When does a dog need a break? How do you decide when enough is enough? The Old Man and I were running yesterday and Butcher just wasn't at the top of his game. He still hunted hard and got more than his share of checks, but he just seemed to be missing something. If I hadn't raised him and didn't know him so well, I probably wouldn't have noticed, but I do and I did.
My buddy from North Carolina, Lewis Smith gave me Butcher when he was 8 weeks old. He is a grandson of Neal out of Butch, Lewis's good male. Butcher started early and always seemed older than his age. At two years old he already seemed like an old dog.This winter he has been doing really well.
Yesterday though when Butcher got a check, he wasn't driving quite as far as usual. When he was hunting, he was checking in more often than usual. Plus, he just didn't look quite like himself when he moved. I actually put him in the truck before we jumped the last rabbit. I have never done that before.
Then last night I started thinking about how much I have run Butcher. As near as I can figure, I have run 69 out of the last 75 days. Butcher has gone almost every time. I did give him two days off before I took him to an ARHA hunt, but then I ran him the next 12 days in a row. He has pretty much ran nonstop since before Thanksgiving.
In 10, 15, or 20 years I am not sure how I will remember Butcher. He won't be 3 years old for another two weeks. I am not sure if he will compare with the great ones when he is gone. He is young and still has a lot ahead of him. One thing I am sure of though is that he will be remembered for being tough.
Today when I went out to the pen to load dogs Butcher was standing at the gate waiting. He started out the gate like usual. When I bumped him on the nose and told him no he just stood and looked at me. When he realized I was loading other dogs and he wasn't going he seemed shocked. Twice he tried to sneak by me. As I led the dogs away, he stood there and just watched. I almost went back and got him, but I thought better of it and told him, sorry boy, you need a couple days off.