Sleeping with the Princess
The Upland Almanac|Winter 2020
In 1968, it was still universally accepted that a hunting dog would become “soft” if you let it sleep in the house at night. I had just purchased my first dog, a male Brittany, so I built a kennel outside, provided a nice doghouse and diligently put him up each night, even when it was snowing and blowing and the trek to his kennel door and back made me miserable.
Alan Liere

More recently, this theory about “softness” has been replaced with one about bonding: Make your hunting dog part of the family, put it in the house at night, treat it like one of your children, and it will more likely perform for you when afield.

Nevertheless, old lessons died hard for me, and my wife had no problem agreeing the Labs I subsequently purchased needed to stay outside. She said that with a Lab in the house, she would have to spend half her housekeeping budget buying those sticky rollers used to take hair and lint off garments and half her time vacuuming.

Yellow Labs (I’ve had five) have been the worst. Even if you spend an hour each day brushing their coats, the shedding never stops. If one saved the accumulation and had the inclination, one could crochet two sweaters and an afghan each year with Lab hair yarn and have enough hair left over to stuff an oversized pillow.

Several years ago, for nostalgia’s sake and to keep Jill — my duck and goose specialist — company, I added Lucy, a Brittany, to my kennel. I had some reservations about getting another Brittany, as my first one had not lived long. I’d had very little experience with anything but retrievers, but Lucy has turned out to be an excellent upland dog, considering all I didn’t know about the breed. She hunts big (no small consideration for a man whose legs are worn out from chasing flushing dogs), has a superb nose and will hold a point forever. I started calling her “Lucy Lou” after the first year as my affection for her grew.

Winter came in October the next year, bringing lots of snow, biting wind and single digit temperatures.

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