A year ago we said our final goodbye to Angus, stroking him as the pentobarbital dimmed his eyes, sweet boy reposed in the back of the Jeep now owned by the man and woman who bred him. A few weeks ago, on our final day as residents of chukar country, knowing later that evening we’d be mired in the chaos of packing a 26-foot moving van and saying goodbye to people and landmarks ethereal, we rose early and took one last drive along 71 to Brownlee Summit and up our favorite road leading to the ridge we’d spent a decade marveling at Angus’s prowess as our partridge partner. With Peat scampering across biscuitroot and the 9-week-old Bloom, Angus’s great nephew, romping obliviously through greenup that — long before the season opens without us in a few months — will shine gold, we released Angus’s ashes into the biting southeast wind.

I still haven’t cried. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Now, when it’s almost dark I look twelve miles across the Strait at a lighthouse whose beacon seems on a 4-second circuit. I need to learn about lighthouses. In addition to the beach, we’ve been walking on logging roads behind our house, seemingly endless miles of meandering, extremely well-maintained gravel corridors mostly through dense stands of alder, fir, hemlock, and cedar. Steep mostly, and the occasional clearcut. In places ferns. Salmonberries about to form. Occasionally a spot looks briefly walkable off-road, but mostly it’s either impenetrable vegetation or the nuclear winter of stumps, dirt, roots, rocks, and slash that define a clearcut long after the blinds go up.

The other day some big birds flapped a startled retreat near Peat, who got electric. I saw one land in a tree, and it acted like — and was big enough to be — a blue grouse. Without binoculars, though, I couldn’t positively ID it, and it bugged me for the rest of our walk that it might only have been a giant pigeon. I need to learn the birds here.

So yes, you could say I’m missing some things about the high desert. I feel for the dogs, but today — finally — we finally fenced (mostly) our yard so we can all sigh relief to forego the dozen daily team roping outings with tangled leashes in a vain effort to monitor Bloom’s bladder. I think he’s pissed inside more than 50 times. Just now he puddled his crate, again. Follows my slow learning.

Adjustment. It will take time. And patience. We feel blessed but need a little reminding which isn’t hard when we look up. And I’m thinking about Angus more these days for some reason.

16 Replies to “Gyre”

  1. you guys are soooo cool for sharing your “puppies” with all of us…and Bob I wouldn’t worry about not crying…we all have our own way of grieving…besides that I have personally cried gallons reading your accounts…cring opens the door to the joy and love we have for our furry friends…I always enjoy your posts so please make me cry again…PEACE

  2. Bob as usual you stir all things good in one’s soul about dogs , upland birds and what right looks like for us that own bird dogs !

    Cheers to your new setting
    I’m sure you will visit often the slopes of the snake river plains
    Brett Thomas

  3. Some day, just out of the blue, you will cry non stop for hours, perhaps days. I find it more difficult each time I loose my hunting partners. I feel ashamed at times that I grieve more for my dogs than the people I’ve known all my life. Something about unconditional love and doing anything for you. My dogs have always been a part of the family and live accordingly, with me, every minute possible. I’ve been chasing any and every kind of upland bird that has a season attached to it, but mostly chukars, for over 45 years now. It’s scary to know I’m possibly getting to the end of the chase for such a passion in the not so distant future. But I still have my dogs and currently I have three. One brand new addition that will be 7 months old next week. I’ve had incredible dogs. One a Field Trail Champion from years ago when I was much younger and seemed to have more time. Three Weimaraner’s and a Wirehair. Hunter, Bella, Indi, and Gorgeous George (the wirehair). The new dog is what most of the newbie diehards would consider a mutt. 3/4 Wirehair and 1/4 Weimaraner. I couldn’t resist. And when it came to the name, it didn’t take long to figure out. The first initial of each. Its pronounced Gibb, but it’s spelled Ghib. He’s amazing and has already had birds shot over him. He’ll be hunting alongside Remington, my 7 year old lab. I do like to shoot waterfowl also but that lab loves upland birds. I catch myself thinking of what is inevitable in a few years with Remington and it kills me inside. Out of all my dogs, I’ve never had one so attached to me. I try not to dwell on it.
    Some people find it a little strange that I have all my past dogs except the very first, (a Brittany of all things, imagine that) sitting in little wooden boxes in my work desk at home where most of my time is spent. One day, they will all be with me for eternity, hopefully chasing chukars.
    Bob, your stories always hit home. It’s easy to tell everything comes from the heart. And like David, we do enough crying for you. Thank you for sharing and I know you’ll make that drive to the high desert from your new home as many times as possible.

  4. You will learn to love grouse, Blues, Ruffed and Spruce. Like chukar, they are magical, irresistible and they live in places of heart rending natural beauty. You and your dogs are indeed fortunate! May they hold well for you this season!

  5. Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

    I think grief (and its cousin anger) can be so deep that crying become impossible. I think Yeats couldn’t cry when the devastation of WWI, its millions gassed and brutalized, was so deep, all he could do was write poetry to work out his destroyed insides.

    When the bird dog cannot hear his master; when the master cannot hear his bird dog, our guts are torn up inside. When we lose a dog whether in the next canyon over or the canyon of death, the grief is so deep that crying becomes impossible.

    When we leave familiar landscapes where memories are lodged deeply and we go to a new place, the center inside ourselves breaks apart. We cannot hear the Master. Only time seems to work out the grief. Time to discover new coverts, new landscapes, new puppies we swear will never get it until they do. Another covey, a grouse instead of a devil bird, forests instead of sage, Bloom instead of Angus. Being at home instead of lost. Tears will come when you know the home you left is now the home where you are.

  6. The site where Leslie scattered Angus’s ashes has also been a special place for us and in the future if one of our dogs goes on point with no birds, I’ll just assume they were honoring Angus.

  7. OMG, word on the street is that you’re moving from the Chukar hills to the Left Coast? Please tell me I’m wrong
    (but, if you are, then WHY???????)

Chirp away

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