Written by: Perk Perkins, Orvis CEO
I knew, with Ol’ Rupe being 14 1/2 years old as an English Pointer, that this might be his last autumn, so I flew him out to Montana at the end of August to spend the glorious month of September out there to accompany me on days afield and astream. He was too old to be on the traveling squad, let alone the starting team for this fall’s bird season. But we did a couple hunts out there together and he gave me an indelible point on a group of sharptails one evening as a tangerine sun raked a hillside with its fiery rays.
gunwales in a resigned sort of way. He did a final road trip with me to Waterton, Canada for a meeting I had there. About halfway through the month, he started to fail and a vet confirmed that his days were numbered.
RupertYou flew with me around the countrySouth Dakota, Florida, Montana, VermontI flew with you through natureSmooth Brome, wire grass, rough fescue, prickly pear, aspenYou came to know meknow the change in my tempowhich told you when you could come in the 4-Runner,on a run, in the canoeYou waited patiently for the mornings when I laced on leather hunting boots.I came to know youyour signature tap danced to the rattle of dog bowlsThe arch of your tail and angle of your nosethe pulse of your cheeksas you tasted the airthat sculpture of black and whitein the mosaic of grass.Rupe, you brought me joy in the fieldthat I could have never had without you.I was proud to call you mineproud to set you out to hunt.My dear hunting companions knew you were the main showon those days.In the days ahead, when talk turns to great bird dogs,I may smugly hold my tongueand you will be in my mind.You were far from perfectAt times the goofy guyI remember on your first hunt on the Indian reservation in South Dakotawhen you pulled a wiley coyotesailing off the 20 foot high sand dune,back peddling in mid-airand crashing into the sand below;how you much preferred fur to feathers given your druthersyour bony awkward cuddling attemptsto be like the labs.There were many grouse you rendered into hashin the years of your armadillo carnage.The $500 price tag for the farmer’s chickens you killed.I count my blessings that your were never hit by a carIn the wanderlust of your younger yearsyou caused me hours and nights of agonizing worryas I searched and called for you in the hills of Vermont.Although you were such a gentle soulmany dogs felt the sting of your teethif they inadvertently loitered near our bag of birds at the end of a hunt.There is no worthy way to honor our friendship and your passingbut Simon and I will give your ashes to the air currents that sang you songs in your favorite places:here on the grassy slopes under lone Wolf Peak in Montanaunder the towering long leaf pines of Mays Pond in Floridaand in the grown over apple orchard of the Graf Farm in Rupert Vermont.
Rupert and Perk in Montana
Photo by Simon Perkins