Ralph.

Our dearly beloved Ralph passed away yesterday.

Ralph. September 16, 2009. Photo courtesy of Piknik Studios.

My brother Todd found Ralph abandoned in one of our fields in 1996.  We always had mutts and strays growing up, and so naturally our family immediately adopted Ralph.

Ralph's favorite sleeping spot: on a bale of hay.

Initially we thought that Ralph might be a yellow lab puppy, but he never grew to be the size of a lab.

Ralph leads another excellent pheasant hunt.

Shortly after adopting Ralph, my family heard these awful growling/howling/moaning sounds coming from the yard.  They were sure that something awful had happened to Ralph and ran outside to check on him.  Much to their surprise they found Ralph comfortably sitting in the middle of the yard…baying!  That is when we decided that Ralph must be a yellow lab/beagle mix.  Ralph even “taught” our other dog Jett how to bay.

Ralph and his four brothers.

Ralph had an amazing nose.  He went on every single pheasant hunting trip we took:  rain, shine, snow, wind, etc.  On one hunting trip Ralph even swam out into the middle of a pond to retrieve a goose (the goose was probably just as big as he was, if not bigger).  We were convinced that he wouldn’t make it back with the bird, but he did.

Ralph at the dairy. May 30, 2004.

Ralph had absolutely no fear.  He would take on raccoons, skunks, pheasants, ducks, geese and even grizzly bears.  Yes, grizzly bears.  Our dairy farm sits at the base of the Mission Mountains in Western Montana.  The Missions are home to one of the highest concentrations of grizzlies (outside of Yellowstone in the lower 48).

Ralph and Greg doing chores.

Ralph would start barking and acting funny the minute that he knew the bears were around.  The bears were usually just passing through our pastures on the way from the mountains to the Post Creek Drainage and into the valley.  Ralph would diligently keep watch and let the bears know he was around.  On numerous occasions (at first light) we watched from a distance as Ralph stood a mere couple of feet away from the bears and barked and barked and barked.

Emily and her boys: Ralph and Jett.

You always knew that the grizzly bears had been on our property in two ways:  you could hear Ralph barking at them at night; or you would find Ralph sleeping throughout the duration of the day (because he stayed up so late the night before watching the bears).

Ralph, Jett and Henry keep watch at the dairy.

Ralph and Jett moving cattle. March 26, 2008.

Ralph and Jett were pretty much inseparable from day one.

They would help us chase cows together, even if it was usually in the wrong direction.

They would chase each other around the farm and wrestle.

They even barked at the bears together, although Jett stopped doing that in his later years.

They also started a weird habit of trotting down the country road to my grandparent’s house every time that my dad left the dairy in his blue truck.  My grandparents live at least 3 miles away.  Of course it probably didn’t help matters any that my grandma would give them treats…

Jett passed away this year.

Thankfully, my sister Emily’s chocolate lab Henry was around to keep Ralph company.

Ralph and I pheasant hunting. December 4, 2008.

Ralph, Henry and my dad went nearly everywhere together.  The only time that Ralph stayed home was when my dad went into town (we were afraid that Ralph would get bored sitting in the truck while my dad ran errands and would probably just start walking home).

Ralph. Henry. Truck. Birds. Life is good.

This photo of Ralph and Henry was taken during the last pheasant hunting trip I took with Ralph on December 4, 2008.

It was an awesome hunt!  Emily, Ralph, Henry and I hunted at the dairy, but after seeing lots of birds, we left empty handed.

We treated ourselves to some Windmill donuts before we headed to hunt along Sabine Creek (outside of St. Ignatius).

We saw a ton of wildlife along Sabine Creek and were able to bag a couple of pheasants.

Everything “just clicked” on this hunt:  the dogs, the weather, the birds, the conversation, etc, etc.

I will never forget this day shared with two amazing animals, Ralph and Henry, and with my sister Emily.

Ralph and Kris. Photo courtesy of Piknik Studios.

Ralph. Photo courtesy of Piknik Studios.

We hope you are having fun chasing pheasants and Grizzly bears with Jett.  We miss you both!

~ by snyelmn on January 6, 2010.

2 Responses to “Ralph.”

  1. […] beloved Ralph passed away yesterday.  He will be […]

  2. […] dearly beloved Ralph left to go chase pheasants and Grizzly bears with Jett on January 5, […]

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