If Love’s a Sweet Passion, why does it torment? Good question, Hera is now about 19 months old, which in dog years makes her a a young lady coming into her own at 20 years of age in human reckoning. She is a spirited young lady with quite a will at times. She has captured my heart in these months since I acquired her. The decision to purchase her and bring her home at the end of 2012 was difficult. I was reeling from the untimely death of my beloved Juno (shown with me in the header photo) who succumbed to cancer in August of 2012. She was four years old when she was taken from me; it was a devastating loss and initially I contemplated never having another dog. The pain I felt at her loss was overwhelming, but in the end I found I could not be without a dog.
Hera came into her own as a gun dog in her first season. She distinguished herself in her first season in pointing ruffed grouse and woodcock for me when she was just one year old. She is very much a huntress. She lives for the hunt and is fearless. She was not quite staunch on point during her first season, but the fact she was finding and pointing birds for me at all impressed me no end. This weekend, on one of her daily training runs, she locked up on point and held point while I walked around and took photographs of her. As it happened, the bird was long gone, but I was well pleased that she remained staunch. In her enthusiasm for the hunt, however, she is still learning she is hunting for me. When she is absorbed in her task, she can be disobedient, particularly when she is chasing squirrels in the dog park. This taxes my patience, but I understand it is the exuberance of youth. We will continue training over the spring and summer months and look forward to getting afield in the fall to chase ruffed grouse and woodcock together.
A particular article I read when I was my mid-teens in one of the old hunting magazines my father collected resonates with me to this day. The article in question was penned by a retired US Army officer who lived in Maine. He enjoyed duck hunting on the Penobscot River, gunning for black ducks and goldeneyes in the late season. He hunted with a friend, a man named Dave Bell , a serving officer in the US Army, and noted carver of working duck decoys in Maine. I so enjoyed reading his article as it really piqued my interest in gunning for the common goldeneye. I really wish I could find a copy of the magazine with the article and believe me, I have tried over the years to find one with no luck. I remember learning the colloquial term for the goldeneye in reading this article. Goldeneyes are commonly called whistlers, due to the distinctive whistling sound they make when beating their wings in flight. The author likened the sound of goldeneyes in flight to that of the sound of artillery shells as they approach the target. I spent many years learning the finer points of gunning for the goldeneye and it is something I look forward to every hunting season. Continue reading →
Hera is my fourth Brittany, so you think I would be seasoned enough in gun dog training to manage the embarrassing situation when she decides to disobey most spectacularly during a confrontation with non-hunters. My buddy Jason Quinn and his dog Nos joined me as I took Hera to the vet for her annual vaccinations and a heartworm test. Following the visit to the veterinary clinic, we made our way to some parkland along the Rideau River in the south part of Ottawa for our daily dog run. I have been running my gun dogs there since the 1990s and only on one other occasion had a confrontation with people who complained about my dog. I remember standing my ground on that occasion; it was with Maggie, my second Brittany. I told them, calmly, I would look after my dog, that they should just continue with their walk. When one of the persisted in berating me I shut him up telling him to “piss off.” He went on his way muttering insults. Today’s confrontation was far more dramatic. Continue reading →