Posts Tagged ‘Izzy’
Monday, November 4th, 2013
I love to write. However, as my wife, Meredith, so adeptly penned in her blog post, I was overcome with emotion at Izzy’s passing. I knew I could never write a blog that would do justice to how much Izzy meant to our family. I didn’t know where, or how, to begin. Every time I thought about her potential in the field, I’d tear up. Every time I’d think about her positive energy and unconditional love in our home, I’d sob uncontrollably. As bird hunters, we spend a couple dozen days a year in the field with our dogs if we’re lucky, while the remaining 300 plus are spent in kitchens, back yards and walks around the block. Izzy was the “energy” in our family that’s now gone. While every dog owner knows he/she will outlive their canine best friend, we’re never really prepared for the day that inevitability comes home to roost, especially at 1 year, 7 months and 8 days.
In the days since that fateful Saturday, October 19th, I’ve received more than 200 emails, voicemails, blog comments, Facebook messages and Tweets with words of support and wisdom. To put it bluntly, I’ve been overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and friendship the Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and bird dog communities have shown me.
As you can imagine, I’ve been brought to tears dozens of times in the days since Izzy was taken too early from us. What I wasn’t expecting was that my little 1 ½ year old pup would inspire people to reach out to me to articulate their support for my personal well-being, Pheasants Forever’s habitat mission and my role within that mission. People I’ve never met before or interacted with have grabbed the phone and keyboard to tell me what my words on the screen or over the radio waves have meant to them over the last several years.
When Meredith wrote her blog post, she did leave out one massive component of our terrible weekend when Izzy died. She did so purposefully as a sign of respect to Izzy’s importance in our lives. However, I feel it’s now appropriate to also bring to light just how close we came to losing both our dogs within 24 hours. The night following Izzy’s passing, Trammell woke us up at 5AM. She was dry-heaving and struggling to breathe. This lasted for about thirty minutes before I was overcome by a sense of “I’m not going to lose both my dogs to tragedies in one day,” so we raced to a 24-hour pet hospital. They immediately took X-rays and found two nails, a staple and a massive wad of grass in Tram’s stomach. As you can imagine, I was shocked. While definitely food-motivated, Trammell has never been a chewer. I couldn’t comprehend how nails were now threatening her life. The vet did an immediate endoscopy successfully removing one nail, but was unable to capture the second. Emergency stomach surgery to remove the second nail surrounded by a massive ball of grass commenced and was thankfully successful. I’ll never know how Tram picked up those nails; however, I am fearful they were intended for a wolf in a bait pile left in the same woods Izzy passed. I hope my thoughts are purely those of an angry and grieving dog owner. No animal – wolf, dog or other – deserves such a fate. Thankfully, Tram’s stitches are now out and she is making a full recovery.
Borrowing a Dog
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been offered the services of a dozen people’s bird dogs. Most of these offers have come from folks I’ve never met before. I can’t express the measure of generosity I’ve felt from these offers. Let’s face it; I haven’t had much luck with bird dogs recently. For a stranger to trust me with their pup speaks volumes to their humanity.
While I’m eternally grateful to these offers, I’ve always had a rule about “borrowing” another’s bird dog (even before the tragedies of the last two weeks). Under no circumstances will I ever put myself in a situation of being responsible for another’s pup. Likewise, I’ll never lend out my own dogs. My opinion is it’s simply too much of a risk for both parties to be in a situation of having to answer for unexpected circumstances. Nevertheless, I do want to acknowledge the overwhelming gratefulness I’ve felt each time one of these offers arrived in my Inbox. THANK YOU for trusting me.
Rooster Road Trip
The afternoon after Trammell’s surgery, I emailed Andrew and Anthony from my home after waking up from a sleep with Tram in bed. In that email, I told the guys there was no way I’d be going out on this year’s tour without either of my dogs. “Agony” is the word I used to categorize the feeling I’d have wandering five states “alone” to think about my departed Izzy and mending Tram. As you’d expect from fellow dog guys, they understood completely and quickly enlisted Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever’s Public Relations Specialist, to fill my slot. I think you’d all agree, the trio did a marvelous job on this year’s Rooster Road in my absence.
Cremation and Rebirth
There were tears in our kitchen again last week. Heavy tears. Meredith brought Izzy’s cremated remains home from the vet in a tin urn. As I write, that tin rests on our mantle next to Izzy’s puppy blanket . . . and I miss her a lot . . . and the tears stream down my face again. 1 year, 7 months and 8 days of joy. Thank You, Izzy, for loving me and being my bird dog. I’ll miss you FOREVER and hope to someday join you for another hunt. Just you, me and Tram. I love you . . .
Life and death, it is the incongruity of our existence. Izzy’s passing has put the St.Pierre name on the list for a Top Gun litter again this spring. God willing, Izzy’s half-sister will join the St.Pierre family late next spring and you will have to endure another round of articles about dog names, potty training and first birds. For Meredith and me, there was never any question we’d have to add another pup to our family as soon as possible. The void Izzy’s departure has left in our home with her “big” personality is just too large to not try filling immediately. I understand why some folks would take more time to grieve before getting another puppy. Simply put, the opposite was needed for our recovery.
