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Archive for December, 2017

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.

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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

 

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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.

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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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