Does a Bad Bird Dog Deserve a Second Chance?
by Tracy Breen
Mar. 10, 2023
Does a bad bird dog deserve a second chance? In many cases, a bird dog that an owner deems “bad” never gets to see the woods or field again. Many end up being given away to people who turn them into a house pet. Other dogs aren’t that lucky and are put down. One man on a mission is slowly but surely changing that. Michael Mapes, the Founder of Second Chance Bird Dogs takes in unwanted dogs, trains them, and finds them a hunting home. “It all started when I took in an unwanted dog and was able to turn it into a great hunting dog,” Mapes said. “People were surprised when they saw how good of a hunter my dog was and realized he is a rescue dog. Slowly but surely, people started asking me to take their problem dog. Then people started asking me if I had any dogs available to be adopted. This is how I started Second Chance Bird Dogs. In the last few years, Second Chance Bird Dogs has exploded.”
Mapes has re-homed over fifty dogs and all but one of them has gone to a hunting home. Why is one man’s garbage dog another man’s treasure? Mapes says there are a variety of reasons dogs are shipped to him but the vast majority of the dogs he receives are high-energy bird dogs that need to be trained. “Hunting dogs are often bred to have a lot of energy so if a dog with a lot of energy ends up in a home where it doesn’t get a lot of exercise or isn’t taught to have boundaries and mind its owner, it is often a recipe for disaster,” Mapes explained. “Many people don’t teach their dogs to behave in the home so very quickly the dog is out of control and bouncing off the walls. In many cases, the dog bites kids or tries to be in control. If a dog isn’t taught to mind in the home, it won’t mind in the field.”The first thing Mapes does when he takes in a dog is teach it boundaries and teach it who the boss is. “Many of the dogs I take in are great dogs and have great potential, they just need to be properly trained. Many people who end up purchasing a bird dog don’t take the time to train their dog and think that the dog has a behavior problem, but that isn’t always the case.After a dog has been taught who the boss is, Mapes takes the dog to the field where they are taught basic manners including how to fetch, how to whoa, and eventually they are trained on live birds. “Many of the dogs I have received and re-homed are turned into good hunting dogs; they just need to be placed in the proper home that is a good fit for their temperament.”
Many hunting dogs are not bad, they have owners that don’t have the time or patience to train them. “Often people get a hunting dog because they think having a hunting dog will be fun for the entire family. A dog can be a lot of fun, but is also a lot of work.”When purchasing a hunting dog, people should ask themselves if they have time to train a hunting dog. If they don’t have the time but still want a dog, they should consider hiring a trainer. A respected trainer can help a dog reach their full hunting potential and can teach the owner how to properly train the dog. Thirty to sixty days with a trainer can make a big difference with a dog.Michael Mapes has taken in dogs from across the country and when he receives each dog, he often sees a diamond in the rough. “After I have properly trained the dog, most of them go to hunting homes. In many cases, I get phone calls and text messages after the dog has been re-homed telling me how amazing the dog is doing at home and in the field. The vast majority of dogs who have issues deserve a second chance.” Pyke Gear strongly believes in what Michael Mapes and Second Chance Bird Dogs is doing. In fact, Pyke Gear is now sponsoring his organization. To learn more about Second Chance Bird Dogs, visit his Facebook page: Second Chance Bird Dogs