Stop Making Excuses, Kristi Noem. That Dog Won’t Hunt.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem wants it known: It wasn’t easy for her to kill her 14-month-old wirehaired pointer, Cricket, for aggressive behavior.

“But often the easy way isn’t the right way,” the Republican wrote on X on Sunday as she tried to defend the shocking act that almost certainly dashed any hopes of being Donald Trump’s running mate.

What’s clear to anyone who has ever loved a dog is that Noem failed to do the actual hard thing—training Cricket instead of dragging her to a gravel pit and shooting her dead.

And if you can’t do the truly hard thing, you shouldn’t be in the governor’s office, much less in the running for vice president, even to a guy who’s made a career of taking the easy way out.

“If you really want to show us that you’re worth your weight, show us you can take a difficult situation and make it better and improve it and fix it,” veteran dog trainer Lisa Topol told The Daily Beast.

“Something was hard, so she shot it. It’s unbelievable.”

Topol noted Cricket was an adolescent, when genetic traits take increasing hold in dogs.

“They are still learning,” she said. “And this is a dog that is bred to do what it did.”

In her upcoming memoir, Noem said she “hated” Cricket, described her as “untrainable,” and indicated that she relied on a shock collar to make the hunting dog do as she was told.

Topol notes that this is a form of aversive training.

“It tends to create more aggressive behavior down the road in dogs because you’re using methods that instill pain and fear and intimidation, and ultimately tends to lead towards aggression,” she said.

In the book, obtained by The Guardian, Noem recounts visiting a neighbor who kept chickens and watching Cricket leap from her truck and kill one after another “like a trained assassin.”

I hope her political career is over.

Katherine Jacobson, president of the Rapid City Kennel Club

But wirehair owners say it appears Cricket wasn’t trained properly at all.

“Everything this dog did I have seen many times and they have the potential to become some of the best hunting dogs and family companions out there,” Jeff Miller, owner of Dakota Pro Wirehairs said. “They just need proper training, appropriate boundaries set and patience as they learn to control their prey drive.

“Any breeder would have been glad to take it back as this was a puppy yet, and in my opinion just had a lot of prey drive that needed tuning. I can tell you that it was heartbreaking to hear that story, for sure!”

Cole Jensen of Badlands Kennel said wirehaired pointers are known as the most aggressive of the hunting breeds, “but I find it very unlikely that she wouldn’t have known that before bringing one home.”

“It sounds like this dog was just not trained properly—it’s a common problem that any trainer worth his salt can help with,” he said.

Katherine Jacobson, president of the Rapid City Kennel Club, had this to say about Cricket-gate: “Good luck, I hope her political career is over.”

The Cricket episode did not put Noem off pet ownership. She had another hunting dog, a Vizsla named Hazel, who died after an accident in 2022.

“My heart is broken,” Noem wrote of Hazel at the time. “She was more than a dog to me, she was a dear dear friend.”

Noem was so fond of Hazel that she convinced former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski that he should get one for his son for Christmas in 2019. A Facebook post by the Lukvy W Ranch and & Kennel shows the two politicos with the puppy that Lewandowski took home.

Let’s hope he didn’t take any advice on how to deal with canine behavior from her.

Brett Bachman contributed reporting

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