Part IV - Other Hazards
In this final segment, I’d like to present you with a couple of last minute ideas and tips for consideration regarding traps and snares. While our fur harvesting brethren are most certainly not targeting our water dogs the plain truth is that our dogs are working where there may very possibly be traps and snares set for fur bearers and this should be a reason to pause and think, what do I do if my dog gets in a trap or snare?
While I’ve never had to remove any of my own dogs from a trap or snare and hopefully never will, the truth remains, it’s a strong possibility that you or I may have to. And knowing how could mean the difference between the life or death of a beloved retriever.
For example, let’s begin with “kill snares.” These snares are spring-loaded and tighten automatically when triggered. They apply an enormous amount of force to the neck of a caught animal so that strangulation occurs in often a minute or less, obviously designed for quick and humane kills. In fact, a couple trappers have told me that unless I’m standing next to my dog when he gets caught in one I will not be able to free him in time. A grim prospect no doubt and all the more reason to keep your dog under control at all times.
So, let’s say that your dog gets “snared” how do you get them out in time? There are several ways to do this and even YouTube videos on the subject of snaring that would be incredibly useful to watch but the fact is, a small pair of side cutters will snip through the snare and free your dog faster than any other method. They are small, can come in very handy for numerous tasks and a pair should reside in every duck hunter’s “possible’s bag.” I’ve used mine for freeing my dog from a discarded mess of rusty barbwire and cut hopelessly tangled decoy cords with them. I hope I never have to cut my lab out of snare to save his life but better prepared than not.
As for foothold and body grip traps, each of these is simple to operate and while a 330 Conibear is a formidable apparatus and can easily kill a dog, they are not normally set in a manner prone to catching dogs. And most leg hold traps used around water aren’t large enough to cause any permanent damage to most duck dogs. Again, for you and your retriever’s sakes, perform the due diligence here, talk to a trapper or watch some videos and learn how to operate each of these styles of traps.
Just because there is no snow on the ground and or ice in the rivers and lakes doesn't mean that our retrievers aren't in jeopardy during the summer. The dangers to a dog are just as real and can be even more deadly; heat stroke & exhaustion, snakes, rabies infected vermin, blue green algae, and even more. The point is that while things like rabid coons, skunks and even coyotes and snakes are all happen stance occurrences that are rare and quite often beyond our control, there is one killer of canines that is nationwide and extremely prevalent - heat stroke/exhaustion.
However, preventing your dog from succumbing to this silent killer is pretty simple... train early or late in the day when the ambient temps are cooler and/or train in the water. Summer is the hands down best time to work on your dog's water skills, not to mention water training is just plain fun!
I hope that something I’ve talked about in this series has helped some of my fellow Wingmen as we head into a summer filled with training and begin gearing up for the season to come. Please remember, our duck and goose dogs are not bulletproof tools to be thrown into harm’s way without regard for their safety and health and if you disagree with me on that then you probably found nothing I’ve written worthwhile and more than likely haven’t gotten to this part anyway. But, if you’re like most Wingmen I know your dog is an integral part of your passion for the sport and more than that is a member of your family who deserves to be loved and well cared for.
Until next time, many happy retrieves!