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  • September 30, 2010

    Do You Have a Dog Training Buddy?

    By David DiBenedetto

    With the exception of my older brother, who lives three hours away, and a pro, who is also quite a ways down the road, I have mostly trained Pritchard alone. At first this was how I liked it. But lately I’ve realized the upside to having training partners. You can share tips and tricks, and even commiserate when things go south. In addition, a partner may have better access to land and birds.

  • September 28, 2010

    What’s Your Dog’s Worst Habit?

    By David DiBenedetto

    Pritch picked up a bad habit this weekend. She decided that while on the porch the best place to sleep is on top of the picnic table. Yes, that’s her in the below photo, snoozing like a champ where earlier Jenny and I had just eaten dinner. Rest assured, after the photo was taken she was jostled from her slumber and taught a bit of a lesson—dogs don’t sleep on tables. But the incident got me thinking about Pritch’s worst habits.

  • September 24, 2010

    Dog Poop Lights Up City Park!

    By David DiBenedetto

    I’ll admit it, I’m a pooper scooper. (And, yes, I realize I’m setting myself up for jokes here.) But I don’t have the niceties of a close wooded lot or huge backyard to let Pritch do her business. More often than not, if we’re not training, Pritchard is dropping bombs on the sidewalks of downtown Charleston, and I’m bagging them. Though recently she’s decided that a mid-road crossing isn’t a bad place to let fly…which has made for some interesting traffic backups. Though I’m usually applauded for my clean-up work. (Thankfully there have been no more sock incidents.)

  • September 21, 2010

    Caption Contest: Win a Pair of Costa Del Mar Sunglasses!

    By David DiBenedetto

    Okay, only a few more days until the weekend. For those of you not in the woods or the field, here’s a little caption contest to help you bide the time until you’re outdoors again. The photo in need of your creative touch was taken recently in Charleston Harbor.

  • September 17, 2010

    My Favorite Command. Teach Your Dog to “Place”

    By David DiBenedetto

    Without a doubt, one of the most useful commands (other than Here and Sit) that I have taught Pritchard is the Place command, which instructs her to sit exactly where I’d like her to. For instance, I use Place to get Pritchard to sit on a water stand in the swamp, on a seat on the boat, and on her dog bed. Even my wife finds the command extremely useful. (She’s quite proud of the way Pritch places on the scale at the vet’s office.)

  • September 15, 2010

    What’s Your Perfect Trio of Gun Dogs?

    By David DiBenedetto

    Recently I read that Tennessee may open a sandhill crane season, and I briefly imagined sending Pritch out to retrieve one of these behemoths. Thirty-five pound dog attempts to bring back a four-foot bird—a bird known to peck at the retriever’s eyes if not fully dispatched. Nope. No crane hunting for Pritch. I’d need another dog.

  • September 13, 2010

    What’s the Best Canine College Mascot?

    By David DiBenedetto

    While I was watching my Georgia Bulldogs get their butts handed to them by the South Carolina Gamecocks I started thinking about the canine mascots of college football. (Full disclosure: I graduated from the University of Vermont, but since UVM has no football team I’ve stuck with my native state’s Dawgs.)

  • September 10, 2010

    Hunting With Another Man’s Dog

    By David DiBenedetto

    I have a confession to make. Yesterday I cheated on Pritch. I left her home while I went marsh hen hunting with a friend. Worse yet, my friend brought his dog, a Boykin named Seamus (pictured above with a few birds). And here’s the final kicker. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

    Marsh hens, often called rails, can only be hunted on a full or new moon tides when the Spartina grass of the Lowcountry marshes is covered by water. The rails find cover on the slightly higher marsh hummocks, and that is, of course, the best place to hunt them.

  • September 8, 2010

    Reason No. 357 for Why I Love My Gun Dog

    By David DiBenedetto

    In the midlands of South Carolina, deer season began September 1. And on opening day I sat in a stand in 89-degree weather while a small 6-point, a 4-point, and a spike ever so gently sparred in a field (the 4-point was still in velvet), and four does went about eating. I was sitting on a harvested cornfield. I didn’t pull the trigger, but it was a spectacular evening.

    Still one of the more entertaining moments of the day happened before the hunt when I came down the stairs in my camo, and Pritch went bonkers. First she ran up and sniffed my legs like I was fire hydrant at a dog park. Then after a good whiff she started hopping around the living room as if the carpet had turned to hot coals, turning in tight circles with stubby tail working like mad. As I packed the truck she followed my every step. When it was time to leave she sat by the front gate whimpering as I pulled away. My wife tells me she positioned herself by the front door until I came home later that night.

  • September 1, 2010

    Did Having Kids Ruin Your Gun Dog?

    By David DiBenedetto

    My oldest brother likes to joke that as soon as Jenny and I have a kid Pritch “will be kicked out to the porch.” And a new study I recently saw on MSNBC proves that he may be right. According to data compiled by a researcher at Indiana University South Bend: