Off Leash

The Eagles had a new hit on the radio called Take It to the Limit when my folks got me an Irish Setter puppy named Jesse. I spent a lot of time in the woods and fields with that dog. We had to walk down the street past a bunch of houses to get there. I trained her to heel without a leash. She would walk by my side anywhere. I don’t remember it being that hard to teach her.

Then I go a drivers license and started getting coon dogs and beagles. You got them off a tree or caught them in the brush, snapped a leash on them and they dragged you back to the truck. It’s what everyone did. I can’t explain it. I must have lost the ability to think how easy life is with a trained dog. Temporary amnesia.

Many years later Kila and I went to Missouri to coon hunt with some boys down there that had a stud dog named Coma. They had a young walker female named Snap that they were selling. When we got to the tree deep in the woods where the dogs were treed they put a leash on Snap and dropped it. Snap followed them out of the woods and then jumped onto the tailgate and loaded herself in the dog box when we got to the truck. We brought Snappy home with us.

After that I quit leading dogs through the brush. I just trained them to follow me when I put a leash on them and let go of it. Wasn’t hard to do.

Terry Daniel had a good beagle named Shy that we bred to. We hunted some with Terry in Iowa where he lived and up north in Minnesota also. When we were ready to quit for the day Terry gave an old rebel war whoop and next thing we knew Shy was by his side. I had to go tackle my dogs in the brush and get them back, the way we always did it. It was one of those moments when it dawns on you how dumb you are.

I finally got smart enough to quit coon hunting and just hunt beagles. I very seldom use a leash anymore. It’s been months since I last put a dog on one.

I say “come on” and my dogs follow me. Sometimes a couple and sometimes 15 or more. Doesn’t matter how many. How I train them is kind of a long process and I’m not sure I understand it all myself, but some day I will try and write it down if anyone cares to read it.

I also train all my dogs to come when I call. I hunt these dogs on snowshoe hare. The snow can get deep and the next road can be a long ways away and they don’t like to quit and there are wolves out there. They need to come when I call. We are not perfect but I don’t have to head them off in the brush anymore.

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