Boarding school for your pup is something I would not have endorsed a couple of years ago. But with experience and observing the results in Cooper, I changed my mind. Cooper is a much better companion because of his time at the Academy of Canine Behavior and a better hunter because of his 3 months at retriever boot camp. So now that Tooey is a show dog champion, it is time to move her full time into her training as a field dog.
For the last year in Cooper’s field training and hunt tests, I have been affiliated with the Lower Columbia Hunting Retriever Club. It has given me an opportunity to forge new relationships and friends, see lots of dogs work, and hone my own skills as a trainer. One club member, Butch Higgins, is a professional gundog trainer. His success with a variety of breeds and temperaments is a significant reason why we have decided that Tooey and Butch will be working together over the next few months.
Both Patrice and I have observed Butch at hunt tests, and the rapport between Butch and the dogs he is handling is very upbeat with a lot of tail wagging and a lot of positive communication taking place. This is not at the expense of high performance either. (Butch had 4 dogs this year pass all 6 days of the Master National Retriever Tests.) Plus, at the initial evaluation that Butch did with Tooey about a month ago, Tooey decided she likes Butch. So we anticipate that this should be a good fit.
Tooey’s very first training with Butch is pictured above. Butch walked her around the the lobby of Parkdale Kennels, and then encouraged her to sit in the chair and focus on him. Note that she is wearing a leash, but it is loose on the floor. This is all under his verbal control and encouragement. We should all be so relaxed with relative strangers.
Tooey then decided that if this was going to be her home for a while, she should get to know the staff and her surroundings.
In about 2 months, Patrice will be making weekend trips to Parkdale (about 50 miles from home) to start learning how to be Tooey’s field handler. This will all be leading up to the hunt test season of 2011, so they can join Cooper and me in competing for those hunt test titles. Team Tooey will be testing for a Working Certificate this spring and hunt titles in the both the AKC and the HRC.
Blog posts about Tooey will probably be sparse for a couple of months, but as soon as Patrice and Tooey meet up again, she will probably be a very popular topic for Patrice.