She Died On Sunday. 11/18/2018

Road Runner

New member
I just returned from my annual trip to South Dakota 11/4 through 11/13. This year I brought my almost 13 year old lab Sadie with us to South Dakota. She was not there to hunt but just to spend time in the hotel room and no be left home alone in the kennel. I knew that she did not have long left as I loaded her into the truck for this trip. Cancer sucks by the way it does not matter if you are a person or a dog. My last hunt for this year was a walk with the old girl down a section line. She walked for about 200 yards and could not go on. I set down my shotgun and carried her back to the truck. We then loaded up for our long journey home. She died just five days later on a gloomy Sunday afternoon.

Please forgive me as I sit here with tears spilling onto the keyboard. I wanted to share this with a group of people who probably love their dogs as much as the people in their lives like I do. I may be guilty of some hyperbole as I relate this story of my perfect pheasant hunt but in my memory it occurs just how I relate it here.

Sadie 12/28/2005 to 11/18/2018

I remember a day two years ago November 2016 in South Dakota. It was a perfect pheasant hunt. We were hunting on the Louise Lake game production area. I hunted in the morning behind Whitney she was working birds at nearly the speed of light. The intensity of her joy as she ran full speed, intoxicated by the scent of pheasants everywhere, was uncontainable. She busted rooster and hen after hen out of range as I nearly ran to keep up with her. The shock collar was not enough to convince her that she needed to hunt with me for us to be successful. Even though it was quite frustrating I still marveled at her ability to follow the scent at a full speed run. After covering many miles zig zagging across the fields. I made my way back to the truck, time for lunch. No shooting to show for all of the physical effort that I had put in, I placed Whitney back in her kennel.

Lunch finished and grateful for the much needed rest I got Sadie out of her kennel. Happy to be the one chosen for the evening hunt her tail was wagging vigorously. From the very first step her body language told me that she was on the birds. She was the compass all I needed to do was follow her as my guide. We were walking through thigh high grass that is normally not very productive for flushing pheasants. Today however was different. The sun was shining the temperature was perfect for a nice fall day in South Dakota, not to hot and not to cold. Both dog and hunter in the zone. As the setting sun filled the horizon blaze orange, red, pink, violet, purple, I was reminded of artistry no man can compare with. The rays reflecting off of Sadie's coat made her shine radiantly as her fit muscles flexed underneath. With precision she lead me to the birds. Bringing to fruition all of the long hours of training she was the epitome of team work. She knew the birds were there but she held back checking on me to make sure that I was in place. She worked at a deliberate pace. Moving the birds to places where they would need to fly, rather than continuing to run on in endless seas of grass.

A mighty explosion of feathers erupted from the grass in a rooster flush 20 yards out from me. Sadie mere feat from his long tail feathers. The ruby color of his chest, the white collar around his neck, glowing in the rays of sunlight. Muscle memory in full control the shotgun came up, the bird went down. Sadie retrieved, straight as an arrow to the mark and back. Delivered to hand in pristine condition. A few moments to admire this gorgeous bird then back to work as Sadie tells me there are more just follow me.

Working with a purpose, never out of range, a pro, she is confident that these birds that had eluded us all morning when I was hunting behind Whitney, will not escape us now. We turn to the right down the hill towards a gully. She maneuvers the birds into a spot where there is no choice but to fly. A hen flushes right off of her nose, then another and another. No shots as they fly to cover far from us and the dog that they cannot trick. Thinking we have seen all the birds in this spot, I turn to start up the hill. Sadie however, knowing better turns me back around to the last little trickle of cover. Sure enough holding out in a spot so thin no bird could possibly be concealed a wily old long spurred rooster screams into the sky with a cackle to boot. Again by instinct the shot gun rings out followed by a fabulous retrieve.

Today is Sadie’s A game. Every move she makes is the culmination of years working pheasants in the fields of South Dakota. Fast enough that the scent does not run cold, slow enough that a fat old guy like me can keep up, she patiently makes up for her handicap (me) and expertly handles the details of this hunt. We are heading back to the truck, the sun is racing to set only minutes from the end of a glorious day in this special place and she fools one more long spurred rooster into the sky. He craftily turns to fly straight at the sun. Normally I am unable to distinguish a rooster from a hen when this occurs, but the angle that Sadie flushed him at gave me that split second to spy the amazing colors of rooster. The last retrieve has the dog coming back to me surrounded by the halo of a setting sun. She is black a black lab back lit by that glowing sun. Silhouette of the rooster outlined in her mouth, she runs to heel beside me. The image is burned into my mind like a vintage photograph. I place the rooster in my bag, and I hug this wonderful dog. I heap on the praise and she proudly leads me out of the field.
Last edited:

A5 Sweet 16

Wow. Sorry for your loss. They put 'em up. We put 'em down. And they bring 'em back. We may make a good shot now & then, but the style & effort these dogs put into their work is unmatched. I like to think I know a lot about hunting pheasants, but I'll never know as much as that little fur ball ahead of me busting through the cattails. We are truly blessed with their abilities, the time they spend with us, & the love they're so generous with. Your tribute to Sadie is a perfect reminder. Thanks for sharing.


