Seriously? Disposable Hunting Dogs?

Do you know how it is, to read something that just gets under your skin and makes you feel you just have to say SOMETHING, to somebody and speak out against what you know is wrong? Well, that’s the motivation behind this blog tonight and I definitely have SOMETHING to say to whoever will hear my heart.

Believe it or not, there is a shallow mindset among some (not naming any names, groups, organizations) that people who hunt with dogs do not care about their animals.  There is an assumption that we view them as disposable. For instance, if our hunting dog does not perform as we anticipate we abandon them and leave them in the woods.  Or worse, there is also the erroneous suggestion that hunting dogs are the reason for dog overpopulation.  You see, all these abandoned hunting dogs running at large seek out the nearest intact female, barge into the yard of the unsuspecting (so-called responsible) dog owner, have a grand old time, and leave behind an unwanted litter of hunting puppies which (according to something I was once told) then is taken to the local shelter, pound, rescue, vet etc. How absolutely preposterous, ridiculous, and yes asinine for anyone to believe such nonsense!!  Deep breaths Ann. Deep, deep breaths.

And here’s the gist of a conversation posted on one of the social networks just the other night. “Hunters think of their hunting dogs as disposable. They intentionally leave them behind at the end of the hunting season. They buy a new puppy every season.  The hunter throws their hunting dogs away. The hunters dump the dogs who don’t hunt or who are gun shy. After the season many will turn them out or shoot them because it’s cheaper to just get another dog than to feed one all winter long.”

I am very fortunate to have a wonderful circle of acquaintances throughout Maine and the country that enjoy the sport of bird hunting.  I also have friends who breed dogs for bear hunting, coon hunting, rabbit hunting and others. I know what goes into breeding a hunting/sporting dog.  It is not hit or miss. It is deliberate, and often the result of years of planning. The majority of dog breeders involved with improving their particular breed of sporting dog have purpose driven programs. By this I mean that they want to preserve the particular and unique strong instincts and traits within their line. They also want their dogs to not only hunt for them – but they want that same dog to curl up on the couch with their grandchildren, roll over for belly rubs, and share popcorn with them.

I’m tired of all hunters being painted with the same broad paintbrush. Sure. There are those hunters and dog breeders alike who do mess it up for the rest of us.  But the rest of us – the MAJORITY of us would really like to set the record straight.

By the way, I  know from my own experience with breed rescue that the majority of people surrendering are not bad people, and I feel it is wrong and unethical to make assumptions and judgements.  My experience in working with surrendered animals is that most of the time that owner is torn up pretty good about making that decision especially when it’s a local surrender.

A whole lot of time, money, resources, training, and most especially – love and caring – is the norm when it comes to a hunter bringing home a little hunting puppy.  I’d like to assume that most breeders work closely matching up a particular breed and it’s disposition to a particular family situation.  Most. Not all.

There are visits to the veterinarian, registration, micro-chip, health evaluations, puppy kindergarten, specific training tools, dog food, toys, leads, leashes, you name it the list is endless. Now I’ve not taken the time to itemize these expenses but suffice to say it all adds up.  You spend the first year or two just letting that puppy learn what it’s job is, expose them to whatever it is you want to hunt with them and you have fun. And as this is going on, a very strong human – animal bond is forming.  A strong human – animal bond that is just as powerful as it is with any other dog obtained under any other situation or circumstances. The difference here is that the hunting and sporting dog, bred with a particular purpose in mind is most often uniquely and supremely – a deliberate choice with much, much time and thought behind it. Some people wait for years for the hunting companion of their dreams, for their once in a lifetime best buddy.

It is absolutely ridiculous and ignorant that hunting dog owners do not care for their animals!!!

If you’re not a hunter, then you’re not a hunter. Some of us are gatherers, some are harvesters, some are hunters.  Just because someone is a non-hunter, does not mean they are anti-hunting.

Many people who hunt with a dog own more than one.  Always in the back of their mind is the reality that one day their best canine bud is not going to move in the woods as well, that the hearing will go, perhaps the eyesight.  The last thing the hunter is going to do is leave that dog behind when they leave their hunting grounds then run out and buy another puppy for the next season. With all that is involved, most notably the time  -I cannot believe people think this way!

Many hunters absolutely WILL bring in a younger pup while the senior dog is still able to enjoy life. A new companion and many are the stories of how the senior dog rebounds for a while with their new young companion.

The strength of the loving human – animal bond is evident when the master is afield with their well trained hunting companion. There’s different kinds of hunting. And some dogs live in kennels, kennels that are dry, warm, and comfortable. The sporting, hunting dog is happiest when doing that thing they were created and bred to do.  The people who love and own them know this and provide training year round – just to give them the opportunity to hunt during the season of choice.  Those who want their dogs trained properly will often spend hundreds and thousands of dollars for their dogs to participate in a structured training program. During non-hunting seasons, many of these same dogs are actively engaged in various ‘performance’ events which simulate the actual hunting itself.

As for the owners of sporting and hunting dogs.  Some participate with their dog in events targeted at youth and disabled veterans.  They provide training seminars for those with an interest in learning. They make themselves available to others to teach the basics. These dog owners may be surgeons, politicians, lawyers, small business owners or they may be your retired couple just down the street.  When their dog comes up missing, these hunting dog owners are frantic with worry until they are reunited with their dogs.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it friends!  In the meantime, there are several Brittanys lying nearby who will be out in the field tomorrow bird hunting with my husband and I. They most definitely are not disposable.