I lost my old bird dog last week. I keep going to Hartlen Point looking for the piece of my heart that I lost. Nelson was 14 years old when he died and with me for most of those years as I adopted him from the Lillian Albon Shelter when he was 10 months old.
He was their very first out of town adoption and they kept each of my 3 references on the phone for almost an hour each. Nelson was the least adoptable dog in the shelter (and had been there for 5 months) the day we went to meet him but my partner at the time wanted him because he liked his big feet. Then we broke up and I got the dog.
Well for all the work he was in the beginning, he sure turned out to be one hell of a dog.
Full of life to the end but his legs failed him and there was only one option unfortunately. A big active dog cannot be without the use of his hind legs. My poor boy.
For the past year he has been having trouble with long walks so we took to doing a 10 minute loop around the block and to the ocean once in a while and I would bring my camera so we could stop and look at birds and he could rest. I also took him to the little beach at the bottom of Oceanlea for a swim two weeks ago and he tried to sniff the Sanderlings. He was always very curious about the birds but never ever mean to them. Nelson was a Black Lab / Irish Setter cross would be my best guess so a bird dogs on both counts.
So, Hartlen Point was a very favorite place of Nelson’s and mine long before I became a birder. Security is in place now and you really can’t take dogs in there anymore but I took him a few weeks ago in on leash to stand on the rocks for a while. The walk down the path by the Coast Guard shed just to the shore was pretty much all he could do for the day. I knew it would not be long before our bad day would arrive.
But I am so happy I made a point to do this. And now that I am a birder, Hartlen Point has become a special place for me in a new way and I spend a lot of time down there birding.
And as sad as I am, I feel like he is walking with me and I hope that piece of my heart will come back to me in time. Whenever I spot a new bird at Hartlen Point I’d like to think Nelson saw it first…
RIP my heart dog Nelson 2001-2015