To Believe or NOT – John Wick
By: John Wick
A sizable percent of what most hunters think they know about dogs is more myth than truth. Some firmly held beliefs are downright comical in the degree that they defy common sense. Downright sad is the degree to which many hunters firmly refuse to revisit or even privately rethink some of their long ago learned tactics that they stick with even though results are often disappointing.
But I’m not speaking only of other folks. I clearly recognize that when pointing one finger at someone else, three of mine are pointing right back at me! I, too, must fight the urge to relax and rest on theories and conclusions picked up along the way. If we’re serious about doing our best to get the best from our dogs, we must always remember to be extremely careful about setting our beliefs in concrete. All of us are somewhat prone to arrive at mistaken beliefs, although they may be based on what we consider to be true observations; but from which faulty conclusions may have been drawn. It happens to us all; usually caused by not carefully gauging a large enough sample of dogs, reactions, and results. Over my many years, I, too, have reached some faulty conclusions.
Some inaccurate but tightly held popular misconceptions get repeated so often and for so many years that hunters in general simply accept them as true fact. In the first 20 of my over 50 years of serious houndsmenship, I was too quick to believe most of what I read and most of what I heard that was presented in an authoritative voice. Only years later and after numerous messed up dogs did I finally realize that paper will hold still for anything to be written on it, and some people who are gifted speakers are not gifted dog-savvy experts. Truth is that many of them are simply repeating incorrect theories and misconceptions that they picked up somewhere along the line. Sounded good and was commonly accepted as fact, so they passed it on.
For most of us, the few people who first expose us to totally different ways of thinking are usually viewed with suspicion, or labeled as “some kind of nuts.” And when we are being super observant while working with our dogs and seeing clear signs that contradict commonly held wisdom, we often dismiss them or think it’s some sort of weird fluke. Sometimes it’s remarkable how even our own experiences and clear-cut evidence must bang us on the head before we wake up and smell the truth. The truth is that some of what we’ve been fed wasn’t fit to eat, or solidly build our dog strategies around. But continue to carefully and thoughtfully read and listen anyway.
After we’re lucky enough to get a few of our beliefs rattled, and we recognize that it happened, and we rethink a couple of issues, then we are somewhat changed in our thinking because our thinking is rearranged. After we recognize and heed the first couple of wake-up calls, we start to realize that dang near everything we thought we knew probably needs at least a slight rethinking. Also needing to be rethought are some of those folks we had previously labeled as some kinda nuts. After re-examining their thoughts and reasons, we may again conclude that some of them are kind of nuts, but I’m also betting that a few of those folks will receive a new label in our mind—my new trusted mentor—or my dog savvy hero. Yep, some of those “nuts” in every realm of human endeavor are actually the geniuses. The ones with a deeper understanding. The ones ahead of their time.
The biggest eye-opener is that it always pays to remember that much of what passes for common knowledge is simply wrong. As in all things, our dog savvy coaches and mentors must be very carefully chosen. And we must have a certain amount of healthy skepticism about advice we read and hear; but become less skeptical when in our own training endeavors we see clear evidence that the stuff nearly everyone says is not what you see from the dogs you work with.
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