This is one of the hardest blogs I have done. I do it for my own healing and as a tribute to my best pal. It is really part of a note I had sent out to several friends who where trying to understand my pain.
Last June my best pal, Scout, my bird dog jumped from my Jeep and was caught under the back wheel. Moments later he died in my arms.
I deal with this pain everyday and have not come to terms with his death. To a degree I know I suffer the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I feel my new pup, Trigger understands this pain and often tries to comfort me.
Below is the email I sent to friends and family who were grasping at straws to help me at one of my lowest points. Most of the people on this list were supporters of the work we do in Adventure IQ to bring free survival and back country training for kids at Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp.
Hello Everyone- checking in with you. I wanted to shoot out a quick note to help everyone understand where I am right now. Some of you will understand. If you are not a “dog person” you won’t get it- just understand that I am and try to put yourself where I am right now…
Thank you for the prayers, well wishes, emails, and phone calls. I really do appreciate each one.
To understand the story of Scout- you first have to understand the story of me. He wasn’t just a dog- he was my best pal. This story includes my own introverted personality, the trials and tribulations at the time to get we decided on a dog for me, my love of the outdoors, and time I was spending alone. If you are not into long stories- hit the delete button now.
My life is more complicated than what is seen on the outside. I am often described by words such as outgoing and confident. I am a poser in this regard. What you see when I stand up in front of others and present is something I have to gear up for. At the end of a presentation I am completely exhausted. To be in front of total strangers is difficult for me. I enjoy it – but it is not something that comes natural. Unfortunately, fostering relationships has become easier for me with tools such as Twitter and Facebook. In those places I have been able to come out of my shell a little quicker.
I had to learn to overcome my uneasiness of presenting early in my military career. In 1988 I was selected as the first Airman to teach at the Ground Combat Tactics course. I was working with all NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers) teaching special tactics, survival, and other courses to both US and allied soldiers. This led to being one of twelve Air Force members being selected as Instructors for the joint Army / Air Force team where I really honed my survival skills- but not necessarily my outgoing skills.
I am passionate about the things I teach. Ironically I teach a 16-hour workshop on presentation skills to senior sales staff members at work. Overcoming this for work or for teaching others things I love (survival, scuba, etc) is something I have grown accustomed to. This has had dire consequences when making new friendships in a new area extremely difficult.
For those I have shared long conversations with, reach out to you when I am in need, spend great deals of time with- I am truly thankful for your friendship, for all others- please forgive me. I am not in anyway trying to be unfriendly or push you away. I cherish you as well, and I wish I were more outgoing with you. Deep down I am extremely shy and this tends to come out more with some people or more specifically in some settings. Scooter’s day allows me to share something I am passionate about. It is also incredibly intimidating for me. Scott pumps me up as the “survival guy”, which although I blush- I have been trained and have used the skills in real situations. At the same time I am around some fascinating people that have killed large game, have their name and trophies in record books, and bring home a freezer full of meat each season. I hunt rabbits and quail. Something I do on my own.
In the fall of 2006 we had received some terribly disturbing news in our family. I won’t go into detail but it sent me into the deepest depression I have ever known. I was to a point of being catatonic at times. I had lost nearly 30 pounds, was sleeping 10-20 hours per week, and was barely functioning. I was so exhausted that Melissa would drive me to work and I would sleep in the back seat until we got there. If the downward spiral had continued- it would have only ended in pain for everyone around me.
One morning we were behind a pick-up that had the name of a local breeder advertising French Brittany hunting dogs. For the first time in months I had an emotional reaction. After talking to the breeder and deciding that a Brit would be perfect for me- I had something to look forward to that did not have “tragedy” tagged to it. It also gave me a companion to be in the woods with- and not hang out alone.
I have yet to make the emotional bonds with other guys since I let Texas in 2005. There I had a small but strong network of friends and a community that we had built together. Most people don’t realize that our move to Idaho was in pursuit of a dream I had since I was six. After other failed attempts at transfers, jobs, etc in the area- I threw it all in- sold what we could and moved here- without house to move into, a small gamble on a job, and without friends. Introverted guys don’t do well in these conditions. Scout was that emotional bonding I was looking for. We had guy time. We hunted birds, explored trails, played on the ATV, even watched hockey together.
Losing him has left a huge hole in my heart- one beyond just losing a dog. With Scout I didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t. I was at peace- he was my sanctuary.
I have no words to describe the pain and loss I have right now. Scout was my sanity, my confidant, my buddy. I wish I had him back and miss him deeply.
Through my pain, organizations such as NBRAN helped me cope and eventually brought a wonderful puppy into my life. Trigger is very much “Daddy’s Dog” and we spend as much time as we can together. I have also become a user and evangelist for safety systems in vehicles including retention netting and seat belts for pups. In addition Trigger has his own blog, which allows me a chance to view the world through the eyes of a rescue pup.(randombarking.com)
The lives of Trigger and Scout are so different. Where Scout was a bred bird dog, selected specifically for me, and a high prey drive- we enjoyed hours in the field chasing upland game, Trigger was abandoned because he couldn’t hunt, steals my coffee and is just content to hang out.
I love both dogs deeply and continue to work through the painful loss. I often wonder if time will heal. Right now- I’m not sure I want it to.