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Thanks Jake!

Gerry-Jake Jake went as peacefully as I could have hoped—he laid down, closed his eyes and it was over.

“Look,” my vet said, turning toward me to look into my leaking eyeballs.
“These guys have pride, they have dignity and when that dignity slips away, they know it and feel it. You owed Jake his dignity. He fell asleep with his head in your lap and your voice in his ear.”

My brain agreed, but it’ll take a little time for my heart to catch up—maybe in a few days or months or after another few fall turkey seasons…

“Every bird hunter deserves to have one great bird dog in their lives,” friend and outdoor writer Tom Huggler once told me. “That’s it, you only really get one. So when you get him, cherish him and remember that you must hunt him every chance you get. It’s his mission in life so do not withhold him his mission.”

Was Jake my one great dog? I’m not sure, but as the clock ticked toward my 6:45 vet appointment tonight, my brain got stuck on rewind and the so very many memorable fall turkey hunts during the past 13 years re-played themselves in my head.

Of course, I will always remember the first bird, the hard birds, the courageous efforts, the hunts to exhaustion etc. But perhaps Jake’s finest hour came in just his first or second season when curiosity fall turkey dogging got the best of so many members of my New York club that I found myself playing guide to a half-dozen hunters.

Well, Jake broke a good flock of birds and after sitting on the re-call for ½-hour or so, some shots rang out. I continued to call for another ½ hour trying to drag in other flock members, but to no avail. When we re-grouped, I discovered that one of the members had hit a bird, but it had run off. With afternoon temperatures on the rise and the trail 45 minutes old, I felt that there was little chance of finding that turkey. I no sooner got the words out of my mouth when out of the corner my eye I spied Jake make a beeline run in the direction the bird fled.

If I live to be 100, the vision of Jake—tail in full wag—rushing back toward us with a mouthful of a very-much-still-alive turkey will be one of my all-time, most-cherished hunting memories.

Thanks, Jake.You were the best. —Gerry Bethge

(Special thanks to my buddy, Steve Hickoff, for the accompanying photo—and a shoulder.)



Sorry for yor loss.

Gerry Bethge

Hey Dirty----Thanks, man...tomorrow (friday) is the last day of our fall turkey season and the gameplan is to try and whack two birds tomorrow afternoon. Yeah, admittedly, with the intent of somehow vindicating/avenging the loss of the Jakester. We'll see how it all goes.


Although it has been almost two years, I still find myself thinking about the times in the woods with my dog. She seemed happiest then and was my best outdoor companion. My thoughts are with you on your loss. - CF

Jenny French

What a poignant tribute to the pain of making the decision to let your dog go with dignity. Jake was as lucky to have you as you were to have him. Give yourself time...it's about the only thing that helps, my friend.

Our love to you and Amy.


Although I do not know you, by your words it sounds like Jenny is right "Jake was as lucky to have you as you were to have him."

I was in your same shoes 5 years ago with my yellow lab and best friend Zeke. I will never forget that day at the veternarians or the things Zeke did on that fateful day and tears still fill my eyes as I write and think about him and our 15 plus years together.

I wish you well on your hunt, and remember that the memories of Jake will last a lifetime.


P.S. That's a great photo!

jeff barwick

read your story. very sorry for your loss. Our dogs are our closest friends too at our home and we lost on in september that had been with us a long time. He went in the vets office too, looking into my eyes and I held his head until it was over. I hope he was not afraid.

again, i hope you recover quickly.

hey man, so sorry for your loss... Nothing like a turkey dog........ hope yall recover with time, it will take it ;)

Tony Williams

Gerry, sorry about Jake. He's probably chasing a flock right now for some young hunter that got called too early as well.

Look forward to seeing you this week.

Take care, bud.