Maven pointed her first bird today. I cried.

We were on one of our bird walks, working on the usual things—heel when we're near roads and snowmobile trails, come, sit, wait. At about an hour in, we hadn't seen any birds and we were both getting tired from walking in the snow, so I started directing us back to the car.

Maven was working ahead of me and moved toward a small patch of hemlocks. I didn't think much of it.

I heard a crow cawing overhead, and noticed that Maven was under the trees, totally locked up. "Weird," I thought, "she's never paid attention to crows bef—"

My thoughts were interrupted by a grouse thrusting out of the tree over Maven's head, its pounding wings sending her into another point as she watched it fly away.

Maven pointing the bird as it flew away.

I don't remember exactly what happened in those next thirty seconds; my mind was awash in adrenaline, but I know that I made a lot of excited noises. Maven was busy pressing her nose into the ground at the base of the tree, presumably enjoying the aromas of ripe grouse poop. "Good girl," I beamed.

It's funny, I know that her bloodline has been shaped and steered toward this outcome, so it shouldn't have been such a staggering thing to witness. But since the day I brought her home, I've had this unspoken worry that she wouldn't be birdy, that her instincts wouldn't be strong enough, or that as a first-time dog owner, I would somehow screw her up. That this moment would never come.

Watching my wiggly, bouncy puppy suspend herself with such purpose was one of my happiest moments. She knows what she's doing, and I didn't screw her up. What a relief.

As we walked back to the car, both of us vibrating with excitement, my eyes welled up and tears streamed down my face.

I'm so proud of her.

Maven was very proud of herself once we got back to my stepdad's house to warm up.
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