I’ve started writing this blog post several times now, and have been struggling with what I’ve wanted to say. At this time of year there is a lot of looking back at the year that has gone and setting resolutions for the coming one; and this is something that I tend to resist, but with the writing of this post I have almost been forced into it.
My blog focuses on the time that I spend outdoors, and in 2019 this increased significantly as a combination of moving house, getting a dog and increasing the amount shooting that I do including the other activities that surround it.
Moving house has given us a garden and means that we are 10 minutes walk from the beach; Myr arriving in our lives has increased the amount of time I spend on the beach, and on other walks around the marshes and seawalls around here; and as well as clay shooting every 3 weeks or so, we have also started beating on a small shoot near home. I have spent less time working in the wood this winter, mostly from not feeling up to it, but I’m hoping that will change soon. However I am also very aware that necessary work in our garden really should take priority!
Over the last month or so I have started a few other draft posts about some new experiences that I promise I will finish writing, but today’s will mostly be about the puppy who, over the last 3 weeks, has changed immeasurably and has had some brilliant ‘firsts’.
Myr is being trained as a gundog, with the main priority being water retrieving on the marshes for wildfowling, however with joining the shoot as a beater I am now thinking more about other sort of working for her. She is still a baby, so apart from general obedience training and working on her long-term steadiness, everything else is in small quantities, but so far she is a complete super star.
Over Christmas J was ill for the whole time we had off, so there were a number of times that I took Myr out on my own. We mixed up going to the wood, the seawall/marsh and the beach.
The wood and seawall are quite similar in that the focus is on returning when asked, walking to heel off the lead, and being able to sit still while we stop somewhere for a few minutes. The beach has a lot more on-lead work as we walk down the road, some learning that not all other dogs are there to play with, and now some swimming retrieves. It’s only in the last few weeks that she has decided that swimming is fun, but she instantly worked out how to pick up a dummy from the water and bring it back the easiest way.
Not all puppies want to pick up a bird immediately (feathers feel funny), and so I started her in the garden with a goose wing. It’s big but light and the feathers wouldn’t fall out in her mouth. The first couple of times she spent a long time sniffing it before bringing to me, but by the third time she was really keen.
Sunday evening she had her first opportunity to retrieve a pigeon, and after letting me point her in the right direction (she didn’t see it drop), sniffed it once and brought it straight to me, which I was really pleased with.
As well as all her outdoor work, Myr is now working out her place in the house and settling down nicely when we stop in the evenings. She still tries to play with the cat when the cat doesn’t want to (there’s lots of times when the cat does want to play too!) but is also learning the cat’s moods and I think one day they will curl up together.
After my initial lack in confidence in how to teach Myr, I am now thoroughly enjoying seeing her respond to training and seeing the changes that are taking place as she grows up and am looking forward to this continuing over the next year.