Training and everyday events.
I wrote this piece below for the Video Clip section, but I thought I would share it here as well, well I do like to ramble, he he he!
The wonderful thing about a spaniel for working is,
when you have a spaniel by your side you need no other breed of dog next to you for they are the
Perfect All-rounder, and a super companion!
To work with a spaniel as a team, and to know that your teammate could be totally self employed and yet he choses to work with you, listening to you, well that is an experience that cannot be explained in words but is most certainly some form of Rush!
It is sheer bliss to have your dog working through the hedgerow and cover crop as if either were a row of cotton sheets hanging on washing lines blowing gently in the breeze on a wash day, and yet with the adrenalin of a toddler on Christmas morning buzzing through his body, and yet still he keeps one ear open in case you speak to him, an awareness to where you are in case you gesture something to him or change direction, for you and he have learnt over the years to read one another slightest movement, you have both learnt that when you work as a team Great fun is to be had, and What a Team you make!
It is not only your dog and yourself that are blessed by your partnership, but also the guns, and that matters that they benefit for on shoot you are all a circle and no one part is greater than the other, but without the Guns finances, that land those birds and even the beautiful wildlife that thrives in that environment, would not be there.
The Guns benefit greatly by a well trained dog, for you and your dog can work as a team pushing the birds out of the crop and into the air, like the flow of a stream that bubbles down its pathway flowing into all the little nooks and crannies exploring them on it's way creating little drop-off points for fish to rest. You and your dog need to flow through that cover crop/undergrowth at a pace that will give the pheasant ahead time to find the nook or cranny to rest, whereupon your dog will find it and flush it straight into the air... all this done at a pace that does not make the pheasant go into a frenzy and rush straight down through the cover crop to the end of it to fly in one all mighty crescendo with the other pheasants, or enable it to loop behind you. This flow gives the gun time to reload and aim with accuracy again and again and again, instead of that almighty crescendo that gives him no time to reload or aim with accuracy, for that makes a possible fabulous drive turn into a complete loss for the guns, and that is not what we want to happen.
There is always part of me that hopes the guns miss, but I am a meat eater, the pheasants live a free life and are supplemented through nasty weather by the game keepers/shoot, heck the humans even create places were the pheasants can shelter, and if we beaters and pickers-up do our job properly and the guns give the respect to the birds by not making stupid shots, then we have done ok!
And I suppose that is what Gamekeepers, Guns, Landowners, beaters, and Pickers-up all should aim for, and I would hope most do
To respect the animals, make their lives good and give a clean kill as possible, protecting and respecting the wildlife and countryside around. NOT beating our dogs (hitting/discipline whatever you call it to soften the sound of the act) in the name of training, killing birds of prey, or treating our woodlands as if there will be no next generation. That behaviour isn't for people who truly love nature or dogs or the environment. And if you love all three, well stop protecting those that do not with your continual silence for those people/acts are the ones that people outside the sport see and tar all of us with that same brush. Stand up for what was passed down to us, and what we should now be guardians off, for our forefathers understand the land and mother nature and respected it, machines' have enclosed us of from it to a degree, yet us who walk/work the land on foot tread the same path and should respect all of mother nature and her animals, let us either leave it as those forefathers would want or improve the land and the wildlife for the next generations.
I hope these videos help you, and shows you that dogs can be trained with Love and common sense and with no need or right to use physical violence!
When your dog is trained and ready to go on shoot with you, I hope you find a shoot with the same principals as I and many others have, and that many wonderful winter days follow from it!
First day of the shooting season which to me starts the best time of the year off.
It brings with it sun filled crisp days with autumnal leaves and flying geese that beat their wings over our heads on the way to the crop fields. I hate to see the geese go as winter comes in, but winter brings so many joys with it and is a very hopeful season that it makes up for the loss of them. It is hopeful season, as one hopes for snow deep enough to lay a hush over the countryside, forcing us all to slow down and turning everywhere into a Winter Wonderland for all who want to open their hearts to enjoy.
