We parked where we always park. A mile from the ranch house, across the dirt road, in a little flat, grassy spot with a short tree line on the east side, and grassy hills on the west side. We had shelter from the wind on west, and shelter from the morning sun on the east. To the south, across a barbed wire fence, a small valley ran south for a while then split up once, twice, then petered out on the hills. I am a creature of habit. If something works, I don't try to fix it. This spot worked. It had for 10+ years. I was good with it.
I let the dogs out, one at a time, to avoid the classic goat-rope. Finally, after 4 disappointed looks and borderline insubordination from the big boys as I crated them, I let Pearl out of her box. She looked at me, the land, the crated dogs and her chest poked out, her ears opened, her little brown stubby tail stuck straight up, and she looked me in the eye. "I'll find them, if they're here, Boss! Just put the GPS on me, because I might be out of sight a bit in those hills. You can count on me, because I'm the best you got!" (The modesty gene was apparently omitted in this breeding.)
I instrumented her on the tailgate, gave her some water, checked her paws, and said "OK!"- off she went. I grabbed my gun and headed to the south and the little valley where we'd found hundreds of Sharpies and Huns over the years. I crossed the fence, and took a peek to see if she was in sight. Gone already, but that was to be expected. Her pager went off. That wasn't expected! I grabbed the handheld expecting her ahead of me a few hundred yards. What? She was back by the truck- maybe 30 yards west, in the grass leading up to a big hill. I turned around and looked for her, and saw her stubby little tail standing tall in the light brown grass. suddenly she moved and worked her way towards the road, then down along the road out of sight around the hill.
I jumped the fence and hurried after her, just as the pager went off again. I rounded the hill and saw her locked up on a big patch of sage, in the tall brown grass, about 30 yards off the road. Good spot. Birds like to come down to get gravel, and then roost in shrubs by the road. This would be good! She was solid. Intense. She sure had my motor running. I kicked the shrubs and got nothing. Her eyes came up to mine, and I told her, "OK".
|Top of the Hill. Dead on!|
|Another one, Boss! Having fun yet?|
A long drink from the water bottles, and she was off again, this time with long, fast, swooping runs crossing in front of me as I walked in to the wind. She dropped off into a small, brush choked ditch and didn't come out the other side. Her pager started beeping, and I hustled to the edge of the ditch. I took a couple steps down to the brushy bottom, when a bird blew out and got a taste of 6's from my everyday SKB Model 100 20 ga. The retrieve was perfect to hand, and I complimented her.
We had ourselves a little love fest in the grass, on top of the hill, as I told her how wonderful she was. My little Pearlie-girl. She brings a smile to my face every time.