Especially to those who don't (or didn't) hunt.... what got you started in field work with your lab?
Here's my story: Gala (BF) was about 3 yrs old and had been training for Open Obedience. She was my Novice A dog out of my first ever litter, and she was a real character as young as 3 wks--- I knew I didn't stand a prayer with her unless I could give her some kind of job. So I didn't exactly have a ton of formal training experience just yet...
It was Labor Day, 1998, and I was crazy-busy in my apple harvest work (testing/private consulting), working 16-18 hr days, 7 days a week. I'd just filed for divorce so the heat was on to support myself so I could keep the house and acreage... and 3 dogs. I was headed to an orchard out in the Columbia Basin ~100 miles away or so, that I'd only been to once earlier when hired to do the harvest timing work for the company. On my way to the orchard, a bad feeling came over me... I remembered... the manager had free ranging CHICKENS. Oh crap, I had my absolute worst bird crazed girl with me as it was her turn to be "queen" for the day-- my dogs are normally great little work partners (I call them my "Lab Assistants", lol), well behaved, etc, but this could be a stretch.... Logic took over and said, okay, so start at the spot the farthest area away from the house. It was a huge orchard (several hundred acres). Just how far do chickens range, anyhow? ??? Pulled in, took my first fruit sample as normal, prepped it, put it in the back where Gala had been riding, and I told Gala to "heel" (per normal along side my rig--- for exercise while at the orchard, of course!). I bet I drove maybe 50 yds, and there ahead of us crossed a Rooster w/ 4 hens... Gala TOOK OFF in a FLASH after them!!! Now mind you, she'd not even been hunted, but flushed a few birds around our place so knew what pheasants were, but Chickens? Oh lord. This was a new account, and a BIG one that I really needed. I panicked, and immediately yelled "GA-LA!!!!!!!!! COME!" as loud as I could. About that time, a guy came across an open field on a 4 wheeler and was cranking his neck so hard it about snapped. I heard Gala's collar tags jingle and felt immediate relief.... OMG! She's actually COMING!!! Too cool-- that CD really paid off. Well, she came to a very crisp, straight FRONT (remember, she's training for CDX).... with "Mr. Rooster Chicken" in her mouth. :-[ :-\ I knew the one guy saw her and wanted to faint... I gently grabbed her collar and said "Gala, OUT" in probably a very nauseous voice. She released Mr. Rooster just like she was taught w/ the dumbbell. He lost *2* feathers and began to throw a big hissy fit, flapping his wings and all. :P I set him down on the ground (grip tightened on Gala's collar as she was on 2 legs by now!) and said "You're FINE, now get out of here!!! And off he went squawking the whole way to find his ladies. It was ~3 wks later when I was asked to meet w/ the owners of the company and manager-- all went well, big sigh of relief. I had the opportunity to take the manager aside to come "clean" while the owners discussed another issue. The manager was a very nice hispanic guy, possibly Indian blend, very short/small stature w/ a long pony tail-- looked like someone you'd known from the 60's, if you catch my drift. I said, "Frank, I need to tell you what happened here 3 wks ago." He began to smile largely as I started to tell the story. He said in his broken English, "Oh, I know! My irrigator call me on the radio... he say "Frank, Frank!" There's a woman w/ a red rig and dog and they're catching all your chickens!" He said "Oh, it's Monday... Anne come to sample, and she has Labs!". When I told him the chicken only lost 2 feathers, he was totally impressed and told me the coyotes probably ate 2-3 a day! :P Anyhow, that day after she caught Mr. Rooster, as soon as I reached my "local" cell phone zone (where my calls were free), I called a gal who had been bugging me to start some hunt test training. By spring, both Gala and her mom, Winnie, were competing in JH and titled quickly! I was hooked big time at that point after watching my dogs do what they *really* loved! I still do obedience but try to have their CD training in progress while doing JH, and CDX done before SH training is too far along. So that's my story. How about the rest of you? Anne
WindyCanyon Girls, August 2014
I've hunted all my life, particularly ducks since I grew up basically in the marsh down here in S.Louisiana. When I was 17, I wanted a dog because I got tired of losing birds or chasing them down in my pirogue. Went out a bought a puppy. Bought a few books and followed them a little and heard about field trials. Went and watched an Open and knew I wanted to have a good dog. I met someone in my area that ran HT's and figured they would suit me better. While I was running HT's I put HRCH and MH title on one and HRC titles on another personal dog and while working for a Pro for a short period of time, I did the basics on a few other dogs that got advanced HT titles. My competitive nature had me seeking something more challenging so I jump shipped to running FT's and haven't looked back. Got one Qualified All-Aged and finished a batch of minor stakes since. I'm going on my 6th dog in my quest to find a really talented one that will be a FC AFC.
