Posts Tagged ‘gun dog’
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
As another hunting season gets underway, I once again find myself thinking about my beloved “Wolf,” a springer who passed away two years ago at dove season at age 14 (Farewell Wolf–My Hunting Partner Since ’95).
I thought I’d share a photo of my backyard memorial to Wolf, who indeed is buried beneath the earth in this very spot. My wife and I walk around our backyard a lot and when we see his grave it gets us talking about all the things we loved and miss about Wolf.
I made the headstone before Wolf left for the Happy Hunting Grounds. I sunk his fat paws into the wet cement, a reminder of his physical presence for when he was gone. The dog sculpture rests at his head; the duck his feet. Wolf, above all else, loved chasing after ducks. I buried him with a Pheasants Forever t-shirt covering his head. Wolf is buried facing south, the direction from which the sun tarries north in spring, south in autumn, giving us the seasons we both loved.
I love having Wolf in the backyard. He and I were partners his entire life. As he took his last breathe, I thanked him for everything and told him I wasn’t far behind.
Please share your stories of memorializing your gun dogs in the space below.
You can also make a donation to Pheasants Forever to honor the memory of a favorite hunting dog. All memorial gifts, regardless of dollar amount, are published annually in the Spring Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal of Upland Conservation.
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
First off, I’m not talking about potty training. I’m talking about “I just got home from work, its winter and dark outside and my springer, Hunter, is bouncing off the walls with unspent energy.”
The dog practically assaults me to play with him, following me, grabbing his retrieving dummy … all followed up by barking if I don’t get the hint. So, I start with tossing the dummy across our big upstairs room or down the stairs. That really gets him going.
To add a little finesse to the game, I make him sit behind the sofa so he can’t see me and hide the dummy in all sorts of creative places: Under a blanket, atop a table, beneath the sofa, and so on. I then tell him to “find the bird,” which is the command I use afield when necessary.
The toughest retrieve for him was from atop a table. Hunter needs some scent work, so this is a good exercise. He first looked in old or obvious places. Then he starts using the ol’ nose, which is what I want him to do. He passed the table a few times, but I could tell he caught some scent. The plastic dummy doesn’t carry much, which is perfect for such close quarter work.
After a few more frustrating minutes, and checking in with me for hints, he went back to the table and, sure enough, went in for a good sniff, hopped up on his hind legs and spotted the prize!
We have a ball, Hunter gets some good training and exercise and I feel better as a dog owner – such a deal. You have any unique training tricks to share?
Sunday, May 8th, 2011
The June/July issue of Gun Dog magazine landed in my mailbox last week with an intriguing cover teaser: “Making a Comeback: The Standard Poodle.” The author of the article, James B. Spencer, comes out swinging against the thought running through most of your minds right now:
“Poodles hunt? You gotta be kiddin’ me!”
Spencer explains there are in fact three different sizes of poodles; toy, miniature and standard. Although AKC categorizes all poodles into the non-sporting group, the standard poodle does in fact have a long hunting history. Spencer writes that standard poodles have been a popular breed of bird dog since Middle Age times.
Here are a few key nuggets about the standard poodle:
- Males weigh 45 to 60 pounds, while females tend to be a bit lighter at 40 to 50 pounds.
- They are lean and muscular with boundless energy and great stamina.
- Most common coat color is black, but some are gray, brown, apricot or white.
- A standard poodle’s coat doesn’t shed and is hypoallergenic.
- Hunters with poodles typically trim their dog’s coats down to one inch long all over for easier post-field grooming.
- Although stereotyped as a trick dog, standard poodles are very smart and easy to train for hunting.
- Their temperament is friendly and eager to please.
- The standard poodle hunts as a flusher and retriever.
- In 1881, Germans bred the standard poodle with an English pointer to create the pointing breed known today as the Pudelpointer.
- Standard poodles can be successfully used to hunt waterfowl or upland.
Personally, I have only hunted with a standard poodle on one occasion. Although the pup was a mere eight months old during that particular hunt, I was impressed by the dog’s natural ability, interest in birds, enthusiasm to retrieve and overall obedience. In fact, I know two Pheasants Forever colleagues with standard poodles as their hunting dogs.
So tell me, have you hunted birds behind a standard poodle? How did the pup stack up as a bird dog?
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.
Monday, February 28th, 2011
My last Springer, the late, great Wolf, was bred to be a hunting machine. Really, the dog was only interested in two things: hunting and food. He was tough as nails, too. Wolf was very stocky, had a heavy coat and never got sick or incapacitated in the 14.5 years I had him. No conditions ever turned him back, and he hunted ducks with me a lot in the worst weather imaginable. Wolf was sly and aggressive afield and never, ever gave up on a tough retrieve, hard conditions or a long hunt. I loved Wolf. He made me proud afield.
Wolf, however, left something to be desired during the majority of the off-season. Wolf was not a good house dog and wasn’t very warm with people. I could never leave him un-tethered in the house because he would destroy anything that smelled good or otherwise interested him. At a picnic once, Wolf put his front paws up on the table, grabbed a whole ham, dragged it to the ground and with both paws as leverage, started tearing it apart and eating it, much to the horror of everybody there.
Pet Wolf on the head once or twice, and he was happy and would walk away. Now that he’s gone, and in comparison to my current Springer Hunter, it seems the humanity was bred out of Wolf. In some ways, I felt sorry for him.
Hunter, on the other hand, is not the hunter Wolf was. I don’t think he ever will be. Hunter, who is nearly four, does an acceptable job afield. He runs good, finds enough birds and retrieves most of them. He’s a bit sensitive hunting and with people.
But Hunter is much more the people dog. He is very affectionate, which my wife and I enjoy. Winters are long here in Minnesota, and having a playful, affectionate dog around the house is great entertainment for us. He is seldom tethered and never bothers anything, food or otherwise, around the house. He is a great guard dog, barking and jumping aggressively when any stranger comes around, a quality I like.
I guess I’m willing to accept his 75 percent field performance during the short hunting season for his 100 percent, year-round companion performance the whole year.
Which do you prefer?