Friday, February 26, 2010

Taking stock and moving on. For now.

Again, a heartfelt thanks for all the kind words. While I'm not quite my usual chipper self, I recognize the fact that I've got to get back to writing.

I'm not quite ready to tackle the subject of losing Lewey, however, so I'm simply going to put it on a shelf and ignore it for a while. In a few days, maybe even a few weeks, I'll come back, see what it's matured into, maybe write something about it, or not, then close the book on it and go on.

The past week, however, I've discovered that in addition to the obvious shock and pain of losing a member of your family, the untimely death of a young gundog brings an extra little twist of guilt and misery because it forces you to think about the future at a time when all you really want to do is remember the past. I didn't realize this, because I've never before lost a young dog.

"What to do now? No way in hell I'll be ready for a new pup this year but Tess will be seven this fall. Middle age, and at the point where I've got to start thinking about a replacement. If I can find a nice litter of pups next winter or early spring, get started training..." 

And then white-hot guilt comes rushing back in to sweep away cold pragmatism.

"Good god, he's only been dead a week and you're already thinking about a new pup? What the fuck is wrong with you?"

And then there's the issue of my original pre-death plan to get a pointing dog pup this spring.

"What do do about that? Say to hell with it, wait another year and just write off next bird season? If I did, could I train a new chessie pup and a bird dog pup at the same time? How would that affect my hopes of someday running retriever field trials with Lewey's replacement (still can't believe I'm saying that...) Would it be better to get a bird dog pup now so I can focus on a chessie pup next year?

Good god, he's only been dead a week. What the fuck is wrong with you?"

And on and on and on it goes...a never-ending internal struggle to reconcile what was with what is and what might be. I guess that's why they call it coping.

Living with gun dogs will bring you treasures beyond price and joy beyond measure, but I will not lie: the experience is not free and not without the inevitability of great pain. It's a Faustian bargain, this one, but one I wouldn't think of not accepting.


  1. Go easy on yourself, Chad. Planning for a future does not disrespect the past.

  2. I'm not big on the "it's what he/she would have wanted" phrase, as it is typically used and abused as a twisted rationalization. However, in the case of a gun dog, you can always be certain that they want to hunt, and so in preparing for your next hunt and your next hunting partner you are honoring the deceased, not forgetting them.

    Good luck and God bless you in your turmoil. You are in my prayers.

  3. That last line says it all. You'll know when it's time.

  4. Chad, it's okay to think about another dog. The loss won't be diminished, and neither will the sorrow, I'm sorry. But, there is another dog out there whose life will be better with you, and whose life will move you.

    Each dog has its own place in your heart. Adding another dog just makes another place, it doesn't add to, fill up, or replace any of the others.

  5. Just getting back to your blog after being away from the Web for a few days -- I hadn't known about Lewey's death. What a shocker to lose a young dog like that! Deepest sympathies from another Chessie owner.

    And Josh is right. Getting a new dog does not dishonor the old dog.