Thursday, September 30, 2010

Of bumpers, birds and balance

Well the weather changed and it is wonderful. This past week has been busy so I'll just give a brief update on what we have been up to.
Thurs 23rd: Forest bird work
Fri 24th: "bottoms" running
Sat 25th: Lake and water work
Sun 26th: West Side part and bird Launchers
Mon. 27th Home, Launcher, tracking
Tues. 28th:"Bottoms" running
Wed 29th: Lake, Lampblack trail, running and water work
Today: bird work
Tomorrow is bird work with Launchers out at Naces Run
Sat is NAVHDA training day.
We have been trying to do something every day including, "hold and Give" work. He is doing pretty well.
I am still not sleeping super well, going over stuff in my mind for his test.
I have decided to move his JH AKC Hunt test to the one in Dec that way Thom can come too.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Houston we have launch..

Well maybe. If the bird handler, AKA, my loving Hubby Thom. Remembers to turn on the launcher. We went out to Nace Run early this morning to work Gunner with the new launchers and some Chukars. It was nice and cool and a very slight breeze. Perfect to find birds. I dropped Thom, the birds and launchers at the big field and then Gunner and I drove back down the road to park and get ready.

Gunner was excited already. He gets that way when his Dad comes with us. So I put Gunner in "heel" off lead and we did some drills and walked towards the field. Got to the field and I told him to find the birds. So off he went. A few yards out he caught scent of the first bird. Followed it right to the launcher. About 6-10 feet out he locked up. Great!! He was holding so I started to approach. I got about 2 feet from the launcher and he started to move. Ok...I push the button.....

nothing and Gunner creeps in. I push it again....nothing. So Gunner starts to move in to get the bird. I back up some and call him off the bird to me and Thom asks Why aren't you launching??

I'm trying but it's not working. So Thom manually released the bird. Gunner stood still and the bird flies.

We wonder what to do now. Do I release Gunner to find the other launcher or what? I tested them before we left and they were fine and I even labeled them so I wouldn't use the wrong button for the wrong releaser. So I take Gunner a bit away he is happy but slightly confused. Gunner and I got up the hill a bit so Thom can check the Launchers. Mystery solved, If you don't turn it on it will not work. So he checks the other one and turns it on.

I release Gunner and get ready. He finds the bird, points and holds. I walk up and he holds. I hit the release and he chases for about 6 feet and after I am sure he is clear I fire the 12 ga. Well, in a perfect world I could say I hit it and he retrieved but, as anyone who has ever tried to hit a small bird with a shotgun it is not easy and the shooter is not the best either. I missed and the bird got away. "no Bird" and Gunner comes back to me. We run around some more and then I did some much needed target practice. We walked back to the car. I had Thom put Gunner in a "heel " and walk back tot he car. He did well with Thom too.

So recap for Gunner today... 2 good points, 1 good flush, no reaction to shotgun (when fired at the birds or later when I did some target practice before going back to the car)

Recall was good and he "heeled" for both Thom and I no Check Cord.
Tomorrow is water day. Later today is more retrieve and release to me training.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And the day was good

Gunner and I went out in the forest today. We were going to do some launcher work but Thom was having some back issues so he couldn't go. So I decided to move the launcher work to tomorrow.

It was still just a bit foggy when we left the house and headed out to Nace Run. Past the house with the hounds, laying around their houses like lazy teens on a Sat morning. Paws hanging out door and one was even upside down asleepon top of his dog house. Like Snoopy.

