First Point Essay: Sonny

by Rick Bohning

“You have to hit this bird,” I croaked to my friend Gregg.  Because I knew that when this day came, if it ever came, I would need to watch the dog while someone else shot the bird.

Sonny came to me as a rescue of unknown provenance.  A Brittany with a full tail. From day one, he had prey blood lust that was nearly perverse, running down and catching whatever he could. I followed the advice of the training books which advised that when he learned he couldn’t catch the birds, he would point. Sonny’s critical flaw was that he was an eternal optimist.

Having launched hundreds of pigeons for him, and watching him chase each to the horizon, I solicited some help from those who knew more. I overhauled his program and started to see some results, but liberated birds at the preserve continued to yield empty game bags, cold barrels, and a happy but winded dog.

This day was Sonny’s last chance. This day, I had decided to let him be whatever he was meant to be, even if that meant a life as a flusher. The day was bright and the ground was soggy at the preserve. Sonny stopped. The moment itself was unspectacular, except as an exclamation point at the end of a very long sentence.

Gregg hit the bird.

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