women like Ann Clark, Ann Hoyt, Jeanne Dunn, Kay Richey, Marilyn Nicholas, Kathy Beutler, Jan Bobsine, and my dear friend Loral I Delaney.  I confided to Loral I that I felt out of my league. I could barely contain my excitement to be surrounded by such fabulous women in a hunting camp.

Talk about going from rags to riches–surely I was dreaming! Was this all just a Cinderella fairy tale? I packed up my fancy TreBark outfit, a few other mismatched items, my new bow and arrows, and by then I had acquired a dozen Rocky Mountain Broadheads from Barrie Archery….

And I was on a plane to Michigan with Loral I.

Bob Eastman’s “people” picked us up and brought us to his home. Stepping into his house was like walking into a wildlife museum.  Dozens of stunning exotic mounts were displayed throughout the main floor.  Animals he had harvested from all corners of the earth were there.  It was truly breath taking.  I was in awe of Bob Eastman before I even met him.

And then we were introduced.

He was bursting with energy; a complex, articulate, innovative, creative man with a serious passion for the outdoors. I watched him bounce back and forth from playful banter with his guests to stepping aside with his staff to talk business.  He approached me squarely, enthusiastically, and addressed me by name.  He never once called me ‘darling, sweetie or hon’.  He pulled me aside and asked me questions about my work, and told me about his company.  He talked hunting with me on purpose, as an equal.  He was genuinely excited that I was a part of the group.  He made me feel welcome, but more importantly, he made me feel worthy, when, admittedly I was wondering why, with all the women to choose from, I was invited to be a part of this group?

1stLadiesGroupBob Eastman became my first outdoors idol.

One of the criteria for Bobs hunting event was agreeing to use his String Tracker product. Like most hunting accessories, I’d never heard of them until stepping into my new career, and I had much to learn. I was becoming a sponge for devouring information.  He spoke about the String Tracker with such conviction that by the end of the week, I was ready to go out and convert every bowhunter in the country.

By the end of the week, I was the only participant to arrow a deer. And it was my first deer, ever! And it was harvested using the String Tracker.  Cameras snapped image after image of Bob and I, Loral I and I, and just me.  The inaugural event wasn’t even over, but Bob was already talking about setting up the next one.

He made me feel accomplished. I was showered with lavish gifts including a hand painted wildlife scene from Chuck Denault. I was celebrated at dinner the last evening of our event, and my confidence as a bowhunter simply rose off the charts. That confidence has stayed with me for years and years.  And through the years of working in the hunting industry, Bob always treated me like a good friend and colleague.  He bragged about my first deer to everyone he came in contact with, even years later. 1stDeerWithBob

I am blessed to know Bob Eastman and have shared our passion for the outdoors in business, and hunting camp. His supportive, confidence boosting nature has made a lasting impression on my heart, and in my life.

 

You can read about all sorts of ideas, opinions and feelings from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”, and “Words from the Wild”. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in my personal perspective, and PR Brady AdVentures.

Immersion

The tree lines have become a collision of bright colors as their mighty boughs of shade turn yellow, gold and red. The air has shifted from a still dry heat to a soft, bath water warm breeze, coupled with the sound of crisp, rustling leafs. Fall2014Warm sun shines through the canopy of foliage, as an eagle soars overhead, searching for fresh quarry. The rhythmic “thump thump thump” from a distant grouse pounds through the clinking of dried leafs dangling from trees.  A flock of turkey crest the majestic oak ridge, foraging for tasty morsels on the ground.  Squirrels chase back and forth, defining their turf, then stretch out across the tree boughs, basking in the golden sun.  The heartiest of remaining insects buzz about the drying wild flowers and weeds. Small furry critters scurry up and down heavily worn animal trails through the brush.

Nature’s celebration.

The sun drenched sky begins to pale into pink and orange shades of nightfall earlier and earlier. A group of Blue Jays flutter to a clearing on the ground, hoping to discover a last meal of the day.  Met with an anxious chipmunk, they team up to scavenge for a moment before disappearing into the brush.  The mad dash for dinner before dark creates a countdown–the woods come alive with wildlife running, clawing, and cawing to find that last bit of nourishment in the moments before days end.  A deafening silence unfolds across the landscape, sporadically broken by the cry of a blackbird, or squawk of a squirrel.  Suddenly the quiet is disrupted by the chatter of the woods and fields calling out “time to sleep!”  A final scurrying across the forests leaf-blanket is heard as the last squeaks of ‘goodnight’ subside.

Thankful for this day.

The black velvet, star filled sky spreads a twinkling magic across all creatures, big and small. Some are tucked away into tree boughs, hollow logs, cracks, and crevasses of safe keeping for the night.  Others, like the skunk, porcupine and raccoon, are just waking up and rustling across the ground in search of breakfast. The night is protected by an amplified stillness.  Bats and flying squirrels flit about through the trees, barely visible in the dark sky.  Slow, deliberate steps snap a branch or two on the shadowy ground.  Off in the distance, a lonely howl, joined by a chorus of followers, cuts into the stillness of dark like a knife.  All is quiet, yet a presence is felt in the night air.  Predators and prey.