New member
I've got something in my eye myself; an excellent tribute and memory to hold and share for years to come.

Godspeed, Sadie; and good hunting across the bridge.


Active member
Sorry for your loss. It's always a tough time regardless of age. Great story you shared. You will have those great memories of Sadie to cherish forever.

Thursday it will be 2 years since I had to put my Elle down due to cancer. She had just turned 8. I still miss that dog and think about her every day. I will always have some great memories of her.


New member
great tribute to Sadie, RR. it brought more than a tear to my eyes. very hard to say goodbye, we had to do so with one of ours on Saturday. Looks to me like you have plenty of great memories, their time on earth way too short. God rest her soul.


Well-known member
You were the best part of her life and you were her entire world! No better life could be had for a bird dog than to chase those wily roosters till they cannot run any more. It always stinks to lose these friends. Thanks for sharing the story part of writing it down brings healing.


Active member
I shouldn't read stuff like this at work. I can certainly relate and am a short couple of years from being in that position yet again. Sorry for your loss


I know nothing I can type will ease the pain and sense of loss. I, like most of us here, have gone through this and we grieve with you for this loss of yours and in remembrance of our own losses. You do have my deepest condolences.

Like you, I took my 13+ year old chocolate to SD this Fall. She hunted the easy covers with me, the light grassy cover, for short periods. She never got a chance to retrieve any birds. There either were none or the flushes were away from us, in range of other hunters and dogs. Her eyes were bright though and her gait was proud and quicker than usual.

I'm glad you got that time this year with Sadie. I'm glad you have those memories of golden days with her.

A5 Sweet 16

I know nothing I can type will ease the pain and sense of loss. I, like most of us here, have gone through this and we grieve with you for this loss of yours and in remembrance of our own losses.
Nail on the head.

I read these things with that familiar lump in my throat & try to hold back a tear or a sniffle. We're in good company here, & I know you guys love your dogs as much as I love mine. It's in that way that I know somebody's truly hurting when they start one of these threads. I've only lost 1 dog so far & it took me 9 solid months before I could talk about him without getting choked up. The first time getting into the truck to go hunt pheasants without him was unbelievable. Walt was my first dog - the one that would never be equaled. Now Buzz lies on the floor next to me as I type. He could be downstairs w/ the wife or upstairs w/ the girls. But he's right here, by me. He's now that dog that will never be equaled. I tried to do right by him this past weekend by putting him on some birds. For the most part I succeeded. But he'd have given 100% even if there were no birds. We feed them, house them, keep them healthy & love them. They give us absolutely everything they have & they do it tongue out & tail wagging. It's like a parent-kid relationship, but in reverse & in spades.

Again, thanks, Road Runner, for sharing your story about Sadie. I hope it was therapeutic. Know that many of us here truly ache for YOUR loss, because we relate not only to you, but to Sadie, both in those young hay-day years, as well as those difficult final days. As Buzz has now sat up & rests his head on the arm of my chair & looks at me wanting to be petted, I can't imagine the house, the field, the lake, my life without him. But he's nearly 7 now & that time will come sooner than I like. Your sharing your tribute to Sadie helps the rest of us remember dogs past & maybe prepare to some small degree for our losses to come. This kind of post, for me, while not always cheery, helps me gain a half an ounce of perspective.

Thanks again.

Pride o presho

New member
Thank you for sharing, I went through the same thing last summer, I brought my dogs ashes to South Dakota last year, I didn’t plan on spreading them, I just wanted him along. I hunted with a buddies dog and it wasn’t the same. I just returned from South Dakota this year with my new 7month old yellow lab. I can appreciate all that my first Lab taught me as far as what a great dog can do, and watching the new pup progress over 2 weeks I know that all the skills are there.
The hardest Part in dealing with my first dogs death was his last two weeks, watching him stop eating and dealing with pain was very difficult. The time came to say goodbye and the following days started to get better because the struggle was over, we could start talking about the good times and memories. If you do all you can for a dog, the goodbye is the last great thing you can do. I feel for you, I wrote a bio for my dog too, and I know it helped me.


I have no words to assuage your grief. My time is coming, as well. “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast” Proverbs 12:10. “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds” Proverbs 27:23. The entire experience of bird hunting rests with the dog. You were a good keeper. Well done. Thanks for sharing.


So sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing your memories. A bird season doesnt go by that i dont think of my hunting partners who are no longer with me. Cancer does suck!
Sorry for you loss. I have been though the same as well. You have all the memories to look back on and smile just remember that.


New member
Sorry for your loss. The pain is real and hurts like no other. Bury those great memories in your heart. From experience the memories will never fade. Praying for peace in your heart.