Archive for the ‘working dogs’ Category

I didn’t see any wolves while I was in Alaska, but I did get to see the sled dog demonstration at Denali National Park. The dogs were originally  brought in to pull rangers doing anti-poaching patrols, and during the winters now, they are still used to patrol the back country.

The dogs got really excited to do their job! I wasn’t in the best position to see them pull the sled, but they did it at top speed!

The ones that didn’t get to run still got worked up, and they started making noise as soon as they knew a demonstration was about to happen.

The public got to meet the dogs before the demo.

Some were in runs because they were either in heat or couldn’t stop eating rocks.

But they were all beautiful.


She never left the fence. She stayed in that position so she could be petted for as long as possible.








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These are the big European red foxes, and yes, Weimaraners are gun dogs, but they have more applications in Europe than just “bird dogs.”

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Here’s a good video of German hunters going after hares and pheasants with an assortment of dogs, including Drahthaars and Kurzhaars as well as at least one Langhaar and a wire-haired teckel.

There is a lot of ceremony involved in German hunting traditions, but I particularly enjoy the dog that howls along with the horns at the end.


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Deutsch Drahthaars are most common gundog breed in the German-speaking world, and they are used on a wide variety of game.

But this one is a gentle soul, who dotes on all sorts of animals that his kind normally hunt.





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One looks like a jaemthund, and the other looks like a Norwegian gray:

The Norwegian gray elkhound is commonly used in West Virginia as a general squirrel and varmint dog.

One of the oldest ways to hunt game with dogs– perhaps the oldest— is to have the dogs harass large quarry, providing just enough distraction to allow a person to shoot it from a distance with a gun, arrow, or spear.

These are the dogs that most commonly fall victim to wolf attacks in Scandinavia. It makes some sense. In most areas where these dogs are used, the dogs travel quite a distance from their handlers, and when they catch up to the moose they start barking. Barking is an attractant to any wolves in the area, and wolves don’t tolerate other “wolves” on their turf.

I will always love Norwegian elkhounds. I spent a lot of my childhood around one that was quite good-natured but also quite stubborn and mischievous. I remember he would let me put kibble in his ears, which he would flick out as a game. And he adopted a Muscovy duckling, which unfortunately met its demise when he tried to discipline it as if it were a puppy.

But he was a serious hunter who took out his fair share of raccoons. One of his ears was permanently flopped over from a battle he had with a raccoon under an outbuilding.

He was my grandfather’s last elkhound, and he was the only one I got to know really well. My grandpa loved this breed because it requires almost no training to hunt squirrels and varmints. Most are fine natural treeing dogs, and they can balance their instincts with a desire to please man.

I wonder what Frito would have done if he had been used moose. He used to chase my grandpa’s horse every evening. It was one of their rituals. My grandpa would go out to feed the horse, and Frito would bay up and circle the horse, who though it was fun enough game to allow himself to be herded in this fashion.

So he may not have ever seen a moose, but he knew what to do with a horse.

So maybe he would have known what to do had he encountered a giant deer-horse.









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Hound and Hunter, 1892

Winslow Homer Hound, Hunter and Buck

My favorite Winslow Homer painting is of this Adirondack hunting scene. The hound has driven the shot buck into a body of water, where it has expired, and the hunter (a young man) has come out to collect his quarry.

But he hopes that damned dog doesn’t swamp his canoe!

Hunting deer with dogs is now illegal in most of the US, except for some parts of the South, where “dog hunting” is still a tradition. Northerners gave up on the practice long ago.

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My dad is holding Huddles (dachshund), my uncle is holding Willy (beagle), and Fonzi (Norwegian elkhound) is barking at the gray fox they are holding on the table.



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