In Memory Of A True Champion
When a hunter picks out his puppy he can do all of the research in the world, but in the end as he pulls that pup out of the litter and takes it home, only luck can guarantee that this dog will possess the qualities to become a great hunter and true companion.
Well I am one of the fortunate ones. They say a good dog only comes along once in a lifetime and I got lucky right off the bat. My first dog, Jesse the Chessy was one in a million. She possessed all of the qualities that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever breed strives for. She was big and strong, weighing in at just over 100 lbs and strong as an ox. She was as loyal as they come and was definitely a one man dog….my dog! And there was nobody going to steal my birds in the field, that was for sure. And yes I’ll admit there was also a bit of stubbornness built in but I wouldn’t have it any other way. However there was also a softer side to her. Along with her loyalty there was a trust that was built between us over the years, as well as an unconditional love for one another. Together we conquered many a marsh.
When it comes to natural abilities I was also blessed. She had a nose that wouldn’t quit. Sure she may not have been the fastest dog in the pheasant field but she also picked up many birds that other dogs would run right by. She also had a ton of heart and come late season the true chessy blood came out as there was not a lake too cold or a retrieve she refused to go after.
My favorite memory had to be a cold day up in The Pas of Manitoba. We were hunting divers on a deep lake way out in the middle of no where. We were set up on a pencil reed island and late in day I sailed a bluebill way out in the middle of the lake. It finally folded up about a ¼ mile out. Jesse never saw the bird as it came screaming over from behind. The whitecaps were crashing away from us and the bird was only a speck as it quickly started floating farther and farther away. But I had a feeling, I lined her up and told Jesse “back” and she took off. From time to time I would reassure her with another back command, as I now needed binoculars to keep the bird in site. Finally about a ½ hr later she caught up with the bird and now she too was only a spec. A tear came to my eye at that point as I knew the level of trust she had in me to continue on even though it must have looked to her like I was out of my mind telling her there was a bird down somewhere out there. I can assure you that I was the proudest pappa in the world that day. My buddy just looked at me with amazement and told me what a good dog I had there.
In every gun dog owner’s life also comes the dreaded day when mother nature takes her course on our own. I don’t know if there is ever a way to prepare your self for it and it sure sneaks up fast. For me I guess I was lucky again as my girl lived a full life of 10 ½ years and was able to enjoy a couple good years of retirement. I was also able to spend the last couple days of her life by her side, reassuring her of all the good times we had and how much she was loved and would be missed. As she died in my arms one rainy Tuesday in October I knew there weren’t enough raindrops in the sky to drown my tears. But I also realize now that we were able to share many quality days in the field together doing what we both loved the most and we would meet again soon enough! As a good friend told me “If every Chessy, could hunt as many hours and retrieve as many ducks, geese and SWAN’s as she did, they would all have lived a good life”.