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December 13, 2013
Barnie is the only dog buried here that I knew well. She got her unlikely masculine name because the Carruth family found her abandoned at their barn.
And not unlike her name, what she became was unlikely as well. Barnie developed into the finest flush dog I have ever seen. She would sit patiently on the wagon, trembling with anticipation as high-strung pointers sorted out the quail. Upon command, Barnie was off like a bolt of lightning, putting up a covey or singles that rocketed from the well-manicured bird cover at Millbrook Plantation. And when some hunter connected, Barnie was the first to rush in for a retrieve, proudly toting a quail in her whiskered jaws and gingerly delivering it to her owner, Dr. Ed Carruth. Her passing was sad.
“Barnie’s burial was the most upsetting to me,” says Dr. Carruth. “I think I cried three days. I still shed a tear when I stop by her grave.”
That, in my opinion, speaks well of the man. Doc acquired Millbrook Plantation at Stonewall many years ago and has transformed it into a quail hunter’s delight. He has dedicated approximately 800 acres to enhanced quail habitat, and the setting is ideal.
His staff, consisting of Randy Freeman, hunt master/farm manager; Stanley Herrington, head guide; John Kennon and Greg Chandler, guides; Carol Bateman, cook; Myra Southern, housekeeping; and Sammy Donald, who does chores and is responsible for cleaning quail, all take their jobs seriously and provide exceptional service to quail hunters.
“The Dog Graveyard idea started with Tip, my first German Wirehair (Drathaar) who died I think about 1999,” Carruth recalls. “He was my introduction to the breed and was a top bird dog. But in addition to that, he was my pet and my friend, too good a dog to be buried just anywhere. So I picked that spot on a well-drained piney hill overlooking a favorite quail plot and the pond he loved to swim.
“He deserved and received a marker and short epitaph: Tip – Friend and Companion. After that, it was only natural to bury our dogs next to Tip. And for all I tried to create a short epitaph fitting to each individual dog.”
Carruth reflects once more on Barnie. “She is the only one who got a custom-made pine casket with velvet lining. Her epitaph is exactly what I always told her she was: The Best Dog in the Whole Wide World. I think she would actually smile when I told her that.
“The next most tearful for me [after Barnie] was Gussie, a Drathaar. She was also a combination working dog and pet and stayed in the house with us. The Drathaars make good companions and pets and can still be top hunting dogs.
“And burying Kellis, my big ole chocolate lab, who flushed and retrieved for us, was also pretty painful. Her epitaph is simple: She Was a Good Ole Dog. She spent a lot of time riding with me in my truck. Kellis lived to be 14.”
The grave markers and epitaphs are many, and as years pass these will surely grow. But that is all a part of living. Loss is a given. It is never easy or minus pain, but the joy that comes before the sorry is worth the hurt. Pleasant recall grows richer and more intense as the ache gradually subsides.
And there can be no better way to honor and remember these special animals that lived for quail hunting than to make their final resting place a secluded hillside overlooking the habitat that felt their foot falls and reverberated with their enthusiasm. The Dog Graveyard at Millbrook is well done.
For information on Millbrook Plantation, call 601-659-9922 or 601-659-9956, or go to www.millbrookplantation.com.
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