I spent considerable time out in the mid-west this past month. One week with just one dog, another week with four of the dogs. These were interesting trips, comparatively to Pennsylvania, the worst days (in bird numbers) in those states would have been some best days here in Pennsylvania so far this year. Perhaps out of all I took away from those travels is that the grouse guys in PA (NY, VA, MD, etc) must really be diehards to put the time and toil for the amount of bird contacts they average. Those numbers also holding heavy bearing on how dogs are bred and handled, specifically in regards to their range. I remained quiet on “big running dog” comments on dogs that usually kept within a 150 yard radius… Pop was put down and it wasn’t long before he had that surpassed three times over. Pop has had a relatively free reign of deciding on his own range since running as a puppy… go out and find birds. There’s been bumps of course but he’s proven from puppy age he’s cautious and mannerly with birds so I’ve let him roll to this point. He’s the easiest handling dog I’ve had, stays forward, easy to turn. He’s at the age now where it’s time to start ratcheting him in a hair when he begins to stretch out further and further. Stretch out further is what he did out west but don’t let the word west fool you, this was still in grouse cover that’s actually thicker than our stomping grounds in PA, so this was not the place to stretch… particularly with an e-collar missing a contact point and also being kenneled up for two weeks previous. Trial dogs tend to dance on the brink, and sometimes they cross that line. He’s got my hopes up to continue his trial career, he’s got all the tools, he just needs polished.
Out of all the dogs and the limited time they got to spend on the ground, within the confines of this trip, the dog that had the best time down was probably Annie, really out of the luck of the draw and the birds on the ground. That allowed her “rust” to be knocked off the fastest. Her last contact was on a grouse double, I whiffed the first bird with both barrels and she broke on the gun so hunting paused and training kicked in and I had some words with her. She seemed to take note. Past that, nothing profound was really accomplished, somewhat of a setback as opposed to a having a solid week in on good bird numbers on the east coast with every dog down twice a day, then PA’s home opener and being around to run in trials too. We’ve still got some work to do, it’s good to be home.