This morning I went out with Mark and Kevin, and their two Boykin spaniels, to an all new training ground. New grounds are good, if for nothing else than to generalize the work of retrieving birds. It’s like repeating to the dogs: “If you see a bird go up and then go down, and if you’re sent for it, you must go get it, even if the environment is strange and new.”
Cooper will retrieve almost anything, anywhere. But Tooey has gotten thrown off from time to time in new places and with new people, and especially with new guys. So this was excellent training for her.
We had three wingers and threw singles, doubles plus singles, and triples, and triples plus singles for the dogs, depending on where they are in training. Tooey did three very nice singles, ranging from 70 to 100 yards, all through low cover. She did a great job of ignoring the two strange guys out there, and just getting the job done. And she did it for me, which pleased me very much. (Usually, she works for Russ.)
Cooper did a long single, and then tried a triple, with the original single being used as the memory bird (the last bird to be retrieved). As usual, Cooper did things his own way. He retrieved the single just fine. Then he watched the triple go down, and retrieved the “go” bird (the last bird to go down and the first bird to be retrieved, out to the left), then the “memory” bird (the bird that goes down first, and is supposed to be retrieved last, out to the right), and then he couldn’t quite remember where the second bird went down (the middle bird, in the middle).
OK, so back to the car for a moment to get a drink, think, and reflect.
Mark and Kevin ran their dogs on marks of various sorts, and then Mark set out a couple of bumpers for blind retrieves, set farther out than any of the marks, just about 20 degrees off where the middle mark had been. His Boykin, Piper did just find on the blind.
Then we got Cooper out, with the idea of doing the single + triple routine again. Again, he went first to the “go” bird on the left, then to the “memory” bird on the right, and then sort of forgot where the middle bird was. I whistled him to sit, which he did. Then I sent him toward the bird with a “Back” command. He went back, right past the bird. Argh! He got so far out that he scented the blind bumper, zoomed over sideways to grab it up, and then delivered the bumper. OK, so not Master level work.
I then had him retrieve that middle bird as if it were a blind. Which he got just fine. Silly boy.