In memory of Josie

I owe a lot to Josie - and not just for the memories of times we spent together in the field.

I brought her home to a suburban neighborhood as a seven week old pup and soon realized that an unfenced yard wasn't going to work. A "neighborhood covenant" prohibited fences, and the neigborhood association denied my application to build her a run.

So, I left suburbia behind and bought a home in the sticks, a major shift in my life I've never regretted.

I will be forever grateful to her for the times we spent together, and for the life to which she led me.

 

Josie's first pheasant hunt.

 

A good day in Scotland County, northeastern Missouri. Yes, the limit is 2 roosters per day, but there were several shooters... only one dog though. These are all wild birds, hunted "rough" right over Josie. She'd find 'em, flush 'em and fetch 'em.

This was Josie's second goose, taken near Horseshoe lake in southern Illinois.

 

Same day as the picture above.... Left To Right: Bob Barden, Mike Emerson (of Pappy's fame), Josie and I, Greg Carmody.

There wasn't much that escaped her attention, and when she wasn't hunting she seemed to be thinking about hunting.

 

Goodbye, Josie. May your body be again young and strong, and may the roosters always hold tight.

Cinnamon Streak WCX, JH, 10/31/85 - 1/6/00

 


Josie was a bit of an outlaw.

She was a field bred Golden Retriever, long-boned and dark - not like those blonde, stocky show Goldens. Though she was mostly white in her late years.

Josie was the first dog I had ever trained, and looking back she was not a beginners dog.

She was a willful cuss. Her blood was on fire and she had the sort of talent that often left me in awe. I believe that in the right hands she could have been a field champion.

Her intelligence, nose and courage were astonishing - and when she got a whiff of pheasant it was as if the whole world shrank down to a tight focus which was the depth and breadth and heft of that bird.

It was as if she was *angry* at the bird. Her focus was absolute, and when she returned to me with bird in mouth, her pride was absolute as well. She retrieved geese and ducks and doves and quail like a trooper, but with pheasants it was personal.

She was not perfect, being burdened with the sort of flaws that result when a willful dog is trained by a rank amateur, but she had greatness in her.

We once hunted with a fellow who observed that she might be the best pheasant dog he had ever seen, and he had the experience to know what he was talking about. To be honest it was a heck of a day and she didn't earn such high praise every time we went out (the first day we hunted every Fall was always a battle of wills) but damn, she sure gave 'em hell.

Pheasant season was a short part of our lives every year, just a few weekends. A longer distance view of her life might lead to the mistaken conclusion that she was mostly a pampered house dog.

OK maybe she was. But if she could speak I know she would say her life had not been about lazing on the couch, or getting away with sneaking onto the bed at night, or cadging treats.

She would say it was about the pheasants.

I will forego the temptation to describe the highlights that burn in my brain like back lit snapshots. There's too many and my eyes don't seem to be working so good today.

The moment has been a while in coming. Yesterday I suspected and today I knew. We took the trip to the vet together. I held her as she left me.

Enough.

I'll just raise a glass and say that, friend, the world just lost one hell of a dog.

-- Thursday, January 6, 2000

 

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