Doggone—there’s a new hunting puppy

July 22, 2013 at 02:08 PM

I said, “never again.”

I was done with dogs. My last bird dog pointed his final pheasant in January. For the first time in almost 30 years, I had an empty kennel. I didn’t really miss traipsing out to the shed on winter nights to make sure everything was OK.

But last week, I bought another Brittany puppy. “Never” isn’t here yet.

Many times, I told myself, if I was going to get another dog, I should be interested in one that’s about a year old — a dog that has been “started” by a trainer. One who already looked like his adult self. One that could point and hold birds, and knew how to come when someone said “here.” Logically, I knew a started dog was my best option if I had any intention of re-dogging, which I didn’t.

I wasn’t sure why I was even looking at puppies. Still, there I was peering into the dark abyss, about to step off the edge.

Picking out a puppy isn’t nearly as complicated as people make it. If you select a good breeder, someone with a good reputation, and a kennel with good bloodlines, the chances of that puppy becoming the dog you want are greatly improved.

I’ve watched serious puppy purchasers sit in the midst of prospective puppies for hours, meticulously testing each one, trying to determine which one will become a confirmation, obedience or field champion. It’s a lot like looking at a maternity ward full of babies and trying to spot the next Peyton Manning.

In the end, the testing goes out the window, and 95 percent of those people will choose the first puppy that comes to them.

Not me. I was partial to the one that took off like a shot as soon as he was free of the exercise pen. That boy had things to do. Stuff to look at. He had someplace else to be. Maybe that one had some hunt in him.

He did come back to check in once in awhile, just long enough to have his ears scratched, before taking off in a different direction. He’s independent. He’s probably going to be hard to train. He might be tough enough to hunt. Hard to tell when he’s trying to untie my shoelaces.

About six months from now, there might be some indication of whether he’s going to be a bird dog or just an energetic pet. That’s the gamble with a pup. You aren’t going to know what you’ve got for about a year.

Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

I have little in common with Albert. In fact, I couldn’t even spell his last name without looking it up. Still his logic in this case resonates. If you want a hunting dog, and are going to start out with a puppy, forget about going from A to B and imagine what that little guy might become.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).