Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Irish Water Spaniels’

I worried about what I was planning to do for days ahead of time. I had bad dreams. My lower intestinal tract was worried, too. I knew there were good reasons for doing it, but I didn’t want to.

I don’t want to hurt or frighten my dogs, especially on purpose. But there are rattlesnakes around here. There are rattlesnakes right behind my employer’s building. People have seen them on roads out of town. Apparently this a bumper year for gophers, ground squirrels, and whistle pigs, so with all that food and the early hot weather, the rattlesnakes are out in force.

And what I might do to teach my dogs to avoid rattlesnakes would hurt them less than if they went on a summer hike or early season hunt trip, and got bitten by a rattlesnake.

So Russ and I took both dogs to the Rattlesnake Avoidance Training put on by the Idaho Humane Society and the Idaho Chukar Foundation.

We signed up for the earliest time they had. I hoped to avoid too many crowds and hot weather. But even so, there were lots and lots of people there. (It appears they had capacity for about 250 dogs, I’m guessing.) The photo below doesn’t begin to show how many people were at this beautiful park to teach their dogs about rattlesnakes.

They had 7 trainer stations where trainers met handler and their dogs, and talked with them about any exposure the dog might have had already with an e-collar, snakes, or previous training. They also explained how the training would be run.

They also explained that the dogs would be exposed to bull snakes on the course, which look and behave almost like a rattlesnake but don’t have rattles and are not venomous. When the dog looked at, stepped on, touched, or investigated a snake, the trainer would activate the e-collar to simulate the sharp pain of a snake bite.

Then one at a time, a trainer/handler/dog team went through the course to help the dog learn to recognize the sight, smell, and sound of a rattlesnake.

The course had 5 snake stations:

  • Stations 1, 2, and 3 had a bull snake. These would teach the dog about the sight and smell of a rattlesnake.
  • Station 4 had a bull snake and a sound maker to simulate the sound of a rattle rattling. These would introduce sound, along with the sight and smell.
  • Station 5 had a plastic snake and a sound maker to simulate the sound of a rattle rattling. This would remove the smell element, but keep sight and sound.

Each station also had a snake handler to keep the snakes safe. But even so, the snakes were being handled more than they’d like, and they were not happy about it. There was a lot of writhing, tail flicking, and lifting of heads.

Russ took Carlin through first. My photos did not turn out well — my shutter finger was way too slow. But then I took Tooey through, and Russ took photos. In the pictures below, Tooey had been through three stations already, and really begun to get that rattlesnakes are not our friends.

The snake is lying at the base of the tree, on the right side, along with the noise maker. The snake handler is peeking out from the left side.

We hadn’t even gotten that close to the snake, but Tooey, I think, had already gotten a whiff of it in the photo below.

By this photo, she’s heading off away from the snake.

At this point, my job was to run away from the snake with her, praising her for avoiding the snake. The trainer could see that she was reacting appropriately, and didn’t use the e-collar this time.

Carlin went through the training a second time. He’s usually quite soft, and those few times when we’ve used an e-collar on him, we haven’t needed to turn up the dial beyond the minimum. But in his first run through the training, he didn’t seem to get the point at all, so we ran him through again, this time using a higher setting.

You can see how close he got to the snake. Just before this photo, he looked at the snake and the trainer nicked him with the collar. He jumped away fast, and we both yelped. This snake was beginning to lift it’s head in a threatening posture. That scared me, adding to the reality of the simulation.

But the time we got to station 4, Carlin had figured it out like Tooey. He was already running away when I was just seeing it for the first time.

The trainers said that many dogs don’t need another session, that they get it after this training. But he also urged us to repeat the training on our own if (when?) we come across another snake. I hope that never happens. But we live in Idaho now, and rattlesnakes are our neighbors.

Read Full Post »

We have kept this blog up for more than 10 years. I know that there are others who enjoy reading it. But we also use it as a kind of diary, to help us remember what happened to which dogs when.

So as I have with Carlin’s other hunt test passes (Junior and Senior), I thought I’d create a post that lists Carlin’s scores for the Master Hunter Upland spaniel tests he took and passed, earning his MHU title. Each test is represented in a table, and each table includes the scores given by the two judges for each category.

