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Inside the Outdoors: A handmade gift for the hunting dog owner

With the arrival of winter, it’s almost a sure thing that you will see articles or hear news clips about weather safety, and the value of having a winter survival kit in your car, just in case.

In fact, last year, as a Christmas gift I put together just such a winter survival kit for my wife’s car.

I was applauded for my thoughtfulness and concern for her well-being, not to mention the fact that it was “handmade,” and not just picked off the shelf in a store at the last minute. Handmade is viewed by many as proof that the giver cares enough to put thought and energy into a gift, rather than an indication that the giver is a cheapskate!

This year, during the week before Christmas, I stumbled upon a “handmade” that would be great for anyone whose fall hunting is done in partnership with a dog, be it a Labrador that retrieves ducks or geese, a springer spaniel that flushes pheasants or a setter or wirehair that points grouse or woodcock.

This find was a carefully thought-out “K-9 First Aid Kit,” assembled by a hunting acquaintance who plans to give them to his brothers and father, all of whom hunt with dogs.

I was so impressed that I plan to put together such a kit for myself, or should I say, for our new puppy. If you hunt with a dog, or have special human hunting partners, you might want to assemble one for yourself, and for one or more of these other important people in your outdoor life.

Following is a list of the kit’s contents. You may, based on your own experience, have your own ideas of other “indispensables” that should be in such a kit.

• Refresh (or other brand) eye drops can come in handy when your dog encounters seeds, “fluff” and other debris while mucking around in cattails or other heavy cover. Their eyes can easily become reddened and dry. Just as you or I sometimes need a drop or two to keep our vision optimal, your hunting companion can benefit in the very same way.

• A hard day’s hunt can drain your dog of energy. Some dogs are not eager eaters until the day is over, and, like humans, can experience low blood sugar. Shivering, disorientation, lack of energy, weakness, even unusual head tilting can be indications of low blood sugar. If not dealt with, seizure or coma may occur.

Glucose Quick Sticks are made for diabetics who find themselves in the position of having to boost their blood sugar quickly. These can do the same for a dog suffering from low blood sugar, by rubbing on the dog’s gums, where absorption is rapid. A medical supply store or pharmacy should have these. (Vanilla ice cream rubbed on the inside of a dog’s cheeks and gums can do the same, but is impractical in a first aid kit!)

• Triple antibiotic cream, the same kind used on a human’s cuts and scrapes, can also be applied to your canine to fight infection at the site of a cut, gash or sore.

• Super Glue, believe it or not, can be used to close a small cut or wound that might otherwise need a stitch or two. In case you doubt the versatility and strength of such adhesives, I have a six-inch incision from knee replacement surgery that was held together only by glue, and sufficed to keep the incision closed not only through post-surgery swelling, but also the manipulations of some very aggressive physical therapists!

• Curad or similar gauze is valuable for covering and helping stop the bleeding of wounds, held in place by a good waterproof adhesive tape; it’s available at any pharmacy, or in the medical supply section of your grocery store.

• Medical horse tape, such as 3M Vetrap Bandaging Tape, is a lightweight veterinary tape that stretches and sticks to itself, and can be used to wrap a sprain, or for a wound that needs compression and can’t be handled with regular adhesive tape.

• Peroxide, with cotton balls or swabs, or Wet Ones, can be used to clean a wound. The peroxide can also be useful if a dog is believed to have swallowed some kind of poison, and it’s necessary to induce vomiting. Holding a dog’s jaws open and pouring peroxide down its throat does not present a very pretty picture, but it has saved at least one dog I know of that had swallowed D-Con rodent poison.

• Many experienced hunting dog owners have had run-ins with porcupines. More accurately, their dogs have. If this has happened, the owner probably has with him a pliers for removing any porcupine quills that are accessible enough to be extracted without veterinary help. A pliers is a must if you hunt where “porky” is found.

There you have it: simple, useful and quite likely to be appreciated as much for the thoughtfulness and personal touch as for the practicality!