SOME DOGS I HAVE OWNED AND HUNTED WITH
By George R. Smith.
Someone has said, "If you treat a dog like a friend, it will be your friend," or words to that effect. Now anyone who doesn't think this is true, either has not had much experience with dogs, or is prejudiced, or possibly has met with an exception. In my case, however, I find it true. From my earliest childhood I have been very fond of dogs. One of the happiest moments of my childhood was when my father told me to come over to a friend's that evening with him and take my choice of a litter of black and tan pups. This dog was my constant companion for over nine years; it died when a little over nine years old and in all her life I cannot remember ever whipping her. I scolded her many times and it had more effect on her than the worst whipping on most dogs.
In training a young dog, one is apt to get angry sometimes, as it is very trying; but consider yourself in the dog's place. Suppose you were an apprentice at a trade and in the beginning would make a mistake, you could hardly be blamed, you didn't know better. But suppose the employer instead of explaining your mistake, picked up a monkey wrench or some other handy missile and hurled it at your cranium, going about a hundred and fifty miles per hour. If it landed as intended, you wouldn't feel like trying to do right next time.
But if he came to you and explained the mistake and showed you how to do it right next time, you would feel grateful and do better. Someone will say it is useless to talk to a dog, or if you do talk, it would be the same as talking to a tree. This is not so. Of course the animal will not understand all your words, if any, but it can readily tell by the tone of your voice what you mean, to a certain extent. When the dog does wrong, scold it and when it does right, talk to it. Encourage it; you can easily make it understand that it was right.
I have hunted with men and their dogs, who' when they begin hunting, also begin yelling. Now if a person is going out to exercise their lungs, this may be proper; but if a dog is properly trained, there is no necessity for it. When they call the dog they yell, then if the dog cows at this they will yell louder. In a case like this if one will only try to control themselves and speak gently to the animal, it will get up like magic, come to them wagging it's tail and looking shamefaced as if it would apologize.
Of course there are exceptions; often the dog is just naturally of a mean disposition. Then again it may not be well. I once hunted with a friend who had purchased a pair of fox hounds. When he tried them out he was not
satisfied. After hunting a while the female dog would leave the trail and come back to him and lay down. Naturally he thought the dog a quitter and would try and start her again, but if she did start it was only to return in a little while and resume her rest.
One day I was out hunting with him and he was speaking of it and just as he had said, in about an hour the dog came back to us and laid down. However instead of resting she appeared restless and would scratch the side of her head repeatedly. He remarked that she seemed to scratch the same side and on examining her ear it was bleeding. It turned out that she had a diseased ear, canker, I believe, and after running it would get irritated. Then she would scratch it and it would bleed and get worse. After she was cured she proved to be a good dog. Some people in this case would have lost their temper and possibly shot the dog; but my friend was broadminded enough to know there was a reason and had watched for it; now he wouldn't part with the hound ruder any condition.
In selecting a dog for any special purpose the ancestry counts largely; but I have found that the dog itself cares more, for hunting. A few years past I wanted a dog that would be a good all around hunter, one that would hunt more than one thing. To get this result I bred a pure bred pointer with a dog of somewhat doubtful ancestry, but whose makeup was largely rabbit hound. My idea in selecting these two dogs as a cross was that the hound would be too noisy for my purpose and would not hunt birds and the pointer was not noisy enough and would not take naturally after animals, so I decided the cross should be right with a little patience in training.
Of the pups I selected four of the best looking ones and later culled out one more. When they were old enough I began training them. Of the remaining three I could only get one to stand on a point. This one took after the pointer in appearances and was a fine looking dog. The other two would hunt rabbits and were pretty good for 'coons and 'possums when hunted with other dogs, but look more after the hound ancestor. I got rid of these two and put in all my time on the remaining one. By much patience and hard training this one turned out fine. She would point anything from a jack snipe to a 'coon and would retrieve ducks. In the three years I used this dog, after training her, I never knew her to rush a covey of birds or anything else, without my nod to do so.
