As regular readers will know, back in February, Karen the wife was desperate to get her own dog for the shooting season and so we got a rescue Labrador at the end of last season to train ready for this season. Poor little Grace was a sorry and pathetic little thing when we got her – 5 homes in her short life and God only knows what had happened to her during that time.
Its not been easy as she was so screwed up, but Karen has put hours into this dog, giving her a puppy-hood (which she has never had) and training her to become a part of our gun dog team – all in 6 months.
Anyway, the day came on Friday. Grace was blissfully unaware of the significance of this big day, but Karen certainly was! Not much sleep was had as the pressure was on for the new dog to perform and most of all just to behave as not to ruin the day for the Guns, and to handle her dog in front of peers and her mentors.
I was working Jasmine “picking up” so behind the Guns, whist Karen was “beating” driving the pheasants over the Guns working the dog to flush birds from the undergrowth. At the first drive, all eyes were on the new dog….but she behaved perfectly with only a few small errors, but even the best trained and most experienced dogs play up on the first few days, so all in all a great success.
There is nothing better than working a dog. You get a huge amount of satisfaction out of getting it right, but when it goes wrong it is the most frustrating and soul destroying thing ever. Hours of training, patience and above all respect from you to the dog and visa versa – the dog must respect and love you as well. We train our dogs with lots of praise, cuddles and love and they respond accordingly – my Jasmine will do anything I ask her to do and Grace will do the same for Karen as their relationship grows.
We had a great day, the weather was brilliant, the dogs had great fun and smiles all round. It is totally exhausting though and after a full day in the brambles, you need to just curl up on the sofa and sleep – Grace was dreaming about chasing pheasants all night and was twitching and running in her sleep….what a change from her life before.
Lets see how Grace improves over the coming weeks – we are literally working every Saturday now until February, so at the end of the season she should be mustard! Karen’s dog training skills are also improving and now the first day is over, she can relax and enjoy working her dog.