I love to write. However, as my wife, Meredith, so adeptly penned in her blog post, I was overcome with emotion at Izzy’s passing. I knew I could never write a blog that would do justice to how much Izzy meant to our family. I didn’t know where, or how, to begin. Every time I thought about her potential in the field, I’d tear up. Every time I’d think about her positive energy and unconditional love in our home, I’d sob uncontrollably. As bird hunters, we spend a couple dozen days a year in the field with our dogs if we’re lucky, while the remaining 300 plus are spent in kitchens, back yards and walks around the block. Izzy was the “energy” in our family that’s now gone. While every dog owner knows he/she will outlive their canine best friend, we’re never really prepared for the day that inevitability comes home to roost, especially at 1 year, 7 months and 8 days.
In the days since that fateful Saturday, October 19th, I’ve received more than 200 emails, voicemails, blog comments, Facebook messages and Tweets with words of support and wisdom. To put it bluntly, I’ve been overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and friendship the Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and bird dog communities have shown me.
As you can imagine, I’ve been brought to tears dozens of times in the days since Izzy was taken too early from us. What I wasn’t expecting was that my little 1 ½ year old pup would inspire people to reach out to me to articulate their support for my personal well-being, Pheasants Forever’s habitat mission and my role within that mission. People I’ve never met before or interacted with have grabbed the phone and keyboard to tell me what my words on the screen or over the radio waves have meant to them over the last several years.
Izzy and Trammell find a pair of late August sharptails
When Meredith wrote her blog post, she did leave out one massive component of our terrible weekend when Izzy died. She did so purposefully as a sign of respect to Izzy’s importance in our lives. However, I feel it’s now appropriate to also bring to light just how close we came to losing both our dogs within 24 hours. The night following Izzy’s passing, Trammell woke us up at 5AM. She was dry-heaving and struggling to breathe. This lasted for about thirty minutes before I was overcome by a sense of “I’m not going to lose both my dogs to tragedies in one day,” so we raced to a 24-hour pet hospital. They immediately took X-rays and found two nails, a staple and a massive wad of grass in Tram’s stomach. As you can imagine, I was shocked. While definitely food-motivated, Trammell has never been a chewer. I couldn’t comprehend how nails were now threatening her life. The vet did an immediate endoscopy successfully removing one nail, but was unable to capture the second. Emergency stomach surgery to remove the second nail surrounded by a massive ball of grass commenced and was thankfully successful. I’ll never know how Tram picked up those nails; however, I am fearful they were intended for a wolf in a bait pile left in the same woods Izzy passed. I hope my thoughts are purely those of an angry and grieving dog owner. No animal – wolf, dog or other – deserves such a fate. Thankfully, Tram’s stitches are now out and she is making a full recovery.
Borrowing a Dog
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been offered the services of a dozen people’s bird dogs. Most of these offers have come from folks I’ve never met before. I can’t express the measure of generosity I’ve felt from these offers. Let’s face it; I haven’t had much luck with bird dogs recently. For a stranger to trust me with their pup speaks volumes to their humanity.
While I’m eternally grateful to these offers, I’ve always had a rule about “borrowing” another’s bird dog (even before the tragedies of the last two weeks). Under no circumstances will I ever put myself in a situation of being responsible for another’s pup. Likewise, I’ll never lend out my own dogs. My opinion is it’s simply too much of a risk for both parties to be in a situation of having to answer for unexpected circumstances. Nevertheless, I do want to acknowledge the overwhelming gratefulness I’ve felt each time one of these offers arrived in my Inbox. THANK YOU for trusting me.
Rooster Road Trip
The afternoon after Trammell’s surgery, I emailed Andrew and Anthony from my home after waking up from a sleep with Tram in bed. In that email, I told the guys there was no way I’d be going out on this year’s tour without either of my dogs. “Agony” is the word I used to categorize the feeling I’d have wandering five states “alone” to think about my departed Izzy and mending Tram. As you’d expect from fellow dog guys, they understood completely and quickly enlisted Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever’s Public Relations Specialist, to fill my slot. I think you’d all agree, the trio did a marvelous job on this year’s Rooster Road in my absence.
Top Gun Yzerman “Izzy” v. St.Pierre
Cremation and Rebirth
There were tears in our kitchen again last week. Heavy tears. Meredith brought Izzy’s cremated remains home from the vet in a tin urn. As I write, that tin rests on our mantle next to Izzy’s puppy blanket . . . and I miss her a lot . . . and the tears stream down my face again. 1 year, 7 months and 8 days of joy. Thank You, Izzy, for loving me and being my bird dog. I’ll miss you FOREVER and hope to someday join you for another hunt. Just you, me and Tram. I love you . . .
Life and death, it is the incongruity of our existence. Izzy’s passing has put the St.Pierre name on the list for a Top Gun litter again this spring. God willing, Izzy’s half-sister will join the St.Pierre family late next spring and you will have to endure another round of articles about dog names, potty training and first birds. For Meredith and me, there was never any question we’d have to add another pup to our family as soon as possible. The void Izzy’s departure has left in our home with her “big” personality is just too large to not try filling immediately. I understand why some folks would take more time to grieve before getting another puppy. Simply put, the opposite was needed for our recovery.
If you’d like to read a bit more about my beloved Izzy, here are a few links:
Finally, I just wanted to say “THANK YOU” for all the notes, love and support. THANK YOU for all the messages and photos about your pups pointing in Izzy’s honor. Most importantly, THANK YOU for giving your pup a scratch under the chin in Izzy’s memory. That was always her favorite spot and I know she’s wagging her tail every time another pup gets a little love there. THANK YOU. I am humbled and thankful for your friendship. Bob
Izzy’s first pointed grouse came at the tender age of 7 months.
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.