Noses down, tails cracking in the cool morning air, the dogs worked in-between the Russian Olives. As the tails moved faster their pace became more methodical.
The morning had been kind already, and with a limit in the truck I was able to focus solely on handling the dogs. My friend was one shy of his limit. His aging pointer had already earned the opportunity to curl up in the cab of the truck, but we decided to let my dogs get a bit more work.
Tails now looking like the propeller on a Piper Super Cub, we hustled to be in position. The explosion of wings and tail feathers combined predictably with the telltale cackle of a rooster pheasant. Unpredictably, the rooster flew left putting me between barrel and bird. Instinctively, I dropped to the ground not wanting to leave anything to chance. As the rooster cleared me and the cover my friend swung smoothly and his Red Label connected cleanly.
A four foot tall barb wire fence, overlaid with sheep panels, stood between us and the downed bird. Hitting the brakes my younger dog balked as he nearly collided with the fence en route to the retrieve. Then out of my peripheral vision I saw my older, less athletic, female launch herself over the fence without missing a stride. Barely clipping the top wire she completed a flawless retrieve.
“Did you see that” stuttered my friend. Equally dumbfounded, I couldn’t help but smile and laugh. I shouldn’t be surprised any more. For seven seasons now, my dumpster diving, bull in a china shop, drive me crazy lab, has also been one of the most remarkable bird dogs I’ve been around.