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Tooey has long reigned supreme at the center of the universe, and finally now we have documented proof.

photo illustration by Russ Dodd

Of course, Russ did help reality along a bit with some creative photography and photoshop wizardry, but we won’t tell.

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Today we had the great good fortune to visit with Linda and one of Tooey’s puppies, Finn, the former Mr Green (Tooey x JJ). Finn is a delightful dog, very friendly and affectionate. Although… not with Tooey so much. He kept just barking at her until finally she showed her teeth and snapped at the air next to his face. Maybe kinda sorta like a mom would do with an unruly puppy.

Once that little bit of correction was in place, we were able to get a photo of Tooey and Finn together. And then, once Tooey was escorted to the car, we were able to get a shot of Finn himself.

Just for comparison, here’s a photo Linda sent us just over 4 years ago, just after getting Finn home.

Now, here are mother and son today.

And here’s the boy himself, years later.

I don’t think they look much alike, except for the widow’s peak at their foreheads, similarly shaped eyes, and their horizontal mutton chops (Tooey’s are currently clipped off). Their heads, coats, and body shape are quite different.

But Finn has something that Tooey doesn’t have. Something Tooey would dearly love to have. Finn has a cockatiel roommate. Whenever the bird chirped or squeaked (just like a squeaky toy), Tooey ran over to the bird’s cage and just stared at the bird, eyes shining. You could just see the speech bubble over her head: “A bird! They have a bird! Oh, I want a bird!”

Finally, we pulled ourselves away and drove home, us to be grateful to puppy people who invite us in for awhile, and Tooey to dream of birds.

Tooey moving into Open

My faithful photographer was off training Carlin this morning, so the photos I have are sans dog. But these photos are two views of the Open-level Barn Hunt course that Tooey and I practiced on today.

The hardest part of today’s course was, as always, the tunnel. For the Open level, the tunnel is 4 hay bale widths long, and in the middle, it takes a right-angle turn. So going in, the dog sees no light at the end of said tunnel. Plus, the tunnels are only 1 hay bale width high, shorter than Tooey is tall.

Tooey had two runs. In both, she found her two rats with no trouble, and didn’t hesitate to jump up on the bales to see if the rats were hidden up there.

This is good. At last practice, she searched the ground, but didn’t seem to think that there would be any elevated rats. This time, she remembered that rats could be up off the ground.

But taking the tunnel is still not a sure thing. On her first run, she squeezed herself through so nicely that I thought she’d gotten the concept. On the second run, though, she’d stick her head in the entrance, but didn’t proceed.

So, the woman playing judge planted a tube with a rat in it right at the end of the tunnel. And when Tooey was in half way, I hurried to the other end with liver treats to reward her with. Plus praise. Lots and lots of praise.

So I call this a great practice. She’s not ready to compete yet, but we’re getting there.

Snowy end-of-year walk

While Russ and Carlin were in one field practicing retriever work, Tooey and I went for a walk.

The snow is low, having melted and frozen multiple times over the last several days. So I put my yaktrax on my boots, and we set off.

Since we were at a state park, there are no guns or shooting allowed. And it’s not mourning dove season. Which is why, when Tooey flushed up a dove from the falling-over cattails along the path, I had to disappoint her. She just looked at me like, “Mom? I did my part. What up with you?”

I could only shrug. But it was a great walk in the bright sun and blue sky.

Last Bird for 2017 (probably)

The upland hunting season in Idaho wraps up in 3 days (December 31). So between snow storms and in freezing weather, Carlin and I went out for possibly the last time this year looking for some pheasants. With a few inches of snow on the ground left over from Christmas day, and the mercury slightly above 20°, we spent the morning along the Payette River in SW Idaho.

There was not much activity. As we were gradually heading back to where we were parked, I heard a rooster cackle several hundred yards away and saw it flush out of some cattails in front of another hunting party. The flush was so far out ahead of them and their dogs that they never took a shot.

Because it was out of range for the other hunting party and it was headed my way from my right, I stood by until it was past my left (fair game etiquette). It covered the distance quickly and zoomed in between Carlin and myself.

As the rooster cruised about 10 feet off the ground, I made a passing shot and watched it tumble across a small ditch of moving water and into some cover about 50 yards away. Carlin, however, was fixated on the other hunting party and never saw the bird or my shot.

I called him in to me and then sent him on a classic “dead bird” drill. He crossed the stream with a leap and up the bank toward the bird. With only one “over” cast from me, Carlin headed into the cover straight to the bird. On the return trip he hesitated at the creek (deciding to jump or wade), but with the bird in his mouth he wisely chose the latter. Moments later, he delivered the bird to hand.

And that is why we train our dogs.

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Carlin delivering his bird near the banks of the Payette River

 

This year we have had just a bit of snow (so far). Nothing like the “snowmaggedon” we had last year. Saturday morning, we were getting all in hats and boots (and orange collars) to start shoveling and plowing (and playing in) the snow. Two of us had the goal of getting the snow off the walks and out of the driveway. The other two just hoped to chase a couple of squirrels and each other through it.

But before we exhausted ourselves doing all that, Russ propped up the camera on the lawn, set it to timer, and caught a good photo with which we want wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a wonderful New Year.

Tooey at 9

Tooey turns 9 years old today. She didn’t get spiffed up as she would be for a show. She got her last bath on the day after Thanksgiving, and just a minor trim. She was probably last brushed about then, too.

Her muzzle is graying. Her coat, never a dark brown, has silvered a bit overall. She has slowed down a bit, but she still chases squirrels in the yard, even if Carlin gets there first.

And she still hunts for Russ, even if she’s gotten even more wilful about not returning when Russ calls her back. Her motto is: If the bird comes down, it must be retrieved, no matter what. Even if it has fallen on the other side of a river or a barbed wire fence.

She keeps us warm at night, retrieves the Sunday paper from the front end of the driveway in the morning, and patrols the property during the day.

And she’s the most beautiful Irish Water Spaniel I’ve ever seen.

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