David Carsten Pedersen about raising his hunting dog "Mille"
There is a saying in the danish hunting community:
“No hunter is complete without a dog”.
But with the final breath of my parent’s last dog (a black lab named Fenja), the era of dogs had ended. And for more than 10 years we’ve had no dogs in my family. No pattering of paws on the floor. No wet noses to greet you good morning. No oily fur smell in the car after a long hard day in the field.
Not having a dog wasn’t a conscious choice though. It just kind of happened. We kept telling outselves that we lived lives where it wasn’t practical. Too much work. Too many travels. Not enough space. Not enough time. Most hunters, who live in the city, can probably relate. We live lives, that are not geared for dogs. Or so we tell ourselves. So we make up excuses. But none of them are good enough. Because we still need our dogs.
And this year, I finally decided to take the leap of faith and get the dog I always missed. This post is the first in a collection of short stories about me, my dog and all the things you learn when a puppy enters your life and you have to teach it to be the dog of your dreams.
There will be moments of frustration. Of self doubt and struggle. There will be tales of beautiful women and the hardships of having a dog in a city, where everyone wants to pet your puppy. There will be adventures and action, and insights into having your dog on a radioshow. There might even be storys of puddles in the hallway. All in all – it will be a series of what it means to have a dog. And why your life will never be the same without it.
Well everything is cute about a puppy. Thats their major survival mechanism.
“This is her. This is Mille.”
My wife held the sleeping puppy in her lap like a mother cradling a baby. She was sitting in the hammock, hung between two large walnut trees, gently rocking the tiny dog, while she looked at it with all the warmth of a summers day.
We were visiting the breeder of our future dog, and we had to decide, which one of the 8 tiny Labrador puppies was going to be ours. We had visited many times before and had the pleasure of seeing the tiny fur balls grow up to be tumbling toddlers with over-sized ears, legs and paws.
Oh the paws. There is nothing as cute as the paws of a puppy. Ok maybe the eyes. Or the ears. Or… well everything is cute about a puppy. Thats their major survival mechanism. It just makes it extremely difficult for anyone to choose the RIGHT puppy.
Naturally I had studied all the books. I had asked all the experts for advice. I had even heard a few methods from the police on how to find the perfect search dog. “Don’t pick the runt or the bully”. “Roll a ball to see if they show interest”. “Don’t pick the one the breeder wants to sell _ pick the one he wants to keep”.
She just walked up to my wife, snuggled up next to her, and fell asleep.
The advice were many and varied. But they didn’t solve anything. First of all, we trusted the breeder completely. My father had known the man for more than 30 years, his family was amazing with the pups, and everything about the way his own working dogs behaved, showed that he knew exactly how to breed and train just the kind of dog we wanted. We even had first pick. He would choose his own after that.
We also couldn’t tell which one was the “runt or the bully”. All the puppies were very keen, super-attentive and focussed. They all wanted to be petted and never shied away from human contact. All in all, there was no “bad puppy” that we had to avoid. Any one of the dogs would be a great dog. If we took good care of them. And that was the problem. Because we still had to make the choice. And I was at a loss.
How do you choose your future best friend?
In the end, the dog chose us. After playing fetch, feeding and fighting her siblings, she just walked up to my wife, snuggled up next to her, and fell asleep. She trusted us. So we had to trust in the puppy as well.
Stay tuned for part #2 of our series – soon on the ZEISS Hunting Blog.