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.
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.
I like to make shit and while in Alaska a few years ago, I learned how to built insulated dog houses. I’m not really a carpenter (hard to correct mistakes with wood) but I’m good enough at it to slap together a dog house.
Last winter I built a house for Flint since he spent most of the day outside. I wanted to give him something to use if he felt the need, and so nobody could complain at me for my dog not having any shelter while on his chain. I used some plans I’ve seen floating around the net and modified them slightly to fit what I wanted a bit better. This is what I came up with.
When I started putting Conker outside at the end of winter, I decided he needed a house too. I gave him Flint’s old one and built Flint a new one. Conker got the old house because it’s legs are shorter and the door is lower so it’s easier for him to get into.
These are pretty easy to build and fairly cheap (usually under $75) so if you feel like giving building one a shot, here are some instructions I wrote up.
Old blog, still has some relevant information: http://losech.blogspot.com/
Go here for pictures: http://losech.tumblr.com/
Conker-specific food-type stuff: http://conkersbowl.tumblr.com/