Of Dogs and Divorces

Photo by Nathan Hunnicutt

The dog was the last straw.  At least that’s what the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Zenhunter said.  Of course it wasn’t really the dog.  I’d wanted a retriever for years, to fetch the ducks my 52-year-old body was tired of chasing.  The constant marriage battle had left me feeling alone, unloved, empty, so it seemed like a good time to get a pup.  But Mrs. Zenhunter didn’t want a dog, and insisted that I compromise.  Now, in her mind, “compromise” meant NOT getting a dog.  But I did that most unreasonable thing anyway, what nearly 200 million Americans have already done: I got the dog.

And she filed for divorce.

So it was then that a 25 year marriage ended, and a new life with a dog began.  Schatzie (“little sweetheart” in German) is 11 months old and now I know what it means when a hunter jokes that he lost the house, the car, the kids in a divorce, but got to keep the dog. I truly do.

Schatzie has put the beat back in my heart. Whatever is worrying me fades away not long into our walks. Her enthusiasm for every blowing leaf, every whiff of a dog gone by before her, the total commitment to speedily bringing back the pine cones I hurl inspires me. I smile at her antics and clumsiness, marvel at the fervent desire to please, and am fascinated by how she pieces together what’s expected of her and learns the job she was born and bred to do.  She never gets frustrated or impatient or angry. When a pine cone I’ve thrown lands in a bush or behind a fence, she studies the situation, working out the best way – over, under, around – to get what she’s after, to retrieve for me what she believes I’m after.  Hers is a life of love and service, satisfaction and joy in the simplest things. She is teaching me.

At 5 months, I took Schatzie out for her first waterfowl hunt. The divorce war and moving myself, my things, my business had taken its toll on her training, so I went expecting little of her.

A friend and his son joined me in the blind, good shooters both, and we downed 11 ducks that day. Schatzie knew what to do at the very first bang-splash. She’d watch our faces and guns and once we showed her where the duck had fallen (she was too small to see over the blind wall), she was off in pursuit. A couple of ducks tried to escape, diving under the murky pond water or into a gnarly bush. Schatzie got them anyway. All 11 were brought back swiftly, gently carried through some long swims, and dropped at our feet. I can’t take credit for it; her abilities are clearly innate, the result of good breeding through a long line of champion hunters.

I’m excited about next season. Schatzie will be a year and half old. Lawyers and asset struggles will no longer be casting their shadows on my thoughts. The blind will be a good place to be. There’s a new woman in my life, too, and next season that’s who we’ll be coming home to. She’s wonderful, and best of all, she loves my dog.

~ by zenhunter on March 24, 2011.

One Response to “Of Dogs and Divorces”

  1. Hunting dogs are the best, sorry about the divorce. My friends dog can swim like nobody’s business. His dog loves the lakes. Glad you got the dog in the divorce.

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