The night hunt is on.

The pitch black air is heavy with condensation. Dead silence resonates through the trees.  Not a sound or movement to be had.  Thin sheets of darkness slowly peel away, shedding micro degrees of light to the forest floor, creating ominous imaginary images in the fallen trees.  A startled doe scrambles to remain unseen, cracking branches like an alarm. Nearby shadowy stumps become clearly not her as the forest slowly becomes less dark.  She stops and sounds off a loud blow through the trees in her defense, followed by more cracking branches and her pounding hooves on the soft dirt ground.

Too late, you are busted.

A chain reaction ripples through the woods, as squirrels begin to chirp, mice and chipmunks bound across the ground stirring the leaf blanket searching for a tasty acorn breakfast. Fall2Birds flit from tree to tree, peeping and quenching their thirst on dew covered leafs.  The night creatures lumber down the forest trails, back to their dens.  The first crack of blazing, brilliant light rips across the horizon in a thin line.  With each degree of increased light, so do the sounds of the forest increase.  The bold cry from one black bird, initiates a choir of calls from all feathered beings, eager for the rising sun to energize the woods again as it greets natures children with golden rays of warmth.

Welcome to a new day.

 

What are you most passionate about? What makes your soul sing? For me, I love to break it down and get ‘wild, rugged, and dirty’, so to speak. You can get up close and personal to the great outdoors through my observations and experiences in my “Words From The Wild” blog category. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in the outdoors from this outdoorswoman’s perspective, and PR Brady AdVentures.

 

Field Crawl

One good thing about being a female bowhunter, I guess, is “women’s intuition”. I frequently pick hunting spots intuitively, out of the blue, that immediately bring me onto deer. Trouble is, I don’t always listen to the blaringly obvious signs. I often doubt myself about it all, especially when just starting to learn a new piece of land.   Last night I decided to go about 100 yards beyond where I had been sitting for the last couple evenings. Stood on a giant fallen tree in a clump of scrub brush and small trees along the edge of a corn field, just south of the main tree line. It was a beautiful couple hours, “It just felt good there”. Lots of tweety birds, and a dead still evening. But then came that doubt, about 20 minutes before sunset…

I’ve not seen anything here for 3 nights. Maybe I’m too close to the edge of the field. Maybe I’m too close to the creek. Maybe…maybe….there are no deer here.”

I’d been eyeing a spot another 50 or so yards southeast of my natural treestand for two hours. I finally decided to sneak over there, just to see if it would be better for the morning.

As I was sneaking along the edge of the field, suddenly a silhouette popped up over the tip of the weeds on the horizon of the field, north, about 80 yards out. And then another silhouette, with horns.   A forky and a nice lookin’ doe, out for an evening stroll along the tree line.   After scoping out all directions and realizing how limited my options were, I froze in place. Here came the deer, meandering toward me, and I had nowhere I could quickly disappear to. The closest area that was taller than knee high field grass was over 60 yards away.

The doe stepped forward, the buck lagged behind. She would turn and signal him, he would then trot ahead to catch up. They would graze, gaze, then survey the direction they came from, then come closer yet. Although I was standing there in the open, they had no idea I was there. But good old Murphy’s Law whispered if I tried anything, anything at all, I would be immediately busted. I finally did the only thing I dared to do—I slowly sank to the ground.

The next 30 minutes were the most fun I’ve had this season.

We played hide and seek through the tall grass for what seemed like hours as they closed the gap of distance between us. Over and over I desperately tried to situate and raise my bow for a shot as I sat there, but didn’t want to risk the movement. They continued toward me, the doe, to what would have been a 10 yard shot. That’s where they stopped. And stood. And stood.

How could they not realize I was sitting right there? Are they blind? Surely they can smell me? Hear my breathing?

Can’t they hear my heart pounding in my chest for crying out loud!?

The sun began to drop out of sight, but they still stood right there. Although my feet were totally numb from sitting on them, I was diligent in being “frozen in place”. I knew that now there was no way I could pull my bow back if I did have a shot. And we were so, so, close. I could see their nose hairs twitching, their eyelashes, the liquid film across their big black eyes. The dirt grains on their chins and bubbly saliva on their tongues from foraging on that field. I could smell their warm, earthy bodies. The buck shamelessly dropped poops as he yanked more tendrils of grass from the ground.

Clearly they had no other plans for the evening. But I did, and I was losing light, and was still unfamiliar with this new area. Knowing I’d not find my way back flawlessly in the pitch dark, I decided I had to make a move.

My body was tight and aching. My left hand had clenched my bow so tight for so long, I had to flex one finger at a time until they came somewhat back to life. I knew there was no chance of standing up—I couldn’t feel my legs. Each moment no eyes were on me, I carefully leaned backwards a little more, aiming to gracefully land on my right elbow, one inch at a time.

At best, I’d have 10 minutes before dark. They looked my direction. The doe raised and lowered her head, sniffing.

OH! Does she finally see me?FieldCrawl

She glanced away.

What??

