A Tribute to Dillon
In 2005, approaching semi-retirement, I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to get back into bird dogs. I grew up with English setters and our neighbor’s German shorthaired pointer. As a teenager, I was addicted to upland hunting. Coming home from school, I would alternate between our setters or going over to the neighbor’s and putting on the ground his shorthair. I eventually favored the shorthair; I just seemed to bond better with the neighbor’s dog. Throughout the years of going without a bird dog, a very good friend kept me in the game by inviting me annually to shoot over his Brittany. And, they were always great dogs.
Back to 2005. Supportive of my desire to get back to bird dogs, my wife saw an ad in the local paper for a litter of German shorthair pups. The breeder was only about 15 minutes from our house so we decided to go take a look. Of course, with puppies, there is no such thing as just taking a look. You fall in love immediately and know you must have one. There were only two pups available from the litter…a little female and a male with a blaze down his forehead. I was unsure which we should choose, however, the breeder thought we would do best with the little male. So, we agreed on the little male and named him Dillon.
The positive impact Dillon had on our lives is immeasurable. I got back to my love for bird dogs and upland hunting. Susan, who had never fired a shotgun, joined me for this incredible journey. We started slowly. An annual trip to the North Maine Woods for ruffed grouse and several woodcock hunts around Southern New Hampshire. Dillon became an outstanding dog on both woodcock and grouse.
Having a wonderful hunting dog and a hunting companion wife meant no boundaries. Dillon, Susan and I hit the road and over the next thirteen years we hunted Montana, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, North Carolina and the Canadian Provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba. Whether it was wild bobwhite quail, Hungarian partridge, sharptail grouse, pheasants, woodcock or ruffed grouse, Dillon handled the birds with style and good manners.
It was because of Dillon that I was asked, ten years ago, to write this column. It was because of Dillon that I started our Bird Dogs Afield TV show (also in its tenth year). It was because of Dillon that I kicked my addiction to fly fishing. It was because of Dillon that I gave up golf. It was because of Dillon that my wife and I absolutely love training and hunting over bird dogs.
Stories about Dillon could be told for hours. I recall hunting in Gogama, Ontario. We were with our good friends, Stu and Linda Bristol. We left Dillon in the camp alone while we went to dinner. Upon our return, we discovered that Dillon had chewed through the pocket of Stu’s nice jacket to get at some cookies. He could be a devil when it came to food. In the field, I recall when he was down with two other fine shorthairs in Kansas. We were hunting wild quail. Dillon pointed a nice covey of birds and the other two dogs backed nicely. I walked up and flushed the birds while two gunners shot. Each dropped a bird. All three dogs were steady and then released for the retrieve. Dillon found one bird and returned it to me. He then went out and found the second bird and returned it to me. We joked that Dillon had to do all the work.
At the age of 13, Dillon crossed the Rainbow Bridge on December 30th. He was a sweet, lovable boy who gave us everything we could want in a bird dog and as a member of our family. We miss you terribly, Dillon. We’ll call you when we get there.
Copyright 2019 Paul Fuller