A grouse-hunting dog tells his and his master’s stories in this novel for all ages.
This tale about grouse hunting and grouse hunters is told through the unique perspective of Briar, a bird dog. After his death of old age, Briar explains that he became enlightened. He now understands the life he just led and can share that experience with others. As a result, Briar recounts the life of his owner, referred to only as Master throughout the book, as well as Master’s friends and family and the other bird dogs that made up Master’s hunting party. According to Briar, his master married young and took up hunting to support his new family with extra food. Soon he became a great hunter, graduating from hunting squirrels to grouse. He needed a few very special dogs, called bird dogs or grouse dogs, to work with him. Briar’s dad, Chief, and Master’s previous dog, Spot, as well as many other special dogs, are mentioned before Briar enters the picture. The shifting time periods can grow confusing: Briar mentions his own son in one chapter and then talks about Spot in the next. In addition, new characters—both human and canine—appear and disappear from chapter to chapter. The specifics about hunting, the natural world and the hunters’ culture, however, ground the book in authentic details. Black-and-white photographs, those taken by Master during his photography phase, supplement the text toward the end. These photos illustrate things already brought to life through words, from the woods Briar enjoyed so much to a grouse darting from the brush. The lives of the dogs and hunters come well into focus—all unique characters who animate this special world.
Recommended for anyone interested in the life of a hunter or hunting dog.