Pheasants in the field

Running in the pasture is free time for the guys and there are only 3 rules: 1- don’t run off, 2- come when called, and 3- don’t eat horse manure. Other than that, they can do pretty much anything they want, which is usually hunting birds and investigating scents of the creatures that trespassed on their little private reserve.

 

Elvis honoring Doc on point, 1-31-15

Elvis honoring Doc on point, 1-31-15

Doc and Elvis usually head for the ditch to hunt it while Mia and the Labs go for the pasture’s heavy grass. Saturday morning Doc, followed by Elvis, crawled under the fence and immediately went on point with Elvis honoring nicely. I didn’t want to crawl over the fence and didn’t want to call them off their point, so I told them to “track”.

 

Doc on point, 1-31-15

Doc on point, 1-31-15

They worked the ditch bank for a distance and then dropped down into the ditch, following it the entire length of the pasture. Doc’s head popped up as he went on point and as I approached, a rooster and five hen Pheasants flushed from the ditch bank just feet from where Doc was on point. Nice work for both Doc and Elvis.

Angles

 

The arrows denote Doc and Mia's retrieves, 1-23-15.

The arrows denote Doc and Mia’s retrieves, 1-23-15.

On Friday I continued Doc and Mia’s retriever work with longer retrieves and angles. My goal with the longer retrieves was to get them out of the habit of retrieving bumpers only within throwing distance, so I took advantage of the moderate breeze to draw them further out.

 

Mia finds the bumper about 300 feet out.

Mia finds the bumper about 300 feet out.

In the diagram, bumper “1” was placed at about 250 feet, and both Doc and Mia did very well taking a straight line to it, aided by the wind. I placed bumper “2” about 300 feet out and again both did well taking a line to it.

Doc makes a 300 foot retrieve.

Doc makes a 300 foot retrieve.

Knowing that they use the fence as a reference point, I set four bumpers at an angle to the fence line. In addition to their using the fence line as a reference point, they have also developed a specific pattern for running and hunting in the pasture and I wanted to break that up as well. I placed the bumpers in grass about 150 feet from our starting point, a big step up from the line-of-sight retrieving they’ve been doing.

Mia had trouble taking a line on bumper #4.

Mia had trouble taking a line on bumper #4.

I alternated dogs, giving Mia bumpers “3” and “5”, and Doc bumpers “4” and “6”. I always cast them to the downwind side of the mark so that if they miss it, they can work back up the scent cone.

Doc took a good line on bumper #5

Doc took a good line on bumper #5

With bumper number 3, Mia insisted on taking a straight line to the opposite fence rather than the angle to bumper 3. After recalling and restarting her several times, she took a good line and retrieved it nicely.

Doc did very well with bumper 4, taking a good line and when he overran the bumper, worked back to it, finishing with a nice retrieve.

Mia had trouble taking a line on her last bumper but made a nice retrieve.

Mia had trouble taking a line on her last bumper but made a nice retrieve.

Mia had trouble with bumper #5 and I recalled her half a dozen times before she held a line all the way to the bumper. The trouble was that after running about halfway to the bumper, she’d turn into the wind and return to where the previous bumpers had been placed. I think some of the problem was the urge to hunt into the wind, plus I was sending her in a direction contrary to how they normally hunt. But after a few times of being recalled, reset, and sent out again, she got the idea, held her line and made a nice retrieve.

Doc with his last retrieve, which caused him a lot of trouble.

Doc with his last retrieve, which caused him a lot of trouble.

Doc had a lot of trouble with bumper #6 and I think that his problems were the same as Mia’s only more so. He couldn’t grasp the idea of hunting downwind and in the direction I was sending him; eventually I tossed  a couple of snowballs in the direction of the bumper to give him something to focus on. He finally held a line all the way to the bumper, worked his way back upwind to it, and returned in triumph.

Sophie and Elvis earn therapy titles

 

Sophie and Elvis with their Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) scarves and American Kennel Club (AKC) therapy patches.

Sophie and Elvis with their Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) scarves and American Kennel Club (AKC) therapy patches.

Elvis and Sophie earned their American Kennel Club (AKC) therapy titles, and are now officially Darby Canyon Elvis Murphy, THD and Sophie Taz Murphy, THD.

Friday was our day for therapy work and we picked up a new facility, giving Elvis four visits for the morning. However I was unable to take Sophie on the afternoon visit, since the activity director and staff for that facility was out with the flu.

The guys continue making an impact on the residents they visit. An individual at one of the facilities is afraid of dogs but this past Friday, after several years of our visits, asked to give Elvis treats; I keep a small container of Goldfish crackers in my therapy bag for such occasions. Although Elvis sniffed the crackers, he didn’t take any, but it was a breakthrough just the same.

 

Laws and ideology

Laws follow ideologies, and both spread rapidly spread in today’s world of instant information (and disinformation). Many thanks to one of my blog followers who keeps me abreast of trends, issues and laws elsewhere, which in turn allows me to keep you up to date on what’s coming down the pike.

As with so many of these laws sponsored by activists, those who are punished most are conscientious, responsible, and law-abiding citizens. Laws stemming from emotional activism rather than sound rationale are generally not well thought out and have many unintended consequences. They create fear and uncertainty because they are often arbitrary, inconsistent and are implemented before being fully understood. For example, in Ireland it is still legal for veterinarians to dock the tails of working and hunting dogs, however they are now afraid to do so for fear of losing their licenses. (Irish Shooter.com)

So here we go again, this time with electronic or e-collars as the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust are calling for a ban on them in Scotland. Now, back in the “good old days” before e-collars, abusive owners and trainers resorted to more direct forms of abuse such as kicking, hitting, stomping, and shooting their dogs. Some of the legendary trainers such as Bill Tarrant opposed abusive treatment and presented more humane training methods, and were to a large extent, ostracized by the establishment. However that is what we will return to if e-collars are banned – although unfortunately enough, we have not entirely put that behind us.