In times gone by it would bring us days of rain which would make the air smell so sweet and clean, and feeling the chill of the day as we came back with the dogs we would relish the warmth of the home, whilst the dogs would fall asleep dreaming of their walk, pure bliss. This year however seems to have had all its rain during the summer :) and I do love true seasons.
Winter also holds Christmas and being the child at heart that I am, I love looking forward to the giving, to seeing so many happy faces, and getting the humbugs of the season to feel that joy through drink if needs be :)
But back to the shooting day, yesterday.
We have only been to this particular shoot once before, at the end of last season where I tested my knee on the beating line, though this time we were going to be part of the picking up team, so we only took Jay Jay as whilst this would be a good experience for her, Mama Mia would have got bored out of her skull :)
As you all know, we have finally been able to provide Jay Jay with plenty of game, but not game shot and then retrieved, so I would not have been
shocked if she had wanted to continue in beating mode so-to-speak and not
picking-up mode, on the first day of the shooting season.
But no, sweet jay babe performed well.
First drive brought no birds for her to retrieve, not the guns fault,
just the luck of the pegs for the gun. But I didn't mind as it showed me that even after all the game Jay Jay has had put in front of her over these past few weeks she is still as silent as a rock as she has always been, bless her. And yes I know that is a mixed- up saying but she is not as silent as a mouse because a mouse squaks and she doesn't, he he he!
Second drive, brought a very tempting scenario for Jay Jay.
We were lined up behind the guns, the main man of the Picking-up team to my left and a thick cover to my right, behind me a hedgerow of trees dividing the two fields and unbeknown to me as I am so short and couldn't see him, a back gun in the divided field directly behind.
Now a pheasant only flew into the trees behind falling to the ground, not shot, but we never want to leave an injured animal, so I sent Jay Jay knowing she would bring it back to me and we could asses its damage from the collision. Anyway, it was then that I noticed a black lab also running for the bird from the other field, so Jay Jay was recalled back by me, which she did straight away, leaving the owner of the black lab to attend to the bird and teaching me that I must double check where everyone is.
This 'recall' was obviously sitting in the back of Jay Jays' mind as when the next bird fell over the brow of the hill Jay Jay went to run in, but swiftly remembered not to. It must have also been in the mind of the head picker up that she had relinquished a bird gracefully as bless him he gave us the nod to send Jay Jay for the bird that was really his. So off Jay Jay went up the hill over the brow and came back with a phessey wing over her eyes, bless her she couldn't have seen a thing so I gave her a few toots on the whistle to keep her coming straight.
The start of the shooting season had begun for us, and she and I were both very happy that it had.
There was also a bird that had been shot and had fallen into the bramble area, a big section fenced off with barb wire that apparently opened up in the middle. So because of the fence and not knowing the ground, I went into that area with her, and as they said it did open up in the middle, so not knowing exactly where it fell I worked her up covering all the bramble to enable her to pick up a scent line. As it was, it was in the open, so an easy retrieve once spotted :)
Knowing the land one is on, and the dog knowing the land and where the birds will often fall in that land, is certainly an added aid and one that I look forward to Jay Jay and myself having.
Two other birds I was very pleased with were both on the fourth drive.
The first one had gone into very thick bramble and she had worked her socks off to bring it back through the cover undamaged, even though it was a very big old cock bird. The other bird being one we had not marked fully as I was dealing with the bramble bird. Anyway, I kept putting her in the area we had thought it had landed, another thick bramble area that was in front of the woods, and she kept working her socks off but not finding it. Now I had totally confidence in Jay Jay that if she couldn't find it in there, it wasn't in there, and not wanting to push her further back into the woods without knowledge of the area and knowing that the beaters were moving that way, I entered into the wood behind the bramble, which was a lot more open ground. I worked her past the point we had thought it had gone in, hence her not finding it :) and then 'bang' she hit the scent line, which lead her to a stream that had carved its way through the wood so was running below ground line. My angel got into the water and started to work down, so knowing she was on it my eyes followed the line she was taking and there in the stream with just a tiny bit of breast showing, was another big cock bird which she safely retrieved back to me. Thankfully it hadn't had time to soak the water up as it would have been really heavy for her.
