May 10, 2015

Days With Sunshine

On July 12, 2002, I met my best friend. 

My daughters, Angie and TJ, went with me to Pocatello to look at puppies. I wanted a new running/ hunting partner for myself and my English Setter, Misti. 

The ad read "English Setter mix". I assumed it would not be a good mix, but went to look anyway. There were two left, male and female. I wanted the male, if the "mix" was one I could tolerate. The mix turned out to be a rather incredible one. The puppy's dad was full blood English Setter, and the mother was half English Pointer and half Brittany Spaniel. My girls and I spent close to an hour trying to like the male. It just never happened. As we sat playing with him, and watching him, his sister stole our hearts. She would come home with us and become part of the family.

If you have had many pets, you know that once in a lifetime, there comes along "the one". That one dog, that completely outshines all those that came before, and any you will know after. Sunshine was "the one".

Angie, TJ, & Sunny girls.

Sunny learned quick from my setter, Misti. It only took one time on birds to have her honoring point. It took me a half dozen more times to get Misti to do the same. As a lover of hunting upland game, I was pretty dang lucky. I had a couple amazing dogs.

She also got a few lessons from my Dad's old dog, Max. I set my shotgun down and snapped photos of the two of them working Sunny's first blue grouse. I never could get the dogs and the bird in the same photo, but I was able to get shots of the old pro working the bird, and Sunny following along, honoring point.

Although my interests were changing towards running, there were many more days in the field for Sunny.

I would walk along in the general direction I would like to go, lost in the beauty of nature, and following the sounds of the bell around Sunny's neck. When the bell stopped, you knew there would be action.

I had to pay closer attention if I ever forgot the bell, but that was good too. Sunny was incredible to watch work.


...after a hard day's work.

We all get tired sometimes.

As my love for the outdoors began to manifest itself in the way of trail running, Sunny was willing to change to the same. 

We would run miles, not having to say anything at all. She would be watching me, paying attention, and just excited to see where we would go next.

...patiently waiting

...always ready to go.

With a big storm moving in, Sunny and I got in a last late autumn run on the Logan River Trail. It was just a typical day, another long run with my best friend. ...but seasons change.

Early the next spring, we ended up at The Wind Caves. It was like so many of our other days, but I could see Sunny was getting old. Back to back days of running long would wear Sunny out. I no longer felt good about taking her on runs over 20 miles, or even 15. Ten mile runs became our limit, with a day's rest between.

And as quickly as it began, it was over. Sunny had survived a run in with razor wire as a pup. She pulled through after having been bit by a rattle snake. She recovered quickly from having impaled herself on a downed tree limb while running.
...but she was no match for old age. It gets us all.

Misti had left for the happy hunting grounds a few years before. Along our favorite home trail that we use to run all the time, Misti is buried in a grove of aspen, with a small pile of rocks to mark her grave. A rock gets added each time I have ran there since she left. Now a bell also hangs in a tree near by.

It is hard to say goodbye. 

Thank you for the memories.