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Friday, September 22, 2017

Winding down...

by John Jeanneney

My old German tracking dog Joeri (pronounced Yori) and I are winding down from our tracking careers. For me that career lasted 40 years. Dogs, even if they are of German origin, aren't as fortunate.
   Having to finally retire, when you are a dedicated and passionate tracker, is not easy. Here are the ways that Joeri and I handled the transition.
   First, let me write about Joeri, who understands well that the bond between tracking dog and handler endures, even when adventures in the woods are over.  Joeri is beside my chair as I write this. If I go to another room, the bathroom, for example, he follows. He sleeps with me on my bed.
   Joeri has several big rawhide chew bones, which he leaves around the house. But it is an old, dry deer leg, hair, hoofs and all, which he carries with him everywhere in the house. This is not for chewing, but it is a souvenir of the best years of his life that he will not forget.

In parallel with Joeri I have my own souvenirs. On my desk are my "trophy antlers” that a little, six point buck knocked off against my jaw and chest as he charged me near the end of the track. The buck "cold conked" me and gored Sabina, my tracking dog. With a deep gash in her flank, Sabina was licking my face as I came to and opened my eyes after the blow. We kept on tracking.
   Still fresh in my memory are the two cases where hunters teared up with joy when I found their deer. My tracking dog and I shared the hunters' emotions.
   I still dream of tracking, but I shuffle through the woods and realize that I am no longer capable of taking a real live call. I feel useless, and all I can do is answer the telephone and dispatch calls to other trackers Some of them use another of my dogs, Tommy, whom I trained and tracked with up until my final good year at age 80.

Getting old is not easy; Joeri and I comfort one another.

Joeri sunbathing in John's office, next to his deer leg.


Brady Hesington said...

It saddens me that you are no longer able to track, John. Take heart in knowing that you have created a legacy that has positively impacted thousands of trackers, and even more hunters. Many special moments have been created between hunters and tracking dogs because of a movement that you began decades ago.

Maribeth said...

Dear John and Joeri,
I have admired you both for many years. No, it is not easy getting older. My husband is the same age as you and our Greta a bit older than Joeri. I watch them now with a smile and remember their youth, when the world was theirs.
Now master and his sleepy girl enjoy the love and comfort they give each other.
It's a blessing to have such a companion in this life. Many will never know this kind of love.

Unknown said...

God bless you, you have helped pass this joy on to me.

Cliff Shrader said...

Mr John, I'm not sure that you can fully realize the effect that you have had on Tracking in North America. By sharing your knowledge about tracking wounded deer with dogs you have trained many a new tracking team. Through your Legislative efforts you have opened many states up to tracking that were previously closed. Now many other experienced handlers have started teaching new teams that are trying to learn and they use your book as the text book. Through these ambassadors you have multiplied your presence many times over. You may not be in the woods physically but you are out there with your ambassadors many times every season. You can take great satisfaction knowing how much you have helped. You will still be along with us on our tracks and I will still call when I get stumped. I am not saying that you are retired but have moved to an advisory role. Thank you Mr John.

Andre Guerin said...

Mr. John,
Thanks for everything you have done to make tracking with dogs possible. I've enjoyed all the books, articles and even radio interview from Louisiana. I have learned a lot from you and the knowledge that you have passed on to the instructors. Although you will not be tracking, I hope to read more of your articles. Joer seems to be a fine dog as all the dogs that ya'll have owned. Best Wishes.

Jacob VanHouten said...

God bless you John. You have left your mark on the world, no doubt. Without you, I would not have Jager, my little buddy who will track his fist buck this fall. The love you show for dogs and your passion for tracking and the outdoors shows in your smile and in your eyes. Your legacy lives on in ever pup that runs the woods tracking deer and bear. All I can say, is, THANK YOU.

Henry Holt said...

In the world of hunting there is nothing more important than passing on tradition. John, you took that a step further by actually creating a tradition here in the States, and that is a legacy we all honor.

My hat's off to you sir!