I read this story a long time ago in a readers digest magazine and it made me cry, I just wanted to share it with you. and the power of animals.thanks"

"MUCH OF my childhood in Thief River Falls, Minn was excruciatingly lonely.
Family troubles devastating shyness and a complete lack of social skills
ensured a life of solitude. Hunting was not only my opening into a world of
wonder it was my salvation. From the age of 12, I lived, breathed, existed to
hunt and fish. On school days I would hunt in the, morning and evening. On
Fridays I would head into the woods, often for the entire weekend. Still, I had
not learned to love solitude, as I do now. I would see something beautiful—the
sun through the leaves; a deer moving through dappled light — and I would want
to, point and say to someone, ‘Look”. But there was no one there.

Then I met Ike. It was the beginning of duck sea son. I got up at 3 am. and
walked from our apartment four blocks to the railway yard, then across a
bridge. There I dropped to the river bank and started walking along the water
into the woods. In the dark it was hard going. Soon I was wading in swamp muck
and went to pull myself up the bank to harder ground. The mud was as slick as
grease. I fell, and then scrabbled up the bank again, shotgun in one hand and
grabbing at roots with the other. I had just gained the top when a part of the
darkness detached itself, leaned close to my face and went woof. Not arf or
ruff or a growl, but woof. For half a second I froze, then I let go of the
shrub and fell back down the incline. On the way down the thought hit: “Bear”.
I clawed at my pockets for shells and inserted one into my shotgun. I was
aiming when something about the shape stopped me whatever it was had remained
sitting at the top of the bank, looking down at me. There was just enough dawn
to show a silhouette. It was a dog. A big dog, a black dog, but a dog. I
lowered the gun and wiped the mud out of my eyes. “Who owns you?” I asked. The
dog didn’t move, and I climbed the bank again. “Hello! “ I called into the
woods. “I have your dog here!” There was nobody.

“So you’re a stray” I said. But strays were shy and usually starved; ills dog,
This dog, a Labrador, was well fed and his coat was thick. He stayed near me. “Well,” I said, “What do I do with you?” On impulse I added, “You want to hunt?” He knew that word. His tail hammered the
ground and he wiggled, and then moved off along the river. I had never hunted
with a dog before, but I started to follow, it was light enough now to shoot,
so I kept the gun ready we had not gone far when two mallards exploded out of
some thick grass near the bank and started across the river. I raised the gun,
cocked it, aimed just above the right-hand duck and squeezed the trigger. There
was a crash, and the duck fell into the water. When I shot ducks over the river
before, I had had to wait for the current to bring the body to shore, this time
was different. With the smell of the powder still in the air, the dog was off
the bank in a great leap. He hit the water swimming, his shoulders pumping as
he churned the surface in a straight line to the dead duck, He took it gently
in his mouth, turned and swam back. Climbing the bank, he put the duck by my
right foot, then moved off a bit and sat. It was fully light now, and I could
see that the dog had a collar and I petted him — he let me, in a reserved way -
and pulled his tag to the side to read it. My name is Ike. That’s all it said
No address. No owner’s name.

“Well, Ike” — his tail wagged - “I d like to thank you for bringing me the
duck”. And that was how it began. For the rest of the season, I hunted the
river early every morning. I d cross the bridge, start down the river and Ike
would be there. By the middle of the second week, I felt as if we’d been
hunting with each other forever. When the hunting was done, he’d trot back with
me until we arrived at the bridge. There he would sit, and nothing I did would
make him come farther. I tried waiting to see where he would go, but when it
was obvious I wasn’t going to leave, he merely lay down and went to sleep. Once
I left him, he crossed the bridge and then hid in back of a building to watch.
He stayed until I was out of sight, then turned and trotted north along the
river and into the woods. Even if the rest of his life was a mystery, when we
were together we became fast friends. I’d cook an extra egg sandwich for him,
and when there were no ducks, we would talk. That is, I would talk, Ike would
sit, his enormous head resting on my knee, his huge brown eyes looking up at me
while I petted him and told him o all my troubles.

On the weekends when I stayed out, I would construct a lean-to and make a fire.
Ike would curl up on the edge of my blanket. Many mornings I’d awaken to find
him under the frost-covered blanket with me, sound asleep my arm thrown over
him his breath rumbling against my side. It seemed Ike had always been in my
life. Then one morning he wasn’t there. I would wait in the mornings by the
bridge but he never showed again. I thought he might have been hit by a car or
his owners might have moved away. But I could not learn more of him. I mourned
him and missed him. I grew and went into the crazy parts of my life, the
mistakes a young man could make. Later I got back into dogs, sled dogs, and ran
the Id-itarod race across Alaska.

After my first run I came back home to Minnesota
with slides of the race. One evening I gave a public slide show at a
sporting-goods store that had been one of my sponsors. There was an older man
sitting in a wheelchair, and I saw that when I told how Cookie, my lead dog,
had saved my life, his eyes teared up and he nodded. When the event was over,
he wheeled up and shook my hand. “I had a dog like your Cookie — a dog that
saved my life,” “Oh, did you run sleds?” He shook his head. “No, not like that,
I lived up in Thief River Falls when I was drafted to serve in the Korean War. I had a Labrador retriever that
I raised and hunted with. Then I was wounded - lost the use of my legs. When I
came back from the hospital, he was waiting. He spent the rest of his life by
my side. “I would have gone crazy with- out him. I’d sit for hours and talk to
him. “He faded off, and his eyes were moist again. “I still miss him”. I looked
at him, then out the store window. It was spring and the snow was melting
outside, but I was seeing a 13 year old Lab sitting in a duck blind in the
fall. Thief River Falls, he said – and the Korean War. The timing was right,
and the place.

"Your dog” I said, “was his name IKE?”

The man smiled and nodded. “Why ……YES. But how…….Did you know my dog?” That was
why Ike had not come back that one day I waited for him. He had another job,
taking care of the sick owner.

“YES,” I said turning to him…."he was my best friend”.

 

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  • I have to add at the end, that I dont hunt, or condone it, i just loved the story because of the love the dog showed.
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