BTW, I compete to give me something to do with my dogs until duck season. Once duck season starts, we're hunting.
It was kinda multi-faceted. Belle was my "first ever" dog. I bought her primarily to be a blood tracker (for wounded deer...I will not accept the loss of a deer I shot). Well, Belle was a hellion and so I took her to obedience classes. The trainer thought she was a pretty good example of a Labrador and convinced me to show her in conformation. Belle did well (in UKC, where they prefer a "fitter" lab (no AKC flames please) and where a kncok-kneed pigeon toed klutz like myself can finish a dog), and was ranked in the Top Ten for two years in a row.
So, I began to entertain the idea of breeding her, but told myself that I would set MY standards of what we had to accomplish so high before I bred her that we would never reach the goals set.
My standards (for my dogs, because I was such a newbie) were to have titles in conformation, hunt tests, obedience and hopefully agility too. At least one of these venues had to be "mid-level" titles. Also had to have Excellent OFA rated hips and pass all other health checks.
Well, damn. Reached all those goals with my Novice A dog! So off I went in search of a stud, and found one that was only the 33rd (I think) in the history of the breed to have the titles he had (an AKC conformation championship and a Master Hunter title).
So, the long winded response was that while I duck hunt a little, I started the hunt tests to "prove" my dog , Belle could do it, and that I could feel "justified" that I would be producing good puppies. Once I participated in hunt tests, I do it because it brings such joy to the dog. I have entered Belle in many Started and Junior tests even though she has the titles. (I was such a newbie with Belle that I did not train her basics well enough to advance to Senior/HR level. Same with Utility. We got through Open, but the basics are not there for Utility). I hope to kick it up a notch with her kids. Kodi is trained through Utility now, but we have yet to compete in Novice obedience.
My kennel name is BBI. Brains, Beauty and Instinct.
I got tired of hunting with skittish, breaking, duck munching dogs! ;D
HRCH Ellie Mae MH CGC
Justlabradors.com -- the best site for your Labrador needs.
When we got Molly our breeder belonged to a retriever club, she invited us to join. We started out just going to "fun tests" the club held & going to training sessions with them. Then we had obedience classes & someone from our club suggested we try a NAHRA hunt test. We love training the labs & then slowly my husband got into duck hunting. Took Molly to Canada to hunt. Then we got Abby from another breeder and started the same way, obedince classes, training, fun tests & then the hunt tests. We were lucky several of our memebers are judges & were great mentors.
Abby went to Canada this year. As the years went by we just got more & more involved with the club & training. The girls enjoy it & we just love spending the time with them whether we are just training or running a hunt test. One thing leads to another & we started going to AKC events also. It really doesn't take to long to get involved in this.
My husband had gone to Iraq to work. Three years. I decided I wanted a dog for company. Went to the shelter and got Sam. Purely by chance. He was already probably close to a year old, no idea where he came from, just found running loose, no obedience. We started with that. Took some classes. I stumbled onto the local hunt club while looking on the internet for obedience trainers. the woman who responded to my inquiring email was super nice and I got involved through her. And discovered that Sam LOVED it and that I liked it too, so we've just continued on with it. I knew NOTHING when I started. Didn't even know there was such a thing as hunt clubs, or hunt tests, or that dogs could be trained to do such things!