Fred has cut his back leg and does not seem too fused about going out this morning. He is curled up comfortable – lots of licking going on but generally seems Ok. I think he must have cut his leg running after seagulls over barnacle encrusted rocks covered in sea weed while the tide was out yesterday. We got home and had a look at the gash on his leg and dabbed with TCP. I had forgotten just how strong the smell of TCP is!
So, not going out this morning, but remembering a walk a few days ago and something we witnessed on ‘the downs’ on the sea front. I saw a guy I recognised and he has 4 dogs which were all waiting their turn while he ‘worked’ them. I think the best way to describe things is that he gave me a demonstration on gun dog training. He threw a small canvas bag weighing about a pound to replicate the weight of a bird down the slope into the long grass and told his dog to find it. The dog would systematically search the slope traversing the area in a series of hair pin bends changing direction every time this guy blew his whistle. The bean bag found, retrieved and dropped for the owner. He explained he goes to Scotland and takes part in gun dog shooting events and his dogs are clearly very well trained indeed.
I explained Fred would chase birds make them fly up and if they flew across the road to get away Fred would follow them. He then went on to tell me that he had lost his best trained Labrador in such a manner. The Lab must have seen and chased a fox through a wood, the owner hearing a skid and a screech on the near by road not thinking any thing of it as his dog was working below in the wood. After a while of whistling for the dog and it not returning he thought something had happened? Found his dog on the road. So even well-trained dogs still have these uncontrollable instinctive behaviours which is a sad story. But I did feel better knowing how a such a perfectly trained dog has a switch just like the one in Fred’s head and can be flicked on and things for me become about anticipation and management of this scenario.
By the way – the grass slope where I saw this Spaniel find and bring the bag back was right by the line of trees where in the summer we have birds flocking, twisting and turning in the evenings sometimes. I don’t know how these things work but it not happening at the moment and I don’t know when it will begin again. Like I say Fred and birds are situations I tend to try and limit the damage.