What a weekend. Some news, I can’t share quite yet. But some I can:
1. The weather here has returned to spring-like, snow melting in rivulets at the low spot on each trail, and blessed daylight lasting longer every afternoon. I had to carry water today on our training runs.
2. It appears Manny and Buddy have worked through their dominance issue. We ran together in the glorious sunshine three times, finally getting up to the high spots I’ve been unable to climb when cutting the run times in half to rotate dogs. Not a speck of aggression … in fact, almost a return to Manny’s puppy-like curiosity at his great-uncle’s actions. Grateful thanks to breeder/trainer Jeff Funke and behaviorist Ed Bailey for counsel.
3. Watched Rick and Ronnie Smith’s “Silent Command” DVD and I am most happy with the initial results I’m seeing.
If you know the NAVHDA Utility Test, you know a dog must be steady to wing, shot, and fall. (A recent sad story from Illinois drove home the advantage of a dog that doesn’t bolt at the shot. Add the basalt cliffs we hunt for chukars to the test requirement and I’m a believer.) Getting Manny there after two seasons of chasing on TV will be a challenge.
But the half-hitch Rick and Ronnie espouse may as well be attached to a magic wand. Unlike the Smith’s neck-oriented “point of contact” for going with or coming to you (as they say), it is put to the flank for standing still – “whoa.” You may as well have nailed my dogs’ paws to the whoa table for as much movement as they demonstrated. I got a little cocky and hitched both dogs in a point-honor scenario and the magic rope solidified each without an inkling of temptation to dishonor the bracemate. This was also true on retrieves … each dog watched calmly as the other brought a pigeon to hand, and vice-versa.
I know better than to draw too many conclusions from a weekend of experimentation. But so far, thumbs up.
PS: Got to meet Dad/Uncle Delmar Smith at Pheasant Fest and had a good time reminiscing about the rodeo world, of all things. While we rightfully revere Delmar for his dog training insights, he may have become more famous with his recent National Public Radio appearance where he was noted for his work as a rodeo “gateman,” the guy who opens gate and sends calves out to their ropin’ destiny.