I began my attempt to crawl away through the grass. If I’m careful, I won’t alarm them and cause a stampede. Unfortunately I’d been frozen on the ground in a human lump too long to feel my legs under me. Still, I tried to crawl away, pulling myself along on one elbow, dragging my bow, attached to my tingling numb hand.

To my surprise, not only did I not spook those deer, but somehow I had managed to intrigue them enough to follow me.

What? What were they thinking?

As I crawled along, they shuffled along behind, chewing on the field grass, keeping a solid 20 yard gap between us. As I inched away, they followed—an agonizing 20 or so yards they trailed behind me. It wasn’t until the sun completely disappeared and I reached the edge of the field grass where the ground dropped a good 4 feet that I was able to actually drop away from their view, and wind.

Finally. I ditched them! After laying on my back for a minute, watching stars slowly appear across the sky, trying to take mental count of my still slightly numb body parts, I was able to crouch over and scoot into the trees with some sort of clumsy speed. I didn’t look back to see where they were.

As delicately as possible, I proceeded to crash through the unfamiliar woods in the pitch dark, getting hung up in branches, tripping on stumps and whipped by prickly weeds and vines until I stumbled and “felt” my way to a trail that finally lead me to my vehicle.

Out of breath, out of strength, and out of energy, I sat on my tailgate, pulling twigs and leaves out of my hair, and smiled. What a great evening hunt! Needless to say, it took an act of congress to get my butt out of bed the next morning. I hurt in places I didn’t even know I had! But now I have a prime hunting spot. Perhaps this evening, I’ll once again be visited by those two deer.

This time, I’ll be ready and won’t get caught in the open field……

What are you most passionate about? What makes your soul sing? For me, it’s any time I can be immersed in nature! I love to ‘get wild, rugged, and dirty’, so to speak. You can get up close and personal to the great outdoors through many of my observations and experiences in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”.  Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in the outdoors from this outdoorswoman’s perspective, and PR Brady AdVentures.

 

Buddy—A Series Of Adventures—Mine, All Mine

I’ve hit a milestone. Saturday I was able to say it out loud, and not cry.  I was able to hear it said, and not cry.  I was able to keep it together without a meltdown.  It’s been 43 days since you passed away, plus pheasant season opener.

But I didn’t go hunting. No, I was home, trying to get over some random horrid illness that’s kept me horizontal and miserable for seven solid days.  The girls took good care of me, though.  They took turns curling up on the futon or lazy boy with me, guarding me while I slept, escorting me to my many visits to the bathroom, and alerting me to their morning and evening mealtime needs.  Thank goodness for that dog door!

What they didn’t do, however, was remind me it was time to turn the furnace on. After several days of being cold and wondering just how bad of a flu this was since I was shaking all the time, it finally occurred to me we need heat and I turned the thermostat to 68.

The heat didn’t come on.

I turned the dial to 75. Nothing.  Oh no, I’ll have to call the gas company.  I groped my sick self into the kitchen and it all came back to me.  Remember the last time the gas company was here, boy?  I’m sure the service guy will never forget it!

It was our first year together, that first winter, around the end of January. It was cold, and I was cooking in the oven frequently to keep the kitchen extra cozy warm.  Your sisters stayed in the kitchen and your kennel was at the bottom of the stairs.  One morning, the stove stopped working, and I couldn’t get it to start. Same with the oven. I tried to light the pilot lite with no success.  Detecting the smell of gas, and not wanting to test my fixit skills further, I called the gas company to send a tech out.  “He’ll be there before the end of the day.”  Great, that gives me time to pick up a few things, get the dogs situated, and shovel off the steps.  To my surprise, he was knocking on the door within an hour.  I was completely unprepared.

“I was in the neighborhood, and the last call wrapped up pretty fast….”

OH BOY, were you excited! You were spinning circles, getting your sisters all excited, everybody was barking and jumping and wanting to be the first one to greet the gas company service man. I thought I had you all contained in the kitchen while I let him in—but somehow you’d gotten out, and burst through the main floor to the front door like a tornado, your sisters right behind you.  The service man was a tad overwhelmed with the three of you jumping and barking.  Me too.

“Are you ok with dogs? Here, I’ll round them up, Angel!  Sunny!  Buddy, whoa!”  We were just starting obedience school.  I hadn’t really been awarded “pack leader” rights yet, so no one was listening to me.

“Oh, don’t worry, I love dogs!” the man smiled, while you had your keen nose glued to his thigh, sniffing him up and down. As he tried to navigate through the house with your sisters underfoot and you trying to suck his leg up your nostril, he began noting the various animal mounts on the walls, and commented that my husband must be a big hunter.

At that instant you stopped in your tracks and darted to my side, allowing the man to enter the kitchen. I grabbed you by the collar, apologizing.  I didn’t reply to his comment, but noticed he was kind of cute. The girls were still dancing around his feet barking.

“So, where all has he hunted?” The service guy asked as he began opening his tool box.

“Excuse me?”

“Your husband?”

“Um…I……” suddenly you pulled away from me and about tackled the service guy. I felt terrible!  You stood on your hind legs, pushed him back several feet, burying your nose into his armpit and chest.  He was laughing and trying to pet you while you were on your intense investigative sniff and search.  You were not fooling around.  You were in his face.  The girls were barking like mad and I was beyond the limits of embarrassed at my total lack of control.