Master Hunter Upland pass 1Northwest English Springer Spaniel Club – August 20, 2016

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt   Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 9 | 9 N/A 8 | 8 6 | 6 7.67 | 7.67
Bird finding 9 | 10 8 | 9 8 | 8 6 | 7 7.75 | 8.5
Flushing 8 | 8 N/A N/A N/A 8.0  | 8.0
Trained 8 | 8 8 | 9 8 | 7 6 | 6 7.5  | 7.25
Retrieving 9 | 8 9 | 8 8 | 8 7 | 8 8.25 | 8.0
Overall average 7.83 | 7.88

 

Master Hunter Upland pass 2Northwest English Springer Spaniel Club – August 21, 2016

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt   Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 8 | 9 N/A 9 | 9 8 | 10 8.33 | 9.33
Bird finding 9 | 9 10 | 9 10 | 9 10 | 10 9.75 | 9.25
Flushing 8 | 9 N/A  N/A  N/A 8.0  | 9.0
Trained 6 | 6 10 | 8 7 | 9 6 | 6 7.25 | 7.25
Retrieving 9 | 9 10 | 9 10 | 10 6 | 8 8.75 | 9.0
Overall average 8.41 | 8.77

 

Master Hunter Upland pass 3Mount Rainier Sporting Spaniel Club – September 2, 2016

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt  Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 10 | 8 N/A 8 | 7 10 | 7 9.33 | 7.33
Bird finding 10 | 7 8 | 9 7 | 7 10 | 7 8.75 | 7.5
Flushing 10 | 9 N/A N/A N/A 10.0 | 9.00
Trained 10 | 10 6 | 7 7 | 7 8 | 6 7.75 | 7.50
Retrieving 10 | 10 10 | 7 8 | 8 7 | 6 8.75 | 7.75
Overall average 8.92 | 7.82

 

Master Hunter Upland pass 4 – Puget Sound English Springer Spaniel Club – September 3, 2016

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt   Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 9 | 9 N/A 10 | 10 8 | 8 9.0  | 9.0
Bird finding 9 | 9 10 | 10 10 | 10 8 | 8 9.7  | 9.25
Flushing 10 | 9 N/A N/A N/A 10.0 | 9.0
Trained 9 | 8 8 | 10 10 | 10 8 | 8 8.7  | 9.0
Retrieving 10 | 8 9 | 10 10 | 10 9 | 9 9.0  | 9.25
Overall average 9.2  | 9.1

 

Master Hunter Upland pass ? – Clumber Spaniel Club of America – September 4, 2016
We don’t have any records of passing this test. But when I called the American Kennel Club in early this month to straighten out some other mistakes on Carlin’s AKC Points and Awards page, the AKC said they show a pass at this test for Carlin.

“Really?” I asked, “I don’t think so. Are you sure?” And the nice lady there replied, yes, she’s sure. They even had it down as Carlin’s 5th qualifying score for his MHU title. She was a bit embarrassed that the certificate hadn’t been sent out yet, and was glad I’d called her so she could make sure to get it sent.

About 5 days later, an MHU certificate arrived, dated September 4, 2016. We just didn’t get it until May 8, 2017. We could have stopped there and accepted the title, but it didn’t feel right. So we entered him in more tests to make sure Carlin could really do the work.

 

Master Hunter Upland pass 5Missouri Headwaters Gun Dog Club – May 20, 2017

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt   Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 9 | 8 N/A 10 | 8 9 | 8 9.33 | 8.0
Bird finding 9 | 8 9 | 9 10 | 9 9 | 8 9.25 | 8.5
Flushing 9 | 6 N/A N/A N/A 9.00 | 6.0
Trained 9 | 8 9 | 9 10 | 9 9 | 8 9.25 | 8.5
Retrieving 9 | 7 9 | 10 10 | 8 9 | 9 9.25 | 9.0
Overall average 9.2  | 8.0

 

Read Full Post »

Sunday’s master spaniel test was tough. The Missouri Headwaters Gun Dog Club did a fine job putting on a test with the conditions presented to them. But still it was tough, particularly on the Juniors and Masters.

There was very little breeze. It was hot. In fact, we drenched Carlin with water every 10 minutes or so, just to keep him relatively cool.

Juniors went first — only 1 dog passed. Seniors went next — they had 4 qualifiers. Masters went next, and they were hard hit, with only 2 dogs qualifying.

Carlin was 4th in the Master running order, and as we walked the course, we watched the other dogs fail one by one. Some dogs just couldn’t find any birds. Other dogs found birds, but then weren’t steady and broke before being sent for the retrieve. One dog flushed a bird, but then couldn’t find it after it had been shot. One dog read Tooey’s playbook, and ran off the course after a flyaway. But Carlin, an Irish Water Spaniel, and Dennis, a cross-eyed, 9-year-old yellow Labrador, did well enough to get their hunt deads and then go to the water.

It took quite a while for the first three dogs to fail. And by the time Carlin was called up, we were nervous, he was amped, and it was getting hotter and hotter.

But when it was Carlin’s turn, it took him less than 5 minutes to find, flush, be steady, and retrieve two chukars, and then nail a 65-yard blind retrieve (no ducks this time).

Carlin returning with his 2nd chukar

So, it was on to the water. As in Saturday’s test, the Master water blind was held first. And because Carlin was the first of two Master dogs to go on to the water test, he was the first Master dog to do the water blind.

