The farm pond was littered with the bodies of six Canada geese.
Not bad for an eye-blink of a shoot involving three goose hunters who hardly settled in before a large flock of birds showed up.
It was no more than 10 minutes after legal shooting time and the hunters were finished with their chore. Not so Berry - my black Labrador retriever - nor for the semi-retired Jenny Lynn, my other Lab who is a senior citizen with all the aching joints that comes with such a status.
Now-a-days Jenny Lynn only accompanies me when I go to the farm pond in search of geese or ducks. It is a short, easy walk from the car to the blind. And it gives Jenny a sense of hunting even if doesn't involve much work. That is why I've hired Berry.
But this morning belonged to Jenny and the memory will walk with me until I die.
At the sound of the gunfire and that of birds whacking the farm pond's surface, Berry was hot on the trail of one of the geese. A fast swimmer, Berry wasted little time in picking out a goose and returning with it.
Jenny sort of hung back, almost questioning what to do. But that indecision didn't last long.
Even before Berry was back with her bird Jenny was swimming ever-so-slowly to another goose. It would take Jenny Lynn longer to go there and come back though she's always been a dependable sort and really enjoys water retrieving.
Try as I could, though, I was unable to convince Berry to get back in the water and fetch another goose. Instead, she wiggled in excitement, sniffing her goose and running to and fro. I was none too happy.
Jenny on the other hand; now there's where all the years paid off. After she returned with the first goose she immediately turned and went for her second bird. Again, ever so slowly out there and back but just as dependable.
When that bird was fetched to shore Jenny went after her third goose, this bird being the furthest of the group.
All I could do was encourage her and shout out praises for her championship performance.It nearly brought tears my eyes.
Jenny Lynn is more than 13 years old and can no longer tolerate either runs on land after pheasants nor all-day waterfowling trips. It grieves me that I have to leave her at home in such circumstances but she's paid her dues - and then some.
And the time is fast approaching, when mild-weather waterfowling will be even too much for the old girl. At that point (no doubt next year) she'll have to take up permanent residence on the dog bed. I do not look forward to that day, I must say.
Still, I will always harbor with great love the warm, bright November morning where Jenny Lynn's strength matched her heart and she fetched three giant Canada geese, one right after the other, with not a complaint or hesitation.
It is such days that makes a dog man burst with pride.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn