Monday, September 16, 2013

8/31/2013

I’m paraphrasing here but as I recall the saying goes something along these lines… “If you have a few good friends you are among the lucky. But if you have one great friend, you are truly blessed”  I know that just with the folks that ride for Dynamic, I am a lucky man, but If you consider the friendship from my long time companion, Sir Brady Winchester the Third, I was truly blessed. 
Many good friends, but the Springer int he middle was my BEST Friend
{L to R: Molly (Uncle Glenn's), Maggie (Dad's), Brady (mine), Decker (Sister Heidi's), and Angus (sister Amy's)}
 In 1998, he was the best Christmas Present I’d ever gotten.  From day one, there was an instant connection between the two of us. A bond between a boy and his dog is about as special as it gets.  Where he went, I went. We were virtually inseparable.  I distinctly remember the first trip I ever took with him.  When I got him for Christmas, I was 3 hours from home and when the weekend was over, the two of us loaded up in my little S-10 took off down the road for home. He rode on the front seat in a laundry basket. Yes, I said a laundry basket. Somehow, the breeder from the kennel figured out that “Corky” as he was known to her, enjoyed sleeping  on a towel in laundry basket.  If it made him feel comfortable, then who am I to judge.  But after a while I had to use the restroom, and as much as I didn’t want to stop , Mother Nature dictated that it was time to answer the call. I pulled into the parking lot and gave Brady a few minutes to do his investigation and conduct his own business, then I scooped him up and put him in my truck. I grabbed him by the nose, looked deep into his eyes and made a solemn pact with him. I promised that if he didn’t destroy my toy (my S-10), I wouldn’t destroy any of his.  I could tell from the look in his eyes that he knew what I meant and that I’d be able to count on him to live up to his end of the  bargain.  And in the 14 years I had him, to my knowledge he never messed with  anything in my vehicles.  He did get sick and threw up one time, but he jumped in the back and did so in an old baseball hat, which was easily disposed of at the next rest area.
Proving that Cannondale makes the most comfortable frames in the world...
Brady making sure nothing BAD ever happened to any of my toys while they were under his supervision

Every dog has a favorite toy, and Brady’s was a conosouier of tennis balls. That boy LOVED chasing tennis balls. I had to buy a tennis ball slingshot to launch them far enough into the field behind the house to make the game fun for me. Otherwise, he would return way too soon with the ball to repeat the process, if I merely through the ball as far as I could.  He would play for hours if I let him.  He could be worn out and sound asleep from the various outdoor activities we would take on and all I would have to do is whisper the words “Where’syour ball buddy” and he would be awake and headed to the last known location of his current favorite specimen.  Even if there wasn’t a ball around, just saying that would cause him to go in to hunter mode and he would work the surrounding cover for hours until he could be convinced that it was time to do something more productive, like eat.  And it always tickled me how we could go to any random park where the nearest tennis courts were miles away and somehow he would always manage to find a tennis ball in the weeds. And of course, once he found the tennis ball that had been left behind by another, less saavy and adept canine, we would have to test out its worthiness.  He never had a tennis ball that he didn’t love.
 
Tennis Balls and Snow were two of his favorite things in the world
And he was of course a swimmer. It took me several weeks of playing along the banks of various ponds, lakes, and streams before he could be persuaded to swim rather than splash, but once he realized he could float, it was darn near impossible to keep him dry when there was a body of water around.   I remember one trout season, I took him to the lake at Little Beaver State Park in southern West Virginia to do some ”fishing”.  It was a “work day” but I had decided to play hooky from work and go putz around and do some fishing, hiking and let Sir Muttly swim.  There was an old man fishing at the spot I really was hoping to wet the line at, so I respectfully moved down the bank about 75 to 100 yards and set up. From experience, I knew that my fishing was going to be more about keeping the dog occupied than it was really about fishing. When I would cast my line, He would watch where it hit the water and would try to go swim after it. I would have to distract him by throwing rocks in the water in a different direction or he would find my bobber and drag it to shore  for me.  And that’s how the morning went. I’d cast…  distract the dog… with a rock… check my line… and repeat the process.  After several hours, the old man moved down in my direction and started complaining about the fishing. My jaw hit the floor when the D-Bag started blaming his misfortunes on Brady’s water activities.  After he’d run his mouth for a few minutes, I told him he should probably rethink his fishing strategy and pulled my stringer of 4 rainbows and a golden trout. As he was running his mouth (and brady was still swimming) I watched my bobber bob and weave and I thanked him for his input, filled my stringer and left him standing there.
 
Relaxing after a good swim
So last year, I took Brady to the Appalachia Visited Race in Rowelsburg, WV. I didn’t usually get to take him to races because I always felt awkward about leaving him tied up while I was off riding. But that was the first race that Id be taking Amber to, and she had volunteered to look after him while I was off on my adventure. After the race, the river was looking inviting, so I grabbed my towel and took a dip to cool off and remove the sweat.  Brady followed me down and  started to wade out with me to see what I was up to.  The river was low, I think I could have crossed the whole thing without ever getting any part of my thighs wet, and I looked back and my faithful friend  was sitting on a rock at the edge, afraid to get in.  I walked back coaxed him in a little and that’s when it dawned  on me that he no longer had the strength to battle the currents.  I knew he was getting old, but until that moment, I didn’t realize just how old he really was.  That was the last time he ever swam. 


A few months later, I had to have him put down as the simple act of walking had become too much of a burden on him.  Naturally, it was the single hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. I won’t share THAT story because just thinking about how long and how hard he fought to remain in this world  with me brings me to tears.  We were inseparable, and he was trying his hardest to keep it that way.  Finally he took his last breath and he was at peace and I was left behind wondering why I had to do it. But I knew it was the right thing to do for him, and I think he is up in doggy heaven right now , looking down on me, waiting for me to come join him to throw a ball for him again..  And this past weekend, I went back to Rowelsburg and dumped his ashes in the river so that he could finally conquer the river that beat him the year before.  Im still miss you little buddy, but I know we will be reunited one day. Until then, “where’s your ball buddy?”… that ought to keep him busy until I get there.