Eulogy for a Gun Dog

What is it about a dying dog story that just crumbles me? I must have read a couple hundred over the years, and I know exactly how each one will end. But when I reach the final words, I'm a mess. Every time. I have to go for a walk to clear the mist in my eyes.

As my own dog, Willow, gets a little slower, a little fatter, and it seems, the tailgate of my truck gets a little higher for her, these canine eulogies hit closer to home. At some point, sooner than I want, I'm going to have to write my own.

Hopefully, that's years down the line, after I have lifted many more roosters and mallards from Willow's gentle mouth. But I just read a story that might help me prepare for the eventuality that lies at the end of every fluffy-puppy lick, every first retrieve, every bird hunt that every dog owner has enjoyed.

The story is about a dog, Shellie. It's told by Dan Magneson, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service fisheries biologist in Quilcene, Wash. A good friend, Brent Lawrence, who runs press relations for the agency in Portland, sent me the link, knowing that I appreciate both good dogs and good writing.

You can find Magneson's tribute, as well as all sorts of other news, resource information, photos, and information on hunting and fishing around the Northwest at the USFWS's Facebook page. And then go and pet your dog. She won't be around as long as you expect.