Training week

Well, I thought we would be guiding a big quail hunt on Saturday but got the word last night that most the hunters are utility co. workers so it is off.

Instead, I have invited my two youngest sons to join us (as in me and the dogs) on a hunt. That way I’ll make it worthwhile for the preserve owner and have two additional guns so I can focus on handling the dogs.

After last Sunday afternoon’s ‘boot camp’ up at Mountain View Brittanys we may have turned a corner. We continue to work on heel, whoa, and here at least once a day. Now he comes to a screeching halt the minute he hears the command. But, these surroundings are familiar and we all know how things change with a new setting, birds under your nose, and ‘new’ dogs.

We will keep at it. Saturday will be a training session as much as it will be a hunt…so we’ll see.

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Back to reality

The Michigan hunt was great. By the end of the week, Nim was pointing those birds 30′ away. We started out bustin ’em and finished up cautious.

Now we are back to training.

For me, training is about reinforcement of known commands and working toward ‘finishing’ the dog so that when in the field hunting we have a dependable Whoa (which translates to stop to flush, honoring, and safety), Here or back (which translates to hunting the ground I want us to cover), force break retrieve (a winter project to ensure reliable retrieves), and just good citizenship around other dogs and hunters.

This level of training is tough. It requires a degree of focus by the handler way beyond the basic obedience training. Success comes when I can anticipate Nim’s behavior, intervene when necessary in that instantaneous moment that provides association between behavior and correction.

I am amazed at the cues the dog offers the handler, once you are tuned in.

I am sure that it wasn’t an easy day for Nim. But, by the end of it, we were definitely making progress.

Next Saturday, pending the outcome of the hurricane, we are guiding in a big quail hunt…one of Nim’s favorite quarry. I will enjoy it because I won’t be shooting, just handling dogs. So I will get to sharpen my focus too, which, come to think of it, may be the most important element in our partnership.

It’s tough when you have a gun dog with more skills than the handler!

Day Six

No road trip is complete without some sort of adventure.

I was about 2/3 through a 12 hr drive and stopped at a rest stop on the turnpike to walk the dogs, water them, and stretch my legs.

Got back into the truck, started it up, and watched the oil pressure gauge take a couple of ‘jumps’ and bottom out.

I turned it off and checked the oil. Oil was ok. Maybe the sender, maybe the oil pump? Dunno, but won’t risk driving it without oil pressure.

Towed to the local Ford Dealer, and found a pet friendly motel.

First (and last) time dogs had a plain burger from Ruby Tuesday for dinner, as I only brought food through this morning.

10 hours of well rested dogs in a hotel.

They need their rest…dogs at the ford dealer…that should be an adventure.

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Day Four

Today was great! Beautiful weather, good friends. Today I hunted with my friend (from Tuesdays hunt) and my brother-in-law joined us.

We had a bunch of flushes…probably 20. Most we’re Woodcock, maybe 4/1. We did actually hit a few. We brought home 4 woodcock and 1 grouse!

Tired dogs, dirty truck, happy hunters!

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