Finding dog…

My local dog park is close by. Garage to gate takes less than a ten minutes. My Engish Pointer Puck always knows when we’re heading there. She’s up and scratching in her crate way before I turn onto the dirt road that leads to the parking area. How does she know where we’re going? Scent? This dog park used to be a dump, so maybe that’s it.

Pure Puck
Puck, pure

Once I park and check for coming cars, I let Puck tumble out of my truck. She shoots right towards the path we always walk. When she was young, I would have called her back, whoad her, and made her wait to be released. But now that she’s nine, I just let her go.

This path loops around the dump’s old trash heap. The heap is capped with a multicultural crowd of grass, weeds, and ambitious vines. Streams leak out here and there and the rusty red water stains her legs with brick-colored socks.

I walk. Puck runs. She stays ahead 40 yards, 60 yards, and then surges to 120 and finally out past where I can see her. But if I pause for minute, say to take a closer look at a singing warbler, she comes back to find me.

“Hunt” is the only song Puck knows, and wherever she’s always looking for birds. We’ve never found a grouse or woodcock at the dog park, but Puck always hits this ground hard, like there could be one up ahead. I watch here I’m in awe of how perfectly aligned she is with her job and realize I’m seeing a period put on a sentence that English Pointer breeders have been writing for over a hundred years ago. Or maybe it’s a comma, a place where the breed pauses, realize how far it has come, and then continues on again.

Puck leaps logs like a show horse – head high, paws tucked – and then puts equines to shame with her nimble landing. Watching her, I can see the shine of pure joy. In body and spirit, she has no doubt and there’s no questioning. She is intent and purpose, confidence and innocence. There’s no conflict or compromise, ego or vanity. It’s a purity I admire– and envy.




Guy De La Valdene on spring…

Bursts like this one where Valdene rifts on spring lift Making Game from reportage and into the world of art.

Russell Chatham - Spring Pond
Russell Chatham - Spring Pond

“Spring probes the imagination by tacking from gloom to color, from apathy to the naivete of revery, and by insinuating an inkling of clairty into the dull haze of hibernation. Her promise of life, of revelry, of natural beauty is deliberate, sometimes palpable, other times so faint as to be mistaken for passing fancy. Her curtain may loiter in midstream, only to reopen momentarily on the breast of a goldfinch or descend under the weight of a grey rain, all the time uprooting and tempting, taunting and promising the inevitable, until one morning, for no apparent reason, dawn sighs and a flushed breath of air warms the earth. Spring is the breakfast of the year.” pg.  29-30