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COMMENTS BY KIM: For the love of dogs

I had the pleasure of watching a few dogs work in the field this past week, their handlers trailing behind them in the hopes of finding a few rooster pheasants. What a treat to see!

No one who has ever walked behind a gun dog, defined as a dog used by hunters carrying shotguns, can ever watch another dog in the field without thinking about his own experiences with dogs. I’ve owned several dogs and I think I can remember nearly every moment in the field with all of them, at least it seems so. That’s because dogs are so remarkable, so entertaining, that a person can’t help but admire the heck out of them.

Dogs in the field can simultaneously bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye. They move tirelessly to find birds, through tall grass and thick cover, though snow and ice, in biting wind, rain, cold or hot days, it doesn’t matter. Incredibly, they do it with unending enthusiasm, all for the joy of doing it for you no matter what your mood or marksmanship ability.

Gene Hill, a noted outdoor writer who wrote several books containing tales of bird dogs, often focused on their unlimited devotion to their owners. As he put it, “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve that kind of a friend.”

I think most bird dog owners feel the same way. How can you not? Sure, dogs make an occasional mistake in the field, but hunters make a lot more. The difference is that dogs learn from mistakes much faster than their owners do. At the end of the day’s hunt, especially when chasing rooster pheasants, it is the dog that is almost always responsible for their owner’s opportunities to put birds in the bag.

Bird dog owners know that to be true. They also know the same dog that hunted in front of them has more than earned special treatment, sometimes that means curled up in the front seat of the pickup with his head on his owner’s lap for the drive home.

I have a sign in my home that reads, “My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.” I try but I’m not. Never have been and never will be. Really, I think, it’s impossible.

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