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Making time for a new best friend

I am writing this column a day earlier than I normally do because tomorrow I will be busy doing something I’ve been waiting for since last fall: I’ll finally be picking up my new hunting dog.

Though I have not yet formally met Rosie (thanks to precautions due to COVID-19), I’m pretty sure that she and I are going to get along just fine. Rosie is an English springer spaniel from some pretty good bloodlines, and her main purpose in life is to hunt up and retrieve birds. And though my bloodlines are probably not nearly as good, my main purpose in life pretty well jibes with hers.

That’s why I am fairly certain we will get along just fine.

Make no mistake, this is a big event for me. You see, Rosie, if she lives as long as an English springer spaniel is supposed to, will very likely be the last hunting dog I own. They generally reach somewhere north of 15 years, so by the time she’s passed on, I’ll be in my early 70s, and I don’t imagine I’ll have the energy to keep up with a hunting dog. After all, a hunter should never need more naps than his dog.

Between then and now, however, I’m going to get to know my little Rosie well – and, if all goes as planned, we will soon be inseparable.

Our friendship will start with a good, long chat on the two and a half hour car ride home. I’ll be completely honest and tell her that, though I’m a fair wing shot, she should expect me to miss the odd grouse, woodcock and duck on occasion. (And I’ll also ask that we keep that between us.)

In return, I’ll let her know that I’m open to sharing my sandwiches in the field and I’ll disclose that I have a few favourite hunting spots I’ve never shown anyone else.

Then we’ll make a simple deal: I won’t expect perfection from her so long as she doesn’t expect it from me. 

I’ll also let her know that I have a spot just below my office desk, tailor made for a hunting dog who wants to sleep nearby – and that if she plays her cards right, I can place a nice pillow there too. 

I’ll tell her she’s going to a nice home where she will be fed, walked and played with every day. I’ll let her know about the patch of woods at the end of the road where she’ll learn to hunt up and retrieve training dummies and have fun exploring the natural world.

She’ll also learn that I work from home, so she’ll never be lonely. And I hope she’ll be pleased to hear that, by the time autumn rolls around, she and I will spend a lot of time traipsing through the uplands or enjoying each other’s company in a duck boat.

Heck, I might even tell her that my favourite movies are Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lawrence of Arabia and Zulu, roughly in that order or that I sometimes get teary-eyed when I think about my old English springer spaniel Callie or a golden retriever I loved named Honey.

And you know, if she yips, barks, or mewls back, I’ll be happy to listen too. Heck, that’s just what best friends do.

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