Friday, October 16, 2009

Things look a little different...

I don't want to overstate the significance of the latest milestone in my pursuit of birddogness. But since that first shot bird and our day of hunting with Enzo in the fields on my friend's farm, things have started to feel a little different here at home.

We always do a little training on our walks, but instead of putting her on a leash and practicing heel, this week the walks have included the whistle, more off-leash time and simulated field work. For instance, the other night I let her get almost fifty yards away and instead of calling her all the way back, I blew the whistle and told her to whoa. She stood and waited till I got there. When I do recall her all the way to me, she zooms to my feet and sits, facing out in front of me. I have not taught her this, it's just what she does. We walk to an open field where I have started working on, I think this is the right term, Casting. I'm trying to get her to respond to hand signals and my body language to work a field in the direction I send her. I'm still learning this myself, but as is the case most of the time, Winnie's about a half step ahead of me.

And she genuinely enjoys these changes. Yeah, she'll get excited if I grab the leash. But if I put that whistle around my neck, she KNOWS she's going to get to run around off lead and explore. And when we get to that open field near the house, she can't WAIT to put her nose down and hunt!

So, I know we have a long way to go. Hell, we've only shot one bird, and that one carpooled to the field with us that morning. But I like where we're at and I'm excited about what lies ahead. And as I write this, even though she's lying on the couch chewing a Nylabone, she looks a little bit more like a bird dog every day.

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