We rode up the gravel and dirt road. Lots of leaves starting to pile in the corners of the road. Parked at our spot and started getting ready. I sure have alot of stuff to carry, good thing the dog handler vest has lots of pockets. Unclipped Gunner from his CC and had him fall in at my knee to "heel" up the road a ways. He did great and we worked on his "wait" when we would stop. Then a quick tap and an OK and he was off trotting up the road. Left to right and left again. The acorn were falling like rain and it was hard for me to tell if it was a bird, squirrel or deer. Usually Gunner would look but not really care so it was just acorns. Once on a trail he hit a hard point and I followed as much as possible down the slope. But got stopped by the briar's and bushes. I had to call him off and he was good and came up to me and we headed backup. He went up like no problem. Me on the other hand was not so easy. He was waiting at the top for me. Big ole' Wolfie grin on his face. I think he was laughing at me. I'm not sure though. We covered alot of the new trail and left our markers. This time Mr. Helpful didn't pull them for me. We headed back after about an hour and found the road and started towards the car. I did call him in to "heel" some and then released him. Went a ways then did it again. Finally the car came into sight. Let him just head to the car in his own pace. Got some more water and started home. We were about 2 minutes down the road and saw a big snake in the road. I stopped and watched it for a few minutes and it didn't move. So I got out and got a big stick and made sure that is was indeed dead. Gunner had to stay in the car. It was a copper head, pretty big. About maybe 14-18 inches. Deader than a hammer. No signs of trauma so maybe a hawk dropped it or something. One of the many lovely creatures on the Forest that we have to be so careful of.

We got home and had some lunch and then we worked on the retrieve and release. He retrieves great but the release is still not good. So concentrated work on that. Looking forward to working the launchers tomorrow. My hunter boy is curled up under my feet and all is right in his world. And in Mine too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

No Check cord!!!

Today is a great day for Gunner. After I worked this morning came home and had some lunch. Then decided to take Gunner to Naces Run to work his recall and burn some energy. Thom decided to come with Us. We usually go just us but it was nice to have him there. And Gunner was just so good. I took the check cord off today and let him loose. He went a few yards up the dirt road and stopped and waited for us to catch up then went about his business sniffing and all. He would go up a bit and wait or come back to us. I wanted to show how good he is about coming so I let him get up ahead and he looked back and I waved him on. Waited a minute or so and 2short blast on the whistle and back he comes flying. It was great he just slides to a stop right in front of us. Thom looked amazed. Then we went into the field. The leaves are starting to turn and there were alot of those little flying hopping grasshoppers around. we searched the field and didn't scare up anything so we went up the logging clear-cut path. Gunner leading and stopping and coming back. Checking all the bushes and brier patches for bird smell. We got to the big log across the path. I didn't say anything. Gunner looked at me and I just waved him on and he started running and just sailed over that log. It is thigh high on me and I'm 5'9"-5'10. He didn't even break stride. I heard Thoms slight intake of breath. I know he was worried he couldn't clear it. But he just flew over, ran up the hill and I whistled him back and he did it again on the down hill. Just a beauty. The field was warm and sunny and the wind was kickin' a bit. Didn't find any birds today. We started back to the road and I called Gunner and put him at the "Heel" Check Cord. Walked toward the dirt road and kept him at "heel" for about 3 or 4 minutes. Off leash then released him. He trotted up the road and we went to the car. We had some water. Gunner drank some and then did his usual lay on the bowl and make mud. Everyone piled int he car and Thom turned to me and said something so nice. ..."You've been working hard with him and it shows. He is amazing and I bet Ron (my training guy) would be surprised at just how good he is doing" Then he said we should stop at 2nd street feed and get Gunner a bell. It will make it easier to hear where he is in the bush and grass. Thom went in and ordered him one and it will be here Mon. It was a truly red letter day. I'm very proud of my Gunner and very Thankful for my great Hubby.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Only draggin' 12 feet

