May, beloved Labrador retriever: May 2003 – January 2016

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What can one say when a beloved dog has died? Sometimes, bereft and numb, there is nothing at all to say. At other times, words tumble out as memories of a long, happy life together are recalled.

For what strikes me most is, simply and utterly, that May and I shared our lives. We spent every day together. My career allowed me to work at home and home is where May always lived. She was never a kennel dog.

May and I had much in common. We both loved the water and swimming. Both of us loved our ritual of daily walks and we loved to eat. And we both loved our work as part of Northwoods Bird Dogs.

May loved the grouse woods of northern Minnesota and occasionally out-birded our bird dogs.

May loved the grouse woods of northern Minnesota and occasionally out-birded our bird dogs.

May was a black Labrador retriever Jerry and I bought from Dennis and Janice Anderson, owners of BritishLabradors in Houlton, Wisconsin. We had been on their reservation list for a couple years, waiting for a female out of their premier sire, Conneywarren Jason. Jason had a classic blocky head, bright brown eyes, thick glossy coat and the temperament Anderson’s dogs are known for.

It was worth the wait. On that summer afternoon when we picked up our eight-week-old-puppy, it was love at first sight for me.

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May was athletic and always seemed to be in shape no matter the season. She was a strong runner with a long, smooth stride and could outpace—at least for a short distance—all our pointers and setters.

She was easily trained and in no time had the basic obedience commands down. She was an excellent retriever, too, although in a very ladylike manner. May never charged into the water, splashing anything within reach. Rather she gently waded in and then swam calmly to the dummy.

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May loved chew toys and the bigger the better. She snuffled in the pot where I stored the dog toys and proudly came up with one or even two rawhides or Nylabones. Her teeth were always shiny white.

No matter the age or breed, May got along with every dog.

May got along with all dogs—whether our dogs or dogs in for training and no matter the age, ability or sex. She lived in the house with many of our best including setters Blue Streak, Blue Silk and Blue Shaquille and pointers Dasher, Prancer and Vixen.

May traveled everywhere with Jerry and me. Whether it was vacations in southern Arizona or guiding responsibilities in northern Minnesota, May was with us. When we moved south during the winter months first to Oklahoma and Tennessee and now in Georgia, May always made the cut.

The best brace of the day is always the last one. On a Georgia quail plantation, Jerry and I ran May with a favorite pointer Basil (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013).

The best brace of the day is always the last one. On a Georgia quail plantation, Jerry and I ran May with a favorite pointer Basil (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013).

Because of our business, May spent her field time with bird dogs. Jerry and I braced her with all ages and abilities. A very proud day for me occurred during one of those training runs on a good trail in northern Minnesota. May out-birded 2X CH/4X RU-CH Houston’s Belle.

On a "gang run," May leads puppies Snickers, Grits and Axel (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012) into a pond.

On a “gang run,” May leads puppies Roy, Snickers and Axel (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012) into a pond.

May also had an important responsibility in “gang runs” of puppies when she and I headed into the pasture with a group of puppies for a training walk. The puppies followed May like she was the Pied Piper. When I sang to turn May, all puppies turned. When May stopped at ponds to drink and swim, all puppies stopped, too. The puppies easily learned running to the font, handling to voice commands, dealing with heat and thirst and navigating terrain of woods and fields.

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May had an extraordinary debut as a retriever on a duck hunt in 2014. Jerry took photos and wrote about it for a blog post on January 8, 2014.

May died on January 12. She suffered one seizure in October and then a series of them just before Christmas due, most likely, to a brain tumor. Our vet put prescribed Phenobarbital and we had some rough days carrying her in and out. She had slowly regained her former strength and personality as her body adjusted to the drug. But early on that Tuesday she had several small seizures in a row that more medications couldn’t help. Even though she could recognize her name and me, she wasn’t there and clearly it was time to let her go.

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I know May had a long, happy life but I miss her every single second. I just can’t shake the feeling that I should see her first thing every morning and last thing at night. And the world’s just not right without her.

Comments

    RIP Slate

    Northwoods Slate
    CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon
    January 2016 - September 2017

    Good stuff about puppies

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    A pointing dog’s first hunting season
    Bird and gun introduction
    Early development of puppies
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    How to pick a puppy
    Patience and puppies
    Picking puppies: the unimportance of picking order
    Puppies and fireworks
    Puppy buying mistakes
    Raising puppies at Northwoods Bird Dogs
    The pointing instinct
    Training puppies on a stakeout chain

    Good stuff from previous posts

    blog sidebar hunting steve oscar 250

    Finer points on...

    A brace of bird dogs
    Accuracy of location
    Bird finding
    How to flush grouse and woodcock
    Hunting pattern
    Range
    Running grouse
    Scenting ability
    Speed and scenting
    To point a bird, first a dog has to find it
    Using grouse dogs on pheasants

    Training

    A bump or a knock
    Backing point
    Bird dog basics:  hunt, handle, point birds
    Bumping grouse
    Electronic training collars...a little perspective
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    Patience and puppies
    The pointing instinct
    Transition to wild birds
    Unproductive points
    WHOA and NO

    Breeding

    Dogs, not averages, matter in breeding
    Evaluating litters
    Pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs
    Proper conformation
    The tail of a bird dog

    Health

    Bird dogs and hidden traps
    Feeding bird dogs
    Feeding for ideal body condition
    First aid kit for bird dogs
    Get your dog ready for the season
    Hazards in the grouse woods
    How to maintain a good weight for your dog
    Quick lesson on poisoning and how to induce vomiting
    Tick-borne diseases in dogs

     IN LOVING MEMORY

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    Dave Kolter Intarsia

     

     

     

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