I’m not a land baron. In fact, while I have access to a large tract to train Pritch, it’s three hours away, and that’s just not practical. Instead, I’ve had to become crafty at finding places that work for us closer to home.

My first discovery was a big grass parking lot tucked among some houses not far from our house in downtown Charleston. If I get there at 7 A.M. we have the place to ourselves. The problem is I can’t be tooting on my whistle that early in the morning, or the neighbors will probably go gonzo. It’s a great place for repetitions but not for creating any variety in retrieves.

My second find happened at the end of a walk down a nature trail that’s just a 15-minute ride from home. The trail ends at a large swath of salt marsh. The grass is about a foot or so high, and the ground is firm and sandy. And on full- and new-moon tides the marsh floods, making it perfect for some water retrieves. The only problem is the grass is often high enough to cover the dummy (only a problem while Pritch is a pup).

I have some friends who train in a failed subdivision. One phase was completed before the recession–the other two now sit empty. It has a few fields, a couple of ponds, and some woods, which is all you really need. And, of course, there are always golf courses, but my days of running from the groundskeeper are over. Plus, many golf course ponds here are loaded with alligators.

Soon I’ll be driving around 45 minutes to get to some prime spots. I know some of you lucky “dogs” can look out your back window at endless acres and maybe a farm pond or two. As for the rest of you, I’d love to hear your creative solutions to finding spots to train the pooch, and how far you travel to do it.