Squirrel and raccoon hunting season has been over for a few months, and now my Laika is out of the job until running (non-shooting) season reopens in July, and squirrel hunting season opens in September and raccoon October. He’s not the kind of dog who is okay with a short jaunt around the neighborhood and chilling in the house or yard for the rest of the day. He needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to be a happy dog.
Now don’t get me wrong here, Flint has an excellent off-switch and is happy to chill for several hours in the yard, but that needs to be accompanied with daily activity of some sort, or he will mope and pester until I get annoyed enough to take him into the woods. None of my other current dogs are like that, they’re happy to do nothing all day.
Anywho, since we are not making 10-15 miles in the woods every day/night anymore, I needed a fast way to exercise Flint that didn’t involve a vehicle or bike that would also give him a mental workout. Enter the backpack!
This is an old Ruffwear Palisades that I’ve had for about five years(?) or so. It’s a pretty durable pack that has a base harness with removable bags. It came with a couple water bladders and has plenty of room for other stuff in the bags. I wanted to wait until he was at least a year old before I started packing with him, but life got in the way and I kinda forgot about it until recently.
The first time Flint wore it there was nothing in it, but it quickly became apparent that he would need some weight since he acted like it wasn’t even there and continued to bomb down the trails and crash through the brush despite the somewhat awkward thing attached to his back.
So I added the two water bladders, which weighed roughly 5lbs when you include the pack. It worked, for a couple days, then he got used to that and continued to bomb and crash through the woods.
Okay, lets add some more. Another 2lbs of water, and the same result. It’s damn hard to actually tire this dog out, but at least he was getting more of a workout on our shorter woods walks now than when he doesn’t carry the pack.
This is the biggest issue I have with the pack. The bags have little velcro straps on the backsides to hold them to the straps of the harness to prevent them from swinging around when worn, but since Flint goes off-trail a lot and the brush is quite thick here, that often means one (or both) of the pack bags get yanked loose and they flop over on one side. He has absolutely no fucks to give about that though, and will keep on truckin’ despite all the weight dragging on one side. I have to stop him and call him over or he’ll keep exploring with the pack all fucked up like that.
He also doesn’t distinguish between a hunt and a walk or hike, he is always in go-mode and will tree raccoons with that pack on.
I’d like to eventually get back into overnight backpacking with Flint. I did a few trips with Conker, but now that I live in Michigan, which has very few cool places to go for a real and challenging hike without other people around, I’ll probably have to wait until I leave this bullshit state to have a good backpack adventure with Flint.
Shibas generally aren’t bred or used for hunting anymore, and while many of them retain some instinct, it would be a stretch to call them actual hunting dogs. After owning a purpose-bred hunting dog, what Conker is capable of is nothing compared to Flint, and it’s not because he’s half Flint’s size. He lacks so many of the qualities of a true hunting dog that makes them so great at it. But when it comes to exterminating vermin that doesn’t require much instinct and skill, Conker is a pro.
Despite not being purpose-bred, Conker does have a lot of prey-drive, plenty of grit (maybe too much), and does make a fairly decent side-kick for Flint on our nighttime adventures. He isn’t capable of taking down a coon on his own, but partnered with Flint, the two can take one out pretty quickly.
Conker is not a good tree dog, he has a hard time finding game once it’s treed and doesn’t naturally look up all the time like Flint does. He looks around the tree but rarely in it, unless he actually sees the critter tree and doesn’t lose sight of it somehow. But if he can see it, or is confident it’s in whatever tree he’s at, he’ll bark his little head off at it.
He is so enthusiastic about catching game that he will ignore discomfort and even injury in pursuit of his quarry. While that can be an admirable trait, it is also potentially dangerous, and landed him at the vet’s office this past season when he tangled with a large coon he had found before Flint arrived.
Due to Conker’s severe luxating patella in his right knee, and mild in his left, I do not hunt with him very often, but I do try to sometimes include him since he enjoys it so much.
I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I used to do it frequently, when I lived in a far more interesting place than midsouthcentral Michigan. (Seriously, this place is really fucking boring.) I’m gonna try to do a post a week, we’ll see how long that lasts.
Flint has progressed a lot since my last post (just under two years ago) about his first raccoon. He’s gotten a lot more coons and has grown into quite a nice hunting dog. He is okay on squirrel but really digs hunting raccoons. He is also very aggressive towards predators like fox and coyote, and has enough interest in birds that if I were to work with him on them he’d probably make a decent flushing dog. (Some bird species, such as various grouse, will sometimes tree, which he will bark at if they do.)
Enough talk, lets see some pictures!
That’s just a snippet of the 2016/2017 season. Many times I either did not have my phone with me or just forgot to take pictures. I also let most of the animals Flint treed go. The hunting areas around here suck ass so I don’t take everything he finds since I want some stuff to be left to hunt another day and reproduce.
Last night the dogs found a raccoon who had stupidly gone up into a bush instead of a tree. Conker began to flip out (he’s killed a racoon on his own before and was preparing for battle) then Flint barked and jumped into the bush and dragged the raccoon out. A vicious fight began, and outnumbered two to one, the raccoon didn’t last long. The battle was over in 30 seconds.
The dogs didn’t actually kill her, I did. They had done enough damage that there was no way she was going to survive, so I put her down. I was unprepared for it and only had a leash, but I made it work and it was over quick.
When the fight first began, Flint wasn’t really sure what he was doing. He bit at the raccoon, not taking an actual bite, and discovered that sometimes critters bite back. This put him off a bit. (Conker on the other hand was in SharkMode. There was no stopping him until the raccoon was dead, mostly dead, or got away.) Then she latched onto his nose and made him scream. That downright pissed him off, and after Conker yanked the raccoon off him, Flint dove in with as much determination as the little dog half his size to do that raccoon in.
Why didn’t I stop the dogs, you might ask? Because I’m not fond of getting bit, which is exactly what would have happened had I reached in there, and I honestly don’t have a problem with my dogs killing things. I don’t encourage it, but I don’t stop it either.
Also, I hunt with the dogs so… Yeah.
Next weekend Flint will be going to Indiana to stay with a hunting buddy of mine for a little while. He will be hunted on squirrel and raccoon during that time, and get some additional training that he still needs work on. So last night’s coon got him off to a good start for that.
I start work (driving semi trucks) very soon. Once I am on my own (not in training or driving team) and able to take a dog with me, I’ll pick him up and he’ll be my trucking buddy.
Flint turns one year old today.
Flint is a great mimic, sometimes too great. He learns really well by watching other dogs do things and from watching people too. I’ve read some articles and studies that indicate that dogs don’t always learn from watching humans as well as they do from watching other dogs, but when it comes to Flint, that’s not the case.
When spring arrived (for the most part), we put the outside table and chairs out on the deck. Flint immediately began to pull the cushions off the chairs and play with them in the yard. I’d put them back, and he’d take them off again. I attached the little velcro things to the chairs but that didn’t work, Flint kept pulling them off and tossing them around.
Sometimes he’d take a nap on them.
I figured that he wouldn’t be able to get the cushions off the chairs if I turned them to face the table and pushed them in. Flint watched me as I turned the chairs and shoved them under the table. I went back inside and watched him for a few minutes as he examined the chairs carefully. Then, to my surprise, he grabbed one of the chairs by the arm, dragged it out, turned it around, and yanked the cushion off!
I figured he’d try to wrestle the cushion out from under the arm of the chair or something, but no, he did what I had in reverse and easily pulled the cushion off the chair.
And all the others that he could reach.
He’s a smart cookie, that Munchy dog.