Since I gave Al such a hard time in a recent column, when I moved his hunting experience out of our bedroom, I thought it would be fun to write Al’s side of the story.
Artists are passionate, but no more passionate than hunters. So this is for the hunters who read my column and dream all year of that big hunt.
When a man possesses a good hunting dog, not just any old, play-around dog, but I mean one who whines and pulls at her collar at the smell of a bird that’s a good hunting dog.
I knew I had a problem when my precious gave me an ultimatum. Betty said, “I fear for our grandchildren. Gitta is dangerous. I live in constant fear of who Gitta will attack. Either Gitta goes or I go.”
I couldn’t believe my wife disliked my little German Frauline so passionately and insisted that I choose between her and my little cutie with the curly, wiry brown hair.
“Don’t be silly!” I said with authority, “Gitta is not leaving.” And she didn’t and neither did my wife. Gitta lived with us for fourteen years. My wife complained and I just continued to love my Gitta. I couldn’t let go of her any more than my wife could stop painting and writing.
Gitta wasn’t much to look at; quite ugly, in fact, her nose was plastered all over her face, but what a nose! She could sniff out anything, anytime, and anywhere. You can’t describe what goes through a hunter and his dog’s mind at the moment when the gun goes off.
Gitta was bred to hunt; she had a killer instinct lurking in her being, ready to pounce on anything that moved. Gitta vom Kervinshof had been given to me as a gift. She was from a litter of the highest breed, registered Drahthaars. Schooled, certified, papered, you name it, she had the credentials.
Not only that, she had the nose and I had a good shooting eye. We were a perfect match. My shooting eye was still as good as the day I looked down the barrel of my first shotgun — a single shot 410 — when I was just twelve years old.
No hunter wants a hunting dog that runs and hides in the closet when the gun is shot; or a dog you have to tell, “That’s what you are looking for.” Not my Gitta, she knew exactly what she was bred to do. She was fast, full of energy, intent on the”“game” of hunting. She was the best hunting dog around and she was mine. She made me proud.
I will admit she was a little boisterous. A trait I had been accused of at times. In the evenings I’d invite her in just for a man-to-dog bonding time. She was not interested in bonding. She stalked the place for anything looking like a bird; she was restless, yes, it was in her, to retrieve.
She hunted with me for many years and she always brought home the game. My precious wife and my Gitta never bonded either. I couldn’t admit there was even a slight defect in my prize hunting dog. So I turned a deaf ear to my precious when she complained about her.
It was a gray day, when Gitta’s gray whiskers poked out around that beautiful big nose, a nose which never lost its sharp instinct for smelling. I held off as long as I could, cancer had eaten a hold clear through Getta’s stomach, and I had to put her to sleep. I loaded her in and out of the van. She could no longer jump into the car as she once did. I too can’t get around like I use to and I understood the pain of slowing down. Gitta and I still yearned for those days of tramping through the countryside looking for birds.
In the last days of Gitta’s life, I had to grieve alone; my wife could not understand my loss. I cried and Betty was jumping up and down in glee. I said, “I can’t live without her. She was the greatest dog I ever owned.”
My precious gave me no sympathy and said, “Thank God I lived through it.”
At the vet’s office, in the last few minutes of Gitta’s life she spotted a hybrid wolf dog and in one split second, Gitta pulled at my hold, ready to fight. I yanked back on her collar and she whined with yearnings for one last win; once an alpha, always an alpha dog in heart and mind.
As I have reached this time in my life, I look back and remember when I was ready to take on anything, anytime, and anywhere. I too have been tempered, can’t do the things I used to do, but mention hunting, I’m at the end of my tether. With my gun at my side, my hunting boots on my feet, decked in camouflage from top to bottom, inside out, I’m ready to hunt.
Bright and early every Saturday morning when Turkey Call America or any other such TV show flies into my scope, I take my trusty 12 gauge and aim and for that split second it is that moment of when only a hunter and his hunting dog dream.
The final brushstroke: Every dog has his day. Nourish your dreams; they are what you aspire to be.
On Change, Betty, you are a poet who can put our feelings into words. Very nicely done, Betty. I’m trying to learn. The predictions for the future world is smaller housing. The population and energy costs will be driving the force.
I really enjoyed reading your work. We also are trimming down our living space and all of the “stuff” that we have gathered up over the years!
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“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter’s evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light, which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.” — Woodrow T. Wilson.