I’ve worked hard on Daisy. I’ve trained her 3 times a day every day of the 9 months I’ve had her. I’ve learned from the mistakes I made with Poppy and have applied the lessons. I’ve been absolutely rigid avoiding going too fast or being too ambitious, taking each step slowly and spending hours consolidating each new skill before moving on. Every day, we spend time on the basics of sit, stay, heel and come before doing something more challenging. She has done 15 shows, performed impeccably and shows all the signs of becoming a first class gundog.
So, what’s the problem? Well, I feel she’s ready to be exposed to game and to start coming with me to shoots. Currently, I have to leave her at home in her crate every time I go out to a shoot (2 or 3 times a week) and she hates being left! We’ve done the starting pistol and dummy launchers routines and she’s as steady as a rock. But, on the advice of Howard Kirby, she has not yet been exposed to game, warm or cold. His advice was and remains not to take her out this year at all, but to continue drilling in the basics until next Spring when I can progress to cold game. In the summer, I can introduce her to warm game (pigeons & rabbits, perhaps?) and then take her into the shooting field in October 2014 when she’ll be nearly 2 years old.
But, I’m a bloke and naturally impatient. The devil inside me keeps telling me that she could handle the shooting field and all the sensory experiences now. But the sensible Stephen tells me to wait, be patient, that I shouldn’t risk the next 8 years of running an excellent gundog by ruining her now: she may be well-drilled, but she’s still a puppy and immature at heart and taking her out too early could ruin her for ever.
Should I, shouldn’t I?