“Oh, gawd, I’m sorry! Um, it’s just us, it’s still all new.  I am so sorry!” I responded while nervously trying to scoop up dogs out of his way.

“Not a problem! He’s a beautiful dog!  I bet he’s great in the field!” He says as he looks straight into my eyes.

Oh my, is he flirting with me?

Nervously smiling, I couldn’t respond, it’s not even reasonable to think about if he may be hitting on me here. I just wanted to stop the chaos and give the guy some room to work.  Managing to capture the girls and send them to the living room — two down, and just you to go. You would not leave that man alone and come to my side, despite my stern commands.

“Oh, really, don’t worry about him, he’s fine. I seriously don’t mind!” the service guy assures me as he removes the stove top. Way to a girls heart is through the dogs? But he doesn’t know the situation.  We don’t see many men around here.  Only Don The Duck Man comes around to visit once in a great while.  You are the man of the house.  I don’t think you should be hanging all over on the guy while he’s trying to work.  I just don’t trust you.  But he insists it’s okay.

Well okay then. Against my better judgment, I will leave the kitchen to check on the girls.  As the guy gets down on his knees to look inside the oven I can’t help but look.  Well….how refreshing……no butt-crack!  He’s a keeper!

You know how sometimes, a person just gives up, even though they know things are going to go a certain way, because they just can’t convince someone of it? Well, this was fast becoming one of those times.  I barely sat down in the living room with the girls before it happened.

“ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” from the kitchen.

I jumped up and ran toward the shrieks.

There was the service man, standing up with his arms straight out, back arched and legs spread.

“ARGHHHHHHHH! He PEED on me!  He PEED on me!!”

You most certainly did. Drenched the entire back of his shirt, and onto his pants.  Yup, that’s the other thing I didn’t have time to do before the service guy came to the house—I hadn’t had a chance to let you guys out to pee, so it had been hours. MineAllMine2

He was wet. Very wet.  The floor was wet.  There were no words for how embarrassed I was, yet I was also quite distracted.  Wow, I’m thinking, it seems that with that wet shirt, he sure did have a nice body—Oh! OMG that’s horrible!    My face turns beet red.  Flustered and mortified, I was babbling apologies, offering to launder his clothes as he stood there, bewildered, asking for a towel and a mop.

You came bounding over to me, turned and looked at him and let out one big low bark, as if to say;

“There. I think we’re clear now.  She’s mine, all mine!”

Yeah, that pretty much destroyed any chance of me getting a date out of that deal. Well played, Buddy, well played.

Buddy Boy McBrady
Gone Forever Bird Hunting as of Monday, Sept 1st 2014 at 3:30
“Find us some good fields up there, boy, and I will see you again soon.”

 

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our journey together, and PR Brady AdVentures.

 

Buddy—A Series Of Adventures–The Power of Purple

The moment I cracked the front door open, I could feel the energy. A pent up, turbulent sort of air seemingly connected to the disarray of the house in general.  Bedding on the living room floor.   Dog toys and bones scattered everywhere. The smell of dog and all its potential meanings. Remnants of chaos, the flurry of packing and dashing out the door.

We are back home. I step into the house, immediately drawn to the couch.  You are not on the couch, waiting for me.  I catch my breath, trying not to cry. I bend over to unleash the girls.  Even being sick, they clamor through the doorway, sliding across the hardwood floor, grabbing at toys along the way, heading to the back door, eager to get out and check for chippers.  I slowly move through the living rooms’ maze of dog debris, looking back at that couch.  Looking down at where the futon was.  Noticing everywhere that you now…. aren’t.

Is this just a dream? Is this maybe, just maybe, not really happening?

I can’t do this.

I pull my arms around my chest in a big hug, and stand in the doorway to the kitchen. Your water bowl is there across the room.  More bones and toys are scattered across the floor.  It’s time to accept that you are still basically everywhere, yet, you are not in the kitchen, spinning wild circles of excitement at the idea of ‘dinners’, or going for a walk, or going to get that chipper.

Oh hell, I can’t do this. I just can’t.

I open the back door and the girls burst outside. I stand in the kitchen and listen.  Listen for the slightest sound of you.  Nothing.

Angel is poking her head through the dog door, spying at me from outside.  Towards the end, you couldn’t manage getting through that dog door, so I would prop the entire screen door open for us all. And even then, you would lay down on the step before coming into the house, lay down in the back doorway before going outside. I stand in the back doorway, looking down at your food bin.  It’s half full.  Suddenly I am in a frenzy of pulling treat containers and dog necessities and miscellaneous “stuff” off of the shelves in the back doorway.  Dog toys come tumbling down from the upper shelves.  Among them, your very special soft purple toy.  Gasping for a breath, I bend over and pick it up from the floor clutching it hard to hold back the tears.

