By Chad Love
In writing a blog devoted primarily to the training of and hunting with dogs, it's sometimes interesting to change things up a bit--to put aside the practicalities of training tips, gear reviews and other fact-based topics and just tell a story, a personal story (albeit a short one) that, on some level, I think we can all identify with, because eventually we will all be the man in the story to one degree or another. Is it sad? Perhaps, but that's the devil's bargain we make when we give ourselves to our dogs...
There he was, sitting on his customary stool at the gun counter when I walked into the shop, shooting the bull with the other regulars, just like always. Except that it was mid-August, which meant he was supposed to be in Montana with a truck full of dogs. Like many pro trainers, his was the gypsy life: South Texas in the winter, Montana in the summer, interspersed by a few brief interludes back home in the spring and fall.
He pulled a travel trailer behind his dog truck and would spend the summers camped out right on the grounds, training dogs, running a few trials or hunt tests and laughing at all us suckers back home who were sweltering in the heat while he lived the kind of grand, carefree, nomadic lifestyle that only a retired lifelong bachelor, whose nuclear family consisted wholly of labs, can have.
I hadn’t seen him since spring, and when he turned to see who was walking through the door, I noticed immediately how tired he looked, as if some unseen force had left a patina of fatigue on his face--in his voice.