My falconry took a big hit this week. My 5 year old Weimaraner, Bep, abruptly passed away from Bloat. I had heard of Bloat in the past but never really found out that much about it until now. Below is a description from, http://www.globalspan.net/bloat.htm
"The technical name for bloat is "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus" ("GDV"). Bloating of the stomach is often related to swallowed air (although food and fluid can also be present). It usually happens when there's an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid, and/or foam in the stomach ("gastric dilatation"). Stress can be a significant contributing factor also. Bloat can occur with or without "volvulus" (twisting). As the stomach swells, it may rotate 90° to 360°, twisting between its fixed attachments at the esophagus (food tube) and at the duodenum (the upper intestine). The twisting stomach traps air, food, and water in the stomach. The bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and damage to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog."
I started out my day on Saturday like any other, loaded up my dogs, then birds, and was on my way to the field. We did our morning hunt and everything was fine. I then went on with my day and the dogs hung out in their kennels like the often do, while I went on with the day's errands and such. That evening Daniel and Jonathan were over showing off their hard days work of another bunny in the bag. After BSing for a few minutes, I opened up my dog's crates and Lulu, my pointer, shot past me but no Bep. So I ran for the flashlight and confirmed that something horrible had happen, she had died. After a chat with my friend and Veterinarian, Dr. Kim Huckaby (a fantastic young vet in Tulsa), we figured that it was mostly likely Bloat due to the suddenness of her death and her swollen abdomen. She informed me that Bloat was almost always the case of sudden death in young healthy dogs, especially breeds at are deep chested like Weimaraners (and GSP's), and today's necropsy confirmed it.
I got Bep (Bep stands for Bleomycin Etoposide Platinol in case you are wondering) just over five years ago while living in Florida several weeks after finishing up my final round of Chemotherapy. I figured that I had just beaten cancer, dammit, I'm getting myself a hunting dog. I did some searching around found a great family who bred Weimaraners that had hunting experience in their recent genealogy. Where I lived at the time I mostly hunted old orange groves for rabbits and quail. The cover was thick and Bep was just the dog I needed to stay close and find game. As luck would have it though, I took a job in Oklahoma just 6 months later and the need for a close working dog wasn't so important. Bep however loved water and found a new role as full time duck flusher, part-time bird pointer, and was still an essential part of my falconry team. Especially with my previous Hybrid, Rhythm. I don't know how many times the dog got ducks to flush that I couldn't get to budge not to mention there were more than a few severely injured ducks that were lost in the grass or knocked into the water that Bep quickly found and brought to bag. She had perfect manners around the birds and aside from being able to scale any, and I mean any, fence and barking a little to much here and there, she was an absolute pleasure of a dog, which I now know that I did not value as much as I should have. But we often don't realize what we have until it is gone and it's really tough looking at that empty crate in the back of the truck today.
We did catch the final duck of the year for me and my birds even though there is another two weeks to the season. Money is tight for the rest of this month, the weather has been mostly unaccommodating at best, and with the passing of Bep I just decided that I am done with the big birds for the rest of the this season. The final duck was prize though, a nice drake Canvasback. The flight wasn't really anything to write home about only about 600', but Tulsa was working hard for it in the 25 mph wind. I normally wouldn't have even flown but I only see Canvasbacks maybe twice a year. So I did and he made the catch with a powerbind that sent them toppling across the ground about 30' in front of me.
I will still be flying the Kestrel until I get bored with her and I'm still having a blast. I'm now into the 30's with her starling catch count and we only hunted 16 times.
Such is life with falconry: Often death is celebrated and other times its mourned....
Bep 11/2004 - 2/2010
Rest in Peace "Beppers"