The Last Hunt
An eternal friendship
Today I woke up feeling a lot of pain. I am not a dog to give up like that, but it is very difficult to endure this situation. I don’t want to think the worst, but my friend came to see me several times during the night. He stroked my head, as always, spoke kind words and I could see that his eyes were full of tears. It sounded like a goodbye.
I am old, I know, but I think I could still hunt, after all, I am a retriever dog. How I remember with joy the fantastic adventures we did through weirs, fields, and even mountains. At that time my breath was tireless and my nose never missed. Locating the slaughtered partridge was as easy as walking or recognizing my friend. A real gentleman! We met when I was still a puppy. He came to pick me up in Santa Rita. He was delighted with me. He lifted me to the air and satisfied, called me “Joia”. I loved the name as I loved the gentleman. We became very friends. During the trip back, he smoothed my brown fur and said things that I didn’t understand but I could feel his affection for me perfectly. We were perfect partners, an eternal friendship. When we arrived at his house, his young children welcomed me with such joy that I felt like a queen, the queen of retrievers. I jumped on the boy’s legs and they laughed out loud, shouted my name “Joia” “Joia”. They ran like crazy and I was always faster than everyone, I could reach them easily. We grew up together. We spent unforgettable moments.
Once, one of the boys became ill. I felt my friend’s concern. While the doctor visited the family and examined the boy, I, discreet and attentive, waited patiently outside the porch. I was always intelligent, sensitive, and I learned very quickly to capture the feelings of this wonderful family. While the boy was burning with fever beside his mother, my friend was walking head down in the yard. At first, I watched from afar, I frowned and thought the best I could do was to lie down with my head on my paws, close to the ground. My ears were drooping and my eyes followed the pacing of that suffering father to and fro. Without being able to contain it, a yelp of pain came out from my heart. Then I decided that since we were such friends, I should always be with him. So I started to walk beside him, step by step. He smiled tenderly, ran a hand over my head, and said “Joia “Joia”. But the boy was healed and the house was just joy! Children going up and down the wooden stairs and the little boy still weak, but cheerful. We had an amazing time together. I already said that!
I became a young girl and soon my friend noticed my natural needs and tendencies. He brought a companion for me. I fondly remember those romantic moments that I spent with an elegant dog of my breed. Wonderful little dogs were born from our love. I once had five puppies, each one more beautiful and different from the other. Well, people say that all are made of the same clay, but in different ways. Five! Exactly the number of children in that house. My partner called his lady, they looked for the camera to take pictures and there we posed for eternity. Me, my friend, and the children, each with a puppy in their arms. It was then that I became famous. The photo was sent to a magazine and as soon as it arrived at our house, the children happily huddled over their father to observe the printed photo. If I’m not mistaken, it was the 1963 “Fauna” magazine.
My friend’s wife didn’t see me as well as he did and also the children. She’s a tough woman but it is not her fault. She always liked me for sure. I could realize that the first time we were alone. My friend traveled and my lady felt fragile, a little afraid or lonely, I’m not sure about it, but the fact is she let me sleep inside the house. I felt honored and tried to respond to that fine gesture to the best of my ability. But something was wrong: I had drunk a lot of water at the beginning of the night because my ground beef was very salty and little by little the urge to empty my bladder became unbearable. Oh my God! I couldn’t pee on there. No. Never. No way. I couldn’t burn my movie like that with my lady.
I started to cry and I didn’t realize that I was crying so loudly that she came down the stairs. Intelligent, she understood what was happening to me and soon opened the door that led to the yard. My God! What a relief! I think it took me a long time and while I was peeing, I looked with love at the elegant figure who waited patiently at the door. She sat at the kitchen step and looked at the stars. Her profile in the moonlight was wonderful! I returned a little embarrassed and she had a magnificent gesture of tenderness that I have never forgotten. She stroked my fur, calling me by the name. I didn’t hesitate, I laid my head on her lap and closed my eyes. We both stayed there for a few moments and then we went into the house where we could sleep without further problems. These loving gestures happened sometimes, but only when we were alone. I never understood these things very clearly, but I was always sure of her love for me.
I liked the house, the children, but hunting was my life! Being a retriever dog I was made for that. I soon learned that when my friend appeared still at dawn, with hunter clothes and shotgun in hand, it was time! I jumped, spun, barked, yelped, and there we went, always in a pickup with some friends. How to forget that crazy joy that consumed me when approached the field! The smell of grass still wet, the expectation of the first partridges that appeared fragile in their innocent flight, the shot! I run at an incredible speed in search of the bird. I held it with my mouth and in a few moments, I brought it to my friend, who, full of pride, greeted me for the deed. Sometimes the partridge would fall into the lake, which was no problem for me. I entered the water without fear and swam competently until I reached the bird. When we got home it was late and tired, we slept the sleep of the justs. On those occasions, I felt a sense of happiness, it is something I cannot explain, a racial instinct, a duty accomplished, an indescribable pleasure. I was born a hunter!
But time has passed, things have changed. We had to move to another city for unexpected reasons. My friend was quieter, sadder, I think he suffered from a nervous system disease. His sadness passed to me, I suffered too for him. But we still participated in some hunts. His brother came to pick us up in his old pickup truck. We still used to go to the countryside. It was a pleasure to see their joy. At that time I felt I no longer responded so readily to my instincts. Maybe it was because of age, I can’t know for sure. I was attentive to the shots, I ran like crazy in search of the partridge, but, once, what a shame! I got lost with the bird stuck in my mouth, I just couldn’t find the way. I went round and round, and nothing. After a while, I heard my friend shouting my name and it was with difficulty that I found him. Ashamed, I refused to receive his affection. I retired to an isolated corner and put my nose on my paws after all everyone has a little dignity.
It dawns. I feel terrible pain. My teats are inflamed, they weigh so much that I can barely stand. I cry loudly. I can’t endure this situation. I don’t know what I have, but I hope to heal. I see my friend approaching with my lady. They are serious. He calls my name affectionately. I try to hold back the crying, the pain increases more and more. He opens the little gate and calls me out. I try to stand up, I can’t. He and the boy, who is now almost a grown man carry me in their arms. How I love them! But what do I see? It’s his hunting rifle! My God! What a joy! We will hunt again. I’ll make it! I’ll show him that I still can. We’re already out of the house. There are the pickup and his brother. I am sure we are going to hunt. But I don’t know why my friend cries so much. I try to show him that everything is going to be all right. I wag my tail, but any effort causes me deep pain. He will not go. He enters the house crying, supported by his wife. That’s ok.
There we go, me and his brother. I know the way. We’ve hunted here many times. We arrived. He gets me out of the car. I can not walk. He is dragging me with difficulty. I feel shame. He takes out his shotgun. I am afraid that I will be not able to hunt as before. He aims in my direction. I think the partridges might be flying over my head. I hear the shot. I get dizzy. I look up. Yes, the partridges are flying. There are thousands! I’ll get them. The smell of the wet grass was never so strong and I never felt so good. I think I was healed. I don’t feel any pain. I’m strong. I am “Joia”, the most beautiful and most agile retriever dog that has ever existed.