Riley was nearing 13 years old this year; old for a Boxer, who was the runt, and who had a heart murmur from birth. She had gotten a lot slower over the past couple of years. Tuesday night I came home from work and found her having a seizure in the back yard. I brought her in and put her on her bed. She eventually calmed down over the next few minutes and seemed to slip into a coma. After consulting with a vet friend we decided to let her rest on her bed through the night. The next morning, nothing had changed. She could not respond to us and we made the decision with agreement from the vet that our time with Riley had come to an end. My sidekick for all of my adult life, was quietly laid to rest.
That evening my Hybrid was on weight, the weather was perfect, and ducks were on the pond. I was still feeling down about the days events, but it wouldn't be fair to the falcon not to fly on a day like that day.
Slightly cross wind of the pond I cast her off. Right away she looked good. Quick wing beat and all business she headed out to the east. At the edge of binocular range I saw her turn into the wind and start powering back. Things were looking pretty good so I made my approach to back of the pond's dam wall. I looked up to see my bird coming directly over the pond as a tiny silhouette against the yellowing sky.
Scrambling over the dam, I jumped the pond and off flew about 20 Gadwalls. The falcon folded up instantly and began her stoop. Fully tucked and looking good I foolishly though something great might just happen here on this down day. She was coming hard but her lack of experience and confidence got the best of her and she pulled out of her stoop about 50 feet above the ducks. This of course was more than the ducks could take and they turned back to the water, crashing into the assumed safety of the pond.
The falcon decided that she may not be comfortable hitting a duck in the air quite yet, but she sure wanted to eat one. Again she stooped but this time went straight for a duck on the water. Only instead of trying to grab the duck she just flat out hammered it straight down right in the middle of the pond. Somehow she was strong enough to hang onto it and rowed herself and the duck to shore. Odd way to catch her first duck.
Riley will be missed but I have the great memories of her from the past 13 years, the death of this duck may just be the start of great memories to come with this falcon.....