Posts Tagged ‘wirehaired pointing griffon’

Russ, Cooper, Tooey, and I were just finishing the land portion of our field training at St. Louis Ponds, when who should drive up but some of our “exotic” hunt training friends.

There was not a Labrador Retriever among them (hence, the “exotic” label). Hank and Holly brought their Master Hunter-level Poodle, Laney, and their 17-week-old Poodle puppy, Taura. Dave and Liz brought their Poodle, Maxie, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Bugsie. So after some happy conversation, both among the canines and the humans, we all walked over to one of the ponds to set up some water work.

Patrice, Maxie, Bugsie, Dave, Taura, and Liz
photo by Holly Thau

We did doubles and singles in the water for the experienced dogs, as well as several blind retrieves for Laney. Laney’s blinds were pretty long — giving her a nice water workout. She also had one very long blind that required her to pass by a bumper on the shore and keep swimming toward the bumper she had been directed to. Good girl!

Bugsie also needed work on entering the water at a narrow angle — a task often required for Senior Hunter (ACK) or Seasoned Hunter (HRC) levels of work. It can be a challenge to persuade a dog to go straight out to the mark at a narrow angle to the land. Often, they want to first run along the bank and then take a wider angle into the water. Cooper has this issue, too, but we didn’t practice it today.

The puppy Taura got to work on some short retrieves into the water — I think she entered into the water channeling her inner Irish Water Spaniel — no hesitation, just an all-out leap. She even brought the dummy back to within a few steps of her handler.

Tooey did very nicely on her water retrieves. She dropped the dummy only once and she delivered each one to hand. She did get somewhat turned around on one mark, and that was as a result of Cooper’s behavior.

Cooper had been acceptably honoring the other dog’s work. This is still really, really difficult for him. Russ had to remind him to stay down from time to time, and Cooper quivered the whole while, but he managed to remain in place.

But after watching all the other dogs go, Cooper’s seeing Tooey leap into the water after her mark was just too much for him to bear. He broke, got corrected, and yelped at the correction. The yelp threw Tooey off, and she started swimming away with the bumper instead of returning to me.

I whistled and called her. She swam away and then in circles. I whistled and called some more. After another moment, she came to her senses, and returned to me. But this was odd — in coming back, she went wide around the area of water where she had been when Cooper yelped.

It wasn’t a wonderful water retrieve, but that yelp made it a challenging one. I didn’t like the swimming-away behavior, but Tooey did come back and she did deliver the dummy to hand under these challenging circumstances. She got a piece of the coveted dried chicken for that.

And then, Cooper had another turn at a water retrieve. Even with the recent correction, he had no hesitation. His leap into the water was every bit as dramatic as the one shown on this blog masthead.

With that, we were all wet, happy, tired, and out of time. Time to stop, and go home.

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When you start showing up at hunt tests with Irish Water Spaniels, you immediately become aware that this is a world of Labrador Retrievers. And for good reason — Labs are amazing at what they do and have justly earned their place at the top of the retriever world. But . . .  those of us with some of the other breeds, sometimes referred to as “exotics”, enjoy the sport with some success as well.

Another thing that occurs at  hunt tests: those of us with non-Labs soon notice who else has an exotic or “off-breed” (as one judge referred to Cooper) and we strike up conversations and quite often friendships. If you have read the various posts on this blog that mention Poodles and Boykins, then you will see some of the great folks and dogs we have met and continue to work with in the world of hunt tests and hunting.

Bugsie and Maxie: dogs, ducks and photo by Dave Lubinski

Above is a photo of a brace of exotics, Bugsie and Maxie, doing the real thing, retrieving ducks during a real duck hunt. Bugsie is a brown Standard Poodle and Maxie is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, both owned, trained, and hunted by Dave and Liz on the coast of Oregon. We met them at a hunt test last summer. Dave continues to amaze me with photos he sends of his two dogs bringing in ducks from the brackish and storm-driven waters of Tillamook Bay.

Dave took this photo earlier this week as the winter storms blew in from the Pacific, driving the ducks inland and south. He kept both his dogs busy and took his limit in just 45 minutes. Notice the camo neoprene vests on both dogs and wind whipping across the water and dog’s coats. That is duck hunting weather with two successful “exotics”.

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