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    Thread: Ode to my Remy

    1. Back To Top    #1
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      Ode to my Remy

      Not a lot of folks know out of my circle, however my first "best boy" Remy passed away this summer. Fast forward, and a relative offered to paint a picture in honor of his memory. I wrote a little ditty to go along with it. Believe she's turning it into a 4-part series? Anyway, here's Part 1:



      Well, it was 2010. Erin and I were not quite a year married and had just purchased our first home in Fargo. We'd discussed getting a dog, but hadn't thought too seriously about it.

      I'd been keen on getting a hunting breed of some sort. When you spent years afield with two uncles who had great hunting dogs, it sets a high standard of hunts to follow. The only caveat is it had to be hypoallergenic. Since my wife Erin is allergic, breeds such as Labs, spaniels, or setters were out of the question. A bit of Googling quickly pointed to German wirehaired pointers, or GWPs.

      My uncle, Paul, warned me a bit about them. He'd gone through a couple when he was younger, and they tended to be stubborn and aggressive. I did a lot of research, and found that if you were careful about picking a breeder who was vigilant, aggression had been greatly diminished in the breed.

      Fast forward to June, and I'd talked on the phone with Jeff Jalbert of Top Shelf Kennels in Horace. He encouraged me to come out and bring Erin to see the remaining five male puppies from a 13-pup litter. Both the sire and dam were there, so we could get an idea on what they'd be like full grown, as well as their temperament.
      PART 2 TOMORROW!

      Name:  Remy Cattails.jpg
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      Name:  Remy painting 1.jpg
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    2. Back To Top    #2
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      Nice bud thanks for sharing

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      Great story and a wonderful tribute to your bestie...thanx for sharing,our pup's take a huge piece of our heart when they go.

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      Day 2, Part 2:
      Now, at this point, Erin will tell you I'd already planned on getting a pup. Her ONLY evidence is that I brought along a checkbook for a down payment. I, on the other hand, will tell you I brought the check book JUST IN CASE, and it just so happened Remy was there.

      The puppies were all in an outside, little fenced-in area. Remy clearly stood out because he was the only roan/liver puppy left. The rest were solid liver. But what really set him apart is when Jeff said, "let's see them run around a bit," and opened the fence.

      The liver pups were gone in an instant, and Jeff and his girlfriend and her daughter were frantically chasing them around the yard.

      Erin and I turned back to see Remy, sitting there at the threshold, just staring at these two big, pink apes wondering what the heck we were doing.

      I figured any dog who didn't escape at the first chance of freedom was worth taking an equally long, hard look at. Maybe an extra special perk was Remy was born on my birthday, May 21.

      PART 3 NEXT! Stay tuned!

      Name:  Remy painting 2.jpg
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      Jeff is the best !!!!

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      All of us who have had a pet, especially a hunting dog pet, can relate to this. Pretty sure it's going to result in a tear or two before you're done.

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      excellent duck....great pic....well done

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      The grief of losing a dog is very heavy. I believe you've providing a great example for others on coping.

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      Very nice start to the pic ! Very difficult when that dreaded moment comes.

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      We gave Jeff the down payment, and made arrangements to pick up Remy after a family vacation in July. When we got him, our first re-visit witnessed him in a straw-lined kennel, crazily chewing on a chair that was in there with him.

      "Oh boy," Erin said. "What did we get ourselves into?"

      I could fill a book about what we did, in fact, get ourselves into, but I'll try to be brief.

      I quickly found a new-found passion for dog handling and dog training. I trained Top Shelf's Kashisking, which was his registered name, in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA). Jeff helped me a lot in training, and I met some of my best friends to this date through the organization.

      Remy managed to overcome every obstacle I threw at him, including my overwhelming naivety and inconsistency with training. He took it in stride, and through my frustrations (and I'm sure his) we managed to get passing scores that led us to the Versatile Championship in Ohio. This was the big show. If he got a passing score, he'd be crowned a "Versatile Champion" -- a huge achievement for anyone, but especially a young dog and a novice trainer.

