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Tooey was hot. She’s going through a false pregnancy, it’s hot this summer in Portland, and she wanted the show coat off. IWSCOPS Specialty (coming up in late August) be damned. Get the coat off, please, and get it off now.

But you’re so beautiful with your long show coat, I thought.

Get the coat off now, she panted. I’m hot.

Okay, okay. I’ll clip you down, but first we have to have a portait, captured specially by Russ.

So this past Friday night, Russ captured this photo of the girl. It was tough because it was hot and humid, even in the cool of the evening, and especially even more hot under the studio lights. So for many of the shots, she was panting, her tongue was lolling out, dripping saliva. Just looking at her made us all hot.

But finally, we got a good one of our beautiful girl, her last time in a long show coat.

Tooey, 5-1/2 years

Tooey, 5-1/2 years

Then, of course, Cooper, our camera hound, had to get into the action. He’s pretty easy to take pictures of — he loves the camera and will sit for quite a while during a shoot. Lights, cameras, all part of the action.

Cooper, 7-1/2 years

Cooper, 7-1/2 years

Carlin was hanging out, wondering about all this stuff that suddenly appeared in the living room — lights, reflectors, cables going everywhere, sandbags — all kinds of new things. So we thought we should give him the opportunity to practice sit-stay in a new location with a whole bunch of new distractions.

It took longer to get his portrait because, unlike Cooper and Tooey, he doesn’t have this camera thing down, his sit-stay is shaky, and he doesn’t appear to enjoy being photographed for it’s own sake like Cooper does. But finally, we got this of happy Carlin Baby.

Carlin, 21 weeks

Carlin, 21 weeks

At the Stumptown show today, Carlin hopped, jumped, paced, ran, and for about 4 seconds, actually gaited around the conformation ring.

Yes, at 4 months and 3 weeks, he’s too young to officially compete for points in conformation, but the Portland Kennel Club put together a Beginner Puppy event for puppiea 4-6 months old, and I entered Carlin in that.

Being the only IWS to enter, he took Best of Breed by default and so then went into the beginner puppy group ring for sporting breeds under the same judge.

Where he also ran, hopped, jumped, paced, and occasionally gaited well enough that the judge gave him a 4th place in the sporting group.

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The best part was that be enjoyed himself. His tail wagged constantly (except when the judge went to feel his balls — and at that he whipped around faster than the speed of light to see what the heck she was doing back there), and he seemed happy to be there and see what all was going on.

He greeted people politely, invited a few of the other puppies to play, navigated the hubbub with aplomb, was happy to work on “Leave It”, “Stand”, and “High 5″. And he only barked once and remembered to potty only outside.

Good puppy!

Russ took 18-week-old Carlin out to the field practice with the NW English Springer Spaniel Club today. They spent the morning getting used to hunt test activities, shotguns, and dogs. They practiced “Steady” on the place board interspersed with relaxing in the shade. (It’s in the high 90’s F in western Oregon today.)

Then it was time to cool off, and hopefully get a water retrieve. Take a look at the results in the video below.

I love days off from work, especially if they’re sunny and not too warm. And this July 4th morning, we had the sunny part, and it wasn’t yet too warm.

We figured that our favorite training grounds would get crowded, so we packed up the dogs and training gear early, and headed out.

Perhaps mistakenly, we decided to play first. We don’t get a lot of opportunities where we’re all together and can go somewhere uncrowded and let the dogs off-leash. So we started the day exploring each of the ponds, running through the grass, and generally just enjoying ourselves.

Tooey, unsurprisingly, was first into every pond, but both Cooper and Carlin jumped in, too.

Then we decided to work. Cooper got a couple of double retrieves, Tooey got several single retrieves and some blind drills. And Carlin got some practice running to and staying on the Place board. Then Russ took both boys out into the field and practiced Sit-Stay.

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You’ll notice that the field above is grassy. It also held some sort of sticky vine-ish plant that leaves sticky seed balls in the coat.

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So this is what we spent the afternoon doing — combing out seeds from three IWS, and then giving baths.