I used her principally to hunt marsh hens (king rails). For this she was the best I have ever seen. In the marshes where I hunt them, it is very hard to make them fly, as I suppose it is everywhere. Often while she was on a point they would run through the grass. She would cautiously follow and when I would nod to her to flush it, she would rush and I have seen her catch them often when they refused to raise. Anyone living where these birds are plentiful would do well to train a dog for them. They are nice birds to hunt although very easy to shoot on the wing and are a nice bird to eat in my opinion. The only way this dog fell short of my expectations was that it was impossible to make her run rabbits. I tried her with hounds and everyway I could think of but she would trail them, then point. After they would run she seemed to consider her part done; but she would point them from a good distance and never rush until I was ready. I also used her for squirrels; for this she was perfect. She would never bark until she had one treed; then it was a feeble bark and far between.
For hunting ducks in a marsh she was also good, in a marsh thickly grown with small pools of fresh water scattered among it I find to be an ideal place for mallard and teal ducks, but the trouble is to make them raise, as they are expert at hiding in a place like this and one can almost step on them sometimes before they will fly. Never fear though, there is not much chances of stepping on them as they can well take care of themselves. ' This dog would hunt in these marshes, always if close range of me and would work from side to side; if she came on a duck it usually flew before she saw or winded it and if a rail she would point.
This dog died in her prime from what I afterwards learned was "black tongue." When she took sick the symptoms baffled me, so I consulted several veterinarians. Each called it something different and none did her any good whatever until at last I refused to let anyone treat her. From appearances one would have thought she had lock-jaw and towards the last they would pry open her mouth and force their different dopes down her throat and as she steadily grew worse I decided if they couldn't cure her when she first contracted the disease there was small chance of curing her at this time, and I thought too much of the dog to have her tortured in her last hours. This decided for me that anyone who intends to raise dogs or has a dog they think much of should have a reliable book on their diseases, especially if there is no competent veterinarian near; also it will teach one lots of things they should know.
In choosing a dog one should take into consideration the topography of the country where he intends to hunt, as well as the game to be hunted. One would hardly choose a beagle to hunt in marshes where the grass was very high, or I shouldn't choose a very large dog to hunt in thickets of briars; but as we don't always hunt in the same place we must consider both.
I once went with a friend to a kennel where he wanted to purchase a rabbit hound. The owner of the kennel was a crank on dogs; he raised them for a hobby, and bred for type and ancestry. Now while I appreciate a dog's ancestry, I do not consider it the only thing to look for in a dog. Among the dogs the owner showed us was a tall, rangy hound with an exceptionally large pair of ears. The owner did not seem to think much of him, said he was off type, didn't have the proper shaped head or something or other that would bar him from shows. I had a lot of confidence in the dog's looks and advised my friend to take him. as I said he wanted a dog that would get rabbits, not one that would look pretty when manicured /md sitting on a bench. On my argument he took the dog, much to the delight of the owner, who gladly gave him a reduced price. Afraid of the bad influence of the dog in his pack, I suppose.
The hound turned out to be all that could be expected of any dog and as fine a rabbit getter as I ever had the pleasure of hunting with, even though his head was not properly shaped. When he was on a trail we were almost sure of getting a rabbit and if we did not get a shot at it he would put it in a stump, or run it down.
Thus far I have only spoken of the good dogs I have known. I do not wish to give anyone the impression that I claim to have had only good ones, not by any means. 1 suppose 1 have been struck on about as many strictly good-for-nothing dogs as the average. I have paid often for dogs, some with fine lines of ancestors, only to have them turn out failures, often though a dog that is worthless for one thing may turn out good for another, if the owner has enough patience to try and train them Most sportsmen, however, prefer to purchase their dogs trained and ready to hunt. If one hasn't the time to spare it is often best to leave the training to an experienced man. But for my part I prefer to raise my dogs from pups; this way I know the dog better and can train it to suit my fancy.
Harrison Co., Miss.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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