Life Turns On A Dime
I buried him with his boots on. The half-day’s hunt had worn them down a bit but produced no holes. Every morning, before we left for a day of quail hunting, Gus would lay on his back in the utility room while I wrapped his paws with gauze before covering the gauze loosely in duct tape. The portable barriers protected his feet from the grass burrs that grew in the fields where we hunted.
Consequently, he could run like the wind, unimpeded by stickers in his pads. And, boy, did he run. He probably traveled at least five times as far as I walked. Occasionally he would flop down and rest or wade into a pond, but for the most part, he went non-stop.
He loved to hunt. Once he spotted my hunting pants or blaze orange cap in the morning, the whining began. He tried to talk more than any dog we have ever known. Nancy stoked the fire by asking him repeatedly, “Are you going to go get the birdies?” He responded with hilarious sounds. Once the boots were on, he leaned against the door to the garage and raised a paw to the knob. He wanted out of the house and into the truck. Throughout the day he continued to jump in and out of the back of the truck.
Gus could turn on a dime and alert us as to where the quail were located. This morning was his best day ever. I lost track of how many birds he found in the love grass where we were hunting. No conditions are worse; yet he combined his big nose with the good moisture to seek and find many birds that felt hidden and safe. I felt good about future quail hunting trips, even if he had yet to retrieve.
After a snack, we moved to another field and found some birds. The field was located near a blacktop road. As we headed back toward the truck, three birds flushed and headed toward the blacktop. So did Gus – anticipating that one of them would fall. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a semi-truck barreling down the road. I screamed in vain for Gus to stop. When I saw him bounce off the front passenger wheel, I fell to my knees and cried, “No!” When I made it to him, it was obvious that he was gone.
With Kendall’s help, I drove to the same location where I had buried Scout less than two years earlier. I used the same shovel.
I will miss Gus very much. So will Nancy. We walked him twice a day. He watched us through the windows from the back yard. He always came to greet us and enjoyed our company. He usually waited until we came outside before he ate his food. We adopted him after a couple of other owners decided not to keep him. I am so glad we did.
Life turns on a dime,