Dear Uncle Giles...
Putting your mind at rest concerning issues in the field and beyond.
Dear Uncle Giles,
On an early season day my neighbour insisted on picking all the shot game behind us with his labrador. And what's wrong with that, you ask? Well, each time it was sent the dog picked up, mouthed, chewed a bit, and then spat out every bird before eventually returning the last one to its owner. And this went on and on, until every bird was returned.
I wanted to pick the birds by hand myself but found myself restrained by the custom of allowing dogs to work (however poorly) so I found myself rather helpless, but exasperated. What should I have done or said?
DPG by e-mail
so fraught with difficulty as the disobedient dog? I am minded of the train passenger who enquired of the parents of a child, who had been hurling tantrum after tantrum until it had worked itself up into a positive frenzy of petulance and was screaming at the very top of its not inconsiderable voice, whether they had been beating their recalcitrant sprog about the head and neck with a rolled up newspaper? “Certainly not!” they cried. To which he replied, “Would you mind awfully if I did?”
I don't suppose that would pass without some kind of prosecution these days.
Still, back to the disobedient dog. It isn't, of course, the dog's fault. We all know that collecting retrieves one at a time, in the sequence required by the handler, comes somewhere in Chapter II of
One at a time is the customary way when picking-up and is really one of the first lessons for any young dog…
“Extremely Basic Dog Training for Complete Beginners.” It is crucial to deprive the dog of distractions in order to avoid this very issue you describe developing.
I think the conversation should go along these lines:
“I wouldn't be surprised if you and your dog might not achieve more if it had rather fewer options lying about out there. The way, as I recall, to achieve one at a time retrieves is to start with just the one. So I'm just going to pop out now and collect my birds and take them to the game cart so that you and your puppy can concentrate on yours. OK? We'll see you in a bit, I dare say.”
Then stride out grab as many birds as you can carry. Quickly.