Thursday, April 3, 2008

a few training updates

I got some bird-launchers from the great folks at the actual launchers are made by Dogtra, but the remote releases are by Tri-Tronics. And so while I will be surprised if I never meet someone who asks me what I'm doing, for now at least -- while Meg has the boys on their regular morning run -- I stash the launchers out in the woods. Then when she gets back, I take Momo out and we do a mixture of hand-thrown and 'flushed' frozen chukar. Momo and I did this yesterday -- and I can only describe his performance on well over a dozen retrieves as both flawless and eager. This pic, however, is from this afternoon and his intensity is pretty self-evident.

I should be able to get a few expired quail this weekend at the Nutmeg Weimaraner Hunt Test up in Simsbury, CT, to give Momo some variety.

The folks at SmartDogs have a great post about mathematically-gifted horses... or rather the sensitivity of our companion animals to subtle bio-rhythmic changes. If a horse can 'do' square-roots by listening to the changes in heartbeat of the person asking the question, then how we handle or train or work our dogs should therefore effect their performance. In hindsight, that hardly seems like rocket-science -- but it makes me think about what 'high expectations' feel like to Momo when I project them on him. And whether his blinking on retrieves on Sunday was somehow wrapped up in that.

And now after an afternoon back at TMT, I can say this: structure is good and I think most of Momo's blinking on retrieves may be his reluctance to mouth mostly-alive birds. When the bird was shot cleanly, I don't think he blinked at all -- and especially not on birds that had been shot and were now being used as slightly warm retrieving dummies.

I've started spending time one-on-one with Jozsi doing a lot of whistle drills -- and this afternoon, he seemed to realise that an attentive Jozsi means a happy dad. While all Momo's birds had been pre-planted, I took all Jozsi's birds in hand and set them up in the launchers so's I could control the release and, therefore, spend time focusing on helping Jozsi hold his point. As you can see from this pic from the afternoon, he has a great high point and is built like a track-star. What you can't see is that he actually got scent of the bird in the carrier and held point from well over 8ft... his previous point on the other carrier was at least 20ft. This is very encouraging.


Here's a quick shout-back to Mike @ Sometimes Far Afield. And this post, especially, because it details Mike's own exposure to the beautiful red-dogs, some smooth, some fuzzy. [Editorial: I just corrected this, but if you go down into the comments you'll see that I mis-attributed this first time around. Sorry, Mike.]


Makin & Tessa (Lael and Neil) said...

Wow, those are some great shots of a couple of gorgeous bird dogs.

Ziggi and Pesto said...

I agree those photos are brilliant. It sounds like a full time job for you.

mdmnm said...

Andrew- Thanks for the shout!
Just to clear up a small bit of confusion, I'm Mike, "mdmnm" and not Matt Mullenix, the Querencia contributor and author. Matt has his own falconry blog, too. I'm complimented to be mistaken for him.

Andrew Campbell said...

Mike: was too excited and thinking too fast when I wrote that. Matt does write well, but he hasn't admitted to any kind of vizslas in his life -- so apologies to you.

Will amend the main post shortly with suitable editorial grovelling.


Quixotic Bicycles said...

Dapper outfits they have there!

Not really being "in"- why don't they have blaze patches on the back? I assume no one is shooting while the dogs are out for downed birds, but thought it would be good for your visual use.

Andrew Campbell said...

Eric: we have over-the-top coats that are blaze to keep heat it in cooler weather; these are just chest-protectors (to help with air-flow) that might as well be blaze orange. Momo hunts pretty close as is, we'll see what happens with Jozsi -- and where I used to rely on bells to help locate them, I'm becoming more convinced they also spook late-season birds.

I don't take the boys out during rifle season for deer.


Kim said...

Awesome pix! Kyler also has a skid plate that brings her back a little less bloody then usual!

Laila said...

Hello from Maryland. Just wanted to say: Fantastic pictures!