This blind was at a 45 degree angle to the slough’s edge. If Carlin were to go straight to the bird, he’d cross the first channel, just touch the tip of a small island, and then cross the 2nd channel to the slough’s edge on the other side. What he did was to swim to the tip of the island, get out just there, and stop to look back to Russ for directions. Russ gave him a left-hand back cast. Carlin crossed the 2nd channel and climbed half way up the bank to retrieve the pheasant. Which he picked up and delivered directly to hand.

Then, Russ and Carlin went back aways from the water to wait while the Junior and Senior dogs did their marked water retrieves. Carlin tried to get a better look, but it wouldn’t have done him any good. The Master water retrieve was in a slightly different place and angle than the Senior marks.

And again, that tense moment. Would Carlin break at his water mark, and blow the whole test? The gallery was rooting silently for him. There was actually no talking while Carlin did this mark.

The bird landed in some pheasant-colored reeds on the far bank of the slough. Carlin swam right by it, got up on the bank, and thought for a moment about going over to where the blind retrieve had been. He changed his mind, though, and turned around, saw the bird at the water’s edge, picked it up, swam it back, and delivered it to hand.

The crowd clapped and cheered. The judge said to Russ, “You can breathe now.” And so it was done. Another Master qualifying score: average 9.33 out of 10!

Good job, boys! May 21, 2017

Read Full Post »

Tooey is her own kind of bird dog. She knows how to get birds. She doesn’t need no stinking tests to prove that. She doesn’t need validation from the AKC (though she has it). She’s gotten birds in multiple states, including Montana, plus a Canadian province. And this recent trip to Montana just proved her out.

To keep her entertained on this trip, we entered Tooey at the Senior level at the two tests put on by the Missouri Headwaters Gun Dog Club. It’s just not fair to have to wait in the car the whole time while Carlin’s having all the fun.

So on Saturday, Russ took her out to the course set up for senior and master dogs. While the judges were giving instructions to Russ, Tooey was ignoring their comments and plotting out her own strategy. There are birds out there. They must be gotten, no matter what.

Tooey quartered methodically between the gunners, stopping and seriously inspecting every suspicious area where the wiley chukars might be hiding. She flushed her first chukar, which was out walking around in the low grass. That proved to be an easy shot and an easy retrieve. Pretty quickly, she got herself into some good cover.

And dove in to flush another bird.

Which was promptly shot at. It flew off, though, so Tooey needed to do a long retrieve. She needed no prompting, and off she went. And kept going. And kept going some more. She was gone so long that I thought the judge was going to call a “no bird”, but then we could all see Tooey in the distance, coming back in with a bird.

She handed the bird over to Russ, and the judges conferred a bit. Judges conferring is rarely a good thing, but they came to the conclusion that Tooey could keep going with the test. Apparently she came back just soon enough to not throw her out for not being under control.

And it was on to the hunt dead, which we seldom practice with Tooey. But she’s watched us work with Carlin, and she knew what to do. After all, it’s only about 45 yards away. Easy for a hunter like Tooey. She took the correct line, picked up the correct bird, and delivered it to hand.

So far, so good. Only one simple water retrieve left for her to do to get another Senior pass.

Well, at this point, her desire to play by the rules was waning. After all, rules can get in the way of efficient hunting and retrieving. Russ lined Tooey up on the bank of the slough, called for the bird. As soon as the bird hit the water, so did Tooey. Test over. Fail. Unfortunately, the rules require that a Senior dog stay steady at the water until sent. Tooey obviously thinks that this is a stupid rule. But she got her bird, and I don’t think it had even been in the water long enough to get very soggy.

The next day, I ran her. We didn’t think it could get too much worse. I guess, though, it depends on how you define “worse”.

She quartered very nicely, responding to my whistles quickly. She found and flushed her first bird, a chukar, in short order.

It flew, but the gunner missed. As the chuckar flew out of gun range, Tooey must have figured that if the gunner couldn’t do his job, she’d better go get that bird.

She ran off the course, and at some point, the judge told me “no bird”, so I attempted to whistle her back in. And I kept whistling as she disappeared hundreds of yards away and behind some trees. When she finally reappeared, she was carrying a chukar, which she delivered to hand.

I think at that point, the judges decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps being impressed by her long retrieve. So they gave us another chance at another bird.

Within just moments, she found and flushed a rooster pheasant. The same gunner who missed the chukar was unable to get a safe shot of the pheasant as it disappeared over the northeast horizon. The problem was that Tooey also disappeared over the northeast horizon in pursuit of the second get-away bird.

Again, another “no bird”. Again, Tooey did not respond to my whistles. We waited, but eventally, the judge politely excused me to go retrieve my dog so that they could continue the test for the next Senior dog.

