On the first of August, 2001, a little male pup made his way into the light and started pushing through his siblings to the warmth and protection of his mama. He was all squeal and push and mouth- and he was not to be denied the nipple. Not long after that day, Jeffery Keck picked that little guy up, smelled his puppy breath, looked him in the eye and told him, “I’m going to call you “Trooper”. And I’m going to put every bit of dog training knowledge I have in to you. That’s my job. Your job is to find birds. What do you say, Trooper? You got what it takes?”
Three years and two months later, Trooper finished his first championship. Not many years later, he had seven championships, won everything in the Georgia Region and was second high point dog in the nation. It was a given for many years: If Trooper was running, we were all competing for second place.
I remember watching Jeffery and Keith Howard working with Trooper in the back pasture. Lots of birds planted, voice commands, retrieving practice- most of all, lots of fun, grins and admiration and respect. I had a friend one time mention how I must really like the dog I was working at the time. I asked why he said so, and he said he could tell by the way my face lit up when I watched her run. Jeffery’s face lit up that way every time he worked or ran Trooper.
I don’t need to tell a bird dog man about the bond that develops between man and his dog. It’s strong, deep and real. It’s about trust and hard work and not quitting- for either dog or man. The man sees a partner, a friend and an animal that trusts him to do the right thing- to care for him, feed him, train him and protect him. The dog simply looks at the man and sees his purpose for putting paws on the ground- to please this man. And he’ll do it every time he’s asked. The dog looks at the man and sees his god. For too short of time, we have our dogs. From pushing to the tit, to standing tall in the grass, to hobbling from the box one last time, they love us unconditionally until it’s their time to be a memory.
Quail Valley Trooper was put in the ground March 29, 2011. He ran his last field trial March 18, 2011. He gave his last run exactly what he gave his first run. I know because I was there to see it- I was his bracemate. Trooper gave it all he had.