Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hunting and Dogs

Well-known novelist Thomas McGuane recently wrote a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal entitled A Novelist Takes Aim. For those of you who know Billy and Jill personally, you may be surprised to learn that the article is about the joys of hunting with your dog.

Yes, hunting with your dog. You read that correctly.

Now as some of you know, here at Happy Dog Land we have an ambivalent relationship with hunting, to say the least. On the one hand, you are unlikely to find Jill or Billy out in a duck blind (though Billy would look divine in this get-up). The idea of hurting another animal is difficult for either of us to fathom. That said, it is clear that hunting for food is at the root of the formative relationship between man and dog.

It has not gone unnoticed (even to Jill, the mostly-vegetarian) that a significant percentage of the dogs currently alive are the descendants of hunting dogs of one sort or another. Humans have hunted with their dogs for centuries, and many of the closest dog-human relationships (even today) are between hunters and their dogs. Dogs and people running around together outside is almost always a positive thing, after all. Moreover, people who hunt the food they eat (rather than just for sport) are also engaging in a far less cruel endeavor than the factory farms which fill our pantries. And there's no question that the dogs love doing what they were bred to do. So, as you can tell, we're torn.

That said, the joy described by McGuane at the experience of being outside with his dogs, hunting food for his table, is both powerful and genuine. Besides, you've just got to respect a guy that nicknames his two female Pointers "the Pointer Sisters."

So while you will not find either of us hunting for our next meal (though The Omnivore's Dilemma has almost convinced Jill's husband to take up hunting wild pigs), it is a worthwhile exercise to read about how dogs and humans still cooperate to create a meal -- whether you would eat it or not.

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