We did a really fun drill at Dan's yesterday, what he calls the "fly away bird" drill.
I told him about Tito taking off to follow a bird, and then coming back in. He said that's the "golden retriever 100 yard dash", and while Tito is well trained enough to come back when he doesn't catch the bird, the concern is that, in such heavy, thick cover, they can lose their way.
Anyway, the drill involves a bunch of live pigeons. Some are homing pigeons, some just regular barn pigeons. Dan tosses the bird low along the ground, and sends Tito out after it.
If it's a barn pigeon, when it flies up it gets shot and Tito gets to retrieve it. However, if it's one of the homing pigeons, it just flies away and Tito gets whistled to come back.
Very cool drill. It didn't take him many birds to realize that he needs to come back AT ONCE when he gets whistled to come back.
One bird that got shot we thought Dan had missed, it flew about 200 yards but then dropped straight down behind a small hill and some fairly heavy cover. Of course, Tito disappeared.
Dan just stood there talking to me (about Thanksgiving, etc) and finally after what seemed like forever I said, "Dan, where's my dog??". He said not to worry, Tito was just out looking for the bird. I told him that that was about how long Tito had been gone when I did my freak out while we were hunting, and then Dan laughed and said that that's a typical upland hunt and I do need to relax and trust my dog. He said don't worry, he'll be back.
Sure enough, about 30 seconds later here came Tito over the hill, busting thru the cover, bird in mouth, happy as could be.
So...a lot of the work that needs to be done is me, not him. Dan said that I need to get on the whistle and/or collar if the bird isn't shot. That's true, I waited too long.
If the bird does go down, he says just let Tito find it. He will put up a persistant hunt and then he will come back once he finds the bird.
I am probably making a lot more of this than it was, he was gone less than 60 seconds but since I couldn't see him it was very scary. I'm not used to having him out of my sight for that long.
We finished with 2 live pheasants that Dan dizzied and planted, and then we let Tito flush them and retrieve them after they were shot.
A great day!
CH Rosewood Little Giant, VCD2 UDX VER RA MHU SH MXP MJP MFP T2BP TD DJ VCX WCX CCA CGC FFX-OG (born 3-10-2007), also UCH HR UH UUD NN UJJ URO1 UHIT a.k.a. "Tito" (the Tito Monster)
waiting at the bridge:
My first dog, and my most special girl
Gibson's Golden Girl, CD, CGC, TDI ( 3-20-1997 - 11-22-2013) a.k.a. "Tiny", "Queen B"
and my heart dog
Gibson's Golden Guy, CD, CGC, TDI ( 01-31-1998 - 01-02-2012) a.k.a. "Toby", "HRH"