and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am.
–James Agee, A Death in the Family

We’ve had Bloom a little more than a year now. He’s an odd bird. I have to remind myself that it’s all relative. Everyone who’s had more than one dog compares the new dog to one(s) before. It’s a little unfair but we can’t help it. Of the four Brittanys, he’s the uniquest dog we’ve had so far. Even my first, Glenna, fit some prior description I had of “dog,” plus I had data from my brother’s Brittanys, and she didn’t deviate enough to warrant pause. Angus almost immediately improved on a known thing, by a good stretch. Peat initially (and easily) fit the antichrist character. Good to have got that learned. But Bloom, Bloom. Bloom. Whom?

We named him after a fictional character we like, Leopold Bloom, from James Joyce’s Ulysses. Joyce’s Bloom is a decent chap, one of the decentest. We thought, hoped, the new puppy would live up to his name. So far, I’d say he’s a good man, boy, dog. But it’s taken the entire time we’ve had him to gain even a preliminary idea of who he really is. He doesn’t show a lot of self-awareness. And there’s something in his eyes that is more like nothing than I’ve seen before. He seems, just lately, to be trying out patterns. We’ve worked with him as consistently as we can, but might as well have named him Enigma.

Still, we love him well. Maybe once we spend time with him on the chukar hills we’ll be able to tell him who he is, but I kind of hope not. I’m finding I’m admiring the mystery a little bit, just as I admire how he moves. He does have the “Angus lope,” but with even more power.

We’ll have more on him soon. For now, here’s a look at him growing. A scene near the end of the video shows Peat and Bloom playing in the yard during snowfall last Christmas Day. Leslie took the video while I played the pipes downstairs.

7 Replies to “Blooming”

  1. yep, on our fourth yellow lab and he is different too. will see how he does once we get into birds and he gets a bit older. taking longer to “grow up” than all the other dogs so there is hope yet!

  2. I’m on my third English setter and they’ve all been so different from each other, in every way imaginable. With my current dog I compared him, rather unfairly, with my previous setter, who to me was a rock star. I think that comparison actually transferred into my work with him and possibly stymied his growth, because my expectations were unrealistic. I hate to admit this about myself, but it’s probably accurate. We’re only now coming into out own together. I’ll most likely be getting a new pup next spring, and I think this time I’m going to get a female, which will make things even more interesting. Good luck with Bloom this season. I’ll be chasing my first chukar of the year in the Quilomene on Sunday and we’re looking forward to it. -Cliff.

    1. Yeah, so keen an observation: expectations are a bitch! Peat suffered in comparison to Angus. Bloom? God, it looks like Peat might suffer in comparison with Bloom! Time will tell. Thanks for the reminder!

    2. Thanks for your smart comment, Cliff. I definitely did the same with Peat, who suffered greatly under Angus’s shadow. But he and I would die for one another now. Definitely a lesson in patience, space, and the importance of prey drive (both human and canine). I just met the other day a young guy at a dog park in Prineville, Oregon, who had a young pudelpointer. It was his first dog ever, and he was learning to hunt with her. He expressed the kinds of frustration I’d had with Peat, and said he was considering re-homing her. I encouraged him to hang in there. These creatures greatly intensify our lives, but sometimes it’s not easy!

      1. Bob, I think I felt like that young guy you met in Oregon with EVERY one of my bird dogs, at least during the first couple of years. I may have enough years left for one more bird dog in my life, and if I do it will be a female English setter next spring, from my breeder in Idaho. I’ll have to work very hard to exercise patience and understanding. My first pup was a Llewellin setter and he was the biggest challenge of the three I’ve had. I use him as a blueprint as to what not to do, and I continue to apologize to him as he sits in his urn on top of my piano for the stupid things I have done with him. It’s amazing these dogs are so resilient they can rise above some of the bonehead things owners do in their young lives (me).

        Take care,

  3. Having hunting dogs is such a learning process, I doubt we’ll ever totally figure them out. My life would be bankrupt without them👍

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