When it came time to put down Duke, my Brittany and hunting partner, it was one of the saddest days of our lives. Poor health – loss of hearing, unable to climb stairs and worst of all, having gone blind – made life unbearable for him …and for my wife and me. I don’t remember the ride to the vet’s office but I remember the ride home. It was all I could do to keep from crying. My wife was a basket case and made it clear that Duke would be the last dog she’d allow in the house because it was too hard to get over the loss. At the time I had to agree.
But nothing is forever and as several Octobers came and went, I lived in the memories of Duke and the fine trips afield we had chasing pheasants and grouse, with woodcock as a bonus. Now trips into the same woods were just a walk in the woods. Though I’d flush the odd grouse now and then, there was no one to share the moment with let alone marvel at the cunning and natural instinctive method a dog has to find birds. Not seeing a Brittany work – point a bird, flush on command or just hold until I flushed it, then find the downed bird and retrieve it if I did my job with the 20 gauge.
So I began searching to find a litter of Brittanies from quality hunting stock where I could see both the sire and dame. Finally I found such a litter in Brandt, Michigan. The breeder said he raised Britts to send to Iowa for pheasant hunting. He had the dame and would make the sire available. Now all I needed to do was get the OK from my wife and maybe I’d resume my days afield hunting birds.
It was a Saturday morning when I found a way to direct the conversation to the fact another October had come and would soon be past and lamented I wasn’t getting any younger and dearly miss hunting over a dog. As you might guess after 36 years of marriage, my wife’s expression didn’t change other than stare at me with the unspoken words of “who are you trying to shit?” (She never was one to mince words).
I won’t say I groveled and I won’t say I didn’t, but I was smooth and the bottom line was, we both got into the car and drove 90 miles to the breeder. It was a quiet ride with constant mumbling about not knowing why we’re driving all this way just to see puppies we were never going to buy. (A few adjectives were added when she referred to me and my having talked her into the trip. Nor was she satisfied to hold the checkbook). But, she was in the car and we were on our way.
The litter consisted of nine pups. There were four females and five males. All but one of the males were liver and white, the other was orange and white and so was the mother. I’m told the father was liver and white but I never saw him, I didn’t need to. The breeder put the males in the garage and we spend more than half an hour observing them interact and play. After a fashion my attention went to the pup that seemed to run the show. He was independent but interjected himself in everything the others did: if one had a ball, he’d try to take it away; when two played with a rag, he’d try to take it from both. He was the alpha male and he had me… and my wife knew it.
To make a long story short, after some preliminary banter about leaving it up to her, I wrote the check and we drove home with the pup sitting on a towel on my wife’s lap. She wasn’t smiling but she didn’t let go of the pup either. Before we hit the expressway, he had thrown up in her lap and an emergency stop was made at a 7-11 for paper towels. The ride home had just gotten longer.
By the time we pulled into the driveway, she was holding the pup, not just letting it sit on her lap, and the rest is history. Seamus had become part of the family.
I don’t think I expected what happen over the following months; Seamus turned the tables on us; he adopted us and made us part of his family. To this day, I believe he thinks I belong to him. And I won’t argue the point.