Insight & Analysis

You ain’t nothin’ but a gun dog

Published: Feb 2019

Dogs have been a hunter’s best friend for tens of thousands of years but occasionally their mutual respect and companionship can be tested in bizarre ways.

The strategy of employing dogs as a hunting partners is as old as the hills; indeed, it is a partnership whose history stretches back tens of thousands of years to when humans were hunter-gatherers and agriculture had yet to be invented.

There are now dozens of officially recognised sporting group breeds of dogs for their modern, gun toting hunter masters to pick and choose from depending on the task at hand. Terriers, for example, are best suited for hunting small game, such as birds or rabbits, while hounds excel at hunting deer, coyote, wild boar, rabbits and foxes.

Dogs, it might be safely assumed then, are a hunter’s very best friend. An exception to that rule might perhaps be when the dog actually shoots the hunter master with his own gun, as in the case of a man in Germany. A passionate hunter, the man was wounded in the arm in 2016 after his pet dog managed to release the trigger on a loaded rifle left in his car. The shooting led to him losing his rifle license and his hunting permit.

Last Tuesday, a Munich administrative court dismissed the man’s appeal against that earlier ruling by Bavarian authorities to revoke his gun license and hunting permit. According to Associated Press, the court decided the hunter was unreliable “because it must be assumed that he will handle firearms and ammunition carelessly in future as well”.

The man, whose name was not released, can appeal the latest verdict.

Hot dog

The Munich case comes just two months after an American dog owner and hunter was shot in the torso by his 120-pound Rottweiler mix. Investigators suggested the dog, called Charlie, shot owner Sonny Gilligan after getting its paw caught in the weapon’s trigger.

According to ABC News, Sonny, from New Mexico, was about to make his way to a jackrabbit hunt with his three dogs, Charlie, Scooter and Cowboy when the accident occurred.

Sonny said he initially thought he had been hit by a sniper from a distance: “I thought, who was that?…I was there, isolated, nobody was around. I had a gaping hole, you know, and a lot of blood there too. I could see the blood and I felt it.”

Despite having a serious injury, Sonny was able to roll out of the truck and call emergency services, who found him lying next to his truck with a gunshot wound to the chest.

In keeping faith with the friendship forged between hunter and dog over eons, however, Sonny is most forgiving of his canine partner: “Truth is, Charlie’s a big, loving dog and would never hurt anybody on purpose,” he said.

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