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I came upon him one evening just before sundown in early March, 2006. It was spitting rain, sleet and snow at a hard slant from wind howling cold and harsh out of the north. On the final leg of the long commute home from a public service job I was hating more each day, my heart ached at the sight of him. I stopped and kneeled out in the open so he could see all of me and know I was not a threat. Without hesitation he staggered to me. I petted him a bit and spoke softly to him, then lifted him into the back of the Tahoe. He made no sound as I did so even though he was obviously injured and severely malnourished, weighing practically nothing in my arms.

I briefly looked him over and found he had a badly swollen puncture wound on the left side of his face just below the eye. Later on, I would discover he had been shot in the face and left for dead by his heartless scumbag of an owner who lives somewhere out here. Still a pup only four or five months old, he was desperately clinging to life.

I drove as gently over the rough, rocky road home as I could manage. When I opened the back doors of the truck, he promptly got out on his own. My own dog Paddy greeted him with thorough sniffing and snuffing, possibly wondering why in the world I had brought such a wretched creature home with me.

I fed and watered them both and they both ate heartily and drank deeply. After gently cleaning his wound and applying a little bit of antibacterial salve to it, I left the newcomer alone for the rest of the night to rest and hopefully begin recovery. I fully expected him to die sometime in the night. Paddy left him alone too, curious but sensitive to his need for space.

The next morning he was still alive and hungry again. A good sign. After feeding him another meal of dry dog food and a couple of bacon strip treats, I let him out with Paddy. He tended to business then immediately came back to the front door and waited for me to let him in. Paddy began applying his charms to befriend him. He wasn't in the mood just yet but didn't get cross and Paddy soon left him alone again. I called the vet in town and arranged for an examination to have his wound properly treated. He slept next to the wood stove as I cooked breakfast and prepared for the day. On the way to town, he slept in the back of the Tahoe while Paddy stood beside me, almost a foot of tongue hanging from the side of his mouth, gazing out the front window at passing scenery.

The vet inspected the dog, declared him as possibly being a purebred golden retriever, irrigated and treated his wound then gave him a shot of antibiotic. He had no clue what had caused the vicious looking puncture in his cheek. He told me it didn't look like a bite wound since there was only one puncture and it didn't seem to be a gunshot wound either since he could find no exit wound or any other kind of wound elsewhere on him. After prescribing a deworming medication to give to him after a few more days of recovery, we left for a quick stop at the grocery store for more dog food and treats then headed back home.

Again he slept long and deep before waking, eating, drinking and going to the door to be let out. He had obviously already been house trained and I wondered why anyone would dump such a beautiful and gentle dog out in the cold, wet tail end of winter to die alone. I sat beside him as he slept and petted him in long gentle strokes from the back of his head down to the middle of his back to reassure and comfort him. He sighed deeply at that, the first audible sound he had made since finding him.

The next morning I let the dogs out and both eagerly went off into the oak grove to tend to business before venturing on down toward the creek with noses skimming along close to the ground as they trotted along side by side. It looked like he was going to survive and I started thinking about a name for him. The strains of a Manfred Mann song immediately came to mind.

Come all without, come all within You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

So Quinn he was named and his recovery progressed at a steady pace. Within a few days, I started hiking deeper and deeper into the wilderness with the dogs, marveling at how much Quinn had recovered. His curious, playful nature emerged and charmed me and Paddy into accepting him into our family without reservation. About a week later as I was combing the fur on his neck, the teeth of the comb clicked against something solid and a 22 caliber slug which had just emerged from the back of his neck on the opposite side from the face wound dropped to the floor. I picked it up and examined it, not fully comprehending what I was seeing and why it was on Quinn's neck Then I understood the cause of the puncture wound to his face. The bullet had apparently passed through his neck without causing damage to spine or spinal cord. I showed it to him and he sniffed at it while an anger within me swelled and seethed white hot for the monster who had shot him over a deeper soft glow of sympathy and admiration for the will and character of the dog now named Quinn.

He and Paddy were inseparable, roaming the wilderness together for days at a time without returning home. I worried about them at first when they disappeared on their extended forays but they always returned, hungry and exhausted. They were delightful companions during the years they lived here with me as I struggled to make it in the world of self employment. As Quinn healed I could feel myself healing, too, from insidious damage inflicted by the corporate and government employers I spent too many years working for, from damage inflicted during too many years attempting to make two horrible marriages work, and from the generally toxic effects of civilization as a whole.

I doubt I could have survived the hard, lean parts of the formative years of FLUXFAZE Creative Enterprises, LLC without them around and I deeply miss them both, sometimes more than any human being I have ever known in life because neither of them ever expressed derision or passed judgement. They simply loved unconditionally. Something I'm convinced no human is capable of.

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