September is the promise whispered on a cooling wind, but for me the first true day of fall has always been the first of October, regardless of what the calendar says. It is a curious month, my traditional month for pensive reflections on mortality, Deep Thoughts, and the passing of time. Mostly on the passing of time, the fading of what you once were, or hoped to be, and the reconciliation and acceptance of who you are. You know, the typical personal reflection and vague restlessness that most everyone, on some level, engages in when the seasonal change from the light of summer to the twilight of autumn triggers ancient, long-forgotten fears buried deep within our DNA.
I am no different, and in fact I am much worse than most. Which is why I'm sitting here on the first day of October, on a brilliant afternoon with a forecast high of 90 and not a hint of autumn anywhere, thinking about long-dead dogs, but mostly Lewey, my beloved male Chesapeake Bay retriever, who to me will always be four years old. He would have turned eight this January 20th. He was going to be my first field trial dog, then life got in the way and I had no choice but to set that dream aside for other things. Lewey and I never got the chance to at least try to fulfill his potential, and I've always felt a keen regret about that.
I have, however, followed from afar the progress of his littermate, a female named Judy that Lewey's breeder, Bill Burks, kept and has trialed. I even watched her run at a couple trials. I was recently browsing on the Team Chesapeake website (a forum for chessie enthusiasts that I lurk on sometimes) when I noticed a thread about Lewey's sister Judy winning the amateur at a recent field trial. That puts her, according to Bill, within 1 1/2 points of her AFC (Amateur Field Champion), which is a big, big deal in the field trial world, especially for chessies.
It's an incredibly impressive achievement, and I have no doubt that Judy and Bill will win that AFC. But I can't help but wonder - on this first day of a month devoted largely to wondering and musing about stuff - how Lewey might have turned out if things had worked out a little differently and I'd had the opportunity to devote to Lewey like I wanted to. Not to the level of Bill and Judy, of course, but to just participate in and enjoy the game, the scene, and maybe even be mildly competitive once in a while, when the marks fell our way. I would have liked to have experienced that. On the other hand, Lewey got a lot of love and picked up a lot of ducks in his four years, and was beloved by our entire family (I still call Ozzy Lewey on occasion). That counts for something, too, I guess. And who knows, maybe someday I'll find another like him, and see where it goes. That's all you can do, really, with anything; just try it and see where it goes.