Sporting dogs come in all shapes and sizes.

Pointers are around 24 inches tall, often with black or brown freckles. When something interests them they freeze with one front paw lifted.

Spaniels are the smallest of the sporting dogs and flush small birds out from the underbrush.

Retrievers have perfected the art of fetching and find the ducks that hunters have shot.

Even when these dogs are pets, they instinctively know how to stalk, flush, and retrieve. But one thing may not be so instinctive. Giving up a prize.

At the Rover Reform School, we met a hunter and Marla. Marla was brown and white speckled English setter with a banner of a tail that furled whenever she ran. And she ran and ran. Whenever she could. English setter

Marla loved to hunt. Sometimes, at night, she let herself out of her kennel to go hunting alone. Of course, he owner didn’t like this. But what he liked even less was that when Marla hunted with him she would retrieve ducks that he shot. And keep them.

If a duck fell from the sky and found its way into Marla’s mouth, it was her duck. Finders, keepers.

So, what is a hunter to do?

At Rover Reform we taught Marla the fine art of bartering. I’ll give you this if you give me something better. Before long, Marla traded a squeaky toy for a tennis ball. Then a tennis ball for a tug. And, best of all, a treat for a duck.

Classes ended around the time that hunting season began. Marla had great time running in the field, jumping into water, and retrieving ducks. Then it was time for a picnic.

Marla’s eyes sparkled. She seemed to say, “What do you have? Ham and cheese? Liverwurst?  That’s even better.  Here, take your dead duck. I‘ll have my lunch now. Thank you.”