June 7th, 2012 by cowgirljules
While giving up the hounds was the right thing for me to do for a variety of reasons, I looked at Angus and how old he was getting and realized that I could find myself without any dogs at all in the short future. That was unacceptable to me; I like dogs, and I always like to have one. I prefer to overlap them so the old dog can teach the new dog manners.
At the same time, the hound thing just reinforced my aversion to puppies. Sure, they’re cute, and almost irresistible, but what pains in the ass they are! I almost caved when a friend brought his lab puppies around at the shoot, but reason prevailed. Not only would that violate my no-puppy rule, but labs have exceedingly long puppyhoods, so it would be even worse.
Still, the universe kept trying to throw dogs at me. An acquaintance tried to give me a hound – oh no, I do not want to get back into that pit. And then I found another hound running the streets, one that I knew someone had tried to give me last year. Fortunately, her new owner wanted her back, because she was a very pretty girl and oh, so tempting. Then the puppy temptation, which I succeeded in resisting. Finally I bowed to the inevitable and told the universe that OK, it was time for a dog. That usually brings one around in a week or two.
It started with a post on a hunting board I frequent telling us about a German Shorthaired Pointer that was available. I thought about that breed for a while, and decided that might be a good direction for me. I grew up with some of those dogs, and I’ve always liked them. I like an active dog, and a smart dog, and those certainly qualify in that regard, but they’re nowhere near as noisy as the hounds are. Part of the reason I gave up my pack was that I couldn’t do them justice in their training or physically, but one dog would be much more manageable.
Hunting a bird dog would be more my speed physically than chasing hounds up and down mountains. I’ve never hunted with a bird dog, and am actually an abysmal bird hunter, but Junior and his dad are quite good upland game bird hunters. I’d enjoy the dog handling more than the hunting, but that doesn’t mean that the hunting wouldn’t be fun. I didn’t necessarily need a hunting dog; I was looking more for a buddy, but hunting would be a nice bonus.
So I called on that ad for the GSP, and got all sorts of hinky vibes from the guy. Not the dog for me, that’s for sure. So I remained open to the idea, doing more research on the breed and vaguely browsing.
Fate then intervened.
I browse the farm and garden section of craigslist on a regular basis. It’s not where you’d find dogs advertised, but I don’t look at it for dogs. I rarely actually buy anything, but I like to keep up on things like pig prices in the area and farm equipment. Still, I wasn’t surprised that fate misfiled an ad for a GSP in that section. I called on this dog, who was very local to me, and spent some time talking to the guy who wanted to sell him for next to nothing. Over the phone, he seemed like a good dog for me. He was just under a year, from working lines bred by an area breeder, and the reason the guy was selling him was because he was jumping on his foster kids and his wife didn’t like that.
So I went to see him. He was housed next to some poultry, and didn’t chase them at all, which was a bonus in my book, and the guy said he’d trail a pheasant wing dragged along the ground. Also a good thing. He was very friendly, and I thought I could work with him. So I took Skeeter home with me.
It was clear when I put a leash on him that he didn’t have very broad horizons. I don’t know if he’d ever been leashed, and he certainly had never been in the back of a truck. He was very nervous, and seemed to like men more than women. But he and Angus got along fabulously, and after a couple of days, he was walking decently well on a leash.
I started training him to heel, and to sit, and have just recently worked on “come.” He learns very quickly. I’ve been in contact with a local trainer, who warns that he may never make a hunter, but he just might. The trainer wants me to expand his horizons, and bring him around the trap shoots, and get him used to new things before we decide to dump a lot of money into his bird training, so yesterday was another new thing for him. I set up a crate in the back of my work truck and packed him around for a couple of hours with me, teaching him patience, loud noises, and that the truck is fun. I let him out in the fenced yard of the water tower, and let him run some of his steam off and then practiced recalls for a little while, and he seemed to get the hang of it. I don’t care to let him loose uncontrolled just yet, as his recall isn’t great and I was warned that he’s a rabbit chaser, but give us time. It’s only been three weeks, after all.
I really like this boy, and I’m so glad that we found each other. I think we’ll be partners for a long time; he truly has the potential to be Angus’ successor in that regard. Even if he doesn’t hunt (but I think he will,) we have plenty to do together, and a lot of years left in which to do it.