I know he's not a deer dog but wanted to tell you all how pleased i am with the "daft dog".
I've never had a gun dog before (i've had labs all my life apart from the 6 years before getting the latest) and, while i only shoot a few times a year (due to a lack of available land and the price of game shooting ) i wanted to get a "gun dog".
The Mrs very kindly offered to buy me a dog for my birthday a year and half ago, and so the search was on for a suitable pup. A friend put me in touch with a woman who breeds and trials dogs and after meeting her and the pups we decided on this little fat barrel of a black lab.
Not having the money to send him off for training and wanting to have a go myself I bough a book on how to train labradors for the field. It started badly as i got progressivly more and more disheartened with him when he always did exactly the opposite of what he should (according to the book). What you can't necessarily tell from a breif look at the pearents is how their going to be mentally....mine was stubborn (and still is).
Over the months, the book got put back on the shelf and i started "making it up as i went along", armed with a couple of dummies and using experiance of seeing other dogs on shoot days and reading the odd article in the shooting press.
I'd like to say i didn't really start any formal training till he was about 12 months, before this i tried to play fetch with him....he just ran after the thrown object and then ran off with it.
At about 13 months he found three pigeon, after picking one up and bringing it back to within 3 meters or so he buggered off an ate the whole thing...followed by the other two he found. this went on for a while as he kept finding half rotten rabbits and eating them - whole!
Needless to say he was getting me down and i was starting to think that he may just end up being a pet, and thats about it.
then about 2 months ago he found another pigeon, and after whistling him in he brough it streight to hand and gave it to me. he found another 10 minutes later and promtly delivered it to hand again. He also did the same with a rabbit he found about two weeks later. Was there some glimpse of hope...?
So onto the internet i went and bought a rabbit skin off ebay and i had a couple of old pigeon wings in the freezer....one feathered dummy and one furred dummy later we were out in the fields near us practicing. With Good results.
Finally i agreed with the shoot manager where i go game shooting to let me bring him out for the day picking up....i was very nervous to start off with. It didn't help that he started the morning off whining with excitment and tugging badly on the lead.
Anyway to cut a long story short, he left his best retrieve of the day to the very end. The pressure was on, both the shoot manager and the game keeper were behind me watching proceedings. A cracking shot from a walking gun at a partridge screaming past led to it fallign a good 80 yards away from me. The dog had sighted it up while it was in the air, before it was shot and he watched it the whole time. When it hit the deck i let him off the lead and he ran streight to it, having marked it perfectly, and then brought it streight back to hand....near perfect retrive (well, in my eyes anyway). On this shoot they pick up behind the guns during the drives.
While he'll never be a field trial champ (not that i'd want one) he has shown me that i was right not to give up on him and that maybe one can be to eager to train and expect results instantly and that a complete break from certain activities may actually be beneficial.
I'm chuffed to bits with him and while he still has a lot of work to do, hes certainly getting there.
Anyway, just thought i'd like to tell you all about it.
Daft Dog owner, Jim