These are the images of Blue that play in my mind's eye.
This is how I think of Blue.
Blue's silhouette is petite and trim, and sculpted like feminine steel.
She's so powerful she seems to skim over the ground rather than walk on it. Her black fur reflects light like a diamond.
Her eyes are luminous, intelligent, and deep brown.
When she sees a bird go down, her ears open out like radar dishes but she quivers like a bowstring.
When Blue is sent, she flashes out like she's been shot from a bow.
When she swims, the water boils in her wake.
Blue sees every mark, she remembers where each one went down, and she goes hard for each one.
She turns on a dime at the whistle, takes the cast, and handles to the bird like a metal detector homing in on a goldpiece.
She comes back just as fast as she went out.
She holds the bird all the way and delivers to hand, every time.
If she's doing pickup work, her nose shows her where all the hidden birds are, the ones that were missed by other dogs.
Her eyes are on Kenny most of the time.
Her down-stay can last for hours, perfectly still, until Kenny gives her the release.
Blue loves meeting new people and seeing old friends, and she gives sweet kisses.
There's a calmness about Blue, and I see everyone respond to it, and love her back. She's a terrific snuggler.
She's a clean little lady, but she has a strong presence and is definitely dominant among the other dogs.
When Kenny works with Blue, I see communication and teamwork that's just pure pleasure to watch,
and all their hours of practice and training make it work like a precision clock. They're an elegant team.
She's a one-in-a-million, irreplaceable girl, who will always be loved most dearly.
Since Blue was diagnosed with lymphomic cancer in September, Kenny has been on auto-pilot with one course,
programmed just to take care of Blue; and she has recieved great support from Sue (Blue's breeder/owner),
and from the doctor.
Blue has been given steroids to keep the glands' swelling down, she's had soft food, lots of TLC,
and just a little retrieving to keep her happy.
Blue ran in the AKC Hunt Test on Long Island on October 24th, and she was amazing even then.
Everyone watching her was impressed with her performance, and she glowed in the warmth
of Kenny's pleasure and approval.
Blue was weak and having a hard time walking by November 28, but on Saturday she could tell
we were packing up for a shoot. She looked eager and alert, and got up immediately when it
was time to leave. She was not going to be left out.
Once there, she walked out to the station we were covering, and she enjoyed a little rest
in a sunny spot till it was time to start.
Still not going to be left out, she went to heel when Kenny called his golden retriever Sean,
and yes folks, she did pick up at least four birds.
Not her fastest retrieves, but she was turned on, and as happy as ever. Blue was tuckered out in the afternoon, and got
lots of well-earned sleep.
Sunday was a very quiet day, with Blue just resting; and she spent the evening snuggled up with Kenny. It had been
a very good weekend.
Monday morning Kenny carried Blue to the truck to go to the scheduled doctor appointment.
With her whole support team in accordance, she was given an injection to go to sleep,
and she gave Kenny a last big kiss. Then Blue went to sleep, her final sleep, and her great loving heart
finally stopped, without pain or fear.
It's hard to lose such a girl; and we all know that our dogs are often the most uncomplicated pure loves in our lives.
We'll grieve now for her to have lost her life, and we'll grieve for ourselves to have lost her,
and we'll miss her very much.
As a tribute to Blue, though, and to help get through it, I want to invite everyone
to remember her beauty and her strength and her sweetness and skill. Blue "retired"
as HR Rhumbline's Cardinal Points SH, which titles were well-earned. She had a lot to be proud of.
She was also Kenny's constant companion through thick and thin, for the last seven years,
and his go-to dog for most of it.
She was Sue's dear love, too. She was a charming, delightful, and wise dog who taught all of us
about fun and loving, and about retrieving and training's fine points too. Since she never showed her age
(and at ten years old looked more like a three-year-old) and always acted like a young girl,
it's easy to just think of her in her prime, and rejoice.
If you knew Blue, rejoice for the gift of her being in the world.