I have just completed the heartbreaking task of burying my old Lab Jinty. She was my faithful stalking companion for the last thirteen years and for the last three added to her tasks as a brilliant foreshore goose retriever.
About fifteen years ago a lad came in with a Lab bitch for its pre mating assessments. I was struck by her hindquarter strength and shining expression. She passed all tests and was the first Lab with a 0/0 hip score I had seen . I was at that time trying to get a bit of time off to take up stalking again so I asked to book a bitch pup if things went to plan. Eight or so months later ,just as I had taken on the lease of quite a large area of forest, I got the call the pups were ready and I had the choice of three.
I was soon out along the forest roads followed by a little tubby black companion and can remember the first deer I shot with her. As I lay down on the forest track to look at a feeding doe the pup ,thinking this was an invitation to play, jumped on my back and ragged my collar . When I fired she looked round with surprise but on seeing the downed deer ,instinct kicked in and she wrestled with its neck pulling out tufts of hair. I knew I had a winner.
Many of you will have been out with her and many have appreciated how she gave notice of deer up ahead resulting in a more careful approach to an area with resulting success. Her best track must be the following of a Sika stag shot by a guest when she would be four. The lad phoned me from the next forest saying he had shot a stag ,found blood and hair but the animal had run into an early thicket stage lodge pole forest and vanished. Jinty pulled me through this nightmare terrain on her leash ,for 300 meters when we came on a cross drain. The stag was lying head up when we emerged and off he went again. Following on we raised him another three times before finding him dead in another cross drain. He had been shot just below the larynx with the bullet severing a blood vessel.
Oh the memories.
Last year, knowing Jinty was getting stiff I acquired a pup from the same line and Jinty seemed happy to pass on the work to the newcomer. The last year did see her getting slow but a daily dose of Metacalm kept her pain free at least. Then the other day she took to her kennel at lunchtime and when I came back in at night she had gone. I know I have been lucky to own a dog like her and have been spared the traumas often experienced at the end but it has still been hard. The pup seems lost and hasn't eaten well since but time will cure all. Our Dogs . If we weren't fond of them we wouldn't have them. The new pup Mhari has a lot to live up to.