Photo of Forge
Forge - Stone Ridge Wrought Iron, MHV

Forge
May 2, 1999 - July 31, 2008

On March 29, 2008, at the Airedale Field Nationals hunt tests in Ohio, Forge and my husband, Ron Swisher, attained the Master Hunter Versatile (MHV) title, making Forge the only living Airedale and only the fourth Airedale in the history of the breed to earn this title. The versatile title means that Forge had passed his master-level fur, upland and retrieving (both water and land) tests. Ron had trained Forge from the day we got him at 8 weeks and over the years, they became an inseparable team. Spectators of the hunt tests, including AKC directors and judges, were literally awestruck by their skillful performance and partnership. If you would like to read more about the Airedale Field Nationals this past March and Forge and Ron's performance, please go to: www.huntingworkingairedales.com/afn.html

It is with sadness and heartbreak that I now tell you that Thursday, July 31, 2008, Forge suddenly succumbed to the symptomless and aggressive cancer, splenic hemangiosarcoma. He was nine on May 2. One week ago, Forge had enthusiastically and skillfully done 3 long water retrieves in a lake, to the amazement of some bystanders at the gun club who witnessed the drill and Forge's impeccable performance. On Wednesday, July 30, Forge's slightly disstended belly and a slight display of discomfort prompted Ron to take Forge to the vet. A diagnostic ultrasound was performed Wed evening and confirmed our vet's suspicions of the cancer. Forge, ever strong and stoic, came home with us Wed night with Tramadol to help with pain management. He had a fairly good night and Thursday morning it was clear that the Forge was not going to let the cancer take him without a fight. He zoomed out the kitchen door with Reese early Thursday morning, and promptly and methodically hiked his leg and marked numerous bushes, shrubs and trees on our property. Coming in, he reveled in the attention as I hand fed him his kibble on the family room carpet. After eating about a cup, he enjoyed a cool drink of fresh water. I had cooked some chicken and the Big Guy sat so tall and erect, his ears at attention and his brown eyes willing me to place each bite of chicken in his mouth. Half a chicken breast later, he was finished and went to lie down in the family room again. At 12:30pm Thursday afternoon, however, the cancer started its final evil campaign and it was clear that it was time to say goodbye. He insisted on walking out to the car and walking into the vet's office. He always was a very proud Airedale. We said our goodbyes and that afternoon were back in the house, eerily quiet and still, despite Reese's constant activity. How can we ever get used to life without our boy? He was our strong, courageous and loving boy, right to the very end.

Forge was an Airedale that I believe not only made Ron and I, but all of us, so very proud of our breed's hunting heritage. He proved its continued existence by his final flawless performance of master-level skill and ability at the Field Nationals hunt tests in March.

Please look skyward tonight for Forge's bright shooting star. I know it is still shining brightly. He was a star; he was the love of our lives, and Ron's most loyal and dedicated huntin' dawg. Ron and Forge were an awesome team. We are devastated by his absence from us here on Earth but know he is already hard at work hunting and retrieving all the heavenly birdies and ducks in the fields and waters over the Rainbow Bridge.

(The same cancer, splenic hemangiosarcoma, also suddenly took our Flo from us on April 9, 2006 at the age of 9.75 years. Forge and Flo shared nothing in common in their pedigrees.)

Lori Taylor and Ron Swisher
In memory of Forge - Stone Ridge Wrought Iron, MHV
May 2, 1999 - July 31, 2008


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