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It was a family affair, so the brushing, bathing, drying, and nail filing got done fairly quickly.

Then Russ and I shared a well-earned beer, while the dogs chewed on raw chicken wings.

Lately, I have been blessed (or cursed) with unrelenting work from my best clients. Working 7 days a week for the last couple of months has taken its toll. Memorial Day weekend was a 3-day break with a hunt test for Tooey. But other than that, I haven’t taken a break while producing hundreds of images for a shoe and sportswear company here in Oregon.

The real saints in this process have been the dogs. No field work, no vigorous exercise; just  watching me work. So today, the whole crew took off for a morning to play on Sauvie Island and its water.

This photo sums up what Tooey and Cooper thought getting out of the house and the simple pleasures of just being outdoors and being a dog.

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Cooper and Tooey leap into the lake for the pure joy of swimming

Carlin, at 17 weeks, knows little about the activities that await him as an adult Irish Water Spaniel. He initially looked on with amazement, as Tooey and Cooper swam and retrieved non-stop.

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So to get him into the game, we pulled out a puppy size retrieving duck, dragged it along the ground, and tossed it into the lake. At first, he was not sure what to do, but then his retriever gene kicked in, and that was all he needed.

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Carlin looks like he will be a suitable water dog as he made his first delivery to hand (in exchange for cheese), and this was his first deep water swim as well.

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Carlin, at 17 weeks, weighs in at 30 lbs. His potential as a field dog is showing through nicely.

With long swims for the adult dogs, and lots of running through the pastures practicing recalls, the dogs slept nicely on the way home. The case of cabin fever has been broken.

Well, after just over a month, Tooey’s JHU title has shown up on the AKC’s website.

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captured from the AKC’s website – June 26, 2014

She earned that title, fair and square, with her fourth Junior spaniel hunting test pass on May 25. Now all I have to wait for is that beautiful title certificate to arrive in the mail. (Which will go to her co-owner’s address, but I’ll get it eventually.)

15 weeks blog

Carlin has been doing the sweetest thing. I didn’t realize what he’d been doing until I saw it a few times, and then I thought, “Wow, little guy. You might win Cooper over yet.”

Cooper has this seven-year-old habit of dropping a ball several feet away from his target person, and then running to a spot even farther out. There he waits for the person to pick up the ball and throw it.

For the most part, neither Russ nor I pick the ball up until it’s at our feet, and so over a period of several minutes, Cooper will run up to the dropped ball, bring it maybe a few inches closer to the person, and then run off again. After a wait, he’ll again come pick up the dropped ball, drop it a few more inches closer, and then run off again. Eventually, the ball will appear at the person’s feet, but it takes a while.

Sometimes I think that this is a longitudinal experiment Cooper has designed to see how close he has to get the ball to the person before that person will throw the ball. At the very least, this is a game that Cooper has made up, and he loves playing it.

So, about Carlin. The other day, Carlin watched Cooper start the drop-ball-and-run-away routine. And when Coop turned to run away from the dropped ball, Carlin picked it up. I thought, “Oh, boy. Stealing Cooper’s ball may not be such a great idea.”

But it turned out, he wasn’t stealing it. Instead, he ran to Cooper, dropped the ball about eight inches away from Cooper, and then pushed it toward Cooper’s feet. Experiment interrupted, Cooper grabbed the ball, and started the routine again. And again, Carlin picked it up and brought it to Cooper. Not too close to Cooper, of course. Cooper can be grumpy.

It could be that Carlin is just returning the ball — “Here, Cooper, you dropped this.” That would be sweet.

But there is another interpretation. Carlin so wants to play with Cooper. Carlin is usually polite, and understands that Cooper won’t put up with being jumped on and having his ears pulled, the way Tooey will let him do. But when Cooper runs in the yard, Carlin runs along, just behind. When Cooper sniffs along the fence, Carlin trails after him.

So here’s what I think. I think maybe Carlin is trying to add a new rule to Cooper’s game, so that Carlin can play it, too.

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