When we set upon a task or goal, we make the choice to equip ourselves with the necessary tools to get the job done. Whether you need a hammer or a hefty dose of self-confidence, you prepare accordingly. In the case of hunting with rabbit dogs, the same applies. You equip yourself with the right clothing, hunting gear, and other tools to get the job done. The question that remains is whether or not your dog is one of those 'tools.'
There is no denying that a good rabbit dog is invaluable when the time comes to hunt. What can be debated is how the way individuals see their dogs. Is your dog a tool in your quest for rabbit meat, or is your dog a pet with a part-time job?
Photo: Beagle Happy
From a very early age, I was exposed to beagles that were working dogs. In my young mind, a dog was a pet, and it bewildered me to see beagles penned up outside my neighbor's house while they had a fluffy little dog that lived inside. A dog was a dog to my younger self, but with age came the realization that not all animals are pets. Some animals have jobs and earn their keep, with beagles being no exception. The question is how they fit into your life-exclusively as a hunting machine or faithful companion.
Photo: Perfect Ten Kennels
A lot of hunting dog owners embrace the 'earn your keep' mentality, expecting their dogs to go out in the field and take care of business. This is a reasonable, logical expectation. After all, rabbit dogs and other working or hunting breeds are around for a reason, evolving to accomplish a purpose. To take an animal with a strong desire to do its job and not let it do so can affect all the hard work evolution has done to make that dong into a lean, mean, rabbit hunting machine...or can it?
While the working dog mentality is one thing, the pet mentality is quite another. Living the life of a pet can be quite luxurious for a dog, especially those that lounge on the couch during the day, eat from our plates at dinner, and cuddle in bed with us at night. The argument over whether or not a pet will perform is an old, ongoing one with points on each side. Everyone is bound to have a different experience based on the dogs in their care as each individual rabbit dog is unique, but I strongly feel that is it very much possible to have a pet with a part-time job. If anything, I have seen more drive in my pets due in large part to having extra energy to burn, since survival indoors is easier on them and conserves energy as well as calories that can go towards the hunt.
Photo: Buenos Burrito
What are your dogs to you, a tool meant only for the work of accomplishing a set task, or a pet that answers the call of duty on an as-needed basis? Is it possible in your mind to have a dog that curls up in your bed at night but punches the time clock during the day? Let us know your thoughts, and how you categorize your dogs, in the comments!