It never ceases to amaze me as to how easily a train of good fortune can go off the rails without warning. Until this afternoon, my grouse and woodcock season went well–given the less than stellar conditions in the woodcock coverts. I got into birds every time I took to the field with Hera. James, a new hunting buddy, got a woodcock on his first hunt for woodcock over a gun dog. Stella is making progress in her training as a gun dog. She is not gun shy, and she is quartering through the wooded areas in the parkland where I take her and Hera for their daily training run. Initially, I thought Stella would not be old enough to accompany Hera and me in the field this season. However, I decided to bring her along on my last three hunts, as I am pleased with the progress she made to date. Everything seemed on track with Stella and her training; I could not be happier. What could go wrong? Continue reading
I took the plunge this morning and brought Stella for her first hunt when I took Hera out to the farm for some grouse and woodcock hunting. Stella is six months old and quartering through the cover on her daily run. Yesterday afternoon I replaced her puppy collar with an adult dog collar and put her cowbell on for the first time. She took to her new collar and cowbell without incident. The weekend before, I fired several shots with a starter’s pistol while out on her daily run. She took no notice of the shots from the starter’s pistol. I concluded that she is not gun shy but still wanted to see if she would react to the sound of the 20 gauge shotgun when I took her into the field. I brought Hera and Stella out to the farm near Spencerville–the farm where three of my hunting buddies and myself hunt deer during the rifle season–this morning. We arrived at about 9:30 am, a little later than I anticipated. I try to get into the field by 8:00 am, but I found my bed so comfortable this morning that I was slow getting up to go hunting. Continue reading
I am a lifelong Star Trek fan. I first watched the original series when it was broadcast in England in 1968-1969. I remember the character of Stella Mudd from the 3rd season episode I Mudd. The character, Harcourt (Harry) Fenton Mudd created an android replica of his deserted wife, Stella. The android replica of Stella is a shrew extraordinaire. In the latest Star Trek series, Star Trek Discovery, the characters of Harry Mudd and his fiancé Stella Grimes, are featured in season 1. Stella Grimes is an attractive and determined young woman with copper hair. She is nothing like the android replica; her estranged husband Harry created much later. When I saw the young Stella Grimes, it inspired me to name my new puppy after the character. “Stella, dear,” is the phrase Harry Mudd used to set off the android replica. “Stella, dear,” is the pet name for my Stella. It is one week since I brought Stella home, and she is coming along nicely. Continue reading
I brought home Stella, my eight week old Brittany pup on Saturday, June 29, 2019. The journey down to Cayuga, Ontario and back proved gruelling, but in the end, it was worth it. I drove down to my sister’s house in the countryside near Port Colborne and stayed the night. Driving through Toronto is always an ordeal. My appointment at Ruffwood Brittany Spaniels was at 10:00 AM, and despite issues with my GPS, I arrived at 10:00 AM on the nose. I met with the proprietors of the kennel, Mike and Donna Wilshire, and after Donna showed me my pup, we completed the paperwork to finalize the sale. With the formalities out of the way, I discussed with Donna and Mike, my plans to train Stella as a gun dog. Mike and Donna offered parting advice on how to properly care for Stella while she is a growing pup. Yes, caring for and training a puppy to be a gun dog is a tall order. Continue reading
My morning run with Hera was interrupted when we had a second run-in with a priggish twat and her unruly husky. The winter before last Hera and I first ran up against this annoying woman and her husky. She keeps her dog leashed and it barks and pulls on the leash whenever it sees another dog. The first time I stood in the field across from a friend’s house with Hera while I waited on my friend and her dog to join us for a morning run. As the woman and her dog passed by on the road in front of my friend’s house the dog barked and pulled on the leash. Hera stood calmly by my side, taking no notice. The woman asked if I was not going to move on with my dog. I told her no that I was waiting for a friend. The woman complained her dog pulling on the leash aggravated a back injury she suffered. I told her I was sorry to hear that. She demanded that I leash Hera. I said to her to “just go.”
This morning Hera and I enjoyed a nice, long run as the weather is warm and sunny today. We walked with my friend Andrée and her poodle Oliver during the first part of the run. As Hera and I made a second pass in the meadow in front of Andrée’s house, I saw the woman and her husky in the distance. I did not know it was her at first–there is more than one husky owner in the area. Still, Hera and I chose a course I hoped would keep us from running into the woman and her dog. Unfortunately, we met up with her and the dog down by the river. The dog barked and pulled on the leash as before and the woman asked, more demanded, that I call my dog. She muttered about her sore back again then demanded that I leash Hera. I said to her calmly, “you look after your dog, and I’ll look after mine.” The woman took her dog in one direction and Hera, and I continued on our way.
I wonder where people like this woman get such an exaggerated sense of entitlement. I had run-ins with difficult people over the years when I am out with my dogs. Hera is my fourth Brittany, and I have a fifth Brittany (a new pup) coming in July. I learned over the years that it is better to keep calm while you stand your ground in dealing with people like the woman who confronted us this morning. Although I am better prepared for such confrontations these days, such encounters are still unpleasant and unwelcome. I hope Hera and I do not have a third meeting with this woman and her unruly dog.
Posted by Geoffrey
I made my first kill of the 2018 woodcock season late this morning. I was hunting in the Marlborough Forest at the patch of cover I call Schäfer’s Wood. I shot a woodcock over Hera’s point. I downed the bird with the second barrel of my Franchi Instinct SL in 20 gauge. We are two weeks into the 2018 Fall hunting seasons, and the weather is much improved. Still, conditions in my preferred hunting grounds are the driest I ever saw in all my years of hunting. I hope we get significant rainfall before mid-October. It took a lot of walking this morning, but Hera and I got into birds. I enjoy watching Hera working the covers we hunt for birds; watching her work the covers leaves me wondering at times if I trained her as a hunting dog or if it is she who taught me as a hunting dog owner. Continue reading
William McClure was a friend and mentor to me starting when I first spoke to him in 1987 until his death in 2013. Bill was a Brittany enthusiast and former breeder of the breed. He helped me find the breeder from whom I purchased my first dog, Christie, and shared his experience in training Brittanies for hunting with me when I trained Brittanies of my own. As this hunting season progresses and I take to the field with Hera, my fourth Brittany, I hear Bill’s voice, his warning against taking my dogs to hunting preserves to shoot pen raised chukar and pheasant. Bill warned me that pen raised birds are often not strong fliers and easy for the dog to catch. This, he warned, gives them the idea that they can catch wild birds too which is the last thing you want. I chose not to heed his warning at the time as I knew that hunters commonly visit hunting preserves with their dogs without issue. I took my first three Brittanies, Christie, Maggie and Juno to hunting preserves and never had a problem. In fact the photo at the head of this blog features me with my beloved Juno at the end of her first hunt on a preserve. Still, I wonder now if I should have heeded his warning, given that Hera is breaking point on woodcock, bumping the birds rather than waiting for me to walk up the point. Continue reading