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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is your retriever working for you? (or you for your retriever)

It has been said that every duck (rabbit, quail, upland game) hunter should own at least one good retriever (pointer) and train one retriever in his life., notice I did not say they would be one and the same dog! I have been fortunate to have owned two really good retrievers and, I had the pleasure of training both of them, of course the verdict is still out on Tom Brown, but from all indications he will become the retriever I want him to be, and hopefully by the end of this season he will come to the front.
"Mike son of Ike Duke of the Marsh" was my first dog of my own, a Black Lab from a local guide "Mud Duck" who bred his lab to replace his working dog Ike, cost me 50 dollars and a bunch of time. But that dog had the natural ability to work and by the time he was a year old I had him making basic retrieves in the marsh. by year two it was doubles and blind retrieves. I always said if I shot down a airliner he would retrieve it piece at a time! After moving out to the country I did not kennel my dog as I lived on several acres and was surrounded by hundreds of acres of corn and beans, but the scent of a female in heat is a powerful thing to a rank lab, and I learned a hard lesson the hard way, one day Mike never came home. I have had several since Mike, free ones, purchased ones, ones that the guy just couldn't keep any more, and it just never worked out, in fact I gave up duck hunting all together, sold my deks and boat. After several years I picked up a place to hunt ducks again, my kids came along and left and I got thinking about getting another retriever, but what to get? The easiest of all a Golden, or Yellow lab, a chocolate, or should I get another Black lab. Having grown up with Chesapeakes I knew of their tireless work ethic, ability to withstand cold weather and ice, even the biggest goose was no match for them when it came to retrieving, so I setteled on that breed to go into my "golden duck years" with. He has been a handfull I admit, hard headed, likes to mouth your hands, eats like a horse but devoted and dedicated to my wife and I, gets along well with others, so long as I am around, and social. Not the easiest dog I ever trained but by far the most aggressive. Skim ice, cold, thick brush, nothing stops him, and I have only used the training collars on him twice as I feel guilty after I use it. My uncles did not have training collars and I don't think I need them either. I would like to hear your traing stories and about your dogs, what successes you have had things that did or did not work, suggestions for those getting their first hunting dog. And if you are breeding your dog, or if he is standing at stud let us know.

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