–Chad Love

Are you a little dismayed after reading yesterday’s blog on the number of bumpers it takes to teach some of the more advanced retriever handling and lining drills? I’m with you. If your paycheck looks like mine, it’s no small thing plunking down five or six bucks apiece for a couple dozen bumpers that you are – without a doubt – going to lose a percentage of during the course of training.

Your dog will chew them up. They will get hung up in trees. You will drive away from your training grounds and forget them. You’ll throw them directly into intergalactic worm holes to another dimension disguised as cover. You’ll have floating bumpers that immediately sink. After you throw a mark for your dog at a public park, some random, unleashed mutt will invariably grab your bumper and run like hell the other way. I have done all of these things and more, because the first rule of retriever club is: your bumpers don’t like you and will always try to escape.

So here’s a little tip to stretch your bumper dollars. Save the real bumpers for throwing marks and water work and use white paint rollers for your pile work and drills. They’re cheap, about the same size as a standard bumper and you can paint them (with non-toxic paint) or cover them with orange tape if you want orange bumpers for blind work.

Obviously you can’t throw marks with them or use them for water drills, but that’s what your precious and expensive real bumpers are for. And if you lose the the paint rollers (and remember, you will) replacements are three bucks for a four-pack down at your local hardware store.