We had a great afternoon today... good company, good dog behavior, and nice weather. We went up to TMT with a friend from work, who is a heck of a shot, and another friend, who is no slouch either.
I realize that Brisztow Jones is feeling a little neglected, but I've apologized several times to her mother for my lack of clarity. Hopefully, we can find a make-up date sometime in the next six weeks. I will say that the ground was wet and slushy, except when you were wading through the heavy, melting snow. So, all on all, Brisztow, you were probably better off staying at home.
In any case, I put Momo down to go find pheasants. I'll be brief and just say that he's really starting to look like a pro. He seems to be getting a little less creepy on point and is most definitely staying put to be sent for a retrieve. He's a little picky about how he picks up a big bird like a pheasant, but made some awesome retrieves on shot, but not killed birds. One of the things with a force-fetched dog is that it shouldn't have an opportunity not to retrieve a bird once it's been sent... which is to say the dog should never get an impression that it's going to have a choice about a retrieve. But in the case of a bird which has been shot, but is not dead, you are potentially asking the dog to make a retrieve on a bird which might still outrun it. I will never worry about a pheasant outrunning Jozsi, but Momo is not Mr. 200mph. Nevertheless, he made great tackles and retrieves on three birds which had been squarely hit, but were still capable of running. Having a dog that will retrieve cripples is a real bonus... and it's great to see him have that confidence.
As this second picture shows, he also made some stylish points -- and got practice at his stop-to-flush. The pheasants were all pretty active today, and the hen in this picture wild-flushed before Ed and Ron could get in position and headed off to fly another day. We need to get some training time in with another dog or two to make sure his honor is up to scratch, but so far he's looking really good for his try-out for Master Hunter in the spring.
We cleared out two fields of pheasants and, after two hours on the snowy ground, I put Momo up and took out Mr. Enthusiasm. He goes like crazy, despite the snow. We had asked Tom to put chukar down for him because they were more likely to stay put while we got folks in place for the flush. And while he has done great at staying put while I fire a blank pistol, I wanted to get him on his pinch-collar and checkcord today because he really wants to break after the shot on a dropped high-flying bird. He got caught out by a wind-change and a little too much speed on his first bird -- but stopped-to-flush like a pro. For a young dog with that kind of self-discipline, I'm not sure that inadvertently busting your first bird isn't a bad thing.
In any case, this picture is of his second bird -- which is actually hidden on the far side of the rock. And yes, the collar and cord was necessary. I wish I'd had the coordination to flip the e-collar at the same time, but after three cycles of getting caught up on the collar and being repositioned back to his original spot, I am confident he is beginning to get it. Certainly by the third time, as much as he wanted to break, he was resisting me less. His fifth and final bird, sadly, was also a stop-to-flush. But again, he is holding nicely even as relatively nervous birds pop off in front of him... so I am pleased.
So, Brisztow, get your people to call my people.