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Weighing gain against the price of puppies

Last week, I listened to my heart and quickly realized something important – namely, this was a boring thing to do.

So, for some excitement, I put down entirely too much money on the promise of a little more happiness. I bought a puppy that should arrive sometime in 2020.

I transferred some money to a fellow who breeds very good English springer spaniel pups of hunting persuasion. My last dog, Callie, who died exactly a year ago today, was also a English springer spaniel (although you couldn’t tell by her accent) and was a very good hunter of grouse, woodcock and waterfowl.

After Callie was gone, I thought I would give myself a little time to see how I felt about getting a new dog. And this year, I realized that I didn’t want to go through another hunting season without one. Dogs, after all, are the best witnesses.

To be honest, I was surprised at how the price of puppies had gone up in the 15 years since I purchased Callie. The cost of this new pup is $400 more than I paid for my first car.

This raised a few eyebrows from people I know.

But that’s only because they do not understand what a good hunting dog brings to the table – other than chewed slippers, I mean.

A good hunting dog brings companionship, both at home and in the field. They bring listening skills and great discretion.

They give you a reason to go for a walk on a cold January day. They give you a reason to visit the lake in July. They make you laugh at their antics or beam with pride when they do the things you trained them to do.

A good dog will teach you patience and show you unconditional love. It will impress you with an unselfish desire to please. It will ensure precious game animals are not wasted. It will find and flush birds where you could not. On the other hand, sometimes it will find things you hoped it would not – like porcupines and skunks. And, on occasion, it will roll over in front of guests – mostly in unspeakable things.

A good hunting dog is an artist that paints a mural of memories. And it adds wonderful scenes with each passing season. The images depict flushed birds rising high against autumn’s backdrop. They tell of wonderful retrieves, the metronome-like motion of a docked tail doing double time, and acts of heroic athleticism –  and that’s just from the cats they chase.

A good hunting dog will make you go to places that you would not have otherwise gone to – like the veterinarian’s office. It will also show you the meaning of happiness as it sits proudly beside the birds it collected. It will show curiosity and wonder about the world and joy as it bounds through its very small part of it.

The point I am making is that you have to weigh all these things against mere money. For if you do, you’ll realize it’s not that much to spend for such a friend. Especially when you amortize it over what you hope will be a good, long friendship.

Lastly, a good hunting dog will be your dearest and most predictable hunting buddy. Yet, it will often be full of pleasant surprises. Which is to say, sometimes it won’t chew your slippers too.

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