Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz, "4th Year, Part 10"

While that was the last hunt that we'd have, it was not the last time that Blitz and I were up at the duck camp.  She attended with me every weekend, and the Rimadyl appeared to be keeping her pain free.  The precious time that was ticking away was good, quality time.  We were having fun just being with each other.  But as November hit, we were now four months from her cancer diagnosis.  That was how much time the vet estimated she'd live; maybe two more months at best.  Additional days were blessings, and not taken for granted. 
Blitz continued to get around great, and as long as the meds were given in the appropriate intervals, she'd use her cancerous leg.  Our routine was a simple one - breakfast and a small walk in the morning, kenneling during the work day to keep her quiet, then dinner and another small walk at night, finished off by hanging out on the couch to end the day.  Along the way there were lots of bones, petting, belly rubs, and even some roughhousing. 
That Thanksgiving we were hosting Vera's family for the holiday, and it was nice to have the house full.  Given all of the food that was around, Blitz needed to be kenneled as she still could not be trusted not to hop up and snatch a snack for herself.  As sick as she was, that dog loved food, with forbidden food apparently tasting the best.  As everyone there was just getting ready to set down to a meal, my sister-in-law happened to be looking out the window into the back yard.  "Mike!" she exclaimed, "A big pheasant just landed in your back yard!"  Our yard butted up to a wetland area, and in the adjoining land was native prairie.  We'd often see pheasants in that area, and it was a real treat for the dog to be able to flush birds back in the days when she was healthy as we'd walk.  I walked over to the window and asked "Where did the bird come down?" "Right there - literally twenty yards from the back door," came the reply.  While I couldn't see the bird in the cover, it gave me an idea.  "You guys interested in seeing what Blitz can do?"  I asked, kind of not caring about the answer, as I knew what I was going to do.  But a resounding "Yes!" was the answer, and I went downstairs to get Blitz out of her confinement and to pay a visit to Mr. Rooster in the back yard. 
Between the smells and the sounds coming from the upstairs, Blitz was wide awake and ready to get out when I arrived in the basement.  "What do you think, girl?  You want to go outside?" I asked, and given the movement of her rear end, the answer was obvious, even before I posed the question. 
We made our way out the lower level walk out, while the entire family gathered at the window a floor directly above us.  Blitz and I moved forward, heading toward where my sister-in-law marked the bird, and almost immediately Blitz's tail was moving in that rapid motion which always meant "Hey Boss!  I got a bird I'm smelling here!"  We waded about 10 yards into the thigh-high grass, and immediately Blitz locked up tight.  Her ears were perked up, tail straight back and frozen solid, and her eyes focused dead ahead of her.  "What you got, girl?" I asked, knowing full well the answer.  I moved in behind her, quietly telling her "Easy...easy..." to try and keep her in point.  It was unnecessary, as Blitz was still as a statue, and not going anywhere.  When I felt that I was sufficiently out of the way of the spectators above me, I tapped Blitz on her hind end, and said "Get him!"  Immediately she moved forward, and just as immediately a beautiful rooster pheasant burst from the cover. 
Blitz followed the bird's flight path for about ten yards before returning to my command of "HERE!"  The look on her face was one of confusion, as if to say "What happened there, boss?  The shot doesn't get any easier than that!"  I praised her and petted her, and turned to head back to house.  That's when I looked up and saw my family huddled around the window, cheering wildly. 
Most folks think of Thanksgiving entertainment as football on TV, or games with the family.  For us, that year, our best entertainment was provided by a sick, but very capable yellow lab. 

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