I hiked north towards Canada, whistling for my missing dog. About 400 yards out, she reappeared, holding the live pheasant gently in her mouth. She delivered it to me, panting, with a few loose pheasant feathers hanging from her tongue. The pheasant seemed unfazed as I carried it back to the judges. When I handed it to the judge, I said, “I know there’s no ribbons, but here’s your bird.” The gunner came up and apologized for missing both birds.

But you know, I wasn’t mad. Tooey got her birds. She’s a good hunter. If you ever really need to get your bird, Tooey’s your girl.

Read Full Post »

We’ve been trying to keep up Carlin’s spaniel training as best we can. Some in our yard, some at a local state park, and some on private land. This last has a pond and some irrigation canals, much to our relief and delight, so we go out there to train (and help train the landowner’s dogs) whenever we are invited.

Today we were invited. Fortunately, it was cloudy and cool so we didn’t have to worry about Carlin’s over-heating. He got in a little bit of steady training (butt to ground whenever the bird or bumper is thrown), but soon he got too smart for us. He figured out really quickly that at least one of us had a bird in hand, so instead of quartering between us looking for birds he knew weren’t there, he decided to just sit and wait for somebody to throw something. Darn it! It looked like such a fun drill when we watched an English Springer Spaniel do it yesterday.

Plus he did well on a couple of a couple of water blinds. One was across a shallow pond into the sage brush, and another was across two channels of an irrigation canal with a small island in between them.

Tooey always travels with us, so today we thought we’d give her a few water retrieves, too.

It wasn’t deep enough to swim in, but it wasn’t shallow enough to run in either. More like lunging water, rather than swimming or running water. She did an okay job, but with Tooey, you never know which dog is going to show up. Today, she was less than pleased with the well-used pheasants. In my defense, I have to say that the pheasants weren’t rotten. I’d gutted them, filled the cavities with expanding foam, and froze and thawed them several times. But they had lost a lot of feathers, and there was more skin showing that she (or I, for that matter) prefer.

But she did a very nice blind land retrieve, once she figured out I had a hunk of liver that I was willing to trade for a pheasant to hand.

All in all, it was a delightful morning. (And we hope at least somewhat entertaining for the cows, which you can see in the photo.)

Read Full Post »

Southeast Idaho has many opportunities for training dogs, but is lacking in an abundance of water. (An average year will have only 12″ of percipitation.) Plus, most ponds seem to be on private land, or on parks where dogs must be leashed. So we’ve had a hard time finding ponds where we can train our dogs for spaniel and retriever work.

And this is where an Idaho dog person steps in to assist. We have met an active trainer and handler in the world of retrievers. She is dedicated to the retriever sport, to the point that she lives on a nice spread (ranch) about an hour from Boise, so she can train dogs year round. She even hosts the occasional hunt test and field trial when other areas are flooded out. And as a ranch, she has her herds of cattle, horses, and even an abundance of bee hives for honey production.

She has really helped us out by inviting us to train with her in her pastures. A nearby river feeds numerous canals and irrigation ditches that supply her ponds, so that even with the limited rain and snow in this part of Idaho, she has year-round water.

We are getting ready to run Carlin in a Spaniel Hunt Test in a couple of weeks, and having an opportunity to do blind retrieves across some water might make all the difference in whether he passes or not. Patrice made this short video. It shows Carlin doing a blind retrieve of a pheasant hidden in the sage on the other side of a shallow pond.

If he passes and gets his Master Hunter Upland title later this month, it will be in large part to the training opportunities that our friend has provided us on her dog oasis in southeast Idaho.

Dog people are really good people.

Read Full Post »

32 years ago, when we got our first dog, we knew nothing at all about dogs. We had to learn about house training, leash walking, crate training, basic obedience. One of the things we didn’t know is that many dogs can’t be just left outdoors all day long while the people are gone working. They can get into all sorts of mischief. They can dig under or jump over fences and escape. And they can bark or whine or howl (as one very patient neighbor finally pointed out).

I didn’t know that then, but I know it now. And if you can’t just leave them outside, you have to do something so that they can relieve themselves during the day.

I work a full workday, every week day. Fortunately, Russ works at home most of the time, so he can let the dogs out. But every once in a while, he has to travel to work. In Portland, we had a dog walker who came over at least once a week. He also walked the dogs when both Russ and I had to be away from the house all day.

So when we moved to Boise, we had to find a dog walker. Fortunately, we found a great one: Jordi at The Dog Walkin’ Divas. She’s reliable, has taught Carlin a few more leash-walking manners, thinks Tooey is beautiful, works us into her schedule if we have a last-minute emergency, and charges a fair rate.

But she also does something we haven’t had before. She sends us a text after each walk with a couple of maps that show where they went. Here’s a sample from one run with Carlin:

She also sends us photos from time to time of our dogs while they’re out walking (or not walking).

All in all, I’ve had a great experience with Jordi. And I know the dogs like it, too.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: