Meet Trigger, a 7-year-old English springer spaniel who’s hunted his entire life—despite being blind. In fact, at 12 weeks of age his eyes were removed by a veterinarian due to glaucoma from detached retinas.
Faced with such a challenge, I like to think I’d provide the dog with the best quality of life possible. However, its primary activity would likely be sitting with me on the couch. How many of us would actually consider taking a blind dog hunting? I give Trigger’s owner, Butch Rideout, a ton of credit.
“I started training him up from about six months but I didn't take him out to the field until he was two and I felt confident,” Rideout explained to the UK’s Western Daily Press “I have to snap my fingers when he gets close to finding birds. I snap for him to go left and right. I guess he can hear the left in his left hear and right in his right ear. His smell and his hearing have become so sensitive.”
Trigger quickly became a go-to gundog for Rideout, who runs bird hunts on an estate in Notgrove, Gloucestershire. Not only does Trigger find, flush and retrieve birds—with a lot of direction from Rideout’s whistle—he seems to have a sixth sense of his surroundings.
“If we are in the woods he can cope with trees—he will go left or right around them some how,” Rideout said. “He does run into branches sometimes but he just climbs through them.”
Trigger has spent his life enjoying what he was bred to do—hunt—even if he’s unaware of the hurdles he’s overcome in the process.
“The world has always been black and he knows no different and so just gets on with it,” Rideout added. “He just works so well and if there is a bird he will flush it out. His senses of smell and hearing have had to be better.”