I swear that one of life’s most cruel injustices is losing a good dog with so much of our lives still left to live without them here. If I could have one super power it would be to have our furry friends live as long as we do. They could be called to heaven the exact same time that we are ourselves and walk alongside us thru the gates. Sadly, I have no super powers and our beloved ‘Big Dog” crossed the rainbow bridge today. He didn’t have a hashtag in front of his name and we never kept his exact stats over the years, but gosh darn he was one hell of a hunting dog.
Stafford’s Ten Gauge Express was the patriarch of our hard working canine crew at CICC Outdoor Adventures and many who have enjoyed a hunt or two with us over the last decade have more than likely been blessed to watch him in action. He was aged beyond his years because of the work that he put in for us. He turned thirteen this past December and we are blessed to have had him in our lives for as long as we did. The last two duck seasons he has been officially retired and off duty, but he entertained us daily and his calm, happy presence in our family will be dearly missed.
“Gauge” was a giant part of our family. He technically was mine and Casey’s first baby together and therefore very deserving of some sort of eulogy if for no other reason than for our real children to have something to look back on to remember a dog that they both loved beyond limits and have not known a world without him. Tomorrow we will start life without Big Dog. Please keep us in your prayers as we try to do so. Many of our most precious family memories have been spent in a duck blind together and that dog has been a part of most all of those moments. It just won’t be the same without him. I had high hopes of blogging something special but I just can’t stop the tears from flowing. My heart is hurting but maybe one day I will write all my Gauge stories to share. There are quiet a few!
Casey and I trained Gauge ourselves, out of sheer determination to make a name for ourselves in the waterfowl industry knowing that without a great retriever a guided waterfowl hunt just wasn’t the same. As the business grew, so did our need for more gun dogs and Gauge became our best trainer for all the new recruits! As more dogs moved into the line up, Gauge simply became everyone’s dog. If a retriever was needed, he was the go to man. Every guide that has worked for us over the years, has hunted with Gauge. He made some remarkable retrieves in his time, across flooded rice fields, swift rivers and deep wetland ponds. He loved it all, and did all he could to please anyone he hunted with. He even retrieved a wounded deer once, believe it or not.
This past Sunday, the waterfowl hunting community lost a legend and role model with the passing of Mr. Ken Hofmann. I can’t help but think that Mr. H needed a legend of a retriever to hunt along side him in heaven, so Gauge was called home to hunt ducks forever with legends just like he was.
Rest in peace sweet old boy. Your family will miss you always…