JD Allinder

PETA-Approved Hunting

In Posts on July 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

I’ve loved the company of dogs since I was a kid. I’ve never had a fear of them. When I was in fifth grade, I used to fantasize about living on Dog Planet, and I still sometimes fall into Robinson Crusoe-esque daydreams of surviving in the wild accompanied by Friday (who in my daydreams is a dog, of course). Though I enjoy reading about different breeds of dogs, I’m not a breed-specific dog lover. In fact, I have a strong preference for mutts. Not only are they unique and more closely aligned with their ancestors who first moved in with us over 15,000 years ago, mutts generally enjoy what James Herriot referred to as “hybrid vigor.” They live longer and enjoy better overall health than their purebred peers, and mutts are just more natural – products of authentic canine courtship and mating independent of human intervention.

Given my preference for mixed breed dogs, it’s somewhat ironic that I should end up with Jane the bluetick coonhound. But, as many dog lovers will tell you, often it’s the dogs who do the choosing. Jane is a beautiful dog with a lean, muscular body, velvety coat, and picture-perfect sad eyes and droopy jowls. People comment on her frequently. We’re stopped on the street every day with questions about her breed, and, when we’re riding in the car, other drivers routinely flirt with her. She is a traffic-stopper. This originally bothered me a little bit. She was so wicked and difficult during our first few months, and yet she continually received praise from strangers who were judging her solely on aesthetics. At times I almost wished she were ugly so that she would be judged on her merits and not her looks.

John and Jane

Bluetick coonhounds, primarily bred in the South (they’re the state dog of Tennessee), are designed to hunt raccoons, especially at night, and chase them up trees. When they “tree” their prey, they howl and bay (loudly) until the hunter comes along and shoots the creature down from the tree. (Raccoons are hunted for food, for their pelts, and also for sport.) In Cesar Millan’s second book, Be The Pack Leader, he writes about the importance of fulfilling your dog’s needs first as an animal, then as a dog, then as whatever breed he/she is. So in other words, at some point during each day, I have to satisfy the bluetick coonhound in Jane. I’m vehemently opposed to guns and hunting, but I did learn a few tricks to keep my hound’s bloodlust sated in the books  Professional Gundog Training by Joe Irving and Hunting Dog Reference Book by Vickie Lamb. With techniques culled from these books and others (including Millan’s), I trained Jane to follow traditional gundog whistle calls, to track, and to flush. (We’re still working on pointing. I don’t know if she’s got it in her.) We work on the trail so she can follow fresh scents, and we often hunt in the dark so she can exercise her superior night vision. Mostly Jane and I just migrate (which satisfies the animal and dog), but she’s always on the look-out for a quick hunt – even on a short walk around town. If she sees a squirrel (enemy number one) in the park, I let her tree it, call her off with the whistle, and give her praise. This keeps her DNA satisfied and also trains her to manage her instincts and contextualize her behavior. The best part, though, is that no animals have to be killed in order for Jane to be completely fulfilled (though there are quite a few irritated squirrels, groundhogs, and rabbits around Ypsi).

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  1. No animals harmed; just traumatized squirrels. But I’m alright with that. 🙂

  2. My dad and brothers ran c’hounds back when I was a kid, and if I remember correctly, those that would attempt to follow the scent of anything other than a raccoon (deer, primarily) were said to be “running trash.” Jane probably has a much happier life for not having to be so selective in what she chooses to tree, lol.

  3. i truly admire the WORK you put into to being the parent of a dog. i don’t think very many folks take the responsibility seriously, and most choose their dog based on sheer aesthetics. i know we have talked about how much exercise dogs need, and i think it’s wonderful that you ensure jane receives her daily dose!

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