Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Elhew Sunflower Passes


The last Saturday of this past January was a bittersweet day. For my 9-year-old son, Camden, it was especially sad.

As we loaded the truck that day we both knew that this would be Jill’s, better known as Elhew Sunflower, last trip to the field. Camden had heard many stories and read several articles, but to him Sunflower was the queen of our kennel that he had only really known since her retirement a few years earlier.

He wasn’t born in 1999 when Jill won her first championship and was still in diapers in 2000 and 2001 when she was named Top Shooting Dog of theYear. At almost 14 she was showing her age physically, but still had the determination of a young Derby in her heart.

In her final brace she was paired with her granddaughter, Sunflower’s Amazing Grace. Sunflower covered the gently rolling hills as always, strong to the front. At times it seemed that the younger dog paused with us, watching in amazement. She would complete a draw and in her typical fashion throw her head to see the desired direction. Her casts were still long, hitting the objectives, but her pace had slowed considerably.

On that particular blue bird afternoon there were no birds to be found. But that late January afternoon wasn’t about the birds, it was about celebration of the journey the white and liver pointer female had made over the course of her career and lifetime.While watching her run and sitting on the tailgate afterwards I lamented on her accomplishments, all that we had experienced, and the relationships we have developed.

Sunflower’s tremendous record of 27 wins, including 15 championship titles and numerous runners-up, could not have been possible without those involved. Rob and Lisa Butler have been fantastic co-owners and very supportive throughout both Sunflower and Swami’s careers. Handler Shawn Kinkelaar’s hard work and dedication to the dog and sport are proven through her accomplishments.

It was fitting as we watched the sun set late that day over the same pasture that Sunflower was started in as a pup when we first realized she would be something special. Sunflower passed this spring.

— Bryce Flaming


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