Duck hunting isn’t always about the ducks. Sometimes it’s about helping a friend say goodbye.
I got the text late Friday. ”Any chance you’re free tomorrow morning? Wanna take my pup out for one last hurrah before she gets put down next week?"
I had too much to do, and said so. Then I caught myself. What on Earth could be more important than helping a good friend say goodbye to such a great dog?
Remi is the sweetest dog you will ever meet. She is friendly and calm, and the family she watches over includes two little boys running around. So she has to be.
The birds flew early, but literally shut off about five minutes before legal shooting time. But that was okay. This was about getting Remi out for one last hunt. She had a great time staying warm in our gear, fetching decoys and posing for great photos.
Saying goodbye to an old friend is hard. We have all done it. Dogs never live long enough. Especially the good ones.
There was some light-hearted talk, and then long pauses. Knowing that Remi was on her last hunt seemed to set the mood. She romped a bit, then laid down. Then went for a walk with her dad one last time to try and find some ducks to jump shoot. I initially thought about tagging along, but knew it was more about Joe and Remi having some time alone.
Dogs like this remind us that they don’t have to have nationally-known bloodlines to be true field champions. Remi, to those that loved her, will be missed. But the Rainbow Bridge awaits.
To be there and watch a man say goodbye to his dog is hard. I have been in Joe’s shoes, and I don’t know if it is harder knowing the end is near or not. Losing a dog stays with you; I still save the last bite of every sandwich I eat in tribute to the latest dog I had to let go.
And it’s frustrating watching a friend go through this. There is nothing you can say to make it better and nothing you can do to cure the illness. The best you can do is tag along, help capture a few moments, and just be there.