Essential Gear For Traveling With Your Bird Dog - Page 3

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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Dog Training Dummies
Dog Training dummies made from canvas fabric or plastic are always useful when traveling with a gun dog. Toss a retrieving bumper to give a travel weary dog some quick and familiar exercise. Or lob any kind of dummy into water as a reliable way to get a hot dog wet or a dirty dog clean when next to a pond, a lake, or river where the water is clean enough for swimming. And, don’t forget a dummy in a goose pit or duck boat as a necessary tool for exercise and training during major lulls in a waterfowl hunt.

Dog boots, made from foot-fitting rubber or durable nylon, are another form of dog gear that can save a hunt when canine feet are threatened by cuts or abrasions. Or to protect dog feet already sliced, abraded, or punctured by sharp rocks, crusted snow, or prickly vegetation. Take along a supply of adhesive tape to insure a secure fit for any type of dog boot. And have a couple extra boots to replace the one or two your dog might lose or wear out during hard hunting in dog-foot-unfriendly places. Consider including specific salves and medications for a wide variety of common canine foot problems. Ordinary “Super-Glue” can be a good product for quickly covering and sealing many types of minor pad wounds or broken toenails.

Dog vests may seem like canine protection over-kill until the time your pooch comes out of a Northwoods briar patch with bloody skin scratches that get rawer and more painful as the hunt progresses. Or, your gun dog emerges from a field of wheat or corn stubble stabbed by sharp plant parts. A protective vest, manufactured from nylon or neoprene, can prevent these mishaps or stop them from getting worse once they have already happened.

For hunters who use dogs in wet and cold conditions, a neoprene vest can also be an effective way to maintain vital body heat. And, for a dog in water, a neoprene vest will keep a dog’s temperature at a healthy level and will provide buoyancy as insurance against drowning. In a variety of camouflage patterns, dog vests can also be used as a good way to hide a dog in field or marsh environments. Or, in a blaze orange color, a vest can be the best way to make a gun dog highly visible in a variety of hunting habitats where seeing your canine is a great convenience and a possible life-saver.

Other gear to take when traveling with a hunting dog comes under a “miscellaneous” but still an “essential” heading. A “multi-use tool” carried on a belt holster is really useful for such things as pulling cactus spines from dog feet or porcupine quills from canine faces. Or cutting a dog loose from a wire snare trap. Or prying the top off a dog food can when a can opener isn’t handy.

A “de-skunking” kit made up of a quart of hydrogen peroxide, a box of baking soda and a small jug of hand soap is a concoction that can be a hunt saver used to control the putrid, eye-burning, gut-wrenching stench on a dog after a close encounter with a black and white “field pussy.” The hydrogen peroxide-baking soda-soap mixture may not take all the stink out of a well-skunked dog but will make the offending pooch more tolerable. Apply the ingredients as a paste rubbed on by hands covered with latex gloves. Include some strong shampoo and a big bath towel as part of the post-de-skunking clean up procedure. Consider a “feminine hygiene” deodorant as a final bad smell eliminator.

Any dog on a long road trip can get bored on the way to a hunting destination and could appreciate a “chewing device” (called “chew toys” in the dog supply catalogs) to wile away the hours. Made from “ingestible” plastic, “digestible” vegetables, or “edible” animal parts, these chewable anxiety-relieving products can keep a young or old dog occupied when waiting for a hunt to start.

“Lighting” is often the last thing a hunter thinks of when preparing to travel with a gun dog. But some source of hand-held illumination is the first thing that comes to mind when feeding a dog in the dark or when trying to pick a weed seed out from under a canine eyelid. A “head mounted” light that leaves both hands free also works well for these purposes. A heavy-duty, multi-D-cell flashlight or a six-volt lantern is also handy when searching for a lost dog at midnight. A super bright light will work well to activate the “Reflexite” on a dog’s reflective collar. And a strobe light attached to a collar can make a dog very visible up to mile away in low-light or no-light conditions.

Other miscellaneous items to put into a dog-care-traveling-kit might include: grooming tools such as combs or brushes for long-haired breeds; flea and tick collars which can be especially valuable where these disease-carrying bugs can make dogs sick or maybe even kill them; blankets and tarps for covering dog crates left in a vehicle or unheated out-buildings during cold weather; and plastic bags for picking up dog poop off motel lawns where you don’t want to wear out your welcome.

When traveling anywhere with your gun dog, do make a point to locate a local veterinarian in case of emergencies. Get his or her exact clinic or hospital address as well as home-phone and cell-phone numbers along with office hours.

What of all this stuff is absolutely essential? Dog crates, food and water, and emergency medical kits are all obviously at the top of the list. But, I’m not ready to be caught in the middle of a duck and pheasant hunt without a “de-skunking” kit. Though I usually have one with me wherever my dogs and I go, the one time I forgot the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, all three of my dogs had an up-close and personal encounter with a black and white-striped field pussy along the edge of a cattail slough. Did driving 25 miles into the nearest town to pick up these de-skunking supplies ruin the day’s hunt? You can guess the answer.

I have pulled porky quills with my teeth once when a half dozen of the damned things were deeply stuck in a dog’s nose and I had no handy pliers or hemostat to more effectively and conveniently extract them. I now regard these as “essential tools” always to be carried in my pocket or in my hunting vest. The same “essential” answer applies to a light-weight leash which I didn’t have on one occasion when leading two rambunctious young German shorthairs across a busy highway. Using my pants belt as a makeshift lead worked okay until my pants started to fall down. Funny now in retrospect but not so amusing then with semi-trucks roaring by at 70 miles per hour.
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