It was just 12 days ago.

Al Hansen

Well-known member
It was just 12 days ago, which was Friday the 16th. Bev had told me the night before that she wanted me to hunt in the early morning before the sun comes up. I had gone out three times already but opted to stay home until she got up and walked around and felt comfortable enough for me to go out after breakfast to hunt.

On Friday the 16th, I got out to the kennel early to feed the dogs and to get Chip into the truck. From the time I started the engine, he began talking to me non-stop. Those gargle type noises with inflections here and there. He would look at me like, "Are you understanding what I am saying?" When we got to where I parked the truck we hiked over to our spot and he always went for a swim then dashed into the tall weeds to snoop around. When I was done, he would come over and sit in his spot and it was almost like clicking on the TV set. I could see that his radar unit was ready and it wasn't much longer until we hit that magic minute that made it legal to shoot a duck if one should happen to come by just then.

Friday was such a wonderful hunt and when he had brought back the third bird, I looked at him and said, "Chip, let's go see if we can find that wounded bird. I know we have already tried once but let's give it another go." We never did find that duck but we sure tried hard enough.

I picked up three of the four decoys, made sure I found the shot shell hulls, then picked up all the stakes and long poles I used, and then tossed them into the truck. Chip jumped in, with tail wagging and sat down checking me over. I gave him a hug and scratched behind his left ear. We took off for the house.

When we got back to the kennel I went and got him another cup of food because he sure earned it. That is when I told Bev that I thought it would be a perfect time to end my wonderful early teal season.

Today, September 27th, 12 days after Chip and I had such a great morning hunting, I stood in the vet's special room. I had my arms around my buddy as he sat there on the table. Dean, our vet, looked at me and said, "Al, are you ready?" My answer was, "Yes sir." He began his injection and I tried to talk to my best buddy a duck hunter could ever want for a duck blind partner. "Chip, I love you and I want to thank you for sharing your life with me. I shall never forget you and when it is my turn, maybe the two of us can go on another hunt."

I held him tightly because I could feel him slowly leave this world. I gently let him down and Dean made another check and he just looked at me. Nothing had to be said. For almost 10 1/2 years he was my go to guy.

My boy, Chip, left my side today. I thought perhaps that I cried all my tears away. Well, I am finding it difficult to see what I am typing because the tears just keep on coming.

My father once told me about how fragile life really is. He sure was right. Yes, just 12 days ago Chip was that bundle of enthusiasm and he did a great job retrieving the ducks I shot. Then today came and when I saw him not wanting to eat and gave him a look, the first thing that went through my mind was that he looked older than me. How is that possible? I told Dean that he was lethargic and had lost a little weight. I asked him if I could bring him in and leave him there until he might have time to look at him---I didn't have an appointment. They found the time to look at him. He gave me a call this afternoon and we talked about the blood tests and then he said, "The reason he is struggling to breathe is that he has fluids in his lungs and we saw in an x-ray that there was a large tumour." I sure didn't want him to suffer. One of Dean's helpers called me and said that they would be ready for me to come down at 4:30.

"Chip, I will be seeing you someday. You sure knew how to make me feel so proud. Yes, you were that best buddy that a duck hunter could ever want to share a duck blind with. Don't ever forget how much I love you."


Chipotle aka Chip, always had a smile on his face when he was having fun. Here he is with Habanero aka Habi.That picture was taken on October 31st, 2014. The second picture is the last one I took of Chip bringing back a juvenile drake bluewing just 12 days ago.
Al, I had to do the same yesterday, the 27th. My Rose was just a few months shy of 15. It's awful quiet around here now.
So very sorry to hear this. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. I know the pain when it is time to say goodbye.
I'm so sorry to see the heartbreaking news. I can only hope and pray to see my retrieving family members again in Heaven.
Al, so sorry for your loss. I had to put down my yellow female two months ago,it was unexpected. I still miss her so.

I had a very similar experience with my Golden Cassie. One week she swam the Ark River duck hunting, two weeks later we found she had liver cancer and had to put her down a couple days later. Very tough thing to do. I know the pain you are experiencing. It does soften soon enough and you will find joy in the memories and sharing stories with family friends.

So sorry for your loss.

I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and wishes. You were a big help at a time in my life when I needed it. Thank you so much.

There was one moment in my life that I shall never forget and that was on a day that we were driving back to our home in Wisconsin with our son, who had just found out that he had been diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the young age of 11. On our return trip home from the University Hospital in Madison, WI, I had asked our son this question. "What are you thinking about right now?" He said, "Dad, I really wish I could be like the rest of my classmates and be as healthy as them. After a moments time of reflecting, he continued saying this. "By chance, did you see the other kids in the hospital, dad? When I think of it now, that makes me a pretty lucky boy." I will rest my case.

Once again, please know how thankful I am for your thoughts and prayers.
Al Hansen

Here are a few pictures that some of you might remember. Chip was just 6 months and 3 days old when he first became my "go to guy". Just to update some of you, the hunter I brought along to hunt on Christmas Eve Day was Preston. This was 2013, when I was only 72. I remember getting my area ready for a two man hunt. Since I normally hunt by myself, being sort of a loner, I really needed to make some changes so that the area could include another person. Whenever I think about life, I think about this courageous man of 42 back on this hunt, who has been in a chair like this one since he was about 18, when he was involved in a traffic accident.

Oh, I almost forgot why Chip was my "go to guy". When we all got out of the truck that early morning of 12-24-13, the first dog that jumped out was Habi, who instantly yelped and that got my attention. What had happened was that she had landed on about a 2" mesquite thorn with her left front paw. I pulled her paw away from the branch with the thorn and saw that she was in pain. So I picked her up and she stretched out on the front seat of the truck and did not move. Before we left her I did put on some ointment to help sooth that wound. So Preston, Chip, and I then got in my Mule and off we went to the honey hole to hunt. This was Preston's first ever duck hunt at a pond with decoys set up ready to be hunted. That morning was magical.

His first duck shot was picked up by Chip. Do you see the Devil's Claw right up at his ear? He never flinched because he was picking of that drake mallard, his first big duck of his career.

Preston is darn good with a shotgun in his hands. I did not shoot but took lots of pictures. What did I observe? He never wasted a shot by slinging steel. I was really impressed.

I am so sorry, Al. I, like many of us, know this pain and grief. It has been almost 4 years since I had to help Kodi cross the rainbow bridge... I feel like it was yesterday.

The greatest act of love is to take their pain from them, and carry it in your heart.
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