By Josh DeWitt

14 years, 5 months, and 15 days. A span of time that now seems just a fleeting moment, but a moment so full of wonderful memory and impression I can imagine it would take a lifetime to tell all of her story.


Claret headstoneOn March 28 my long-time number 1 dog, Claret, passed on. She was one of the finest and most talented dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. For many of you reading this, you will remember Claret from workshops or shows as she was always at my side. If anyone ever needed to see what was possible with a Labrador she was my go-to dog to demonstrate with. Claret exemplified what a Wildrose dog is all about. She was well-mannered, steady, quiet, and calm but worked with boldness, tenacity, and full partnership when called upon. Now, she joins the list of those special Wildrose dogs that have left us but taught us so much while they were here.

Claret really enjoyed camping with the family. One afternoon last summer on one of those camping trips I found Claret and I by ourselves relaxing in the shade. The opportunity presented itself to write a poem about her, I’m happy to share it with you now.

The time has flown by

And I look at her now

An aged dog of 13

I struggle to find how


Great moments we’ve shared

As memories dance in my head

One of the best dogs I’ve had

Her story needs to be spread


She came to me from far away

Ireland she was bred and born

From fine working stock

Known for speed and agility, like a pronghorn


With a great friend in Great Britain

Her younger years were spent

From 1 to 3 years of age

They worked together and didn’t relent


Trials they would run

Shooting days they would pick

Her skills developed carefully

By a master trainer named Vic


The time had finally arrived

I got the message one night

She was ready to come to the USA

Ready for that big trans-Atlantic flight


When I saw her for the first time

It was a sight I’ll never forget

She was everything I dreamed of

And we had only just met


I picked up the lead

And introduced myself as her new leader

With a quiet and gentle method

That I had learned from Vic and Mike, my teachers


She immediately gave a gesture

That I understood to tell me

I am willing to follow you

Together we can find glory


And glory we did find

In the very first trial we addressed

Surprising to everyone, even me

We were first place, going into the last test


A difficult 200 yard water retrieve

Designed for a champion

She hit the water hard

Determined and on a mission


She took my casts

Left, right, and back

Stopped on the whistle

She was sharp as a tack


But in the end

Our quarry was a dummy

That drifted into no mans land

She came out of the hunt mouth empty


Fourth place we took that day

But prouder I couldn’t have been

For that was my first ever trial

And we came that close to a win


Or the first hunt we shared

On a cold December day

The action was slow

“Time to leave” I was about to say


When her ears perked up

I knew what that meant

She could hear birds in the distance

They were on the descent


The flock swung the decoys

Our hearts were thumping

Almost in shooting range

The adrenaline was pumping


On the third pass I stood

Shotgun mounted and ready

Clicked the safety and squeezed the trigger

The lead goose fell heavy


For a moment we waited

For the retrieve would be splendid

Set perfect for a Labrador

The bird fell in deep water that was frigid


I lined her up

A big grin on my face

For it was our first retrieve on a bird

It was our time, our place


With a slight motion and soft word

I released her from my side

Off like a bullet she went

And hit the ice cold water in stride


Out to the fall area

With boldness and power

She picked the large fowl

Just as the snow began to shower


As I watched her return

It was difficult to see

Any resemblance of a dog

For the bird was as big as she


Back at the shoreline

She delivered gently to hand

A massive Canada goose

That lo and behold had a leg band


As I hoisted our hard earned prize

I swelled up with pride

Looking down at my brave dog

As ice formed on her hide


Oh the stories like these are vast

This little dog and what she’s done

Amazed countless people in so any places

This little dog from Great Britain


But no one more than me

She’s taught me more than I’ve her

Been one of my life’s wonders

The bond we have is forever


Patient, quiet, and soft

Beautiful qualities she possesses

Qualities that I should live for

Instead I have too many vices


But everyday I try to learn from her

For I feel God has brought us together

To remind me what life should be about

Teaching, helping, and serving others


Yes she’s a superstar performer

Up for any trial or test

And wowing crowds of hundreds at shows

With her incredible abilities, she always impressed


In retirement from performing now

A well-deserved break

She owes me nothing in the slightest

Save the occasional paw shake


Lord I’m so thankful for this little dog

And happy she’s not a cat or fish or parrot

Happy that she is what she is


Claret Jumping

A Labrador Retriever named Claret

Birdrow Claret

Born Oct 13, 2000

Died March 28, 2015

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4 Responses to Claret

  1. Donna Greenwood says:

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. No matter how many times we go through this it is always hard. Good dogs leave a footprint on our hearts.

  2. Bo Bosi says:

    wow ! what a story and thanks for sharing that with us. I have lost 2 wildrose dogs in the last 18 months,both were 15 years old,it’s tough to let a family member go. i am now my 3rd wildrose dog which is now almost 7 years old. i have shared some of the same memories and feeling as you.

  3. CHIP says:

    Such a beautiful girl. You’ll see her again one day on the other side. Our beloved black lab Jet passed on January 29. He was 16 years old.

    God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in Heaven,
    and if it takes my dog being there I believe he’ll be there.

    Words of Billy Graham

  4. Thank you very much for sharing your poem. I am very sorry for the loss of your girl Claret. She was beautiful.

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