For most of my life I have been around hunting dogs. My Dad and Brother raised some quality English Setters in the mid 80’s. I have tried hunting behind several different breeds, all of which were good at what they did. About 15 years ago, I switched over to Labs. After high school I became more of an avid duck hunter than pheasant hunter, so a good retriever made sense. His name was Hawkeye, and he was a pretty sweet dog. We learned together, through trial and error, the best way to raise and handle a Lab. Upon his passing, I took to a different breed in hopes of finding a replacement for an irreplaceable dog.
6 years ago, a mere 8 weeks after my 3rd and final child was born, I bought a German Wirehair. The family settled on the name Anna. At a very young age, Anna showed a willingness and desire to be a hunting dog. She pointed wild birds at a young age, and showed a strong desire to retrieve ducks, even in inclement weather. Of course, we took our lumps. An occasional flush, an early break on an incoming flock, or a missed mark on a multi bird rain out. I never gave up on her because she never gave up on me. Last year, at age 5, her 4th full season, she began to show signs of greatness. I became more confident each time we took to the field, to the point where I never doubted that she would bring me back the birds I took out of the sky.
If you are a gun dog owner, or ever have been a gun dog owner, you know the pride you feel in your dog. A loyal gun dog is the greatest gun dog in the world, even if only in your eyes. I’ve had a few of the greatest gun dogs in the world, and Anna is quickly moving to the top of the list.
This year, Anna whelped her first litter. 4 girls. All beautiful and aspiring gun dogs. This has been a great experience for my family, so far. But, the tears a near. The bittersweet day when we get to share our line with other hunters is near. They call it “puppy love” for a reason. It is so easy to fall in love with a sweet little puppy. Especially a puppy out of the best gun dog in the world.
I’ve often preached about how there is more to being an outdoosman or woman than the kill or the catch. Raising and training gun dogs, and sharing those experience with your family, is just another way to live the outdoorsman lifestyle.