      Name:  Remy painting 3.jpg
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      Quote Originally Posted by Duckslayer100 View Post
      We gave Jeff the down payment, and made arrangements to pick up Remy after a family vacation in July. When we got him, our first re-visit witnessed him in a straw-lined kennel, crazily chewing on a chair that was in there with him.

      "Oh boy," Erin said. "What did we get ourselves into?"

      I could fill a book about what we did, in fact, get ourselves into, but I'll try to be brief.

      I quickly found a new-found passion for dog handling and dog training. I trained Top Shelf's Kashisking, which was his registered name, in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA). Jeff helped me a lot in training, and I met some of my best friends to this date through the organization.

      Remy managed to overcome every obstacle I threw at him, including my overwhelming naivety and inconsistency with training. He took it in stride, and through my frustrations (and I'm sure his) we managed to get passing scores that led us to the Versatile Championship in Ohio. This was the big show. If he got a passing score, he'd be crowned a "Versatile Champion" -- a huge achievement for anyone, but especially a young dog and a novice trainer.

      Name:  Remy painting 3.jpg
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      Thats awesome just getting into the hunt tests last year its hard for people to understand the commitment from both dog and handler it takes to even get to compete at that level.

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      All the Gods,All the heavens,All the Hells are with in you.

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      PART 4:

      To top it off, Erin was very pregnant with our first child, and due shortly after Remy and I were to be back from Ohio. I had full support from my wife, and she was integral in everything.


      As luck would have it, Nolan came early, which meant we had our first child and then, 10 days later, drove to the Twin Cities so they could be with new grandparents while my dad and I drove non stop to Ohio.

      It was a whirlwind. I thought I bombed the test, but finished with one of the top scores and broke down in tears afterward.

      His training was highlighted countless times in the field, but also at home. It's something to have folks compliment you on your dog being so well behaved, and I knew Erin and I took great pride in having a "good boy" whenever we were out in public.

      Remy did have some of those standoffish, stubborn traits GWPs are known for. But he was still our first dog, and as he got older, he also became a steadfast family member. He was both our kids' first best friend, and loved cuddling and playing with them. I never worried about Remy being around kids. If he was bothered, he'd simply just leave to be on his own. Our kids learned to respect dogs, just as much as our dogs knew to respect humans.

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      Great pic story Duck....thanx for sharing.

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      Part 5 (last one tomorrow)
      Our Remy passed peacefully at Prairie Winds Vet center in Fargo on May 26, 2021. Remy made it 11 years and almost a week, much sooner than I'd hoped. I think that goes with all dogs -- they burn bright and fade out far too soon. It's not like we didn't know something was coming. Despite all Remy's wonderful traits, between mishaps, illness, and just getting old, we have a thick manilla folder of Vet bills as historical proof of how accident prone he could be.

      After Remy passed, I had to put down in words what I was feeling. I'm not sure it did him justice, but it helped me and Erin at the time. Thinking about him still gets me a bit teary eyed, and I'm going into this bird hunting season with a little less gumption than in the past. But I know Remy wants me out there with our other GWP, Blitz, and I'm sure he's rooting for us and waiting for the next bird, just like we are:

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      I/WE can concure with your deep felt sarrow duck,this pic story of yours brought back many memories of all my boyz from the last 50 years,everyone of my boyz has a special place in a urin with they're picture in my gun cabinet,I'll never forget them,each and everyone has a place in my heart.

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      Great story but I need to comment on the pictures. There is just something so personal about a hand-painted picture. My son has a hand-printed picture of his on-his-own first dog. so personal. Nice Job.

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      The final installment (my great aunt painted the picture):

      I should have had something profound to say. After all, for the past 11 years we'd been tied at the hip. He was my first dog -- my first "best boy" -- and for over a decade he'd been in the center of my life.

      And yet, walking down a dirt minimum maintenance road outside of town, I could think of nothing.

