Monday, November 10, 2014


Tic showing off

My niece with her favorite bird dog
My fascination with bird dogs started when I was a boy. I remember the first time I saw a dog point as clearly as the rooster Sunnie nailed last Thursday. My father raised German Shorthairs, and though he wasn't big on training he did run the dogs on wild pheasants occasionally. On one of these outings I saw a dog point for the first time. Through the eyes of a child it unbelievable to me that the dog wouldn't try to catch the bird. I also remember how startled I was when the bird flushed. Dads Shorthairs were beautiful dogs that stood solid for a long time when on point with little or no training. They lived in kennels and lacked the manners of a house dog, and were more bird hunting machine than companion. I was a little boy and they would sometimes knock me down but it was only because of their uncontrollable
Having grown up and had a few dogs of my own as well as helped many others with theirs the fact that they point on their own is still a wonder to me.
Sunnie, a ten week old puppy showing point.
energy and never of vicious intent. When he had a litter of puppies I would play with them and try to teach them things even though I didn't know the first thing about training a dog. I would watch them romp around and play, it was so much fun. Sometimes one would show his potential by pointing a grasshopper, butterfly, or a sparrow, and I really thought it was cool that a young puppy would point on his own without being taught. I also wondered if I could use one to find grasshoppers for me to catch as fish bait, but that dream never became reality. I guess its not to late.
   A bird dog is an interesting creature. He can be as close to perfect some days and on others look as if he has never seen the field. Each one is an individual, even within the same breed each is as different from the next as you and I. He is born to do his job. If only I could work with half of the enthusiasm of a 2 year old setter pup I might just be in the Whitehouse. He lives for his purpose and for you and me, but expects nothing in return. He might be expected to learn how to handle many different birds that live in very different terrain. He must learn to hunt closer in heavy cover for Ruffed grouse yet be able to run big in the open chukar hills. He is expected to handle running birds one day and then nervous flighty birds the next. He may even be asked to run in a field trial with different rules all together. It is amazing to me that they can and do learn all this. All in all his ultimate satisfaction is just to please us. To please us! Think about that. What other animal lives with so much love and admiration for another? It blows my mind.
Tic on pont in a field trial
We are the beneficiaries of 100's of years of selective breeding. In this day and age you can buy a dog that not only pleases your eye, but specializes in the terrain and species you hunt. If you do some research within the blood lines of just the English Setter you can buy dogs that naturally range at what ever distance you please, and that grow to nearly any size that you please. This is not to mention the many other breeds available. Short hair, long hair, short tail, long tail, big, small, medium, dogs that don't point at all but flush its all for you to choose from. Even then amongst the dogs that specialize in one thing or another there are the jack of all trade types that are bred to do everything. They will point your birds, retrieve your ducks, trail a fox, and even follow a blood trail to help you track down your wounded big game animal. It is amazing to me that they can and do learn all this. Bird dogs are simply amazing!

   I understand that bird dogs aren’t for everyone, and that owning one is a very real lifestyle choice.
Especially so for those of us who have them in the house. I still cant help but wish that everyone could know what it is like to work with such a fine animal together as a team. The bond between hunter and an old dog he has spent so much time with is difficult to explain yet everyone that has
experienced it knows exactly what I am talking about.

Beyond the hunt a bird dog is always there for you. Always.

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