Remember when I gave you this purple toy? You had been stealing the girls soft toys and eating them.  Bad, bad boy.  Two trips in 4 months to the vet with tummy issues, you were developing a very expensive, bad and dangerous behavior.  So I thought maybe if you had your very own toy, you’d leave theirs alone.  You carried this goofy purple thing everywhere for a few weeks.  Slept with it, sat with it, cared for it, and defended it.  Then one day Angel got ahold of it for few minutes before I caught her in the act.  I gave it back to you and scolded her.  Seconds later, you started that old familiar bad dog look you’d developed when you were about to eat a toy.  You were going to eat that purple toy.  That was it, the purple toy went up on this shelf, never to be seen again.

Funny how you never ripped on live birds. Just soft, plush dog toys.

I set the purple toy on the kitchen counter, prop open the back door and step outside.

The patio is still in one piece. That’s a relief.

Tomorrow will be the next of my series of Happy Hump Hours. Maybe I was wrong to host a “party” so soon?  This will be the first one without you milling about, begging for treats.  How can I party without you, Buddy?  It’s going to rain tomorrow, and be very cold.  I am going to have to clean the house up to entertain inside.  Clean the house?  OMG.  How can I possibly disturb any of this?  How can I take away the bits of you all over this house?

I sink to the ground, crying.

I knew this day would come. I knew this time would come.  Somehow, I was hoping it would never actually get here.  Perhaps….just “skip” us….somehow, just let me take my boy out one more hunting season…..but no.

I sit back on the patio and look out at the yard. Major mowing to do.  Suddenly a blast of white fur blazes past me out into the yard.  A jumping, twisting, wild blaze of white fur.

“Angel!” I cry out, wondering what’s got her so riled up.   She stops, halfway across the yard, and turns around, showing off her prize.

Your purple toy.

With dozens of perfectly good toys scattered throughout the house, she somehow manages to nab your one, very special purple toy. How did she get it down from the kitchen counter????????????????????????????????

She refuses to come to me with it. I get up to take it from her.  The chase begins.  This is not like her at all. She runs around, and around me, dancing and taunting me with it, just like you would.

When I almost reach her, she kicks into hyper speed and tears away, running a big circle around me, just like you would.

As she makes the sharp curve of the circle, she digs in and gives a little grunt, then stops cold and looks at me, like “is that all you got?

Just like you would.

Angel has completely distracted me. I am huffing and puffing, determined to catch her.  But oh my, she sure has suddenly become quite the contender, this little girl.  She maintains her distance, drops her front end down, shakes that toy a good few times, then springs up, and runs past me into the house.

There is no getting that purple toy away from her. She has claimed it, thoroughly demonstrated she is worthy of it, and has become a “different” dog with it.   She is behaving like you.  Where is this coming from???

I am stupefied.

I am exhausted.

And….hey…..that was pretty amazing, and fun, too. I plop down on the swing. Sunny Girl rushes over to me and paws my leg.  I smile, “Yes, girl, mama loves you too!” Angel is now in the house, peering out at me through the dog door, still with your purple toy in her mouth.

???????????????????????????????What does it all mean? Maybe nothing, maybe something.  Is this your doing, boy?  The passing of the baton, so to speak?

 

The power of purple.

 

 

Buddy Boy McBrady

Gone Forever Bird Hunting as of Monday, Sept 1st 2014 at 3:30

“Find us some good fields up there, boy, and I will see you again soon.”

 

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our journey together.

 

 

Buddy—A Series Of Adventures—One White Box

It’s time to go home; time to leave the peaceful serenity of the lake. The time has come, to take care of business back home.  I am reluctant to go.  I sit in the gazebo where you spent your final hours.  I will never forget this space.  I am reluctant to leave the vivid essence of you here.  But I have to.  Really, I have to.

Your sisters have both become quite sick. It has been very challenging, to continue to go without normal sleep for so many nights.  First with you these last few weeks, and now with them.  They have not eaten for days, have had bleeding runny bowel movements, barfing, and now they too, have met the vet I brought you to on Labor Day.  We don’t know what’s wrong.  He has given them both antibiotics and Loperamide, hoping their symptoms are simply from getting into some bad drinking water, something called Bacterial Overgrowth Gastroenteritis.  God I hope that’s all it is.  Please let that be all it is. I can’t lose anyone else. I boil hamburger and rice for them.  They refuse to eat it.

We are all alone up here. We have to head back.

I pace around the gazebo, putting things away in their places. I pace around the cabin, doing the same.  Tears come hot, hard, and often.  Everything I touch holds a memory of you.  Straightening things up doesn’t mean I am getting rid of you, and yet it feels like it.  I load up our gear and situate the girls into the truck, then make a final swing through the Toy Hauler, locking things up.  My bike and the Red Flyer Wagon are still out.  I move them into the storage building.  Somehow, I can’t let go of that borrowed wagon just yet.  No, I can’t let go just yet.

I climb into the driver seat and start the engine. “D” for drive.  Come on, now, let’s get on the road.  Drive.

Drive.

Drive….

Drive?

Or just sit here and weep for a while. That works too.  I think about Cindy and Clark.  They opened up their beautiful  lake place to share with us, and spent their much needed vacation here with us during this difficult time.  What kind, amazing people they are.  They were right there through everything, helping me care for you.  What would we have done without them?  What in the world would I have done when the truck broke down and Clark helped me to get it to the mechanics in Walker?  What would we have done without Cindy?  I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  There is always some light.

