Bird Dog Tales: “Jersey’s” Close Call
“I heard a slight yelp, but Jersey kept on trucking, ran by me and I didn’t notice a thing. About ten minutes later she flushed a rooster, I shot it, she retrieved it.
It wasn’t until I was done taking a photo of her and the bird that I noticed some blood on her chest. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the puncture hole – if I were to guess, I’d say it was an old tree that fell into the cattails that still had branches on it. You know how those old branches get after laying around for a period of time. Of course I was the farthest point from the vehicle, it was -20 and we had to trudge through knee deep snow. For a while I didn’t know if either of us would make it.
Right around an hour had elapsed from when I noticed the injury to when we arrived at the Red River Animal Emergency Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota. When we got to the clinic a few other people were in the waiting room. I explained what was going on to the person at the front desk, but I don’t think they realized the extent of the injury until one of the other people waiting remarked ‘Oh my god, look at the hole in that dog’s chest.’ What a roller-coaster of emotions. Don’t think I’ve ever prayed as much as I did that day.
Drugged, stitched and sore, our little girl was okay and lived to hunt another day. She is fully recovered other than an ugly scar.
I always put a skid plate on Jersey, but the day of the accident I didn’t. I almost learned a lesson a very hard way. Considering the size of the hole in her chest I don’t think her skid plate would’ve completely stopped the impalement, though it could’ve helped.
A few bits of advice I’d offer would be: Never hurry, nothing ever good comes from being in a hurry. Easier said than done, but try and keep calm (I was a basket case, don’t think I’ve ever prayed and cried so much in my entire life). Have your vet’s info handy, especially emergency phone number. I didn’t have an emergency number for our regular vet, which would’ve been closer, so I just went with what I knew and went to the emergency clinic we’d been to before. Carry a dog emergency first kit in your bird vest and practice using it before the actual situation arises. Obedience is much more important than most people think, especially in a situation like this. Keeping your dog calm and under control is key.
We did make it out hunting one last time before the season closed. She flushed up a nice rooster but I couldn’t take a feather off of it. It’s amazing how fast she bounced back. It’s amazing how resilient dogs are. She’s doing well, back to her old wild self.”
-As told to Pheasants Forever by Ryan Kappes, Pheasants Forever member and volunteer with the Clay County (Minn.) Pheasants Forever chapter. His bird dog, “Jersey,” is a springer spaniel/German shorthaired pointer mix he adopted from the local humane society.
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