Buddy – A Series of Adventures – Crimson Sand

Those big, soft, chocolate eyes begging, pleading, yearning for just one toss of the ball are killing me.

Buddy, I’m sorry to be a stick in the mud and not throw your toys for you. You are limping enough as it is.  You are out of breath with short walks.  Let the pills kick in a few days and see if that helps.  Then, maybe a toss or two.  I know it’s hard.

Remember that time we went down to the lake to fetch from the water?

We hardly knew each other.  We were preparing you to take the Natural Ability Test, scheduled a short 20 days away.  I watched the NAVHDA training tape, I read “The Green Book” over and over, and we worked several times each day on the required elements of the test in the short 30 days we’d been together.  You were a quick learner, and I knew early on I had a very exceptional Short Hair Pointer by my side.  Unfortunately I was pretty much useless for 12 days after my injury from the girls.  Your training stopped, and you were very sad.  We had no one else to help us, and the clock was ticking.

Then the thirteenth day of downtime, our friend Don, a “father figure”, and quite knowledgeable about hunting dogs, came to our rescue.  Understanding the predicament I was in, he offered to help me with handling you so we could pick up on our training routine. There was one element of the test we had not been able to start yet, and that’s where our focus was most needed.

The three of us went to a quiet park, found an out of the way spot and prepared to set up our lesson.  We practiced tracking birds on the ground, using fresh goose wings from opener.   You did well for never having followed a scent trail before.   Standing in front of a couple white feathers, an animated “Dead bird, dead bird!” command quickly sent you sniffing the ground and canvassing every inch around the drag line, until you’d finally lock onto the trail and follow to the decoy.  We had you follow track 5 times, each trail fresh on a new location.  You improved each time.  Next we practiced your willingness to heel at a slow pace, normal walk, and at a run.   Even with unsuspecting turns and stops added to the mix of exciting smells and no leash, you cooperated like an old pro!  Then, you became the fetching machine as you retrieved the bumper dozens of times across a big open field.  Dropped it into my hand every time without fail.  All this you did with Don watching or helping.   I couldn’t have been more proud.  Neither could Don.  My prior weeks of steady training with you on the table were paying off.

You were hot, sweating, and still full of energy.  I knew you would love to get in the water.  Don proceeded to help you back into the truck.  We decided you needed a good reward so we headed to our favorite nearby lake.  The lake we went to almost every day until my accident, and it was just down the street from the house.  You love to go get the bumper from the water.  You would often run out into the water and wait for the next toss.  We hadn’t gone for the last twelve days.

As I parked at the top of the hill you began whining with anticipation.  Don laughed, helped you out of the truck, and we headed down to our favorite spot on the shoreline.  Don started reminiscing about the area and the lake, and to my surprise, said;

“You know, I don’t think this is a good place for him to be jumping into the water.  You don’t know what’s in there.” ”Relax, Don, we come here all the time.  It’s perfectly safe, and he loves it!”

On my first toss out to the lake you charged into the water like a rocket, swam out about 30 yards, Waterboygrabbed the bumper and swam back, actually crying as you dog paddled to shore. We didn’t pay too much mind to your behavior, thinking you were just extremely excited. But when you got out of the water, you were standing crooked; your eyebrows were scrunched together in confusion, frozen in place, still holding the bumper.  You looked up at me with those soft chocolate eyes and held your paw up just like I’ve been holding my stitched and bandaged arm; limply.  You dropped the orange plastic bumper, and began to wail in pain.  The sandy ground under your chest started turning crimson red.

“Oh my God, he’s hurt Don, he’s hurt!”  I cried and dropped to my knees, grabbing for your leg with my good hand, with you still wailing and now leaning into my bandaged arm.

Don instantly hit the ground beside me, carefully grabbed the crimson dripping liver and ticked leg and inspected it.  “Oh my, this is bad, this is not good”  He concluded,  you began to shiver and shake.  DAMN—you slit open the back of your lower right foot.   I started frantically unwrapping the bandage covering my cast while Don folded your leg at the joint and held it tight.

“Here, Don, take this and wrap it and apply pressure.  Just take it,  TAKE it!” Don complied, took my bandage and pressure wrapped your foot while I held you with my good arm, tying the bandage end to your collar to hold your foot up.  You didn’t struggle at all, you resigned yourself to our care and let us do what we needed to do, holding your hurt foot up to make it easy.  It was as though you knew, and had complete faith and trust in us.  You were prepared to deal with travel on three legs.

We scrambled up the hill, leaving behind a huge patch of moist, crimson sand.  Don guided you into the truck, keeping you on the floor in the front seat with him.  I jumped in the driver side and burned rubber all the way to the vet office.

You were such a brave, trusting good boy, and Don’s help was immeasurable.  The vet said it was a good thing we got there when we did.  You were inflicted with a horizontal gash to the bone, right under the dew claw, an area that’s very difficult to treat and heal successfully.  Twelve stitches later, you’d have to remain totally motionless for at least 5 days to even have a chance to go to the Natural Ability test.

DoubleTroubleCNow you and I had matching bandages—and stitches!  Your leg needed more stitches than my wrist did.  Aside from that, the only difference between us was, you had a cone over your head.

Thankfully we were not alone that sunny summer day back in 2004.  Things could have been much worse. Don came back to the house with us and we sat outside in the yard, watching you try to navigate the yard with your cone head and slowly get goofy from the pills the vet prescribed.  In frustrated resolve, you finally lay down next to Don and drift off to sleep.  Before long, I grew weary from my own meds and fell asleep on Dons shoulder as well.

Don came over daily to see how “us two gimps” were doing.  You would grab your toy and limp over to him and stare him down with those big, soft, chocolate eyes; begging, pleading, yearning for just one toss of the bumper.  All I could think about was that fateful day at the lake, with you standing in a pool of crimson sand.  “Settle, boy, settle.”  Keeping you still those next 5 days was all but impossible.

Precious Don, our good friend, never once said “ I told you so”.

Now, just like back then, your desire to fetch and retrieve and please me far overrides any acknowledgement that you have pain or discomfort.  You are simply wired that way.  I know it’s hard.  Hang on, baby, maybe we’ll try a toss or two tomorrow.

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Comments

  1. Patty, Buddy sounds like such a special dog and you are so fortunate to have him as your loving companion. Thanks for sharing:)

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