Let Your Dog Work

James Walpole/ October 7, 2019

This weekend I hung out with a few retriever dogs brought out to fetch doves at a hunt on my family’s farm on John’s Island.

I saw one dog who had been hunting for what must have been 14 years. He found his bird.

I saw a beautiful young dog sitting with her master out in an old sunflower patch.

Even my brother’s non-trained Golden Retriever couldn’t hold himself back: he started retrieving sporting clays (AKA skeet) during a target practice.

In this world there are few things more beautiful than seeing these dogs at work (or getting ready to work). The dogs are in their element. The dogs are finally getting to be useful. And they are SOOO excited.

I have a hard time with the idea of keeping a dog as a pet alone. All living creatures have some kind of core drive, and being sedentary and looked-after just doesn’t seem to be enough. Creatures (and certainly longtime human hunting partners like dogs) want to do what they’re made to do.

We befriended dogs because of the hunt – because of the work we needed to do – and probably not because we found wolves bewitchingly cute. We shouldn’t forget the bond that started our great relationship with the canine species.

And perhaps we should take a lesson from the dogs: good work, far from being something to be “finished with”, is something to be longed for and enjoyed.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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