Hunting Dogs photo

I hate to admit it, but Pritch and I have slid backwards this summer. In Charleston, we’ve had a month of record-breaking temperatures with heat indexes climbing well into the one hundreds on a daily basis. The gators are thicker than ever in the ponds. (Click here to read about the 500-pound alligator that was captured yesterday in nearby Hilton Head.) And, as evidenced by the above photo, we’ve spent entirely too much time fishing and goofing around in the boat.

This reality hit me hard when I realized that I have a little over a month until the September 5th opener of dove season in South Carolina. It hit me even harder when I took Pritch out to do some serious training this week. She looked–and performed–like she’d rather be sunning at the beach. So I made a quick call to my crisis manager, otherwise known as Pam Kadlec of Just Ducky Kennels, and I asked for some advice on how to get on track quick. Here what she had to say:

For dogs that have been taking up residence over the a/c vents I recommend starting off slowly to build back muscle and refresh lessons. You can start off where you last trained with some easy, short marked retrieves in short cover and build up to longer marks and heavier cover. The goal here is to get both of you ready for dove season, so you need to get pup acclimated to the heat before opening day.

Speaking of acclimation, Kadlec also had some important tips on dealing with the heat.

If you have a house dog they should spend several hours outside in the shade with fresh water rather than chilling out in the air conditioning. The dog can come inside in the evenings. If she’s not used to the heat (and it’s been a miserable summer) she will not only not want to work, but she could die from heat exhaustion if she over exerts herself.

Remember that any work should be done in the early morning hours before it gets too hot for man or beast. If training in water make sure the water temperature is not too warm because warm water is much more taxing on the muscles than cool water. This summer has been brutal so most ponds are already like bath water. If you train early mornings you can get in a few water retrieves and then work land while the dog is welt. If you don’t have access to swimming water, carry a few jugs of water and wet your dog down to keep her hydrated.

That, folks, is great information. Now that Pritch and I have our marching orders we’ve got some work to do.