GNH Lumber Outdoor Living

THROUGH THE WOODS: Please love your dog

Cole. Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

POST-WORLD WAR II, Columbia County had many rural farming communities, including my area in the Town of Austerlitz. We worked together, knew each other’s pets and livestock, and rarely lost any healthy dogs. Hunting dogs were the ones who liked to roam the most. They might get out of a kennel or during hunting take-off. If a dog was lucky and found its way home, great; another might go to a neighboring farm miles away. Sadly, some were never found.

My grandfather loved cocker spaniels that normally stayed close to us. One loved to hunt birds like pheasants, and another went crazy over rabbits. Multiflora roses were planted all over to be used as natural fencing. Huge masses of them grew and sheltered many rabbits and other wildlife. Ginny the rabbit-loving cocker would charge into a rose bush, get her silky hair totally tangled, and be stuck fast, often deep into the roses. I could imagine a laughing rabbit. Her cries were pitiful, some from frustration and some from pain.

The only way to get her out was to go in on my stomach and cut the thorny rose cane away until I could free her. Once I got bitten and always was scratched and bruised.

My uncle found his favorite childhood collie caught in a leg-hold trap. I never knew this dog, but we had the hatchet with the chewed handle he put in the dog’s mouth while he opened the trap. That made a lasting impression.

Almost everyone trapped animals for fur back then; many legally do this today. It was good money for a poor community. It is illegal for dogs to chase or attack livestock or deer and these dogs were often shot. Dogs that attacked skunks were left outdoors, and those that got a nose full of porcupine quills might not survive.

Veterinarians were scarce and mostly treated valuable livestock. Occasionally a dog was hit by a car. This happened to my father’s boyhood dog, and he would never let us have one because of this. All these hazards still exist today with many added. A dog not raised in a rural area still may have natural hunting instincts without training or experience in country life. Gunshots and machinery are scary. We now have more predators of dogs such as bears, coyotes and wolves, and wolf mixes. Our now numerous eagles are constantly hunting and can easily pick up a dog. Golden Eagles especially love canids. We have Lyme disease, large owls, and weather changes.

My point is please, please, obey leash laws and keep your pets secure. My heart is broken every time I see one of those lost pet posters. Be prepared. More information can be found at the Humane Society of the United States website,

and especially on how to prevent it.

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