Doc goes diving

If Friday was any indication, Doc will never become a dock diving dog, as he sunk like a rock his first time off the boat dock.

Doc goes out after a bumper

The guys haven’t been swimming since duck season ended in January and I thought it was time to re-introduce them to the water. I combined fishing with training, and took Doc along with me to see how it would work out.

Doc loved getting back into the water

We did a few simple retrieves, both singles and doubles, before I switched over to fishing. I didn’t expect to catch anything since I didn’t start fishing until later in the morning, but fish were still jumping occasionally so I decided to try a fly and bubble.

Doc returns with a bumper

After fishing awhile without getting any strikes, I end it by seeing if Doc would be willing to jump off the boat dock for a retrieve. It would be good experience for him since some of the places we hunt ducks have sheer banks.

Doc making a double retrieve

I tossed a stick for him and while he was eager to retrieve, he didn’t know how to enter the water. He sat on the dock paddling with his front feet before getting up enough courage, then dove headfirst into the water which both surprised and alarmed me. It took him several seconds to swim back up to the surface but once Doc resurfaced and got his bearings, he made the retrieve and I pulled him back onto the dock.

Training should always be enjoyable for the dog but if they do have a bad experience such as this, you never want it to be the last thing they remember. I tossed the stick a couple more times so that he could retrieve from the bank, which entered the water at a nice gentle slope.

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Reminiscing

We came across some old videos of the dogs so I thought I’d share a couple of them.

The first video is special, as both Sophie and Dakota have crossed the rainbow bridge and the Spinoni pups are now seniors. I had been working with the guys on their “whoa” command and I believe this is the first time I tried it on all of them together.

The second video is one we had forgotten all about – baby Doc playing with Elettra.

Behavioral changes

Doc enjoying the snowfall

Since we moved to our new house last September, we’ve noticed some behavioral changes in the guys. Perhaps it’s because this house is twice the size of our last one, maybe because the floors are carpeted instead of hardwood, who knows.

Mia wearing the evidence

Mia has become Mia the Mischievous and for the first time, has began destroying things. On several occasions, she has gotten into our shred bag and scattered it around, and has a certain fascination with a certain rubber doorstop. Much more so after Dakota’s passing, so I’ve been setting manilla envelopes around to keep her from destroying anything important. She’s also much more playful as are all the guys.

Mia’s mess.

Elvis is rejuvenated and it’s clear that he enjoys our raised wooden deck much more than the cement deck at our old house. He and Doc now play with each other quite a bit and have become much closer.

Unlike our old house, this one has several windows that look out onto the street and neighborhood and are Spinoni-height, so they can sit and rest their chins on the window sill and watch the neighbors. We now have a city lot instead of four acres and take the guys for walks where before they ran in the pasture, but whatever their change in behavior, it’s obvious that they’re happier living here.

The guys obviously like our bed

Goodbye Dakota

With heavy hearts and a lot of tears, Carrie and I were with Dakota when she crossed the rainbow bridge Friday night.

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We noticed that she was bloating and immediately took her to our vet, knowing that there was nothing we could do for her.

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We knew this day would come when she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a year ago, but assumed it would be from a heart attack as with Sophie. However her bloat was associated with her heart condition.

Dakota retrieving a duck in 2010

We’ve never seen a dog with more love in their heart, nor a dog that was truly happy every day of her life. Everyone who met Dakota wanted to take her home with them.

Her joy was that infectious.

When we got her at the age of 18 months,  a wire cable had been her collar and leash, and that damaged her throat.

She didn’t know how to chew on a bone or play with toys. When she did learn to play with toys, nothing brought her more fun than catching frisbees.

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Just shy of her 13th birthday, our wild, rambunctious, eternally youthful girl who never slowed down a day of her life, has taken her last step, dug her last bumper from my hunting closet, and curled up on our laps for the last time.

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Run free, Dakota. You now have all of Heaven to share your love with.

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We discourage Dakota from unnecessarily following us up and down the stairs due to her heart condition, so she’s contented to wait for us.

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Porcupines and partridge

The wind and snow that blew in on Saturday created perfect hunting conditions, however as with my last hunting trip, no birds were flying.

Spinone camouflage. That’s why my guys wear GPS collars while hunting.

I took Doc to an area called “Duck Point”, which has became our go-to hunting area. There were more hunters than ducks, so I drove up to my old hunting grounds at Lake Walcott. The roads were in bad shape so it was slow going.

I expected ice along the shoreline, not the entire reservoir to be frozen over.

I expected to find ice along the banks of the reservoir, but was surprised to find it completely frozen over except for several channels of open water. We didn’t find any ducks here either, so our duck hunt became a pheasant hunt.

This is the reason I carry a backpack of emergency and first aid supplies while hunting.

Doc worked the heavy brush but instead of finding a bird, he found a porcupine and returned with quills in his nose. I didn’t find any quills inside his mouth (until we returned home) and those in his nose weren’t deeply embedded so I quickly extracted them and we continued hunting.

Doc checks out the reservoir.

It wasn’t snowing here, but a wind was blowing and the wind chill was 14 degrees (F). We were hunting with the wind was to our backs when Doc whirled around and began working back into the wind. No sooner did he go on point than a covey of partridge flushed.

Doc makes a nice blind retrieve on a Hungarian (Gray) partridge.

I dropped one of the birds and Doc made a nice blind retrieve. We hunted our way back to the Toyota, and knowing how bad the roads were, I decided to return home rather than continue hunting and counted six slide-offs and a wreck on the way back.

Doc with the partridge he retrieved.

While grooming and bathing Doc, we were able to do a more thorough check and found a porcupine quill deeply buried in his gums just above his front teeth. A pair of pliers were needed to remove this one, but Doc Savage the Puppy of Bronze hardly flinched.

A porcupine quill we found deeply embedded in Doc’s gums while grooming and bathing him.

Doc in the water

I took Doc duck hunting last weekend and it was pheasants galore. Understandable, since pheasant season for this region ended two days before.

The river upstream from the bluffs

Not many ducks were flying so we hunted our way up the river hoping to jump shoot some along the shore. The shoreline was a sheer drop-off of about 4-5 feet and Doc tumbled off the bank while exploring it.

Doc taking a dip not far from where he fell off the bank and into the water.

I guided Doc to a spot where I could help him back on land, and after that I couldn’t keep him out of the water. Three Mallards flushed a distance ahead of us and I dropped the greenhead, sending it tumbling into the water.

Doc looking for ducks

It was a long shot and a longer retrieve. Doc hit the water about the same time as the duck and made a very nice retrieve, and once again I had to help him up the bank and onto land.

We then headed downstream but with the water running as high as it is, it was too dangerous to allow Doc into the water so I took him up onto the bluffs to hunt partridge. I wasn’t able to hunt where I really wanted to, since being Saturday morning, dirt bikers were out in force.

Doc with the duck he retrieved

Doc looking down on the river. Here, it was too dangerous to allow him into the water.