Thursday, April 15, 2010

More on (Barf) Competitive Hunting

Competitive hunting seems to have a lot of supporters and they claim that it is no different than any of the dog trials where birds are planted and the dog/shooter is scored on how quickly the birds are found and retrieved.

Guess what? I own a fantastic hunting dog and she has been in Versatile Hunting Dog trials and earned her prizes. But to compare Cookie’s accomplishments in those trials, where the dog competes against itself, to the nonsense we’re being subjected to on the tube, where dogs are running through a fast track of birds, shots, retrieves and on to the next bird without a pause for even a deep breath of air, and all for points and the dog owner’s ego is, in short, bull.

I’ve watched both kinds of field trials and there is no comparison between the Versatile trials and those mockeries of true hunting trials that seem to be taking over. Hunting is NOT about how fast a dog can find the birds and after the shot retrieves the bird. Hunting with a dog is about companionship, watching the dog work the cover and when you make a shot that brings down the bird finding the bird and bringing it to hand. Then the dog and the hunter are truly one. It is a bonding built on many thousands of years of human and dog entwined history.

When the breeder who trained Cookie offered to enter her in the trials I was skeptical but gave in. When I watched the dog that greets me with enthusiasm every time I go to her kennel I became misty-eyed. She was doing what she loved to do and at HER pace. When she retrieved a dead pheasant on one part of the trial she came back with her head high and trotting proudly at her speed. She did it perfectly, by the book and earned her points—for herself without caring one bit about them. When she was finished she plopped down by my feet—exactly where she is as I write this.

No, as far as I am concerned any attempts to compare the field trials that let the dogs compete against themselves, to those abominations on outdoor television, whether it is big game hunting for points or turning a hunting dog’s instincts into a sprint for more points, is a first step down a slippery slope that is greased by greed.

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