The definition of “puppy love” usually refers to a short term teenage crush, but I also believe it really relates directly to puppies.
No matter what breed, thoroughbred or mixed, all puppies are cute and cuddly. Due to their canine nature, they will quickly bond with new owners and will easily fit into the family’s “pack” (in the puppy’s eyes).
That short-term adolescent infatuation is a reality considering a dog’s lifetime, which on average only lasts just over a decade. In a relatively short amount of time, a puppy is suddenly an adolescent and, before you know it, an adult dog and then an old dog far too quickly.
A prime example was my Labrador Retriever Ebony, who was a little black ball of fur when she entered our household when she was eight weeks old. Her favorite place was of course on my lap when I sat in my armchair from the start.
It really took up a lot of space on your lap in just six short months! According to my wife, Ginny, Ebony and I were connected with an umbilical cord. Unfortunately I would lose Ebony to old age 13 years later.
Ebony was a prime example of how quickly an animal that was a puppy not so long ago can suddenly become an old dog, but in fact, because of their natural loyalty, dogs have the ability to grab many fond memories and devotion in those relatively brief ones Timeframe.
Growing up on a farm in the thumb area, I have had a lifetime of experience with dogs, and today it seems to be an endless list of dog lovers. But I remember each and every one of them and appreciate the time we spent as “packmates” (humans tend to identify with dogs in human terms, while dogs are actually purely dog-related to humans – which should be clear from the start ).
I really don’t like the term “stupid animals” because it certainly doesn’t apply to dogs that are really intelligent, have a keen sense of humor (I really believe dogs have their own unique ways of smiling and even laughing) and a whole show range of emotions that are easily recognizable. It is this intelligence and devoted loyalty that make the dog the most important and longest human-animal relationship, dating back aeons in time. The important roles dogs play in our lives today makes up a truly endless list.
As a farm child, I had my first experience with farm collies tending our dairy cows. For my third birthday, my grandparents gave me a terrier puppy that was my constant companion into high school (I’ve had a thing for terriers ever since; one is next to me as I write this).
I also feel blessed to have been a farmer’s child during the Thumb’s heyday in the 1950s and to witness the annual pilgrimage of pheasant hunters who bring their bird dogs with almost every hunting breed imaginable. I was able to see firsthand how the different races fared in the field.
My first real hunting experience was an English Pointer puppy that was given to us when I was nine years old and I named it “Ajax” because it was almost white with the exception of some red freckles on its ears.
This was the start of my hunting dog training from scratch, and I learned a lot about proper genetics for a pure hunting breed, which is a very special asset. With the right genetics, training is, well folks, it’s actually not that difficult after all, and I’ve never considered myself a skilled dog trainer. I believe in training dogs “my way”.
A case in point is when I was contacted by a person who wanted to know which dog trainer I would recommend for their six month old Brittany. I asked if he walked the dog regularly and if it stayed relatively close, and he said yes.
I then asked if the dog came to see him whenever he called and he answered again. I then suggested simply hunting the dog, and I recommended using a hunting ground to get things rolling in a more controlled manner. The person got back to me a year later and let me know that he appreciated my advice as he had a great hunting dog and enjoyed training him himself.
As I said, I’m not a seasoned dog trainer, but I know what works for me when I do it my way. For those who are short on time or inclination to train a hunting dog, I strongly recommend having an experienced dog trainer who can get the ball rolling, at least in the initial stages.
It is not advisable to simply rely on good genetics and expect miracles with no effort in terms of training, especially the ability to literally communicate with a hunting dog.
An old tale of women has it that turning a hunting dog into a family pet and a “house dog” will ruin it for hunting in the field, as the dog becomes a kind of “pansy”.
Nothing could be further from the truth, because the family house dog has a continuous connection to its human packmates and therefore a strong bond and communication level is very naturally well established. I’ve seen terrible examples in the field where the dog’s only attention, other than hunting season, was apparently to be fed and watered, and he was basically isolated from any interaction with his human owner.
Something that isn’t an old woman’s tale is the “alpha” factor that dogs easily recognize in their terms and respect. This means that humans are the pack leader and not the other way around. When humans start to assume that dogs think in human terms, it can be really confusing to the dog.
For those of you who may be considering getting a dog, especially a hunting breed, I recommend early summer as a great time frame for choosing a puppy. If things are handled correctly in typically warmer weather, this pup could easily take his first steps as a hunting dog in the fall season (I will always remember my Brittany “beau” who was five months old and had his first wild rooster pheasant on it pointed out).
Personally, I don’t want to separate a puppy from its mother and littermates until it is at least eight weeks old. The pack mentality begins at birth, when a puppy treats its littermates and creates a natural order. There are other women’s tales that the largest puppy in the litter is the “back teat” dog, that is, the strongest and most aggressive, and the “little one” is always the toughest. I’ve found none of this to be the truth.
Having sold puppies in the past, I’ve found that a lot of people prefer “paint” for color and markings for their first choice, which is fine if that’s a priority. For me, I like to take the time to watch a puppy interact with its littermates, with the paintwork playing the least role (when I chose “Ruby” as a puppy two summers ago, my female black mule, she actually did left her littermates and ran to me and chose me instead – love at first sight).
It is also very helpful to have a little story about both parents of the litter. Certain breeds have what is called show dog or hound lines, and I prefer a puppy with hunt lines as this increases the chances of the end result. However, that does not mean that a show dog cannot hunt or that a hunting dog cannot be exhibited under any circumstances.
Also don’t rule out crossbreeds as I’ve seen some excellent hounds that were crossbreeds and I’ve owned a few. A friend I hunt pheasants with has a crossbred young English setter / Labrador retriever that he calls his “settadore” and it is a naturally born bird dog. One standout bird dog I had was half Brittany and half Springer Spaniel, whom I called “Sprinttany”.
It is also wise to remember that while official papers regarding a registered hunting breed ensure good bloodlines and potential potential, in reality they are only paper when proper training is not required. There is a lot more involved in creating / developing a real hunting dog.
I’ve also learned that when your current hound is past its prime, getting a puppy is probably a good idea, largely because the older dog can be an ideal tutor in the field for the younger dog (one of my ” Training secrets “). There is nothing that can completely imitate a seasoned old dog in teaching a young dog some new tricks, as this is a natural part of the canine world.
If you are considering getting a dog, the time to love puppies has definitely come!
Email Tom Lounsbury at [email protected]