      It wouldn't have mattered, I suppose. The howling north wind, mixed with Remy's failing hearing, would have made talking mostly one sided. Then again, he's a dog: isn't all talking one sided?

      That's a bit too pessimistic in my mind. Dogs, and especially Remy, know what you're saying. Or at least, they know "how" you're saying what you're saying. Remy was great at that. You could call him a dirty, no good, mongrel sonofabitch, and he'd laugh right along with you because he knew you were full of beans.

      So yes, I could have said something now. But the words wouldn't come. Instead I watched Remy, who was doing what he did best on walks. He stayed ahead 20 yards, keeping vigilant for his dad just in case some critter needed pointing. Then when he strayed far enough, he'd stop and look back with that "hurry up" face; waiting for me to get alongside so he could heel for a few steps before taking off again.

      When Remy was a puppy, I was terrified of losing him. We had dogs growing up that were never off a stake-down or leash because at a moment's notice they'd disappear to the next township. It took a lot of training -- both for Remy and for me -- and growing faith to let Remy roam off-lead.

      And still, there were many times in the woods when I thought I'd lost him. Want to know what panic is? Remember back 20 or 30 years when you were shopping with your parents in a mall, and thought it would be funny to hide in the clothes rack? That white-eyed, perspiring, pale-faced look your mom had is the same feeling I got if Remy strayed for too long.

      But he's a pointer. They're supposed to roam and stray. If they don't, well, you don't get much for birds in the game bag. Remy somehow managed to toe that line eventually between ranging enough to find birds, to staying close and keeping myself from having a panic attack.

      I was hoping this walk would give me a sign that my boy was OK. That Erin and I overlooked something silly, and Remy was actually just fine. But a half mile from the truck, the telltale drool started foaming up and dribbling from Remy's mouth. He'd been this way for days, a culmination of weeks and months of whatever gut ailment he had. Cancer, maybe? We weren't sure. And when it came to doing yet more and more tests, we'd decided it just wasn't in his, or our, best interest.

      A year ago, an emergency room visit highlighted how bad his internal workings were. Pancreatitis, the doc said, pretty serious, but he could live a normal life with some adjustments to diet and careful vigilance from us.

      So we did. A daily regimen of antacids, probiotics, specialized vet-approved dog food, and constant monitoring if things were working as they should be. It had gone remarkably well after the ER trip. So well, I almost forgot how sick he really was.

      Then the diarrhea came. And the vomiting. And the loss of appetite. And the glazing of his eyes. The wanting to be alone instead of with us. The obvious pain that he'd mask to play with his best bud, our other dog, Blitz. His tail wags were infrequent, but Remy always managed even a weak one if someone came to give him a scratch and "good boy."

      With that, we made that tough decision that all dog owners have to make eventually. And through countless tears (hell, what am I saying, they're still falling) and plenty of talks between Erin and I and our kids, we knew what was best for Remy.

      Back at the truck, I helped Remy into the front seat, where he promptly curled up to rest. I scratched his ears, and he rested his head on my hand. We rode like that all the way to the vet. I had 20 minutes for our lives to flash before my eyes -- the puppy years; the NAVHDA testing; the crazy trip to Ohio for his versatile championship title a mere 10 days after my first child was born; hunts galore and thousands of retrieves; but most importantly, how good he was at home as part of our family.

      When Remy passed, silently and without fanfare on the floor of the vet, where they'd laid a comfy fleece blanket, I had a vision. Remy was walking down a dirt road somewhere out of town. He was 20 yards ahead, doing what Remy does best. Then he stopped and looked back. But instead of a "hurry up" look, he had a "take your time, I can wait" look.

      See you on the other side, buddy.

      You were the bestest boy. Ever.

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      Absolutely beautiful ! I feel your sorrow, and thoughts and prayers to you and Erin.

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      Dam you Duck. I really didnt want to cry on a Wednesday morning, but they are good tears. LB

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      Duckslayer, You tore my heart apart! I went through the same thing three months ago. I truly feel that anyone that goes through life without a pet, misses out on something special!

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