We just got back from a lightning overnight trip to Maryland to visit with Bob Seelye at Cliffside Bird Dogs. This first pic is from the boys lounging in the hotel room. I won't mention the name of the chain (other than it also has a single number in its name) we stayed at, but it's one thing to say 'pets are okay' -- and another to have an entire sheet of pet rules and then charge an additional rate (neither of which are available on the web ahead of time). Not Super. As we do when we have to stay over in Brattleboro on our way to chase chukar in Bernardston, we will use and endorse Motel 6.
I'll try to keep it short as to why we'd gone out there. Meg and I are going back to Mongolia in February for three weeks and were looking for boarding kennels. Then I had the bright idea that if we found a kennel with a decent trainer, maybe we'd ask a professional to also spend some time helping Momo find a retrieve (which while not essential to the kind of hunting we do is the one chink in his armor). After a few field trips and phone calls to places that just didn't fully satisfy me, I found Bob. Bob specializes in Vizslas -- Bob is the man who trained Momo and Jozsi's common grandmother, Wylie, to her placement in the National Gundog Championships.
But... and it's a 'but' we haven't entirely decided on, but are close... Bob takes roughly 20dogs down to a camp in Florida for the winter (in the ongoing search for perfect 65degF weather, as he says) from early January till mid-March. We haven't entirely decided if we can live without our boys for an extra seven weeks or if we'll just feel guilty. Especially when there's love like this...
To be fair, if Momo is to get a retrieve, he will need to be force-fetched -- his natural retrieve drive isn't super strong (like his mother's) and so, if he's to acquire this, he will need to learn it as a task or skill which does require a high-level of structured training and potentially some discomfort. And if that discomfort is to be minimized, it may take the full 10weeks to do it. Some trainers force-fetch all their dogs -- one of the reasons I like Bob is because he only does it with the dogs that need it. The same is true for Bob as to whether to use e-collars. I like a guy who has an opinion but isn't willing to stuff it down your throat. I also like a guy who after twenty years of doing this still sounds like he's having a blast.
Sadly, I don't have pictures from Cliffside or from the walk in their back fields that they manage for birds. And while Momo didn't quite get a hold on a quail Bob tossed into the grass, he did locate two pheasants that were hanging out in the tall grass. Bob said it best, "He likes to hunt."
This was our first longer trip with both boys in the Super-Deluxo Deer Creek dog box. We'd taken a little trip out to Blue Lake on Monday -- which is about 45mins from our house -- to get them accustomed to the ride. And while they were eager to get out, both boys were very willing to go in their half of the box at every step of this longer drive (between 4 and 4.5hrs depending on traffic). We had a stop during each journey to get gas and human sustenance supplies and the boys got roughly 20mins of run-around time during those pit-stops. This last pic is of a tired Jozsi wrastling with his mother.
It was interesting that at both pit-stops the boys got attention from both some former Vizsla owners and a guy who had some very successful English setter field-trial dogs. It's nice to know that our boys look sufficiently like bird-dogs that folks will strike up conversation.