When the hunt is over

What becomes of a retired hunting dog?


The luckiest are already part of a family where hunting is the exception, not the rule. But for dogs bred and trained to do only one thing, retiring to the sofa is usually not their fate. The lucky ones find their way to rescues or new homes. The transition can take patience and lots of love.


Recently, seven beautiful hunting dogs made their way to us. Not a Golden among them, of course. Everyone knows that Goldens are too busy being spoiled to go out and work! But we happily offer our help when we have the space. They are all gentle, well-behaved dogs – but this walking on a leash thing is a little new to them. Set them free in a yard and they race; they point; they stare off into the distance as if to say – “let me go find it. That’s my job!”


“If Heaven made him — earth can find some use for him.” ~ Chinese Proverb


Hunting dogs are not only bred to be athletes and accustomed to being with people – they are usually highly intelligent. When they can no longer endure the physical demands of a hunt, their passion for working can be stimulated with mental, obedience, and agility challenges.


These lucky dogs are beginning to discover that they can have a different purpose: best friend and loved companion.


Some are already available for adoption. We’ll need a little help getting out the word that some of our current guests are spotted on the outside. But lucky are the humans who take home the gold within.

“An earthly dog of the carriage breed;
Who, having failed of the modern speed,
Now asked asylum and I was stirred
To be the one so dog preferred.” ~ Robert Frost


Thanks to Rob Kessel, our dog photographer, for generously loaning his images.

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I am a nascent gardener, rescuer, and photographer, chronicling the journey of the dogs at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary near Sacramento, CA - and the Memorial Garden we have devoted to them.

17 thoughts on “When the hunt is over”

  1. They are all so beautiful! I will never understand people who give up their dogs because they have gotten too old to hunt, fish, whatever, or just because they’ve gotten older!!! To them I say I hope your children give you away when you get old.

  2. What beautiful dogs. I just don’t understand people that look at dogs as just accessories for a hobby. They deserve a loving home and I’m sure there are people out there that will love to take these beautiful animals into their family.

  3. REALLLY??? People dump their dogs because they can’t hunt?? Unlike in a seriously major way!

    Thank goodness for you! I’m glad you can help the kids find homes.

  4. It saddens me to see animals discarded when their owners no longer find them useful but it makes me happy knowing that there are wonderful, caring people such as yourself, to love and care for them.

  5. My family always had German Short-haired Pointers. Not a worker or “hunter” among them (unless you count stalking the odd spider or mouse…). They were always family pets, spoilt and definitely indoor dogs – hated being away from us or locked outside by themselves. I hate to think of anyone discarding an animal just because it no longer serves a “purpose” in their eyes. Good luck to you in finding homes for them – they are definitely worth any effort put in 🙂

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