Family Traditions

Family Traditions – Lifetimes Apart


Since the age of about 6 years old I have had a strong love for animals. I grew up on my granny and papas pig farm where I learned the responsibility of how to care for animals. They needed us, and we needed them. Many days I played all over that farm often climbing an old Catawba worm tree to collect fish bait, you see the tree was located behind an old dog kennel of which never had a dog in it that I can remember. In the living room of the old farm house hung a picture of a man and a dog in a field. I asked granny who that was once, and she said it was my papa and one of his favorite dogs. I asked her what were they doing and she replied, " bird hunting". I was too young to really understand the concept of why a dog was needed to shoot a bird but none the less I remember thinking that must have been a special dog if my papa loved it enough to have a large picture of it in the living room.
Life seemed to pass a lot faster then and before I knew it I was in middle school and then high school. I had been given a dog of my own by my mother. A 6-week-old golden retriever, born May 21, 2000 that I named Sid. We began to
spend every day together. Sid would go on to take me down a path I never would have dreamed. He and I became the youngest member of the Georgia Emergency Management Agencies Certified Search and Rescue team. We traveled all over looking for lost and missing people. When we weren't traveling we were training. It never got old to us. As I began to age so did my papa. He developed Alzheimer's disease and he and granny ended up moving in with us for a bit. It was then that I got to see how Sid would make a difference in his life also. Sid knew something wasn't right and would not leave his side when he was there. Papa ended up having a stroke and passing away a few months later and life went on as it does.
Time again blew by and college came, Sid and I were inseparable. He was my best friend, my study buddy, my protector. We still trained some and continued to help find missing people even in his older age. I began a career in Veterinary Medicine in 2004 and got married in 2010, Sid still by my side.
In my past time I had begun training dogs for other people. It was something I had always done off and on but decided to go all in. I fell in love with the sport of hunting retrievers and hunt tests and before long ended up with an English pointer. I had no idea how to train a pointer, but I remember it looking just like the dog in my papa’s picture. Several books and consults from other pros in the industry and I had him steady to wing and shot. I was so excited, but I still hadn't been on a real quail hunt with him yet. I could get my hands on some quail and decided, today's the day. We are going to see if Ace (the pointer) can find a bird. I opened the kennel and out came Ace, quartering the field and looking like a professional dog doing what he had been trained to do. Then it happened, Ace came to a screeching halt and pointed his first real bird. He was steady to wing and shot. Once the bird flushed he marked it and delivered it to hand and I will never forget that moment. Standing there alone in the pine woods, bird dog on point...it came to me. The fact that this is what my Papa must have felt in that picture above the couch. I realized in that moment I had not simply fallen into this new lifestyle of dogs, guns and fowl but had been conditioned my entire life to be this person. What I wouldn't give to go back in time and strap on an orange vest and walk side by side with my papa, enjoying a sport that we both have/had such love for. Who would have known that as a young child climbing that tree over that old dog pen that it held memories that would surface a lifetime apart? Those memories were not spoken but they can be felt on a crisp cool morning with the smell of spent shot shell and dog breath surrounding me. What I would give to have one hunt with that man, to have my pointer back his, to have him shoot backup for me after the third miss.
Sid passed away a few years ago and so did Granny. The lessons I learned will never be forgotten. They left me with an understanding of how to love all creatures great and small as well as a work ethic of patience and perseverance.
I now own and operate Altamaha Canine Consulting in Wayne County Georgia, A kennel where I am afforded the opportunity to work dogs for clients all over from obedience to gun dog, tracking to detection. My motto has been simple. I strive to help all my client’s dogs to be as worthy as my papa’s dog. Worthy of a large framed print over the couch displayed in their masters living room for people to ask questions of how amazing he or she is. Worthy of a well-built dog house shaded by a beautiful Catawba worm tree. Worthy of the life that Sid had laying in my arms as he slipped off to eternal rest after 13 years of giving everything he had to me, his master.
If you have never had a dog, you are missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime. I challenge you to give it a try. If your Papa's still alive, take him bird hunting. You won't regret it. Life happens fast, take time to enjoy the tail end of an English Pointer quivering on point.

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