Heavy sigh. I wipe my tears, shift to “D”, pull out of the driveway and onto the road—destination home.

The drive out seems so desolate. We pass the foot path you and I walked up looking for grouse.  My eyes well up with tears.  Do you remember that day, limping up that path in your Thunder Shirt and home-made boot?  A true hunter to the end– you were so determined to point something for me.  That same day, you spied a chipper on the woodpile and closed in on it with the girls, terrorizing the hell out of it.  It was a good day.

We stop in Walker at the vet office. The girls instantly become anxious.  They know where we are, and they know they don’t want to go in there again.  No worries.   I walk up to the desk alone.

“do you have… “

“Oh! You are here!”  the receptionist says with relief.  She jumps up, runs into another room, then returns with a white metal box, 4 inches by 4 inches by 5inches, carefully handing it to me.

Eight days without you. But at least I have you now.

I clutch the small white box to my bosom and go back to the truck. It all comes down to this.  Your silky soft body, your countless sweet expressions, your athleticism, your natural ability and hunting instincts, your wildly enthusiastic nature and willingness to please, it all comes down to a box of ashes.  Once again the tears fall hard and heavy until I cannot breathe. Until I am out of air and gasping for a breath.

There is complete stillness in the truck. The girls are both intently looking at me.  They begin to gurgle “pre-barks” of concern, adding in half a tail wags.  I wipe my face and blow my nose, and give Angel a pat on the head.  I am not feeling quite so alone.  I need to take care of your sisters. And now you are still with me, big dog, and we are all heading home.   I place the box between me and Angel on the front seat.  Sunny Girl lies down in the back seat and will soon be fast asleep.  Hopefully we will not have to make any messy stops on the way home.

We drive straight through the string of tourist towns all the way to the last 30 or so minutes of the trip. I hesitate as I take the exit at 25.  It looks much different in the daylight.  It looks much different when it’s not raining.  I slow down.  There is no one behind us.  I slow to a crawl, searching the far side of the road for a sign.  Just a sign.  Oh…there it is.  I’m sure of it.  I pull off to the side of the road, flashers on, park, and get out.

I shouldn’t be doing this. I run across the road.  I’ve found the spot, the exact spot where we stopped on the way up north that Thursday before Labor Day.  Nothing else has been here since that day.  The small bits of garbage and sticks are all still right there.  There are my muddy sliding footprints on the hillside.  I kneel down and touch the ground where we had been.

It was raining pretty hard, but you so politely let me know you needed to “go”, so we stopped. What a horrible experience it was, there on the side of the road.  The rain pelting down, and you were barely able to limp out of the back seat of the truck to get out and go.  It took all the energy you had, and then you lost your footing, and rolled down the ditch.  Oh my God I felt so helpless!  You lay at the bottom of the ditch in the weeds and grass. The girls were contemplating jumping out to explore.  I was yelling at them to stay the hell in the truck as I rushed down the hill to your side.  They stayed.  You were exhausted, and just laid there in the wet ditch.  The look of humiliation on your face was heartbreaking. We were both soaking wet.  I tried to lift you up.  I wasn’t strong enough.  And all the while, a steady stream of cars whizzed by at 55+mph, spraying water on the side of the road.  Not one vehicle even slowed down.  I’m surprised an area resident didn’t call 911 hearing my mighty, desperate scream “GOD PLEASE HELP ME!” as I tried one more time to pick your tired body up out of the ditch.  And then, somehow I gained the strength to get you up that hill, and back into the truck, where you collapsed until we reached Leech Lake.

Sorrow fills my heart, and I sit crying in the ditch, remembering it all. “I am so sorry boy, so sorry that you went through that. I am so sorry I wasn’t stronger…smarter.  I should have done something differently.  Oh, my boy, I miss you so!”  I am pulling tufts of weeds out of the ground as I sit sobbing, barely aware of the passing cars.  Suddenly I notice a metallic flicker in the grass down to the left of where our struggles took place.  I get up and walk towards it.  It is my silver, battery operated lantern light.  I pick it up in disbelief and turn to look up the hill.  There is our traveling water dish, water bottle, and one of my red ratchet straps.  These things must of all fell out of the truck as I wrestled the elements to get you back in.  A gentle breeze blows my hair across my face, then, all is still.OneWhiteBox

“Thank you, Buddy. Thank you for bringing me back here.  Good boy.  Let’s go home now.”

And we are on the road again, with you, in one white box.

 

Buddy Boy McBrady

Gone Forever Bird Hunting as of Monday, Sept 1st 2014 at 3:30

“Find us some good fields up there, boy, and I will see you again soon.”

 

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”.  Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our journey together.

 

 

Buddy – A Series Of Adventures –Seven Days

Monday. It’s been 6 days and 23 hours since Buddy left us. In just one hour, it will be a week that I have been without 7Dayshim.  A week without the heartache, worry, helplessness, fear and sadness of watching my best friend slip away in my arms.  A week without his big brown eyes giving me that loving, trusting gaze.  A week of being completely lost.

