When is it time to retire your senior hunting dog?  That is a question that anyone who has a favorite hunting companion has had to ask themselves at some point.

It is a question that hubby has had to ask himself now that Thunder is 11 1/2.

Whenever hubby has hunted opening day of the waterfowl season, he has taken Thunder with him.  They enjoyed a morning out in the marsh or down by the river waiting for shooting hours to start and for the birds to start moving.  Most times Thunder got retrieves.  Sometimes he didn’t.  It did not matter because it was time spent together doing what they love.

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Thunder Opening Day 2010

The only time Thunder has had to sit out was the year he had an injury and was in a cast for the season.  That was a hard season for Thunder.  He had to sit home while the other dogs went off with hubby.

Risk of injury for a hunting dog is always something you have to consider.  However as your dog moves into its senior years, that risk can increase and recovery time from injury can also increase.  Also, as some dogs age, they may have diminished hearing or eyesight.  It is just the reality of getting old.  Above all, you want to keep your favorite hunting pal safe so you have to realistically evaluate your senior dog’s physical condition.

Thunder’s eyesight and hearing are still good.  We try to give Thunder regular exercise and keep him in condition all year round so that when hunting season rolls around, he is ready to go.  However, the area hubby hunts wood ducks down by the river is not an easy hunt.  There are a lot of downed trees that Thunder would have to negotiate over to make retrieves.  That is a concern.  At least the river is shallow in that area and doesn’t have much of a current and in the early part of the season, it is not too cold.

chesapeake bay retriever
Thunder Age 11 1/2

Physically, I think Thunder could do it but in the end it may be his ongoing dental issues that keep him from hunting opening day this season.  He saw his regular vet last month for a dental and there were some issues so he has been referred to a doggie dentist.  Unfortunately, I could not get him an appointment until next month.  He does not seem to be in any discomfort, but we worry about risk of injury due to a couple cracked teeth.

Hubby is still mulling over whether to take Thunder.  He has been wanting to give Freighter more hunting experience.  In past years, Freighter has gotten bumped by Thunder because when you have a favorite hunting buddy….you go out and hunt.

chesapeake bay retriever
Thunder Says He Is Ready For Opening Day

8 thoughts on “When Is It Time To Retire Your Senior Hunting Dog?

  1. Thunder I wish you all the best for your appointment and I’m so happy with you that you still are the bestest hunting companion for your dad…

  2. It’s a tough call. In a single dog family it would be easier to decide. Hopefully Thunder will get to do some hunting again.

  3. It’s so tough when they are aging and you have to decide how much it is good for them to do. Balancing their safety and their happiness can be so difficult!
    I have a feeling you and your hubby will figure out what is best. We hope all goes well with Thunder’s dental appointment.

  4. I decided during the hunt that it would be their last. I retired Sophie 1 1/2 years before she passed away, and she ended her career with a pair of easy water retrieves. She was happy, but slow and tired during the hunt. We later found out she was suffering from congestive heart failure. I retired Dakota that same year when I saw her suffering from arthritis on a nice warm duck hunt. She too suffers from congestive heart failure and the vet has given her a few months.

    1. As they aged, I took them on easier hunts and as long as they enjoyed it and didn’t struggle with hunting, I kept taking them. Hope Thunder’s dental appointment goes well and he can get in some more hunts.

  5. Awe thunder, it’s tough getting old. I wish you well at the dentist and that they can help your teeth so you don’t have to go back. When my gang got older it was hard to know when to retire them. It made it easier that we had younger dogs so we still could take them. We would still hunt the seniors on easy terrain for short periods.

  6. I wish Thunder the best at his dental appointment. I don’t know about hunting, but Mica is 10yrs and last year she refused a woods walk. That is something she always loves. On her checkup we found she had a mild heart arthymia not bad enough for medicine but apparently at that time enough to stay home. She loves to walk but also needs regular chiropractor adjustments. This year due to some human (not serious) issues we have not been to the creek.

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