One of the many things that makes Montana feel like home is the ease with which I can partake in nearly all of my favorite outdoor activities. In the past eleven months of living in Missoula, Ginger and I have explored outstanding new rivers with a fly rod, hiked to gorgeous alpine lakes, photographed breathtaking views and wildlife, and spent our first full bird season together chasing grouse.
There are times when I look back on my time at boarding school and Colorado College with sadness; I had to leave my scruffy, endearing, four-legged best friend behind and we both went through periods of life without each other’s company. Since we have been permanently reunited, I’ve been determined to make up for lost time! Even though Ginger’s 12th birthday is fast-approaching and she isn’t able to hunt as hard as she used to, her exuberance in the field is unwavering. When people ask me what aspect of bird hunting is the most appealing to me, my answer is – and will always be – watching the dogs work. Seeing Ginger’s expression change from carefree bliss in the truck to absolute focus when I put her on the ground and tell her to “hunt ‘em up” is extraordinary to me, no matter how many times I am witness to her passion.
The last time I visited Wildrum Kennels in Ridgeland, WI, my dear friend Ray Wolfram had a litter of ten griffon puppies and my heart ached. Okay, so my heart aches every time I meet a puppy! But, for whatever reason, the feeling never went away. Months and months after leaving those precious pups behind, I was still dreaming about adding another bird dog into my life.
On June 30th, the Patriot litter was born at Wildrums… A sweet, wobbly, beautiful female is waiting for me to bring her home on August 21st. Ray has graciously humored me with photos of the puppies every couple of days, which I eagerly thrust in my friends’ and family’s faces.
Am I nervous? Hell yes. I know firsthand the challenges that having a puppy can bring, and a bird dog puppy at that. Luckily, I’m blessed with many wonderful friends who are old pros at training, troubleshooting, and passing along advice to helpless souls like me. And, I have the world’s best Griffon named Ginger to help!