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Banding Together for Waterfowl

River Dogs

A river dog is a canine companion for adventure
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  • photo by Jeremy Harris
  • photo by Jeremy Harris
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Flynn, a small, yet athletic yellow Labrador is the finest of river dogs. "Every year two buddies and I host a church group for a camping trip on the Colorado River, just 75 miles upriver of the Grand Canyon," says Joe Auteri of Virginia. "It's a secluded, beautiful destination only accessible by boat.

While there, we hunt duck, float the river fly fishing, and enjoy the leisure of camping riverside. My British lab, Flynn, is a fantastic companion on our Colorado River adventures… civil around the camp; he's brilliant at picking our ducks when hunting the river, and patient on trout float trips." Flynn is indeed a testimonial to the companionship of a river dog.

A river dog is a canine companion of adventure for the hunter or family; a dog that will:

  • retrieve game from the swift current of rivers
  • sit quietly along the bank in the company of a fishing partner
  • remain still and peaceful in boats
  • exhibit courage: unafraid of noisy boats, boldly cross swift currents, rides willingly in an unstable canoe or dives off a steep bank into icy water

River dogs are not breed specific. Labs, like Flynn, are great but other breeds may work for a family equally well, even mixed breeds.

My wife's little Opie Taylor, a miniature Jack Russell, proved to be an adequate river dog. Opie would follow Cathy anywhere, even wading through the strong current of Arkansas' Buffalo River. He was small enough to fit nicely in any boat, even my kayak, for float trips. His courage was unmatched; no bank too steep, no rocks too rough to curb his enthusiasm for our companionship. Now, he surely was not duck retriever. His limited size would not qualify for river dog points in this department. Otherwise, he was proud to be an excellent sporting companion on hikes, canoeing, and fishing excursions. He was a keeper!

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