Irish Setter, German Shorthair (GSP), Brittany Spaniel, and Doc made up our collection of dogs for Friday’s early morning training session.
I wanted my trainer, Chris Colt of Cove Mountain Kennels, to evaluate Doc on his hunting since he scored low on that in his last hunt test. I’m not concerned with Doc’s steadiness since he is very solid on steady-to-shot-kill-and-retrieve.
We began by bracing Doc with a young Irish Setter pup. The Irish Setter was kept on a check cord while Doc hunted the field. When Doc went on point, Chris would bring in the setter and work with her. We were both very pleased with Doc’s field work.
After Doc and the setter, we worked the GSP on several birds just to reinforce a couple of areas, then went back and worked Doc on a blind retrieve and another planted bird. Doc occasionally confuses blind retrieves with pointing and will sometimes point a dead bird, but this time he handled it perfectly.
Doc’s blind retrieve was about 75 yards and I was hoping that he would have to spend time searching for it. Instead, he found within a couple of minutes and retrieved it to hand.
The breeze was becoming fickle, sometimes dying and often shifting directions, which presented a real challenge in finding the planted bird. Although I marked the area where the carded pigeon landed, we were unable to find it.
That was where the Brittany came in. Chris brought her out to help Doc and after extensive searching, she found the bird and went on point. Doc did a nice job of honoring even though he often looked back at me for direction.
Following training, our oldest daughter and I drove to Spencer and hunted for opal in a “mini mine”, which is a fenced area containing tailings that are trucked in from the mine. For a fee, one can dig for opal and we found a couple of nice pieces. At one time the public could drive up to the mine and hunt the tailings – where I found all of my high quality opal. Regardless, one of the pieces of pinfire opal that I found would pay for the trip.
Looked out the window Sunday morning to see a black Lab sleeping on our neighbor’s front porch so we took it in. He didn’t appear to be an old dog, but was very stiff and sore as if it had traveled a very long distance or perhaps been hit by a car.
The Lab was neutered, had at one time received rabies shots, and although dirty and smelling of skunk, was not neglected. We didn’t want to take a chance of exposing our guys to canine influenza, so we kept it in a crate in the garage, gave it food and water, and lots of blankets to lay on.
We immediately called the Humane Society, but nobody had reported a missing Lab so we decided to keep it until Monday when the animal shelter opened. It was very well mannered and I took it on short walks every 2 to 3 hours, then washing my hands after each walk.
By the time I took him for a walk on Monday morning, he had recuperated enough to be full of energy and howled his displeasure at being crated. Carrie took him to the animal shelter when it opened and luckily, he was microchipped and should be home safe and sound by the time I post this article.
The owners don’t live far from us so whatever his adventures or why he chose to spend the night on our neighbor’s porch, I guess only he knows.
We took the guys in to the vet this week for their checkups etc. and she confirmed what we had suspected. Dakota is in the early stages of congestive heart failure.
Dakota’s lungs are congested and her heart is enlarged, and she does have some arthritis in her spine. What we didn’t realize is that dogs who live in higher altitudes such as here, are more prone to the early onset of heart disease than dogs living in lower elevations.
For now she’s on medication to help clear her lungs and help with her heart, and a followup appointment next week to see how she’s responding to the medication. We caught it at an early stage which will buy her more time, but as with Sophie before her, Dakota’s time is now limited.
The NFL has their combine and last week was my Spinone combine. The guys haven’t pointed a bird since November and haven’t retrieved one since January, so I just wanted to take a look at them before we began our summer training. I didn’t do any training or give corrections other than a couple of “whoas” – it was just a matter of setting up the scenarios and let the dogs worked them.
Tracking consisted of dragging a goose wing for roughly a 100 feet with a couple of direction changes thrown in. Doc lost the scent but was able to pick it up again and found the wing without much trouble. Mia did an excellent job of tracking to the wing. For whatever reason, this particular video didn’t turn out too well.
I placed Pheasant wings about 250 feet out. By the time I planted Mia’s wing and brought her into the pasture, I had forgotten where it was and cast her in the wrong direction (more about marking and casting in an upcoming post). Regardless, she was able to hit the scent cone and work back to the wing. As with her “aunt Sophie”, retrieving is done on her terms. Doc doesn’t care about taking a straight line to the mark always ends up in the right place.
Point and honor
I braced Doc and Mia for pointing and honoring. Doc went on point which Mia honored from a good distance. I planted another wing and this time had Doc “stay” while Mia hunted. When she went on point, I called Doc and he honored nicely. There was a time when Mia was a speed demon like Doc, but she’s become a much more methodical hunter, and by this time, there was a lot of scent out in the pasture for them to work through.
In all, I was happy with Doc and Mia considering their 4-month layoff and it will be interesting to see what they look like after three months of consistent training.
A co-worker told me that one of her Labs died from Salmon Poisoning Disease, something I’d never heard of before. The Lab found the entrails from a salmon that a fisherman had cleaned, and immediately began eating them. Although she yelled at the dog to drop the entrails, it of course swallowed them. When the dog became sick, they took him to the vet but by then it was too late and there was nothing the vet could do.
This disease can be found in a variety of fish that live primarily in the costal Pacific Northwest including Salmon and Steelhead that migrate inland. A more detailed article on Salmon Poisoning Disease can be found on the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association web page.
Prevention is always the best medicine but always be prepared – for example, several tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide can induce vomiting. Feeding a dog raw fish is never a good idea and for fish susceptible to the Neorickettsia helmonthoeca organism, the recommendation is to either cook it thoroughly or deep-freeze it for a minimum of 2 weeks before feeding it to your dog.