If you’d like to read a bit more about my beloved Izzy, here are a few links:
- Meredith’s memorial, “Our Busy Izzy Rests”
- St.Paul Pioneer Press’ David Orrick article, “Hunter’s weekend a reminder of hazards facing hunting dogs”
- Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Doug Smith article, “Freak accident claims young hunting dog”
- FAN Outdoors Podcast on 10/26 as I tell Izzy’s story on air
Finally, I just wanted to say “THANK YOU” for all the notes, love and support. THANK YOU for all the messages and photos about your pups pointing in Izzy’s honor. Most importantly, THANK YOU for giving your pup a scratch under the chin in Izzy’s memory. That was always her favorite spot and I know she’s wagging her tail every time another pup gets a little love there. THANK YOU. I am humbled and thankful for your friendship. Bob
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.
Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
Every Saturday morning, I wake up to a 4:30AM alarm clock to voluntarily co-host an outdoors radio talk show called FAN Outdoors on 100.3FM based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & Saint Paul. My weekly appearance on the show provides me a great platform to talk about Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever, conservation, bird hunting and bird dogs. I also have a great time chatting with the show’s host “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand about fishing and other outdoors related topics.
Over the four years I’ve been on FAN Outdoors, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in live remote broadcasts from the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Ely, Minnesota as well as from a fishing lodge on Devil’s Lake in North Dakota. Later this week, my wife and I will depart for the Minnesota/Canadian border for a six-day fishing trip with Rainy Lake Houseboats on behalf of FAN Outdoors. Without doubt, this is a “bucket list” trip for anyone and an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass by; however, there was one commitment I had trouble figuring out how to handle before I firmly committed to participating in this Rainy Lake adventure. The commitment I’m referencing was to my two bird dogs.
Before I accepted the dream getaway, I had to figure out who was going to care for the safety and well-being of my 5-year-old shorthair, Trammell, and my 14-week-old GSP puppy, Izzy. I’m sure many bird dog owners planning a summer vacation have encountered similar quandaries. While I could find any number of friends and relatives to care for my low-maintenance older dog, asking someone to welcome my semi-potty trained puppy into their home seemed like a good way to strain a relationship.
Crossing friends and relatives off the list, I started sourcing dog boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. For a 6X6 space and some play time socialization with other dogs, I could board my dogs for about $45 a day for the first dog and another $22 for the second. Not ideal. So my next thought led me to consider the folks I know in the dog training and breeding business, which led me to think about Chad Hines, owner of Willow Creek Kennels of Little Falls, Minnesota.
A quick search of the Willow Creek Kennels website informed me that boarding was a service they provided that also included some gun dog training for roughly a third of the price compared to Twin Cities boarding options. I followed up my web search with a phone call explaining my training priorities for Trammell & Izzy to Chad and my dogs were booked for a two-week stay.
I drove Trammell & Izzy to Willow Creek Kennels on Saturday morning where I met Chad and some of his staff. The drop-off was exactly the scenario every bird dog owner hopes for when leaving their pets in the hands of another. Chad and his staff took the time to evaluate both of my dogs, talk through my expectations and show me the kennel’s entire facilities; including the specific kennels where my dogs would be staying. He even took some time to run the young pup, Izzy, through the beginning paces of bird introduction.
Another benefit Willow Creek Kennels provides to clients with dogs being boarded are short videos. Using iPhones, the Willow Creek Kennels staff shoot countless videos of the training process which they upload to YouTube and Facebook for their clients’ viewing pleasure. Imagine – fishing on the Canadian border and receiving video proof of your beloved bird dog’s safety and training progress. Pretty awesome!
If you have a fishing getaway of your own, or are planning that family visit to Disney, take the time to check out the boarding facilities of the local bird dog trainers and breeders in your area. You may be surprised to find a more affordable option for your bird dog’s boarding accompanied by the added benefit of a little training to sharpen the pup’s skills come autumn.
Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
As I embarked on the adventure of adding a second bird dog to my family, an age-old question hung in my mind: “Do puppies learn from older dogs or are they simply clay in the hands of a human trainer?”
For years, I’d heard opinions on both sides of this argument, but having never owned more than one dog at a time, I found it hard to pick a side to believe in this debate. However, after just a few days of owning two bird dogs, I have formed a very strong opinion that puppies ABSOLUTELY mimic older dog’s mannerisms, actions and behaviors. There is zero doubt in my mind that my 5-year old shorthair is constantly “training” my 12-week old GSP puppy.
I’ve watched Tram (the 5-year old) pick up a stick during a walk. Moments later, Izzy (the 12-week old) was carrying a stick of her own. When running a field together, Izzy measures the distance Tram works away from me and stays at a similar distance. Every cue Tram drops, Izzy mimics.
Recognizing my sample size in formulating this opinion was extremely small, I asked renowned dog trainer and Purina pro-staffer Rick Smith for his opinion in the debate during a FAN Outdoors radio interview. You can Podcast the interview by following this link; listen for my question on the topic at the 19:12 mark of Hour 1 of the program originally airing on May 26th.
Without hesitation Smith confirmed my quick-formed opinion that young dogs learn a lot more from older dogs than from people. “I like having a young dog with an older dog,” added Smith.
The caveat Smith made special point of noting, however, was to keep in mind that young dogs are going to learn good AND bad habits from your older dog. That hit home with me as well. Izzy is now a dinner table beggar thanks to Trammell’s habits (obviously my fault to begin with), and Izzy also enjoys sleeping on the couch as opposed to the floor (guilty as charged).
This entire sequence of observations has me even more eager than normal for bird hunting season to see how much Izzy mimics Tram’s hunting expertise. Izzy has already honored Tram’s point of a mallard pair, so I’m hopeful that’s a sign of things to come . . . yes, I realize there won’t be much need for either of my duck pointers. Laugh it up!
So, for all those multi-dog owners out there, how much have your younger pups learned from your older bird dogs? Any special advice you’d offer me in this two-dog process?