Dear Un­cle Giles...

Putting your mind at rest con­cern­ing is­sues in the field and be­yond.

Shooting Gazette - - Elevenses -

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.

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