It dawned on me yesterday that I’m surplus to requirements when it comes to working with Poppy.
I took Poppy out picking up yesterday at our local shoot which is only a few hundred yards from our front door. She has worked on this shoot for the last 7 years and knows the ground so well that she knows exactly where to stand on each drive! So when we arrived at each drive yesterday, she just trotted off, took her place where we normally stand and just concentrated on the drive. I just stood back about 50 yards away and watched with amazement as she watched the birds over and marked them down.
But what totally blew me away was her ability and experience in identifying a pricked bird in the air. She was watching a flush of pheasant over the guns and suddenly took off up the hill, straight past me(!) in pursuit of a cock bird. 2 minutes later she reappeared from the maize with her prize and delivered to hand before trotting back down the hill and resuming her position! Amazing.
Now, I know it’s bad training to allow a gundog to make its own decisions about when to go and when to remain steady, but at 9 years of age, she’s not going to change. She has the experience and still has the fitness to operate totally independently of me.
It’s a joy to watch and I just let her get on with it, providing what she wants to do is safe and doesn’t upset anyone or other dogs.
Perhaps I should stay at home next time and just open the front door at 0830 and let her back in at 1600. She could then tell me all about her day!