Here we are, the girls and I, quietly sitting in the gazebo where he passed. They seem to know not to get too close to the spot where he took his last breaths.  They seem to know why I’m down here on the ground in that spot.  I’m not sure I know what I’m doing here on the ground.  But I’ll just sit here, and think about all of the crazy, funny, exciting, testing, awkward, rewarding, and loving memories I have of my special boy. I am grateful that he is finally in a place that is pain free.  A place where he can run and swim and chase birds and be happy.

Now it’s just us three. I’ve spent all the energy I could muster up trying to act somewhat normal the past 5 ½ days.  But I still couldn’t help but sit here in this gazebo, questioning everything I know every day.  I couldn’t help but sleep with his toys and blankets pulled around me on the futon every night.  I couldn’t help but drift away from conversations, and stare into space and wonder who the hell I am without him–over and over.   But now it’s just us three here, I don’t have to pretend with Angel and Sunny Girl. They seem to share this dreadful sense of loss.  Hello raw grieving.

“They say” our deceased loved ones want us to go on. Right now, I can’t imagine going on.  How can I? He’s taken such a big piece of me with him.  My joy, my passion, my sense of purpose.   So we sit here, in this gazebo, listening to the waves of Leech Lake crash to shore, the wind blow, and Solitudes Algonquin Suite playing in his memory.

“They say” that the hearing is the last thing to go. I take comfort in knowing the last sounds he heard was me telling him “I love you, sweet boy” with the soft sounds of nature in the background.

Seven days.

It’s 3:30 pm. I’ve made it seven days.

 

Buddy Boy McBrady

Gone Forever Bird Hunting as of Monday, Sept 1st 2014 at 3:30

“Find us some good fields up there, boy, and I will see you again soon.”

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our journey together.

 

Buddy – A Series Of Adventures – He Sleeps

One nostril breathing has finally slowed my body down to a sense of calm.  Your pale, shallow sleep breath gently presses into my side, letting me know you are still there.  It has been another long, sleepless night.  The cabin floor is concrete with a carpet laid across it.  Not exactly ideal for a restful sleep.  But we have found a sliver of stillness in the morning.  Relishing in a little pain free, sad free peace.  Then……..ARGHHHHH!  Another gruesome dog fart!

Ugh…that’s my boy.

I softly follow the curves around your face with one finger, and stroke your cheek as you sleep through your flatulation.

Remember when we began our hunting journey together?  It was about this same time, in 2003. You were already 11 months old and full of self-reliant attitude when we met.   I was terrified to let you off leash, even with your E-Collar, afraid I wouldn’t be able to get you back. But you trained me.  You trained me to trust you.  Trust your natural ability.  You taught me why I damn well better keep up.  You blazed the pheasant fields non-stop for hours and hours.  You had to be the fastest North American Animal ever.  In your prime, your endless, boundless energy about killed me scores of times.  You kept me in shape.  You forced me to become a good shot.  You walked at my side, and amazed everyone we met with your sharp nose and willingness to please.

These last few weeks, mostly, you just sleep.  You would move from the living room to the kitchen, then sleep.  From the kitchen to the backdoor, and sleep.  From the backdoor to the patio, then sleep.  From the patio to the yard then sleep.  And you sleep hard.   I am constantly checking to make sure you are still breathing.  Eventually, you would begin to drift into your dog dreams.

What is filling your head to make you roll on your back with all 4 legs straight up and sprawled, ears flapped flat to the ground and that big dog lip hanging out and trembling?  Dreaming of better days?

The mind has a sneaky way of playing tricks on us humans.  You open your eyes and look at me upside down, I swear you are smiling.  I would find myself thinking;

“You are feeling better!  You are getting better! “

Then you would roll back over to your good side with a heavy sigh.  I know you are not getting better.  But a girl can hope, can’t she?  I will ride this roller coaster of emotions until you tell me,

“it’s time.”

Now here we are, up in the north woods, at the lake.  It’s quiet, peaceful, and beautiful here as you sleep.  You no longer roll onto your back with those gangly legs in the air.  It requires too much effort.  You don’t want to eat, unless it’s those treats Rose bought you.  You barely want to drink water. But you move from the futon to the kitchen, then sleep.  From the kitchen to the back door and sleep.  From the door to the patio, then sleep.  From the patio to the yard, then sleep.  About three human steps at a time, at best.   Often, you need a little help to get there.  The last few nights, you haven’t even joined me on the futon, so I joined you on the floor.

It’s turning into beautiful day today.  “Let’s go up to the gazebo.” I say, and Cindy and I help you get there using a blanket to lift you into a little red wagon, then wheel you up the hill and into the grand comfortable structure. You sleep several hours, occasionally raising your head to see where I am.  I am right here next to you, boy.

I could sit here and watch you forever.  We have spent the last few days in this lovely gazebo, listening to soft, comforting music like Enya, Jim Chappell, and Carlos Naki.  One afternoon, you even found the energy to work on a big marrow bone Cindy bought you.  Suddenly you raise your tired body up and limp out of the gazebo and over to the edge of the trees—a good 15 or more yards.  You drop to the ground.  Again, you sleep.  Do you want to be alone?  I leave you to bask in the shady sun.  My heart is breaking, watching you today.  We have an appointment tomorrow at 11:00 in Walker—but we can cancel it if we want to.  Do you want to, boy?

