Training – But Whom?

This is the first excerpt from another one of my stories about my experiences learning the ways of hunting and training dogs.  I hope you enjoy it.

I’ve always wondered who was training whom.  When we acquired Buddy, we didn’t know any of his history.  We had our suppositions and made guesses based on his physical appearance, overall condition and hardheaded stubbornness.  He knew some basic skills, such as sit and down, but come wasn’t in his vocabulary.  I’ve learned that Labrador retrievers, especially male labs, are the most stubborn, hardheaded dogs around.  They have the sweetest; most laid back dispositions, but lord they are stubborn!  Buddy wasn’t even discreet about being stubborn.  A scar about three quarters of an inch wide ran almost half way around his neck, like a collar that was too tight for too long.  We didn’t think Buddy was abused.  Neglected maybe.  But he is a very social dog.  He doesn’t want to be left alone; he prefers to be with us all the time. He enjoys being around people.  Whenever Buddy meets new people, he walks up and leans into them and shoves his head against their hand.  Of course, it took us a while to realize what we thought was friendliness, was in reality that Buddy viewed everyone as a potential food source.  His pet-me-pet-me attitude was really an opportunity to get a handout.

Mitch and I began mapping out a training schedule.  I had never trained a dog for hunting (obviously) and it had been a long time since Mitch had worked with any dogs.  Plus we’re both pretty much rank amateurs, so, needless to say, Buddy wasn’t going to be one of those dogs you see on the hunting shows on TV.

The first thing we decided Buddy needed to become familiar with the scent of a pheasant.  For some odd reason Mitch’s brother, Troy had some pheasant wings, feathers and all, in his freezer.  Don’t ask me why someone would freeze body parts with feathers, but he had them.

Next, we bought a canvas-training drop, a cylindrical object about ten inches long with a loop on one end. The loop would enable us to sling the drop without handling the body and ruining the scent.  Besides, I didn’t want to touch the drop after it had been sitting in pheasant-body fluids.  Next came the gross part.  Mitch put the drop in a large Ziploc bag with the pheasant wing parts and sealed the bag.  He left it for several days up high, on the top shelf so the stink (oops) scent would soak through the drop.  Personally, I can’t imagine that any dog would want to put something so smelly and probably foul tasting in its mouth. I was wrong.  Buddy thought that the drop was the next best thing to sliced bread. I have since learned that the grosser, the better, for a dog.

Come back for more.

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