What made it even better was the pleasure the gun expressed at how hard Jay Jay had worked for the two birds and how pleased he was that she had found them for him. It is a joy to one when you know your dogs work is appreciated and enjoyed by the guns.
The last drive for Jay Jay and myself held no birds, which again I would not moan about as it was a great reminder that not all shots produce birds for Jay Jay. I swear the girl fights back her natural desire to blink during drives, and she shakes with pure anticipation of what may come, bless her.
We came away from our first shoot day having meet a cracking bunch of pickers up, and the pleasure of knowing that we had a good first day to open up the season with. I must say how grateful I was to Gary being there and being my second pair of eyes that really did help.
Roll on the rest of the season!
Beautiful Blonde babe with the boys
Gary taking a rest during drives, enjoying the sun.
Well, what a summer, we are looking forward towards September and the end of a hard year, though the dogs have been such a joy to us, as always.
picture taken by Ali Packham
Now is the time though to up their training, well mainly on Mias' part her exercise but it all rolls into one, training equals exercise. We have been taking them out more often (not often enough) and doing quite a bit of swimming but their fitness levels are still low, though not for long.
Their new fitness regime will be Reservoir walks, once a day for Mia to start with and twice a day for Jay Jay, plus each will have 15 minutes training in the side garden in the morning with another 30 minute session each in the afternoon. The afternoon session will mean both Mia and Jay Jay will get 3 sessions of hunting a week and 3 of direction work a week. Then late evening, another walk around the reservoir or field for the two of them, or a shooting session.
For Ellie & Tinks a quick 15 minute session each in the morning
and then a 20 minute session in the afternoon.
Leaving Alfie and Bella who will have a lovely of-the-lead fun run together through the fields, about 45 mins and a 10 minute training session each out in the side garden in the afternoon.
These session are where Bella will whip her waist into shape with the dancing moves, he he he
That will all add up to 4 walks a day for me and a possible 8-9 training sessions per day, that will teach us to have 6 dogs. Still, life has a nasty way of getting in the way when it comes to getting the dogs out, hopefully it won't get in the way this time as all the dogs deserve to get out everyday and if I expect Mia and Jay Jay to do a days full work on a shoot, they have to be fit enough for them to enjoy it to the full maximum. I also need to be fit enough to keep up with them, though boy are my feet going to moan about this :)
Early mornings and late evenings over the next few months is something I will happily do to enjoy being out on the shoots with the our dogs & Gary this winter.
And with every saturday of the season from the first week in October booked for us, plus some I am expecting to get (not many) that fall on a week day, all I can say is,
roll on the shooting season, though thank the lord I have 2 months to get us fit :) Oh, and roll on the 14th when I get injections into both feet to relieve the pain, can't wait.
First aid kit, even on normal walks
I was reminded when out on a walk with one of the puppy owners that I was without my first aid kit when we came across 'Tree Bees' that the dogs disturbed. Thankfully, apart from the carry on scene of Nicky and myself (me in the lead) running away, hilarious, all of us were fine and not hurt. But if one of us had been stung, dog or human I would have had Piriton to minister, or would have IF i had taken the first aid kit, naughty Tina.
Even on a normal walk, it is such a good idea to take
2 Piriton Tablets
1 pair of Forceps, for those horrible thorns that always get stuck in a dogs paw.
I take more than that with me, but if I was told that I could take just 3 things, they would be the 3 that I would take.
Teaching stop to Whistle & Flush
Tinks and I did a very quick run through of how we teach the young ones stop to whistle, then leading onto stop to flush for a FB friend of ours.
We did it in one session and as I said it was very quick, but I thought you still might like to see it anyway
So here it is:)
To Puppy Owners and All
One last thing, if any of you wish to come over for a walk? Please do, just give me a call or drop me a line and I will look forward to seeing you and the dogs.
With the school holidays here, I know a lot of you will be tied up, but as soon as they go back and you fancy a walk, come on over.
Vicki, who normally comes over on a friday with her JJ will not be here for four weeks- 6 weeks because of the school holidays BUT as soon as Hols are finished Vicki will be back for walks, and hopefully you will be too :) Whatever the day of the week, you are welcome :)
Please click on the pic's to Enlarge :)