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Thread: Dog Handlers Beware

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    Member click's Avatar
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    Default Dog Handlers Beware

    My 13 month old retreiver and i went out this afternoon, and had quit a scare. The location we walked to was about 1.5 miles through knee deep water. It was very windy and about half way out he was shaking perty good. I had to make a call to either hurry up and get to dry ground or turn it around. I have read about hypothermia in dogs and was very worried. Long story short, i did not realize what i had asked of my dog until it was too late. We made it out and back and hunted for several hours. He had his vest and was on dry ground while we hunted but he still made a long march there and back in water almost deep enough for him to swim. I will not put my dog through that agin. It all worked out and he is fine, actually sleeping on my feet currently. This is a situation that could have been very bad, I thank god it wan't . I'm just hoping that this will serve as a reminder for all of us with working dogs to be careful out there. It's not gonna get any warmer, and i would hate for something to happen that was easily preventable. Please keep the health and well being of your dogs in the front of your mind while hunting.

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    Especially if they stay inside.. Like most here in AK.. They will burn some serious calories and lose weight fast if not taken care of after a hunt.
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    I was probably a little over worried honestly. Looking back at it he was visibly shaking when we stopped to rest on the way out, but it wasn't an uncontrolable shake. Just a little more than i'm used to seeing in him. But it was enough that it scarred me good. My dog is my best friend and more loyal than any human i know. I Couldn't live with my self if something happened to him due to my negligance.
    I just thought this could serve as a good reminder for all of us with working retreivers out in the marsh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by click View Post
    I was probably a little over worried honestly. Looking back at it he was visibly shaking when we stopped to rest on the way out, but it wasn't an uncontrolable shake. Just a little more than i'm used to seeing in him. But it was enough that it scarred me good. My dog is my best friend and more loyal than any human i know. I Couldn't live with my self if something happened to him due to my negligance.
    I just thought this could serve as a good reminder for all of us with working retreivers out in the marsh.


    Keep an eye on his tail tomorrow...

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    He wound up with Limber or swimmers tail on opening day, so i am familiar with that.I think we should be fine on that one, he showed no signs of it this evening.

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    I almost killed my lab with hypothermia about 10 years ago and it still makes me sick to think about it. Not going into the details, but he fully recovered, had a long hunting career and is sleeping in my recliner right now.
    Hunting dogs are tough and will not let you know until its too late.
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

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    The first day I was able to hunt last year I only took my older lab. There had been so much rain the previous week that my normally dry blind had 1 1/2 feet of water in it with no dry ground available. The poor girl was in the cold water for a couple of hours which was enough to re-aggravate an injury from earlier in the summer and end her season. It was my fault for not having something to get her out of the water. It about killed me every morning after to see the look in her eyes as I left with my younger lab and she had to stay home and limp around the house. I started taking a plastic sled with me for the dog to sit in out of the high water.

    You sure are right about them being tough. Somewhere I have a pic of my older dog with ice on the back of her vest staring intently at the pond. There's nowhere else she'd rather have been.

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    I put my dogs on stands. This time of year I dry them off with a Sham Wow between retrieves. My dog shakes all the time from excitement but his teeth chatter when he's cold. I know how cold my feet get standing in water for a couple of hours. Can't imagine what the dog would feel like if he did that too.

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    Good thread, my choc lab had that, had her out hunting on sat, chasing ducks, swimming, seemed fine, got home that night and she seemed like she could not get comfortable, next day noticed her tail was not normal, now looking at pictures thats what she had. I just thought she was tired.

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    I had a good scare already this season. I forgot my German shorthairs vest at home. The wind and rain picked up and he got cold pretty fast. The worse part was I anchored the boat to far out and the tide was in so we had to wait to get going. He ended up collapsing in the field and I had to carry him out and take off my shirt and coat and wrap him up to get him warm. Lesson learned I know bring my ice fishing shelter and mr heater so if he needs a warm up break I pop the shelter out and turn on the heater.

