I Asked South Dakota Dog Trainers About Kristi Noem

Deb Davenport gets it, to a point.

Davenport, the secretary of the Western South Dakota Bird Dog Club, owns seven adult hunting dogs: mostly Spinoni Italiani with whimsical names like Confetti and Partito, and one vizsla. She has been a dog trainer and dog fancier since the mid-1990s, she said.

She knows that some dogs are “wired inappropriately” and that, sometimes, for the safety of humans and other animals, it can be necessary to euthanize. She knows that not everybody turns to a vet for that task.

“Since I live in a very rural agricultural state, there are people that do that themselves with a firearm,” Davenport told me.

What she does not get, though, is the way the governor of her state, Kristi Noem, talked about shooting her dog Cricket, as well as an unnamed billy goat, in her memoir, “No Going Back,” which came out yesterday.

“I don’t know a single person that would brag about it. Most of the time they feel bad,” Davenport, a Republican, said. “I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t at least be sad.”

By now, dear reader, you know about Noem’s shot heard ’round the world. It is a story that just won’t seem to die, unlike Cricket and the goat, partly because the leaks keep coming and partly because Noem herself keeps talking about it. Facing a firestorm of criticism from fellow Republicans — and the formation of a bipartisan Congressional Dog Lovers Caucus apparently intended to troll her — she has defended herself as the victim of unfair attacks from critics who don’t understand the hard choices people have to make on ranches and farms.

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