of check cord. Today we went out to play and look over a new bit of training ground and trail. I used the shorter 12 foot check cord today instead of the 35 foot one. Whittling it down ever so slowly to no check cord. It was cool and a little damp on this trail. It is a horse trail and the horse people are so good about keeping their trails marked and not messed up. No ATVs or vech. of any kind so the terrain is still very natural. Gunner did just great. (Shh. we won't tell him so he doesn't get a big head) But he would run out a ways and then every so often he would either stop and check back to see me or run back and see me. I used the whistle today to call him back. He understood it really well and it carries farther than my voice and also has no tone. Like if I get a little Momma-ish and think he is too far away. If I call sometimes I know he can hear it in my voice. The whistle doesn't have the very slight tone of worry in it. Every time I recall him, he would come just speeding back. He was good about going in the brush and over some rocks and things to sniff around. We didn't find any birds. We did meet a guy hiking. And he was good about how to approach Gunner to pet him. Actually asked if it would be alright. Maybe because when he first came with in sight Gunner came back to me and barked very defensively at him. I had him sit and wait until the man came a bit closer. That is when we talked at a distance and I didn't get any weird vibes from him so I let him pet Gunner. He must know about dogs too because other than asking he also squatted down and turned sideways and stuck out his hand to Gunner. Gunner gave him the once over and then when he pulled in his hand Gunner sniffed his ears and hat and then let him pet him. I love meeting up with someone who knows how to approach a dog. It was a nice meeting and he went up the trail and we went back down. Gunner is doing great with his off lead work and I am getting more sure of his recall. Makes it easier and more fun for the both of us. As we got near the car I called him to me and "heeled" him to the car. Now he is eating an ice cup and watching me type. This are some pic I took. They are a bit dark because it was shady on the trail.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A bird in the hand..

Is not in that danged thicket. Gunner and I went out to the forest today. Early. It was cold enough for long pants. But as the sun broke out the sky was that bright blue of Fall and it was just beautiful. I didn't take any birds with us today as I wanted to work on recall and let him just see what we could find.

So off we went up the dirt road to the clear cut field. Up and over the dirt bank and into the field. I decided on the upper trail first. Mostly to tired speedy out some and that way he could settle down some. All that energy is sometimes not great for focus. Upward we went. Didn't see anything but it was nice just the same to be out. Heard some hounds off in the distance. They were pretty far away and I think prob. at some of the houses along the way to the forest proper. They were not moving.

Gunner and I got to the top of the hill and I dropped the check cord and just let him be. Told him to "Find Bird" and off we went. I know I go on alot about how beautiful he is and how he moves but today in the early light and him flowing over the clear-cut like mercury. At speed first, up and over a thigh high log and back to me. Then slower and more deliberate looking for that bird.

Down the lower cut. He minded very well. I'd let him go a way and then call him back. He would stop and come right back. A couple of times I just changed directions and waited a few steps to see...shortly a gray streak would flow by and turn back and stop right in front of me. Big puppy grin on his face. He was up in front again and at locked up point. I walked slowly towards him at an angle and got right to him . Gave him a easy wait and stepped in front to kick in the brush to see what he had. I always look. We have skunks, and rattlers here. Glad I looked. It was a huge...pumpkin sized paper wasp nest. I grabbed his collar and we left quickly the other direction. I was elated...not at almost kicking a wasp nest but he held still for me to walk up.

We had been at it about an hour so we headed back towards the road and car to get something to drink and see how much time I had until I had to be back.

At the car we both had a nice drink and Gunner decided to lay in his bowl after he drank some. I guess he was cooling off.

We still had some time so we went to the smaller field.

Again he was loose and started with a "Find bird" and he was off . Back and forth, left and right. There are alot of tulip trees sapling and wild rose, and berry bush thickets here. He started his little fast wag I knew he was on to something. Hoping not another wasp. He had his head in the thicket and at point. I walked slowly. It was hard to be slow and calm but I didn't want him to rush in. Slowly, slowly approach off to the one side. He stayed locked up. I peered into the thicket and heard some rustling. Saw something move and a flash of brown. Grouse!! It hit the open air and was gone. Like a dream, or hallucination. And Gunner stood still. Our first grouse. It was so magic and so great and I can't stop grinning.

We just stood there for a second and Gunner was just looking at me like " Can we go find something else now" Silly boy. doesn't even know how great and rare that was. Tomorrow I 'm taking a couple of the chukar to plant. Fingers crossed he won't rush them but I have devised a plan. Looking forward to tomorrow.

PS this is not the grouse we saw just a pic of a grouse.