Tuesday’s appointment weighs heavy on my mind.  Are you telling me ‘it’s time.’?  I don’t want to go.  I don’t want to initiate that final procedure.  I know I will cancel it.  I wrestle with anguish for an hour, watching you lay on the wooded ground.  I keep returning to your side, softly petting your face and back.  You are beautiful to me.  Even with the tumor and swelling and weeping wound and the smell. You are my handsome boy.  I love you so.  I am right here.  Are you telling me ‘it’s time.’?

The sun has now found its way around the trees, taking away any hope of shade and comfort you had. I’ve got to get you out of this sun. Cindy and I scoop you into the red flyer wagon once again, and it’s back to the shady gazebo.   You are too tired to argue.  Too tired to help.  You surrender to the gazebo with a heavy sigh, and rest your head on my leg.

I sit watching you as you sleep, stroking your head, back and hind legs. Your tumored leg really needs new dressings.  My sleep deprived mind continues to spin circles of fear, grief and anguish.  What keeps you hanging on? Are you worried about me? I cannot stand to see you like this.  I know you can’t, either.  But I have to be strong in front of you.

“Cindy, will you watch him while I run up to the trailer?”

“Of course.”

I gently pull away from your side and run up the hill to the toy hauler and close the door.  Falling to my knees I burst into uncontrollable, gut wrenching sobs on the floor of the trailer, crying and crying and crying until it seems my eyes are swelling shut.   I crawl up onto the couch and rock back and forth.

“Get it together, girl, get it together!  You can’t be like this!”  My self-talk is doing nothing for me.  I need to be there for you, but I am a mess.  I don’t want you to see me like this.  I know you are hanging in there for me.

“Daddy!   Dad!  Oh, please, dad, help me with this.  Mom! Mama! Help me, please!  Look at him!  He doesn’t deserve this!  Please come and guide him to you!  Please!  Help me with this?  Muriel!  Mikel!  Sweet Pea!  Zeke! Please hear me!  Please come to him, help him find his way to you!  OH, please help me with my boy!  Please, I need your help!”

I pray and pray with all my might.  Somehow, I have ended up back on the floor of the trailer, and I swear I hear Muriel tell me to get up off the floor.

Now I know I am losing it.

I pick myself up off the floor, and stand in stillness for a minute.  I’m tingling all over.  It feels like I’ve been away for hours, but only a few minutes have passed.  My chest hurts.  I blow my nose, wipe my face, grab something to drink, and head back to your side in the gazebo.

I look to Cindy, “Can you take the girls up to the trailer?”

“Of course.  He tried to get up and get some water, so I helped him.” She reports.  “Patty…I think… it’s…it’s time.”

I drop to your side, and comfort you, hoping you have no awareness of the mess I’ve managed to become.  She leaves the gazebo with your sisters, and we are alone.

“I know. “ I softly reply, and dial up Solitudes Algonquin Suite on my computer playlist.

I lightly follow the curves around your face with one finger, and stroke your cheek, then trace up around your neck, and ear, down your back and to your back legs as you lay on your green blanket, in a shallow breath sleep.  I gently lift your head, tucking your soft red toy under it.

“Buddy do you see my dad? Go to him, baby, it’s ok.”  I softly coo in your ear. “Do you see my mom?  Do you see Sweet Pea? Muriel?  Mikel?  What about Zeke? Don’t be afraid, big dog, they are waiting for you.  They will take care of you until I can get there.  It’ll be ok.”  You begin to snore.

I must be crazy. I must be going completely crazy, but I am driven to maintain this chest pounding prayer for help.  I believe.

Your breathing quickens and you lift your head to meet my gaze.  “Yes, boy, I am right here with you.”  You lay your head back down on my leg and drift off, jolting awake in minutes, searching for my eyes, then falling back to sleep.  I stroke your tired body as you doze and wake, doze and wake, always meeting my gaze and finding a new position to rest your face on my leg.  My sweet, sweet, Buddy.

“Cindy, can you help me change his dressing?”

“Of course.” She has been just a few feet away, getting some sun.  She returns to the gazebo as I put together a new bandage for you.

I gently remove your Ace bandage and soiled gauze, and I slide my arm under your body to begin wrapping the new dressing.

“Patty……Patty…….” Cindy begins “…I think he…..”

He sleeps.  Yes, he sleeps.

The air is still.  The crows are still. The waves are still.  His chest is still. The whirring of the little fan cooling us seems far away.

I look into your beautiful brown eyes. They, too, are still.

You gave me everything good there is.

You gave me laughter.

You gave me challenge.

You gave me hope.

You gave me a reason to go on.

You gave me unconditional love.

You have filled the last 10 years of my life with purpose and joy.

 

And now, in my arms, he sleeps.

Buddy Boy McBrady

Gone Forever Bird Hunting as of Monday, Sept 1st 2014 at 3:30 pm

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“Find us some good fields up there, boy, and I will see you again soon.”

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”.  Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our stories.