The Tolling Retriever

In nature, a fox will cavort and play along a shoreline to entice waterfowl to come closer to investigate. Curious birds oblige and become easy prey for the fox. Drawing from this behavior, hunters trained their dogs to mimic the fox, and that’s what “tolling” retrievers do: They run and jump along the shoreline in full view of ducks, occasionally disappearing and reappearing. The hunter encourages this by throwing sticks and rocks into the water for the dogs to retrieve. The dog’s playful actions arouse the curiosity of the ducks who are lured within gunshot range. The Toller is subsequently sent out to retrieve the dead or wounded birds. As far as we can tell, the only thing the dog doesn’t do in this entire process is to pull the trigger and cook the bird.

Photo by Beth Adams

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