There’s an old school of thought that a gun dog should stay in the kennel until it’s time to train or hunt. This way the dog knows it has one purpose in life and loves it. I don’t raise Pritch according to that philosophy. My oldest brother, Bob, says it’s because I’m a softie. But then again, given his hardcore training philosophy, I think he may be the illegitimate son of James Lamb Free.

Besides keeping Pritch under foot in the house, I’m from the camp that believes you should bring your gun dog just about everywhere. The bond you create spending time together makes you a better team in the field. The late Bill Tarrant said it best:

Every time your life touches Pup you’re teaching him something. Also everything else that touches pup is teaching him, too. It can be disastrous, absolutely disastrous, when a kennel run is the teacher, or the alley, or even the fields.

Since Pritch was a puppy my wife and I have brought her along to high school football games, sporting goods stores, outdoor concerts, my favorite Mexican restaurant (see photo above), and the beach. Heck, when Jenny and Pritch walk into J. Crew in downtown Charleston, the staff greets our pup by name. And that dog hardly ever misses an inshore fishing trip.

Beyond the bond we’ve created, I like to think Pritch’s extracurricular activities have helped socialize her, even helped make her more biddable. Has any of this truly made her a better dog? I can’t tell you. But I sure have enjoyed my new sidekick.

How about you? Is your dog your constant companion? Or do you leave your dog in the kennel until it’s time to hunt or train?