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Pete Delkus says dog Chief 'taught me, not only about hunting, but about life'

Chief passed away after 14 years of being the best pet, loyal companion and hunting dog a man could ask for.
Credit: Pete Delkus

George Bird Evans said, “The perfection of a life with a gundog, like the perfection of an autumn, is disturbing because you know, even as it begins, that it must end.” 

Unfortunately, my time with my best friend and companion, ended yesterday. Chief was a once in a lifetime dog and while I was lucky to be his owner, it makes the pain of losing him that much greater.

Fourteen years ago, I got the call from one of the best Brittany breeders in the country to arrange the pick-up of my puppy. I was prepared and ready to begin training and teaching him to develop into a Texas quail dog that would live up to his pedigree. 

But as the years went on, through our days in the field, it was Chief that actually taught me, not only about hunting, but about life.

Patience is one of those lessons he taught me. Those that know me, say I’m a Type A personality, who runs at a fast pace with high expectations. And while that can make you successful in a lot of areas, training a dog is not one of them. Chief had a very calm and stoic demeanor and was extremely biddable, always wanting to please. So, I learned that I had to take a breath, slow down and be patient. The more patient I was, the better he performed and the happier I became.

He also taught me to appreciate the moment and especially, the simple things. Chief hunted with a regal stride and elegant point. I soon learned that it was more about enjoying the time together, watching him work, than the number of birds in the bag. I grew to take the time to breath in the fresh air, enjoy the beautiful scenery and listen to the peaceful sounds of nature. 

And as Chief grew older, I recognized my days with him were numbered, which caused me to appreciate our past and truly cherish our remaining days together.

Simply put, Chief was the best pet, loyal companion and hunting dog, a guy could ever hope for. And as I reflect on his memory, my mind turns to a quote from Dean Koontz:

“Dogs’ lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with him. You can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always being aware it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the mistakes we make in life.”

RIP Chief; I have no doubt you’re pointing a big covey of quail in heaven for Dad.

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