Don’t Make My Mistake – John Wick

It happened before. Recently it happened again. I’m stilling kicking myself, and if you see me, you’re welcome to kick me too. It’s no excuse for my bad behavior that I’m over 60, or that it was after midnight, or the pain in my back was flaring up badly enough to be quite distracting. Nope, there’s no excuse that’s good enough. Though I thought I always try to be careful, I know now that I have to try harder.

My young hound that was lightly started was struggling to trail an old, cold raccoon track all by himself. He was doing a fine job considering the conditions and circumstances. A hundred yards away another young hound that I didn’t expect was ready to do any work yet must have bumped into a whitetail and instantly lit up and the chase was on. As always, my transmitter was in my chest holster on my brown hunting coat, and I did a quick draw for it. Some misbehaviors call for an extra light tickle. Others a gentle tickle. Worse problems may require a light shock.  Jumping a hot deer and going crazy over it usually calls for a pretty serious jolt. And that’s exactly what I did, but I did wrong. Real wrong! I had gotten confused about which dog was wearing which E-collar and instead of zapping the deer runner, I scorched the young dog doing exactly what he was bred and trained to do. It was bad. The poor pup that was doing right squalled and came running to my side and refused to leave. A month later, he’s still mixed up and messed up and it’s all my fault. Hopefully with lots of TLC and opportunities, he’ll gradually come out of the funk I’ve put him in, but he’ll probably always bear some mental scars of what I did to him.

In addition to the feeble excuses offered above, let me now also say that I had been working seven different dogs starting at dark and giving them short turns one or two at a time to hopefully learn to chase and tree some ringtails in dazzling style and fashion. Each time one or two different dogs were turned loose, they were, of course, wearing the E-collar necklace that all of my dogs wear anytime they’re being worked or trained in any way. Back and forth from this dog to that dog, and then back again, different collars were switched. As the hour gets very late, it becomes easier to make a mental error. Keep in mind that I’m doing this almost every night and have done so for many years. Even so, I’m only willing to plead guilty to the terrible offense of shocking the wrong dog about once every ten years. But that is certainly one time too often.  I hope it never happens again, and I hope you’ll do as I say, and not as I did.

Any time any of us are using multiple collars on multiple dogs, we must be extremely careful and vigilant to know FOR SURE which dog is wearing which collar. If Rip is wearing green, Rex is wearing red, and Rock is wearing orange, it’s all easy to remember when we first turn them loose. However, after a few hours of walking, talking, lack of sleep, and diminishing caffeine in our blood, we can all fall asleep at the transmitter wheel and make the harmful and inexcusable mistake I did, especially after swapping those collars on a few other batches of dogs earlier in the hunt. The mistake is easy to make; therefore, we have to bear the responsibility of doing whatever we gotta do to avoid it and the very negative consequences that could be caused.

Most people have only two or three dogs and an E-collar for each of them. By putting the same collar on the same dog EVERY time out, it will be much easier to keep accurate track of which dog is wearing what. You know Rip always wears green, so it’s very unlikely that you’ll push the red button by mistake. But if you have more collars and more dogs, things can easily become more difficult and confusing.  In that case, it’s probably best to carry a small tablet and a pen. Every time collars are switched, indicate on your little cheat sheet what dog is wearing what color. Quickly glance at it every time before you press a button.

By putting some thought to it, I’m sure you can easily figure out some other ways to help back up your memory. Try a few things and see what works best for you. Most of all keep this potential problem in mind and always be aware of the possibility of it. Always be very careful, no matter what kind of dog owns you!

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