BROOKS, BARRY, AND THE DOG WHISTLER

Discussion in 'Gun Dog Forum' started by Irishwhistler, Sep 17, 2017.

  1. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Refuge Member

    Messages:
    86
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    Aye Mates,
    T'was funny as I recently mulled o'er how many o' me best friendships have been forged o'er a common interest with others in retrievers. Seemingly like yesterday, a gent I knew only as "Barry581" fro a retriever related forum had lost his then 20 month old Labrador "BRUCE" very suddenly. As many of us have also lost dear retriever companions, we know how terrible and traumatic the death of our K9 companions can be. Having not long before lost me dear Labrador CAYDEN, I reached out via private messages and email to help Barry work through his loss o' BRUCE. I must say that I was quite happy for Barry when he decided it was time for him to alleviate some of the painful void that the sudden absence of BRUCE had left Barry to endure. I really did not know Barry well at the time but I sadly and personally had experienced the pain and anguish I knew he was dealing with. That common thread shared by two dog owners hundreds o' miles apart was the early beginnings o' yet another retriever spawned friendship. Enter a beautiful yellow pup named BROOKS that Barry has brought into his family's life, not to be construed as a replacement for BRUCE, but rather as a source of healing for a pain that runs beyond deep.

    So, as Barry and meself became better acquainted through our posts here on the chat board and through information shared on training related issues, t'was clear to me that Barry was highly committed to providing BROOKS with a rich and meaningful life as a working Labrador Retriever. Forgive me if I have lost track o' time but I did make an offer at some point to have both Barry and BROOKS to come out and spend some time with The Ol' Dog Whistler for some bird related training that I was certain would be helpful for both handler and retriever. Barry shared that he has aspirations for BROOKS to become a hunt test athlete at any level they might be able to achieve. I assured BARRY that his goals were realistic but I also identified some of the obstacles he deals with regarding the lack of training grounds, waters, and little to no access to training birds.

    This past weekend, Barry and BROOKS finally were able to act on me invitation to help them get on the right path along their journey toward participation in hunt tests. BROOKS had not had any previous exposure to live birds, a fact that Barry was admittedly concerned about. I assured Barry that I would proceed gently and that the introduction of BROOKS to birds would have him returning home with a much more confident dog than the one he made the 6 plus hour drive to me training grounds with early on Friday morn.

    Barry and BROOKS arrived at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday and we got them settled into their quarters and had lunch together with one o' me good Mates that happens to be an outstanding maker of finely crafted custom duck and goose calls. The three o' us enjoyed lunch and some friendly banter on the subjects o' fine duck calls, retrievers, and training gun dogs. The remainder o' the day was spend running some drills for BROOKS and with meself trying to gain a good hold on where BROOKS was developmentally in his training as an aspiring gun dog / K9 hunt test athlete. During our afternoon session together, I determined rather quickly that Barry had done some good work with BROOKS on basic level obedience. I also determined that there were in fact some holes in the training of BROOKS with regard to HOLD and FORCE FETCH conditioning, something that Barry soon became more acutely aware of as the session progressed. Identification of weaknesses in said training would be critical in remediation of related problems and moving forward on much more solidified ground. Barry and meself had ample opportunity to discuss both strengths and weaknesses in BROOKS' skill sets and strategies on how to improve performance more accurately and efficiently. Many of these strategies were illustrated by running both BROOKS and other dogs to make a clear picture for that which we hoped to achieve for both BROOKS as well as Barry his owner / handler. We finished off Friday's session with bringing both BROOKS and me own gun dog TRAD to one o' our ponds and letting them cool down from what was both high temperatures and brutal humidity. I then gave Barry the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep so that he would be more rested to contend alertly with some more early evening yard work and demanding field work to follow on Saturday. The evening was capped with a nice dinner o' steak and salmon cooked o'er a wood fire, steak cut fries, and a nice green salad with some spirits to sip on whilst sharing grand conversation.

