One Dog or Two? by Gary Adair
I saw this question posted on another hunting forum not to long ago and my simple, 2-cent answer is a resounding two. While the addition of a second hunting dog into a household (yes, my dogs are kept indoors) or kennel is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, the benefits are multifaceted and far outweigh the limited hassles. Let’s take a look at some of the pros to opening our homes — and our hearts, to another canine companion.
Like all well-conditioned, fine-tuned athletes, our dogs are just as susceptible to injury — sprains, strains, pulls and tears, as any pro-baller or world-class athlete. Add to this the number of hazards in the field and it’s a wonder our dogs don’t have permanent residency at the local veterinary hospital. Although I was able to “get by” hunting only Cinnamon (my female Chessie) for the first six years of her career, looking back, I consider myself very lucky. Not only does the addition of a second dog afford you the ability to rotate sore or tired dogs between hunts; if one happens to come up lame, having a second dog on hand is a godsend. I know I’ll never travel down the one-dog-road again.
Although watching a dog mature from puppy hood to finished bird dog is a rewarding and exciting experience, it’s also very time consuming and a lot of hard work. When I first acquired Cinnamon at thirteen weeks of age, I invested copious amounts of time training her on obedience, retrieving etiquette, bird manners etc., just to get her to the level she is at today. To say Cinnamon is my so-called, once-in-a-lifetime “Super-dog” would be an understatement. However, if it is possible to have two such “Super-dogs” — and I believe it is, then Cinnamon deserves most of the credit for the hunter that Sage (my male) has become. With the exception of obedience and intro to gun (I had to do something), Cinnamon has taken Sage under her wing — uh paw, and taught him all the intricacies of bird hunting and then some. I know she has made my life much easier, so yes, a second dog is definitely a benefit — especially when it pertains to training.
Even though many hunters equate a good day of hunting to birds in the bag, heavy game pouches are not a prerequisite in order for me to have a successful outing. No, my whole purpose nowadays is solely watching my dog’s work, being with nature and enjoying the out-of-doors experience. However, to justify our time in the field (at least for the dogs), having a bird or two for them to find, flush and retrieve surely doesn’t hurt. This is where a second dog becomes imperative. Although one good dog is more than capable of handling such a task, two dogs can cover more ground, thereby eliminating the possibilities of missing any birds. More importantly — from an ethical standpoint, fewer birds will be lost (cripples) with the use of two dogs and isn’t conservation — conserving game, the main reason we use dogs in the first place?
Yes, a hunter can get along using only one dog, but why? The use of two dogs equals more finds (birds in the air), better conservation (cripples), easier training the next time around and most importantly, far fewer injuries to our beloved best buddies. And I haven’t even mentioned the joy that they bring to the household on and off the season! Now that my friends is a recipe for success.