It occurred to me the other day that we actually own three hunting dogs, although you would hardly know it, given their preference for lounging around on the sofa or snoozing on the duvet!
ZsaZsa, the most senior at almost nine years old, is a female yellow Labrador who spends a lot of her time in a horizontal position. She has never been keen on any type of exercise whatsoever from when she was a puppy. Many’s the time I have taken her for an embarrassing ‘drag’ on the lead and she has a tendency even now to sit down on her ample bottom if she doesn’t feel like moving. The only indication she is a cane di caccia is that she always has to have something in her mouth, usually a sock or a dolly.
Maia is a pretty beagle cross and while very fast and agile is also very scared of loud noises and a pretty big wimp really. She is highly intelligent, fascinated by birds and loves nothing more than to have you throw a ball for her to chase. She also scans my face anxiously for any sign that I may be upset or about to cry (not that I do that a lot, but when I do, she puts her paws on my knees and licks my tears away) and I could no more imagine having her accompany a cacciatore on a shoot than fly to the moon.
Gassie the rescue English setter is probably the most true to his hunting dog nature as he will chase anything that moves. He also ‘sets’ when he sees a bird in a tree and is obsessed with lizards and small insects. But like Maia, loud noises petrify him as do sudden movements and that is probably why his previous hunter owners abandoned him in southern Italy to fend for himself. Once inside he is the most indolent and soppy dog imaginable, loving company, sleeping in as small a shape as he can cram his long-limbed body into, and doing anything he can to get close, including balancing precariously on the back of the sofa to rest his head on your shoulder or jumping straight onto your knee and curling up like a cat. I am quite besotted as you can probably tell.
HARD TO REHOME
The canile I work in now has a population almost entirely made up of hunting dogs. This is a great worry as they are almost impossible to home with anyone except hunters, except that they are absolutely not given to anyone who might hunt with them and they would be any good anyway as they have all been kicked out for being ‘unfit for purpose’.
Cani di caccia have a certain reputation in Italy. Not with everyone, that’s for sure, but certainly with a good number of people. They are thought of as hard to look after. They are kept outside when not being used for the hunt and treated differently to other dogs. It’s bad enough that they have thisunwarranted reputation, but it’s even more heartbreaking when you know their true natures and realise what gentle, affectionate and eager to please dogs they are. This seems to apply to all types of hunting dog. Yes, they run after things. But they are desperate for human company, crying and licking and shivering if they get the slightest caress or kind word.
So I am appealing to you to think about a hunting dog if you want a really great pet. They are usually wonderful with kids and other dogs and some are also very good with other animals too. They are loyal,
loving, soft to a ridiculous degree and they would die for you. Their little family, be it canine, human or both, is their world and although they aren’t any good as guard dogs, they more than make up for it in
their total and unstinting devotion.So look beyond the reputation, the hound like cry and the long ears.
Hunting dogs are hearts on legs and if you get one, you will never ever be the same again.
Here is a site in Italian that specialise in trying to find homes for
hunting dogs. Adotta un cane di caccia