For the Love of a good dog...

As i sit here in my house looking at my dog sleeping on the couch I was thinking about years back and where I began my love for a good dog. My story begins outside the small town in south Texas. I found myself using dogs on a small ranch working cattle and hunting coon and hogs. I raised several dogs and fell in love with the Yellow Black mouth curs. Back in those days the yellow dogs were some of the only dogs a man could find next to what we called a heinz 57. We would hunt hogs at night and pen cattle in the daytime with the same dogs and it was a beautiful thing. Hunting wild hogs has always been a passion of mine, especially when the dogs were working hard, trailing long and baying solid. I soon learned how to really read a dog and understand how a dogs mind works. Watching a dog rig off of a truck and or take a cold trail or even sight cast one to a high loper across a field, if the end result was a caught hog it didn't matter to me. I was hooked in to working dogs loving their ability to do all of these tasks to finish a successful hunt and bring home the bacon.
In the mid to late 90s I was introduced to the bay pen competitions. I was invited by a friend to go down to a bay pen competition in southTexas. We arrived and I saw hunting dogs from all over Texas competing in baying and I was hooked. By early 2000s I decided to build a pen of my own to train my dogs and to have competition. At this time all of the dogs that competed in the pen were dogs that hunted the woods. In south Texas the bay pen was a chance to meet your fellow hunters that you might never meet or cross paths with in any other setting. As time moved on I was introduced to some serious bay pen people from East Texas and Louisiana. These folks had been baying dogs strictly in the pen and had some of the best competition that I had ever seen. I was still hunting my dogs and hauling them to the bay pen and I realized that for me to truly compete I was going to have to stop hunting my pen dogs. As many of you know bay pen dogs that hunt outside of the pen on a regular basis are not the same as a dog that grows up never leaving the pen to enter the woods to find bay and catch a hog. With this said that is not to take away from some great pen dogs that if taken out and trained to find hogs wouldn't be great. In my opinion most of them could be great outside of the pen. Within these past few statements lies our question asked by some, what is better a great bay pen dog or a great woods dog? The answer to this statement is if they are good then they are both of equal value to the man that is using them. Everyone that I have ever spoke to about hunting will show the same love and passion for their dogs weather it is hunting in the woods, swamp, or open plains as do the owners of the pen dogs that work their tail off to make a great competitor. Both of these sports take years of breeding raising and training dogs. Both of these sports require acquiring hogs for purposes of training a dog in both woods and the pen. As I now get older and less athletic I still enjoy to hunt but I really love to take my dogs to the bay pen. Going to the pen for me is easy and it is harder and harder to find good, honest, young help when taking to the woods. I still have great friends that hunt with me its
just more difficult to line up a hunt with hunting partners having different schedules and family functions. I still have a strike dog that could find a hog on the moon if we could get a ride there! It is just harder to hunt as much now than it was ten to fifteen years ago. Now if there is a bay pen competition between the Atlantic and the Pacific that I can get to within a twenty hour drive from South Texas you can bet I'm gonna try to get there.
Throughout my years of hunting and bay penning I have seen some devision in the hog dog world. All of the devision that I have seen is a pride issue with people and not in hatred of the sport of hunting or bay penning. To put it in perspective a bay pen dog that bays theheck out of a hog but cant find one in the woods is still a hog dog and a woods dog that will find a hog in the woods but cannot bay one in the pen is still a hog dog. Both dogs are good at what they have been trained to do but the two things are not the same sport. I have seen great woods dog owners carry their best woods dog to a bay pen and the woods dog just not compete. I have seen those same hunters lead their dog out of the pen cussing the pen saying its BS and a joke. It is in frustration that the statement was made and it is narrow minded to not appreciate great dogs working. I recently witnessed this very thing happen at a small benefit baying in south Texas. The mans great woods dog ran in barked three times and caught out. He was upset from that moment on and was expressing his displeasure out loud. I walked to his truck to visit with him about his run and the first thing I said was I really liked his dog because he was a good looking nine. The next thing I did was visit with him about his dogs and i found that his dogs are really good woods dogs and he showed me some great video footage on those dogs working. I then explained to him the difference in his dogs and how great they are and how great a good pen dog is. It truly takes a great dog to go into the woods and trail a hog for miles find him and bay him until you arrive to catch him. It also takes a special kind of dog to have the concentration to bay a hog for six minutes straight without making a single mistake taking charges and setting up. After explaining the differences to this young man and admiring his good looking woods dog he found the appreciation for both sports and the understanding of the common bond hunters have with bay penning. To really understand the common bond in hunting and bay penning you have to first understand the differences they both maintain. Realizing they are both sports with a dog and a hog but knowing they are completely different in training and in consummation. In the history of bay penning you will never see a true bay pen competitor knock a woods dog going in the pen and competing because most of all of the pen dog people are hunters or were hunters. I personally love for that woods dog to do well in the pen. At the end of the day we are all in this thing we call hog dogs together and we all love our dogs and their unique abilities. Everyone wants the same thing and that is to keep doing what we love to do and we all need to support each other in hunting and bay penning. With good hearts and open minds I truly believe our sports will grow and a bright future.