Dogs can be real heartbreakers
9/15/2006 1:10:09 PM
Journal entry for September 15, 2006
I got a phone call from my friend Chad Barth, way up in the north country of Wisconsin this morning. Chad is a Plott breeder and fancier and he lives to hunt the black bears that abound in his neck of the woods.
The Wisconsin bear season for hounds is in full swing and Chad checks in each day or so, knowing that I would love to be up there enjoying the North woods and hunting with the Plotts he and I have been breeding together for the last 10 years now.
This morning I could tell when Chad called that something was not quite right. On Wednesday, the first day of the season he reported in with the news of a 400-pounder they had taken on the opening morning, a great way to start the hunt. Thursday proved to be a wash because the tracks that were found were of smaller bears and Chad likes to go after the big ones. This morning put him back in business with a big bear to run. He released his field general, a five-year old Plott male named Rock and a yearling male out of Rock named Bo on the cold trail of a good-sized bear.
Chad has been telling me of the progress of Bo and his littermates in the last year. Another friend of mine, professional guide Tom David in Arizona has one from the litter and is very high on the performance of his bitch pup. This convinced Chad to make the cross again and I was fortunate to bring a male puppy out of the second litter home with me from the AKC Heartland Classic.
The track today was cold and Rock and his son Bo trailed the bear for about two and a half miles before the bear "jumped," meaning he got up from his bed and made a dash for it. Other hounds were turned into the chase and the bear was "caught" by the hounds and a ferocious fight ensued. The hunters made it to the fray and the bear was taken on the ground. When all the dogs were counted and leashed, the youngster Bo was unaccounted for. A check with the recovery system revealed the dog’s whereabouts and Chad found him. The bear had crushed his throat, putting an end to what promised to be a brilliant career for the young male Plott. The only comfort Chad could find in the situation was to say, “He died doing what he was bred to do.”
Bear hunting with hounds can take it’s toll but Chad’s string of bad luck involving the loss of top hounds has taken many forms. Trigger, a once-in-a-lifetime hound died of kidney failure last year at seven years of age. Bronco, a half brother to Rock was killed by a car at two years of age while running a bear. It was his death that forced Chad to come to Michigan and purchase Rock. Each of these dogs were out of my boys, Roper and Wrangler who died at seven and nine years respectively, leaving me with an ache down deep inside as well.
Coon hunter Bart Weddle of Franklin, Ind., and his 12-year old son experienced heartache of another kind in July of this year when their three-year old Treeing Walker female Jill was stolen out of the kennel. Jill was raised by Bart’s son and was the only hound the father/son team owned. Since her disappearance they have searched the nation, posting handbills and photographs in hopes of bringing her home. I was more than willing to post the photo that appears at the top of this page of Jill treeing, on our website. On my recent trip to Texas, the board of directors of the Texas State Coon Hunter’s Association circulated the photos there as well. Bart is passionate in his plea for Jill’s return. “If you bought this dog you will not lose your money. I just want her back, no questions asked,” he says.
If you have seen Jill or have any information concerning her whereabouts, call Bart Weddle at either 317-738-3417 or 317-997-6291.
The current issue of the AKC Gazette features "Remembering the Dogs of 9/11," amazing stories of the dogs that "stood out like diamonds amid the rubble, the dogs and handlers wo rushed into the horrors...." I wept as I read the accounts of the heroics of these great dogs and of the love their owners shared with them. In many cases there are only the memories left to cherish as the dogs have gone on.
Dogs are real heartbreakers but they are also lifetime memory makers, making our lives so much better for the time shared with them.
For Bo, and for Jill who hopefully will be reunited with the Weddle family soon, and for all the great dogs we have known the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam:27,” penned in 1850, ring true:
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.