Which is Best: A House Dog, Field Dog or a Combination?
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?
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