A good friend of mine recently shipped his 8-month old pup to training camp. The dog, according to the professional trainer, should be ready to hunt by late September.
Now, I have to admit that there’s a part of me that hears this and is a bit jealous. For one, you know your pup will not be sent down the wrong path by your own bumbling training skills. Or, to put it more bluntly, you have a pretty good feeling that come dove season your pup won’t be lying at your feet chewing on a sunflower stalk oblivious to the birds flying overhead and the guns booming. (A fear that, like a bad case of indigestion, sometimes percolates in the pit of my stomach on sleepless nights until it has a stranglehold on my chest.)
But in the end, I’m glad to be traversing Gun Dog Road from start to finish with Pritchard. Because there’s nothing like waking up at dawn, throwing on your training clothes, and heading down the stairs. There, your dog, who has been listening to every step you trod as soon as your feet left the bed, is waiting in her crate with the pent up energy of a compressed coil spring. The morning ahead of you–or at least the hour you have to train before jumping in the shower and heading to work–is full of promise and hope. Of course, much of that promise and hope will be left crushed on the dewy grass, but you know by now to appreciate the minor victories.
And while I’d be pretty useless without the advice from professional trainers and the gobs of stuff I learn every time I’m lucky enough to join a pro for a training session in the field, I have to say that packing up my pup and sending her away to training camp isn’t for me–at least not yet.
How about the rest of you? Are you a DIY trainer, or do you call in the Calvary when needed?