The Pointer Dog

The pointer (Canis avicularis) as resembling the race of hounds, more than any other of the shooting or gun dogs is placed next to them in the classification of Colonel Smith, who says: “In their present qualities of standing fixed and pointing to game, we see the result of a long course of severe training ; and it is a curious fact, that by a succession of generations having been constantly educated to this purpose, it has become almost innate, and young dogs of the true breed point with scarcely any instruction : this habit is so firm in some that the late Mr. Gilpin is reported to have painted a brace of pointers while in the act, and that they stood an hour and a quarter without moving.” A smooth dog, resembling the fox-hound in his markings, though sometimes entirely black, the pointer is used by sportsmen to point them to the spot where the game is to be found. “It ranges the fields,” says Mr. Wood, “until it scents the hare or partridge lying close on the ground. It then remains still as if carved in stone, every limb fixed, and the tail pointing straight behind it. In this attitude it remains until the gun is discharged, reloaded, and the sportsman has reached the place where the bird sprang.”

The pointer is a keen sportsman and will “Point” without tiring while worthily supported by the gun, but many stories are told of his disgust at a bad shot and his refusal to “point” for unskilful sportsmen. The following amusing story is told by Captain Brown and is quoted as follows by Mr. Jesse: “A gentleman, on his requesting the loan of a pointer-dog from a friend, was informed by him that the dog would behave very well so long as he could kill his birds; but if he frequently missed them, it would run home and leave him. The dog was sent, and the following day was fixed for trial; but, unfortunately, his new master was a remarkably bad shot. Bird after bird rose and was fired at, but still pursued its flight untouched, till, at last, the pointer became careless, and often missed his game. As if seemingly willing, however, to give one chance more, he made a dead stop at a fern-bush, with his nose pointed downward, the fore-foot bent, and his tail straight and steady. In this position he remained firm till the sportsman was close to him, with both barrels cocked, then moving steadily forward for a few paces, he at last stood still near a bunch of heather, the tail expressing the anxiety of the mind by moving regularly backwards and forwards. At last out sprang a fine old blackcock. Bang, bang, went both barrels, but the bird escaped unhurt. The patience of the dog was now quite exhausted; and, instead of dropping to charge, he turned boldly round, placed his tail between his legs, gave one howl, long and loud, and set off as fast as he could to his own home.” The pointer has been known to lie down without bidding beside game which has been dropped from a bag, after a long day’s shooting, and watch it faithfully until relieved on the following day, when the missing birds were searched for and found.