It was Christmas 1952 I was 5 years old and that year I received two presents. First was a 5 week old ‘real’ live beagle puppy. I was elated at having my very own beagle puppy, a ‘real’ hunting dog! He came from a good line of dogs and as such came with papers and his name was Dart the III! That was a bit formal so we settled on just Dart.
Second was a model 67a winchester 22 rifle. It was chambered to fire 22 shorts, longs or long rifle cartridges and was sized for younger hunters. It had a shorter stock and a half barrel making it a perfect fit for the smaller hunter. As you see, I know longer considered myself a child, I had a real hunting dog and a hunting rifle making me a hunter and no longer a child.
Short Legs and Cold Weather made my first winter as a hunter one that 62 years later I still remember as if it were yesterday. My hunting dog, Dart spent much of our first winter together safe and warm, stuffed in my coat peering out of a hole between two coat buttons. I would always put him on the ground before we topped that last sand hill just south of the house, I didn’t want anyone to know Dart had spent the day warm and dry in my coat, he was after all a real hunting dog!
Dart and I spent 13 of the happiest years of my life hunting rabbits and squirrels in the winter and fishing during the warm summer months. He was my ever present companion and friend. As he and I grew older he seemed to sense and understand had we had less time to spend hunting and fishing. Working more around the farm and daddy’s welding shop. Dart never seemed to mind, he was still my ever present companion. Never under foot but always keeping me in his sight. At age 17 or maybe I was 18, when I came home and found that old dog had died in the shade of his favorite cottonwood, without even a whimper, I was then and 50 years later, still broken hearted at the loss of the best friend and companion I have ever had.
A man or boy is blessed if in once in his life time he has one ‘good’ dog. I am truly blessed as I had Dart and now I have a blue heeler, Spock, and a border collie, BG, that are my ever present companions, what more can a man want or ask for, a loving family, wonderful daughter, grand kids, great grand kids and my very own dog.
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