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    I got my dog which is half lab from a very young puppy. almost too young. but I took her out rite away which was for rabbits and was cold on her. I would put her back up in my bibs at my chest to warm back up as soon as I could tell she was getting pretty cold. now she does very well and has zero issue with swimming and walking long distances but yet she is a house dog as well at a good 65 lbs now. don't fit in the bibs I don't think either. I think it is hard to tell when your dog is going to far with some as they just wont tell you or will kinda be a whimp with other things. there is a lot of signs though that you can see that your dog has no control of. one being dogs don't chatter there teeth in most cases unless there body temp is down or the limp tail and many others that are easy to spot. I have noticed my dog looses her energetic drive when she has done to much or to cold.

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    At what point in the season you stop using your dog?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Gray View Post
    At what point in the season you stop using your dog?
    That's a good question. I'm sure someone with more experiance will chim in but in my mind it all depends on the situation.
    weather, ability to keep them dry and warm after retrieves. how long you plan on keeping them out hunting, and the type of water you'll be hunting. As the season progresses from puddle ducks to sea ducks i think you could use your dog all season long. But you would need to keep in mind that their are alot of variables, and no two dogs are the same. even in very cold weather for sea ducks you could still get the dog out doing what he loves, by taking him most of way on a retrieve in a boat like the guys that hunt in gator country down south.
    But as responsible dog handlers we should always keep our best friends safety first and the hunt second.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Gray View Post
    At what point in the season you stop using your dog?
    I've hunted mine into December and in temps down in the teens. The time he had a problem was a beautiful early October day. Its not so much an issue of dates or even air temperature as much as time in the water and giving him a chance to warm up. I overdid it that day and he had too much heart to quit on me until it was too late - almost.
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

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    Speaking of swimmers tail, Is there anything you can do to prevent or help with it. Might sound like a stupid question but my lab gets it on occasion and it does not look comfortable. He is always bting at his tail and hind end.
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    My boy does that alot as well, bitting his tail. he has done it since we got him at around 5 months old or so. it's very normal for him to spin in circles and chase his tail around the house. I have not had any problems with limber tail since the opener, just make sure he has a dry place to sit after the retrieve. It has gotten cool enough now that i do carry a micro fiber towel around to dry him off in the AM. after the first couple retrieves.

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Just to add a thought to the conversation...
    Don't forget to feed your dog extra before a hunt.
    My dog is very high energy and skinny. She eats but doesn't gain weight and I worry that because she has so much drive, I might allow her to hurt herself afield. To make sure she's warm enough I buy beef suet and roast it. She gets some of the fat drizzled over her food the night before and "beef cracklin's" for breakfast.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Gray View Post
    At what point in the season you stop using your dog?
    All my dogs wear vests and will be hunting until every drop of water is frozen and then some. If you are primarily jump shooting birds and your dog is in the water for extended periods, then you need to pay close attention and get your dog on dry ground regularly and allow them to warm up. Hunting over decoys I have been using a dog stand so the dog isn't in the water except to retrieve birds, if no dog stand find a muskrat hut to let the dog sit on. Lengthy exposure where the dog is in the water more than ankle deep anytime of the year here in AK can pose a danger of hypothermia just be mindful of the symptoms. If the dog starts shivering uncontrollably and showing lack of energy you need to get the dog to dry ground and warm them up. As a side note feeding quality food typically 30% Protein & 20% Fat (or higher if the dog has a hard time maintaining weight during strenuous exercise.) will help insulate the dog & keep the dogs energy level up.
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    A buddy of mine and I had a scare one day with his dog. It's very unsettling to see a normally energetic dog slow down to a snail's pace and not be able to keep up with you. Luckily, we were almost out when it set in badly, so he was able to make it out on his own accord. At 80 lbs, we are happy we didn't have to carry him out. He was back to normal once he warmed up, but it certainly freaked us out to see him looking like he suddenly went from 3 years old to 13.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gr is for Greg View Post
    At 80 lbs, we are happy we didn't have to carry him out.
    I have had that same concern something happening and having to lug an 85 -95lb dog out of the swamp would surely not be fun. Stuffing a dog into the backpack could be interesting. Guess short of a fireman's carry, only other thing I could think of would be drying the best you could and wrapping them in a coat and rubbing them to try to stimulate the circulation if it was the onset of hypothermia. Hopefully at some point they could manage under their own power. Cell phone call to someone to help carry the dog out may also be in order assuming you are in an area where you have coverage.
    Jesse
    HR SHR JR's Gunny Dog "Ermey"
    SR JR's Marsh Mangling Mindy
    SR JR's LNR Thicket Thrashing Trixie

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