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Archive for February, 2016

Carlin graduated from the Academy; got a bath, a close trim, and some good food; and now he has returned to Tuxedo Kennels for more hunting and hunt test training. What he learned at the Academy is essential to living in polite society. What he’s learning with Richard at Tuxedo Kennels is much more fun.

Here’s Carlin in a video Richard posted today on Facebook:

Richard noted that the video shows Carlin working on some fun memory drills without any pressure. The retrieve is about 90 yards, which Carlin does in a nice straight line. And even though he’s being a bouncy goofy boy, at the end of the retrieve, Carlin is still delivering his bird to hand, in a nice heel position, right next to Richard’s left foot.

I am so pleased to see Carlin enjoying himself and learning good birdwork at the same time. I can hardly wait to see him.

 

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What is not to like about a blog put together by someone who is passionate about:

  • Hunting dogs
  • Hunting dog photography
  • Teaching photography

And someone who is an expert in their passion and is very competent at explaining and sharing their knowledge, photos, and insights.

(I know, another great dog blog besides The Cooper Project)

Craig Koshyk is a Canadian photographer, educator, author, and probably the world’s foremost expert on pointing dogs. In addition to authoring an amazing reference book on Pointing Dogs, Craig also maintains a blog on the topic that is eye candy for those who can’t get enough about gun dogs.

Craig Koshyk with one of his remarkable Weimaraners

Craig Koshyk with one of his Weimaraners

Check out this remarkable blog: Pointing Dog Blog

Craig has hunted and photographed over more breeds of dogs than I even knew existed (before I read his book). Every page reveals information about the real world hunting abilities of dozens of breeds. Warning: if you have dog hoarding tendencies, Do Not Read this book.

volume-one-cover

I have recently had an email dialog with Craig about the hunting style of Irish Water Spaniels. He has been researching the origins of the Pont-Audemer Spaniel, which may have some IWS in its DNA. He noticed a video of Tooey doing her hesitation flush while pursuing pheasants and was curious about that specific tendency. Hopefully, next hunting season, we can venture to Manitoba with Tooey and Carlin, and let Craig hunt over yet one more breed of dog. Tooey would love to add another Canadian Provence to her bucket list as well.

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I’d really hoped to bring Carlin home today. The plan was that we’d have a last visit at the Academy, get a demo of Carlin’s progress, and get a lesson ourselves on how to handle him. We’d walk him around with Tooey, and my hope was that he’d stay in a nice, polite “Right Here” while doing so. And then we’d check out and go home.

I got it about half right.

While we practiced indoors yesterday, Carlin did better than last week. I was able to walk him almost right up to Russ and Tooey, and then turn and walk away, and have Carlin come with me, leash loose. Very good! I was happy.

But we hardly ever walk our dogs on leash in the house, so I asked to try it outdoors, one of us walking Tooey up ahead, and one of us walking Carlin not too far behind. I knew this would be hard because Carlin does not like to be left behind, prefers to be in front with or ahead of Tooey, and generally just finds all of the scents and activity outdoors to be very distracting.

And alas, he still wasn’t ready to do this, no matter which of us had Tooey and which of us had Carlin. He still couldn’t concentrate on staying in position while his beloved Tooey was near and they were both outside.

He has to learn to stay in position, no matter what the distraction, whether it be Tooey, a squirrel dashing across our path, another dog coming toward us, or other dogs running past to retrieve a bird.

So to help solve this problem (we hope), we are now dogless for a week. We left Tooey there so she could help Carlin learn to work around one of his top favorite distractions.

Tooey really didn’t want us to leave her this morning, but it looks like she’s made the best of it.

image

Tooey snoozing on the couch (in a house where dogs are not supposed to snooze on the couch)

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This time Russ and Tooey accompanied me on my second visit with Carlin at the Academy. Parts went about as I thought, and some parts exceeded my expectations but didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

Sometimes hopes are just that — not something you expect, but something you really want, nonetheless.

Before our visit, I’d told the trainers at the Academy that I’d like to be able to walk Carlin on the same walk where Russ is also along, walking Tooey. In the past, this hasn’t gone nearly as well as I’d like, especially when Tooey is ahead and Carlin is behind. Carlin hates being left behind, so when he was behind, he would pull the leash until he was ahead. It seemed like I was always correcting him, which is unpleasant, so my usual strategies were to always have Carlin ahead, or to take an entirely different route altogether.

So, at the Academy, we tried it. Russ and Tooey sauntered along ahead of Carlin and me, and I did my best to remind Carlin to maintain his “right here” position, which is a loose heel. Carlin was really trying hard to do what I asked. I could see him trying, and then forgetting. So I’d remind him with a gentle pop on the leash, and he’d shake his body as to say, “Oh yeah! Right here. OK,” and then he’d hop back into place. But at the same time, he loves Tooey and what he really wanted to run and play with her, not stay a couple of steps behind.

So Carlin had a real challenge, and I did, too, trying to remember how to handle the leash, and when to say “No,” when to (or not) repeat the command. I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to do this — it will just be hard work on both our parts when we get Carlin home. And if I can get a solid “right here” despite any distraction, then I know I’ll be able to walk him at a hunt test from the holding blind to the start line off leash.

Then on to the next challenge: I wanted to know how to handle Carlin while going into and out of a room crowded with dogs, such as in an Obedience trial or conformation show. So, while Russ put Tooey up in the car, the trainer, Carlin, and I went over to an Obedience class that was being held on the grounds. I had Carlin wait at all the various gates and doorways, and he did a great job at that. Next he did a beautiful “right here” getting into the area where all the other dogs were working. Then the trainer had me work Carlin a bit, doing easy stuff like a sits and downs.

He did the sits and downs right away upon cue. And he didn’t move out of those positions until I told him to do something different. So that’s great. He was so good at this, better than I expected. But what I’d hoped was that he’d relax in his down, such as by tipping over onto one hip or putting his head down. Instead, he lay ramrod straight, like the Sphinx, watching (but not staring at) the other dogs intently. So, good. He lay down, he didn’t stare, and he didn’t bark or lunge. Finally, I could see that this was just very hard on him, so I started to say something to the trainer about our leaving. But just then, he relaxed onto one hip. Good boy! So I said, “This is a good place to stop. Let’s get out of here.” So, I released Carlin from his down, asked him for a “right here”, and we got out of there without problem or incident.

I think his being able to relax at a dog show will be a long time coming. He’ll get it, but I think it’s going to be a long time and a lot of work.

So, then we went back to the office, where Russ and I both got our rewards — being able to tell Carlin “Hugs!” At this, he leapt into our arms, and gave us kisses galore, over and over. Neither one of us could see past our goopy eyeglasses. And maybe at least one of us also had something in our eyes that made it hard to see.

Until next time, Carlin. We’ll be back.

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