Before I begin to tell this story, I would like to give a little background information.
I have Labradors, 2 to be precise. An English chocolate and an American black. Burkley, the chocolate, has been with us since he was 6 1/2 weeks old. I purchased him from a reputable breeder the next city over and comes from a distinct hunting line (he still has his man dog parts for breeding….hint hint). Since we brought him home, we have been working with him, training him for one specific purpose, to be a hunting dog. I poured over books, checked out several from the library and used them all to train Burkley. I spent many weeks doing the ground work with him. Sit, heel, stay, heel, fetch, heel, force fetch, heel, don’t eat the bird, heel, release, heel. And then 2 weeks in Oregon sealed his hunting fate. At 4 months old I trained him with a shotgun. He never showed fear, never winced, just sat there, looking at me. We were golden. It was then my husband’s turn to take the lead and finish his training. Fieldwork. It took a few times, but he obeyed his commands and found doves shot down several hundred yards away. The husband was happy, Phil Robertson style. Deeply satisfied with the hunter/companion bond which had occurred.
Our other lab is Bogey. Bogey was a rescue and was brought home Memorial weekend of 2013. My Uncle, who lives in Oregon, called one day and asked if we were interested in another dog. One that was trained, born in a hunting kennel and papered. We thought, score, a second hunting dog without all the work! We drove to Oregon, picked up the dog (who’s name was originally Gator, I agree, Bogey is better), shot a round of sporting clays, then drove home. Good grief were we fooled. Sure, Bogey was trained. He obeyed standard commands, has the nose of a drug sniffing dog, retrieved with precision and was loving. Little did we know he had been abused by previous owners (we found this out later), which led to him being afraid of guns and he ate whatever he retrieved. Two qualities you do not want in a gun dog. So, he is now just our pet, who plays ball and likes warm hugs.
All of this information has a purpose in this story, I promise. Stick with me.
I was walking back from my neighbor’s house earlier today where I had brushed down my faithful steed, Duncan and braided his tail, all dogs in tow. This included Bentley the Beagle. After coming through the gate in the fence and walking up the driveway, the dogs spotted a grey squirrel under the truck. “Grey squirrel, grey squirrel, come in grey squirrel.” They then proceeded to chase this squirrel. Around the front yard, back under the truck, breaking a solar light in the process and then cornered it on the porch by the front door. This is where the back story comes in. Chasing and retrieving animals is in their nature, it is bread into their soul and bones, so I really couldn’t blame them for doing what they are trained to do.
During the scuffle I am not sure who got what part of the squirrel. Bogey emerged with the whole squirrel in his mouth and Burkley had fur all over his. He brought me the squirrel with victory in his eyes. “Look Mom, look what I caught!” I’m thinking, disease, poor squirrel, get that out of your mouth, disease, maybe it is still alive, disease.
It turned out the squirrel was still alive, but clearly in shock. I got it to shift where it was evident it’s little back had been broken. It’s back legs wouldn’t move as it tried to drag itself to safety. My heart broke, the poor little thing was suffering and I knew I had to finish the job. I couldn’t bring myself to use the shovel, which the husband suggested I use, so I went and got the shotgun. I felt that a quick, somewhat clean death would be the best way for this small creature. I had to put the dogs in the house, they still would not leave this animal alone. I loaded a shell into my Beretta, took aim and fired. As soon as I pulled the trigger, the squirrel moved, or it could have been my nerves I’m not sure. The shot rang out and it hit the squirrel in the back end. It was still attempting to run off and I am sure now it could not feel the wound. Quickly I loaded the second shell and fired, hitting it in the head.
The first thing that came to mind after ending this animal’s life, was a quote by Miss Kay, “Squirrel brains make you smart”, she says. I am not sure how smart this made me. I got a shovel, put the squirrel in a bag and threw it in the trash.
Living out in the country means seeing and dealing with death, but that doesn’t mean it ever gets easier. I have had several animals die and more often then not I find dead, decaying animals around the property. I handle it, and life moves forward.
On a happier note, I want to show you the rest of my day through pictures. I originally saw this on the Juniper Moon Farm blog. Instead of writing lengthy blog post about her day on the farm, Susan would show her day through pictures. If you ever get a chance to check out her blog and website, you should. She has an amazing story of fiber and farming life in Virginia. One I for sure and envious of and hope to achieve one day.
I would like to begin a similar project of explaining my days through pictures. Pictures capture something different then what you can describe in words, a glimpse into the deeper soul of the homestead. And with that, here is my day through pictures.