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What Hunting Dogs Have Taught Me About Life

What Hunting Dogs Have Taught Me About Life

Hunting dogs are maybe one of the last, most pure sources of joy left out there today, other than children. I’m fully convinced the hand of God brought the first Labrador Retriever into my life when I was 10 years old. I named her “Lady” and man was she ever a true Southern Belle. Beautiful black coat. Loyal. Happy. Gentle. And an amazing retriever.

hunting dog

Lady, circa 1982

From that day on, I have learned a lot about myself from how my dogs have treated me. Moreover, getting the privilege of hunting with friends in the industry who own some of the most amazing duck hunting dogs on the planet, I’ve had a front-row seat watching jaw-dropping feats accomplished from dogs in the waterfowl world; and, I’d have to say that these dogs have been a mirror into my own heart in terms of how life often works.

Here’s what I’ve learned from hunting dogs:

Choose Joy

I swear I think dogs just choose joy. Happiness is circumstantial. Joy is internal. Happiness is “Wow I got an unexpected check in the mail.” Joy is “I’m just thankful I’ve got an income at all.”


My boys, Cole and Tucker, working bumpers with Stella when she was 12 weeks old.

Joy is a choice, and hunting dogs seem to choose joy. My dog Stella sees me, my boys, or my wife and she gets excited. She has no clue about my career. Has no concern over where I earned my education. Stella has no desire to measure my net worth. She just loves me, and she’s happy to love me. It’s a choice.

Loyalty Matters

Every Black Lab I’ve ever owned was loyal to me. They went everywhere with me and loved sticking by my side. When it comes to friends, loyalty matters. A lot.


Love Your Work

No kidding, it never gets old to watch hunting dogs shivering from the cold, and yet notice that their eyes never leave the sky. They stay on the hunt. It’s a spiritual thing for me to watch every time I see it.



The difference for them is that it's a calling. They love what they do: it’s inside their bones. If you don't love your work, go find your calling. I’m serious. Go do what you love.

I'm living proof that a man can follow his passion … and the money will follow.

Winners Never Give Up Easy

Hunting dogs never give up.

They will drown trying to get a duck. And it'll scare you to death as well.

If you’ve ever owned any breed of hunting dogs, then you know that there’s a point in time when a retriever can’t find a duck, and you as the owner start to panic because you’re hoping that this time is not the one time they disobey the command to come back, because if they do they just my die honoring their work ethic.


It brings energy to my heart that even old dogs love to play. I swear there's nothing more entertaining than watching a dog play with the toy and go straight crazy with it.

They are so into that toy at the moment and seem to have locked out the entire world only to focus on playing.

There's a lot to be said for that. They never get too old or too cool to play.

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Take Naps often as possible

Enough said!

About the Author

Jason Cruise

Jason Cruise is a published author and the host of Mossberg’s Rugged American Hunter series.
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