Owning a dog, especially a hunting dog, isn’t a prospect to be taken lightly. When you make this decision, you’re committing to take all the bad that comes with all the good.
You must train them. You must feed and exercise them. You must nurse them when they are sick which is especially difficult because they can’t tell you where it hurts. You must take on responsibility and expense of preventative healthcare. And you must commit to making that terrible decision that may be required 12 or 14 years down the road. You’re committing completely to your new dog.
Yet the moments of glory in the field and the lifetime of unconditional love and the forgiveness no matter how badly you screw up are undeniably, unquestionably worth it all.
But try to explain all of this to the non-hunter, non-dog-person and all you’ll get is a blank stare and perhaps a nod of disbelief.
So here’s a quick study guide to explaining why we hunters own dogs:
The reason waterfowl hunters hunt over well-trained retrievers is because they know there is no greater conservation measure than a good dog. It doesn’t take many days in the company of even a mediocre retriever to appreciate that a dog will find downed birds no human could ever recover. Even the most extreme waterfowl hunter has nothing in the repertoire that can compare to the canine sense of smell or instinct for the hunt.
The reason waterfowl hunters own retrievers is because they are the ultimate year-round link to hunting. The care and training required to maximize the great potential of a well-bred retriever is a 7-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year commitment that lasts for anywhere from 10-15 years. Yet the rewards far exceed the investment.
There’s a warm feeling in the hunter’s soul with every little triumph in training, with each great retrieve, even with the smell of wet dog lingering in the truck. Yet the greatest reward comes from sharing life with a creature who lives for the hunt even more than we do. Every time you scratch those ears and look into those eyes, you go hunting together … even though it might be the middle of June.
The passionate waterfowl hunter hunts over good retrievers. The passionate waterfowl hunter’s soul is owned by at least one good retriever in his or her lifetime. Here’s wishing you and your dog all that and more for the hunting seasons and the lifetime ahead.