Ever had a dog that would not retrieve? Let me tell you what a problem that is if you’re hunting quail in the South. Here’s why: a quail is hard to find in the weeds and grasses, especially in broom sedge. You can look right at one and not see it. And in Alabama where I hunt, we have those Auburn University Improved Variety Briers. A trip through one of those patches will leave you needing a transfusion; so if your dog won’t fetch, you will lose half your birds and waste a lot of time and patience finding the other half.
Ole Leukos, my cockeyed setter, would retrieve—only not stylishly and sometimes only with a lot of coaxing. But he would retrieve. His boys, Dan and Freck, two of the best pointing and bird-finding dogs I have ever owned, would not pick up a bird much less fetch it to hand.
I love the word “fetch.” It is wonderful— monosyllabic and means, “Go get and bring back.” It is vocally economic and has no exact synonym. Remember, all commands to dogs should be single words like “whoa” and “heel” and “stay” and “sit.” Compliments, on the other hand, can be two or more words like “good dog,” and “that a boy, sport.” The exception is “Whoa, damnit! Whoa!”—a command that should be shouted just prior to the application of corporal punishment.
Now where was I? Oh yes. The offspring of Leukos would not retrieve; otherwise, they were excellent bird dogs. So what must one do? I shortly came up with a solution; for, after all, I am a doctor.
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