    Saturday morning started with a nice breakfast o' ham steaks and Barry helped me with prepping some scrambled eggs to help fuel our hungry stomachs. Me gunners showed up by 08:00 and coffee was shared as introductions were made betwixt all involved. We would be working BROOKS initially on both chukar partridge and pheasants. I had Barry run BROOKS on a check cord at first so that I might observe him under more controlled circumstances. As BROOKS began to become both more familiar and excited with bird scent and was problem solving in dealing with dense cover, I told Barry to take him off of the check cord and release him. The look on Barry's face was one of high concern. I explained to Barry, Brooks will be fine, trust me and trust ye dog. We need to let him problem solve on his own. I am sure Barry will confirm that the transformation of BROOKS into a retriever that was now using his nose, penetrating dense cover, and making flush o' both pheasant and chukars was a pure joy for both gun dog recruit and owner alike. During the session BROOKS picked up his first bird of what we are all hopeful will be the initiation into the life o' a competent gun dog. After his flush of four pheasants and four chukars, BROOKS was put back on the truck to rehydrate and cool down from his efforts under the brutal sunshine. Subsequently, Barry was able to observe both REV and TRAD worked individually on birds, the objective being to demonstrate what dogs of varying levels of competence are capable of and as a motivator to continue his quest with BROOKS. Once both REV and TRAD had been worked sufficiently, we returned to the clubhouse for some lunch, enjoyable conversation, and to cool down with some liquid refreshments as gunning for the day had ended. Most of the gunners left after lunch had ended and I asked me mate Bill to do a demonstration o' his pup ALLIE MAE (a now five month old yellow female pup from the TRAD X MAGGIE litter now highly regarded). Bill did work ALLIE for Barry and he was quite amazed at the level of competence demonstrated by the wee lass as he snapped photo's of ALLIE as Bill worked on obedience drills with her. Later, I worked with Barry and BROOKS again on some marking, retrieval, and delivery elements. I also instructed Barry in some techniques he could use to improve the overall mechanics of retrieve and delivery with BROOKS. Barry was also coached specifically as to how he might improve his abilities to communicate with BROOKS more efficiently. Retriever training having ended for the day, the dogs were put up and Bill brought Barry out onto our handgun range for an impromptu session of target shooting whilst I prepared the evening meal. We later enjoyed a nice steak dinner and our preferred beverages of choice whilst sharing a number of stories and experiences that further united us in friendship.

    Sunday morning found Barry and meself sharing a breakfast o' waffles with butter and New England Maple Syrup from a friend's sugarhouse. Barry and I spent some very important time going o'er training notes made as a result o' me observations and evaluations o' both himself and BROOKS since their arrival on Friday. A number o' new friendships were forged this weekend by gents that share the common passion for fine Labrador Retrievers and the pursuit o' game birds o'er those most special dogs with favorite firearms. Barry went home with a new perspective, some clearly defined homework for himself and BROOKS, and with a different and more confident retriever than that which he arrived with on Friday. As a bonus, he also left with a jar o' homemade salsa and a jar o' hot pepper jelly put up by Bill's lovely wife Maria whom insisted he take some home. These special retrievers sure know how to bond humans. Enjoy every moment with ye gun dogs Mates.

    [​IMG]
    Owner / handler Barry tantalizes BROOKS with his first flushed pheasant.

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    BROOKS and Barry sharing that special moment o' pride for one another shared by owner / handler and gun dog trainee.

    [​IMG]
    BROOKS making a first successful retrieve o' a dead chukar.

    [​IMG]
    Pheasants flushed by BROOKS during his first training session on live birds.

    Cheers,
    THE DOG WHISTLER
     
    Mac5pack, Doc E and P Frey like this.
  2. P Frey

    P Frey Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    102
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Location:
    New York
    Whistler, I also trained this weekend. I had my 1 yo pup and her 5 yo mother. As you said, it was hot and humid. Training sessions only lasted 10-15 minutes a piece per day. At the end of last season the pup was just starting to understand "the game" (I train to sit on the flush). I was pleasantly surprised that she remembered this through the off season. Not once did she fail to sit on the flush and she made every retrieve to hand. The 5 yo mother on the other hand was amped up beyond belief. She did well but "crept" a couple of times before I released her. Still early in the season. I am sure things will improve. Thanks for the post. I like reading your adventures.
     
  3. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Refuge Member

    Messages:
    86
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    Aye Paul,
    Thanks kindly to ye Mate.

    Cheers,
    THE DOG WHISTLER
     

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