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  • November 29, 2010

    Does Your Dog Hunt Both Ways?

    By David DiBenedetto

    By David DiBenedetto

    This weekend, Pritch and I will be taking part in a three-day flushing dog seminar at Rock ‘n Creek Kennels in St. Matthews, SC. Those who of you who have followed this blog know that I’ve spent the better part of two years working on Pritch’s retrieving skills for doves and ducks. And while I’m pretty happy with the results, I’m still curious about her upland potential. (The one time I set her loose in quail territory—shown here in the photo—she seemed to fall right into a proper rhythm.)

    She’s a spaniel, after all—a natural born flusher. And I can tell you that she’s never more happy than when she’s running a field with her nose to the ground, zigging and zagging on the scent of who-knows-what. And while I often heard that you should never mix disciplines while training a young dog, I think my pup is ready for it.

  • November 22, 2010

    The Best Vest for Your Dog

    By David DiBenedetto

    Over on the FlyTalk blog, Mr. Deeter and Mr. Romano often write about “stuff that works.” And we’re going to give it a try today on Man’s Best Friend. After a weekend in the duck swamp I can tell you that I’ve never used a finer dog vest than the Avery Boaters Hunting Dog Parka. I love it for a variety of reasons.

    First, it comes in sizes that will fit the smallest Boykin (XS) and the Largest Chessie (3XL). This was especially important last year when Pritch was a pup, weighing in at a whopping 30 pounds for the duck season opener. A set of grab handles allows you to easily reach down and hoist a dog aboard a boat or into a blind. And a properly placed set of D-rings lets you leash the dog quickly and eliminates the need for a collar. The vest is also tough as hell (the 5mm neoprene is covered with DuraStretch), and can be customized to fit your dog. And I like that the zipper pull is big enough to get a grip on with gloves.

    Best of all, at around $40 the vest won’t put a dent in your bourbon fund. For my money, it can’t be beat. But whatever vest you choose, plan on working your dog in it a time or two before heading to the blind.

    If you have a favorite vest, or a good vest story, share it with gang.

  • November 17, 2010

    Great Gifts for the Gun Dogger

    By David DiBenedetto

     

    It’s the holiday season and outdoor catalogs are jamming the mailbox, which means it’s time to start folding the corners of the pages. I’ve got my eye on plenty of good dog stuff, including a dummy launcher  and a training bag.

    But, to be honest, the best dog-related gifts I’ve received have all been total surprises—and they’ve had nothing to do with training. Earlier this year, I wrote about the traditional Catskill flies that Field & Stream fishing editor John Merwin tied for me from the flank feathers of a wood duck that Pritch retrieved on her first hunt. The flies are works of art tied by a dear friend, and they catch fish.

  • November 12, 2010

    What’s Your Dog’s Strangest Habit?

    By David DiBenedetto

    My gal, Pritch, is a ravenous eater. In fact, I raised her bowl off of the floor so she’d slow down a bit, but she can still chow down. And usually, about 60 seconds after inhaling her meal, as she’s sniffing the kitchen floor for additional crumbs, she let’s out a burp that would put a beer guzzler to shame.

    It ain’t ladylike, but it’s my pup. (For the record, this photo is not taken mid-burp but rather mid-yawn. Still, you get the point.) She’s a burping machine.

    Pritch has also developed a knack for digging up pecans that the neighborhood squirrels have hidden for winter and even some from winters’ past. I’m not sure if she does it too piss off the squirrels or because they leave their scent behind when they bury the nuts, but Pritch loves nothing more that to unearth a dirt-covered pecan and deposit it by the door. Since pecans can cause intestinal blockages when swallowed whole I’ve done all I can to squash this habit, but to this point Pritch has no interest in actually eating the pecans just finding them.

  • November 9, 2010

    Caption Contest: And the Winner Is…

    By David DiBenedetto

    Friends, you’ve outdone yourselves again. We had 157 very solid entries in the latest caption contest. First, let me give a big thanks to Cabela’s for the prize: a six pack of training dummies. And thanks to the folks at See Me for the reflective leash and collar that I’m adding to the prize loot.

    The photo came courtesy of a good friend, whose Vizsla, Laszlo, apparently has a thing for tennis balls. Laszlo, as you might have guessed, also has plenty of energy to go around.

    Now to the good stuff.

  • November 5, 2010

    Tell Us How Your Bird Season Is Going

    By David DiBenedetto

    I love to deer hunt, but with all this talk of the rut on fieldandstream.com I’m not sure if the deer or my fellow editors are running around with swollen necks.

    For many of us gun doggers, bird season is open. Tomorrow, Pritch and I will be hunting rails (aka marsh hens) in the Lowcountry, and in two weeks we’ll be in the wood duck swamp for the season opener in South Carolina.