Mia’s duck hunt

Mia enters cattails on her duck search

The difference that a couple of days make. Saturday morning was warm and windy, hunters lined the ponds and ducks filled the air, but Monday was 20 degrees colder, perfectly calm, few birds flying and fewer hunters shooting.

I missed several opportunities on flyovers and a couple of ducks that we flushed, much to Mia’s disappointment.  We had been hunting awhile when Mia went on a nice point and I flushed a rooster Pheasant. Unfortunately, Pheasant season wouldn’t open for a couple of weeks.

Mia on point

I dropped a hen Mallard on the far side of a large patch of cattails. Knowing it was asking too much of Mia for a blind retrieve through acres of cattails, I took her around to the opposite side to begin our search.

Mia with a flotilla of ducks behind her

It was about a quarter of a mile to where we could cross, but once we came to the general area where the duck fell, I sent Mia in to find it.

Mia with the duck she found and retrieved

Mia is a very cerebral hunter and has developed an interesting way of searching. She would wade through the cattails a few feet then stop, sniff, listen, and proceed a few more feet. I enjoyed watching her work the cattails in that manner and it wasn’t long before she burst out of them with bird in mouth.

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Elvis’ Certificate of Achievement

I’d like to thank the SCOA (Spinone Club of America) for recognizing Elvis’ therapy work with a Certificate of Achievement for his AKC Therapy Dog Advanced title.

Two days after receiving his certificate, Elvis assisted in a patient’s physical therapy. Ok, all he had to do was lay on the floor, but during our therapy visit, a physical therapist who was working with the patient asked Elvis to lie on the floor. The patient then had to lean over and pet Elvis as a means of helping her regain balance.

Elvis’ certificate of Achievement

Mia’s training photos 8-19-17

Working the Irish Setter with Mia on point

Working with the Irish Setter. Mia established point and then the setter was brought in to work the bird.

Mia retrieving a pigeon

Mia on point while working her solo. She started out slow but was soon running big.

Mia and Maya on point

Mia honors Max, the English Pointer, while Chris moves in to flush

Doc’s training photos 8-5-17

setters, spaniels, and Spinoni

Working with Doc on a check cord. His only weakness is breaking on birds that flush wild and surprise him.

The Irish Setter on a check cord

Doc on point while working with one of the spaniels on honoring

Doc on point while the spaniel honors

Chris working with the Brittany/Springer cross

One of the Brittany Spaniels on point

Doc retrieving a pigeon. All of my dogs naturally have soft mouths and retrieve birds uninjured.

The Spinone combine

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
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.

Blind retrieve
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.

Elvis earns THDA title

Elvis’ advanced therapy title

With well over 100 therapy visits, Elvis earned his Therapy Dog Advanced (THDA) title this week, spending it by conducting therapy visits and attending the Idaho Science and Technology Charter School.

Elvis enjoys visiting the Idaho Science and Technology Charter School

It’s been a busy week for the big guy, beginning on April 21 with therapy visits to the Idaho State Veterans Home. He and Glory, the VA Home’s live-in Emotional Support dog, or PTSD dog, renewed their acquaintance. Following our visit, I took Elvis for a walk around the Portneuf Wellness Complex where he enjoyed watching the ducks.

My presentations put Elvis to sleep

On Monday, we were invited back to the Idaho Science and Technology Charter School to give several classes a presentation on Spinone and therapy dogs. We both enjoy giving the presentations and when Elvis wasn’t sleeping, he was having interacting with the students.

Elvis models his THDA patch before going out on therapy vists

His work week ended Friday April 28 with therapy visits to the hospital’s rehab center and an assisted living center. One of the residents told us how much Elvis’ monthly visits mean to them and even though there are a variety of activities each day, it’s not the same as the companionship of a dog.

Elvis checks out the ducks following our visit to the VA home