I am writing this blog for three reasons: to practice my writing in a venue that is both controlled and public, to inspect my own intentions regarding owning a bird dog, and to provide a fresh perspective on training that dog.

The first is obvious. This is me proving both to myself and to all of you that I can string a few words together. The second is really more for me. If you accept, as I do, that writing is just thinking on paper, then you’ll understand that writing this blog is a way for me to figure out why the hell I thought getting another dog was a good idea.

The last is the one that matters, I think. In the past year, I’ve read stacks of literature written about nearly every aspect of teaching a dog to hunt. I’ve researched the finer points of the breeding process, discourse on the proper time to end a dog’s life, and everything in between. The only consistency I’ve found is this: there are a lot of ways to mess it up. Whether they mean to or not, the writers of these articles and books – I imagine them to be grouchy old men, snarling as they rap the keys of their typewriters – focus on the possible mistakes one might make. They don’t instruct, they warn.

The effect can be dizzying. I’d never owned a bird dog – I didn’t even really consider myself a hunter. How could I train a dog appropriately without ruining him?

My theory is that raising a dog is no different than anything else that takes time and effort. I think that skill, luck, and pedigree will only get you so far, and that ultimately, success is determined by sheer relentlessness. Perhaps I have finally found a use for the stubbornness I inherited from my father.

Sawyer at 6 weeks.

Sawyer at 6 weeks.

I stress this fact: I know nothing, and I write in that spirit. All those gun-dog sages had to have started somewhere. Why not here? I believe anyone can do this, and I intend to prove it.

I’m kind of terrified.

– Matt