Cooper and Tooey are hunting dogs. So when it came time to choose our next dog, we knew we wanted another hunting dog.
But hunting dogs are not just born. Genetics and early learning do count, of course, but to get a reliable hunting partner, those are not enough. You have to train your dog. Although we’ve been playing at it for several months, we knew it was time to get serious, so we started in earnest with Carlin by visiting Richard Matzke of Tuxedo Kennels to see how he might help us.
First we started by just running Carlin around the grounds, getting used to the area, the scents of other dogs (oh, boy! dogs!), the bird pens, a horse (we’ll give that huge snorting animal a wide berth, shall we?), and new people (oh, yeah, hi, OK, you smell okay, can we go do something now?).
Carlin scaring up a pigeon
The first hour we spent out in a field of low cover, with Richard and I teasing Carlin with pigeons and planting pigeons, a chukar, and a quail for Carlin to find.
Carlin found the birds okay, and he was happy to chase them if they ran or flew, but once he cornered one, he wasn’t sure what to do with it. He poked a couple, but if they didn’t run or fly, he lost interest. And in the case of the live duck, when it stopped running away and turned to face Carlin instead, Carlin figured discretion was the better part of valor, and ran off in the opposite direction.
That was sort of discouraging. But Richard said he saw something in the boy, and figured that we could come up with something that would turn on Carlin’s inner birddog.
And then he had an idea. We’d told him that Carlin had been out a couple of times retrieving birds that had been flung by wingers and that he’d been out once hunting alongside Tooey, so Richard suggested, let’s just try the real thing.
What’s that guy doing out there?
Oh, he’s going to shoot the bird! Let me go! Let me go!
I got the bird! I got it!
I got a bi-ird! I got a bi-ird! Look at me! I got a bi-ird!
So the plan is that Carlin and I will go up every Saturday for a lesson. There is so much to learn when you’re trying to teach a dog.