What so people don’t understand is that abusive behavior and mindset cannot be eliminating simply by eliminating the tools used to deliver that abuse. Animal abuse will not end by banning e-collars since abusive people will simply resort to previously mentioned forms of abuse. In the same way that breed-specific laws punish good owners and dogs and create criminals out of law-abiding citizens, banning e-collars will punish responsible users. And in the same way that a ban on tail docking harms the dog in the long run, banning e-collars will harm dogs as well – permanently if not fatally.

It took me a long time to accept e-collars, but then I learned from my trainer how to use them properly.  Most e-collars today have a “tone” setting which emits a low level beep, and is the setting I use almost exclusively. E-collars also have a range of levels from a mild vibration to a heavy shock that does not physically harm the dog – but again, it is the person pressing the button who determines whether the device is used responsibly or abusively.

Should the question arise then yes, I did try the e-collar on myself before putting it on my dogs. I figured that was the best way of knowing the level of stimulation I was giving them. So what’s our dogs’ reaction when they see me get out the e-collar? They go wild with excitement. To them, the e-collar does not represent anything negative; rather, it represents the excitement of hunting and training.

A ban on e-collars will have unintended consequences, however activists have little or no regard for the unintended consequences of their actions. And as these ideologies spread, so do the laws that follow.

Mark and honor

Doc and Mia wait while I set bumpers.

Doc and Mia wait while I set bumpers.

I spent a few minutes with Doc and Mia on retrieving, combining honoring with marking. My diagram is inspired by Two Brown Dawgs and the nice retriever diagrams they post in their blog.

We ran 3 sets of bumpers with the first 2 sets placed on bare ground behind clumps of grass; this allowed the guys to see the bumpers as they approached. The third set of bumpers were hidden in taller grass which forced them to use their noses. In the following diagram, “1” represents the first set of bumpers, “2” the second set and “3” the third set.

diagram

The first set of bumpers were placed about 25 feet apart, with the first bumper set at about 75 feet. Doc honored while Mia retrieved each of the 3 bumpers and then I reset them so that Mia honored Doc as he retrieved each of the 3 bumpers.

Doc honors Mia on the first set of bumpers.

Doc honors Mia on the first set of bumpers.

The second set were placed about 50 feet apart with the first bumper set at about 100 feet. Once again, I had each dog honor as the other retrieved all 3 bumpers in that set.

Mia honors Doc on his first set of retrieves.

Mia honors Doc on his first set of retrieves.

For the third set, the bumpers were set about 25 feet apart with the first bumper set about 50 feet out. This time I alternated Doc and Mia between bumpers so each had the opportunity to retrieve 2 bumpers.

Doc honors Mia on her last set of retrieves. The bumpers were placed in the tall grass in the background.

Doc honors Mia on her last set of retrieves. The bumpers were placed in the tall grass in the background.

They did a nice job honoring and retrieving, and I noticed that Doc quarters during his retrieves rather than taking a straight line. I’m not sure how that would be scored in a retriever test, but I think it’s practical for hunting and likely to reduce the amount of casting that the hunter would have to do. Regardless, it’s not something I plan on correcting at this time.

Spinone retrieves on final hunt

 

We left to go hunting before sunup, so I put SportDog Locator Beacons on Doc and Mia. The locator beacons also helped keep track of them in the heavy fog, but Doc lost his halfway through the hunt.

We left to go hunting before sunup, so I put SportDog Locator Beacons on Doc and Mia. The locator beacons also helped keep track of them in the heavy fog, but Doc lost his halfway through the hunt.

Friday was probably my final bird hunt of the season, giving Mia her first goose retrieve and Doc a long water retrieve. But I’ll let the videos and photos chronicle what was intended to be a short hunt but turned into a 6-hour marathon that left us all stiff and tired. The fog was so thick that you could often hear the geese and ducks flying overhead but couldn’t see them.

The fog wasn't too heavy when we arrived.

The fog wasn’t too heavy when we arrived.

On the way back to the truck we encountered a hunter who had dropped 2 geese, and while he was able to find the first, he gave up searching for the second goose. I offered Doc and Mia’s services and we were able to find his second goose which made him quite happy; in searching for the goose, he had walked within 5 feet of it without knowing it.

Waves of heavy fog rolled in throughout the morning.

Waves of heavy fog rolled in throughout the morning.

Mia listens to hundreds of ducks and geese down on the river.

Mia listens to hundreds of ducks and geese down on the river.

We went through some good Pheasant habitat. Mia wouldn't come when called so I went looking for her to find her on point. Doc immediately honored.

We went through some good Pheasant habitat. Mia wouldn’t come when called so I went looking for her to find her on point. Doc immediately honored.

 

Mia on point with Doc honoring.

Mia on point with Doc honoring.

Doc and Mia at the top of a deep lava fissure.

Doc and Mia at the top of a deep lava fissure.

Mia and Doc on the hillside below Duck Point.

Mia and Doc on the hillside below Duck Point.

An owl watches us from a lava cliff.

An owl watches us from a lava cliff.

Doc and Mia pose with their retrieves, a Gadwall and a Canadian Goose.

Doc and Mia pose with their retrieves, a Gadwall and a Canadian Goose.