This is a bittersweet story submitted by Walt Dixon of Ari's latest and most likely last recovery. Ari was born on March 11, 2003, and she is an older sister of our Billy. Her heart disease has been getting worse recently.
I wanted to share this with you. Old Walt (with my back problems) and old Ari (with her heart problems) found this big buck for a bow hunter this morning. Although the gun season is open, they only bow hunt on this private property. The buck was hit at 3 PM yesterday, while I was at the Vets with both my dogs. Ari was being analyzed and now treated for a UTI in addition to adding Vetmedin to her other heart meds. Dachs was only in for a regular checkup. After the Vet listened to Ari’s heart she said she would not take her tracking any longer.
Friends called me after dark to ask if I would bring the dog to try to track their deer if needed and since both dogs received shots and meds I said no, not until this morning. The hunter and friends tracked this deer until 9 PM with flashlights, before giving up, and it never laid down in about 500 yards. They marked their last blood and called me about 9:30 PM to ask if I would track in the morning.
This morning, after calling the hunter’s info into DEC law enforcement, I thought about which dog to take. We needed to move slowly and carefully in this bow only area, so as not to chase deer out to where the gun hunters sit. After some soul searching I decided to take Ari. When we got to the hunter’s last blood she immediately got a little too excited and began panting like she was not getting enough oxygen so I sat down with her and calmed her down. Once calm, the old girl started tracking and never wavered over 150 yard trail through tall swale grass and into a thorn apple thicket to recover this 130”+ buck! She was visibly possessive and proud of herself! The coyotes had eaten the entire deer, but the hunter was extremely happy to know this buck was not still wounded and on the loose.
So, all’s well that ends well. I really felt that if she went slowly she’d be okay, but also that if she passed away with a heart attack on this track she would die a happy and honorable death doing what she was bred to do. She’s a happy girl resting downstairs right now. The Vet felt Ari’s health could worsen any time. This is likely Ari’s last recovery. As you know, it’s sad to think of her aging. She and I have traveled many miles and recovered many deer over her lifetime. Her old eyes look up at me wondering where we’re going on our next adventure. The love and companionship a tracker and dog share is special! We’ll keep her as healthy and comfortable as we can as she approaches her 13th birthday and beyond, Lord willing. I thought you’d like to hear this story and see a picture of Ari!