Kinda long story, but a good one. A friend of mine has a new American Water Spaniel pup named Bean. This is his second AWS. Unfortunately an unexpected refinery turnaround has come up and it’s a big enough job that it’s paying a little over what he would make in 2 years in just 3 months time. He didn’t want to get rid of this pup and also doesn’t want it to do nothing until the first of the year so he asked me to take her in until the job is over. I was reluctant at first because it’s a lot like raising someone else’s kid, but today changed everything. Her name is Bean and even though she’s no bigger than a minute she’s going to be a good one. She knows to come and sit and leads well but that’s all. A friend and I took her dove hunting this morning with the idea of him shooting a couple birds while I had her on a long line and we would just see what happens. On the first bird he shot she was able to see it fall. I let her go on the line and she went straight to it. After I took the bird from her I spent the next 10 minutes praising and playing on the ground with the dove. She went completely berserk and really showed great interest. The second bird my friend shot we did the same thing. As with pups her attention span would get short and grasshoppers and frogs around the pond would easily distract her. I just let her be a puppy seeing and experiencing new things. I got my gun and shot a couple birds. One fell in the tall grass and after some encouragement she rooted in and found it. Then after about 5 birds her entire demeanor changed. I had her sitting to my right beside my chair and she was focused on nothing but the sky and anything flying but her tail was wagging. When I would click my safety off her head would snap around and her bottom jaw would be quivering as her tail was wagging. The next few birds shot I was still following her with the long line and then we would go back to where we were sitting. I then reached down and unsnapped the line from her collar just as my buddy shot a dove. She wanted to go but I made her wait just a few seconds before I said “fetch’em up”. This little pint sized dog b-lined straight to the bird, picked it up and brought it straight to us and the entire time her tail was wagging. She was having fun. We put our guns down and we’re going to just play with her but she was having none of it. She went and sat beside my chair and was scanning the horizon still wagging that tail. She never got in the pond all morning until a bird fell in the water. It was no big deal for her. She ended up making 3 water retrieves. She seems to have a great ability to mark birds when they fall also. There were a few times when she got interested in other things but she’s still very much a puppy and I’m completely fine with that. We both ended up shooting our limits and Bean did so good. Her body language this morning was that of a pup that was unsure and a little timid and as we walked to the pond she wasn’t wagging that tail. She stayed right behind me and just slowly made her way along. When we left she was 20 feet in front of me and was on cloud nine with her tail just spinning like crazy. Her gait showed confidence and spirit. She jumped the 2 ditches that she walked through earlier in the morning. On the way out this morning she rode in the floorboard of the truck, on the way home she was on my lap with her front feet on top of the door panel with her head out the window. As with everything in life there is good and bad. I hope she’s not going to be a 1 man dog and then she not work for my friend. He can be more strict with emphasis on obedience. Not cruel, just stern. I’ve tried telling him that happy dogs can mind and hun just as well as one that’s a little scared. Not worried about getting attached to her because I’ve seen and experienced first hand many a good animal that showed no desire to work or hunt. Those kind usually don’t stay around here long. I’ve hunted behind dogs and rode horses that were “force broke”. They are the kind that do what they are trained for but show no enjoyment doing it. I don’t like that. I want my dogs to have some spring in their stride and I want to see that tail wagging the entire time and today Bean was a very happy hunting pup.
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