Friday, 14 December 2018
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COLUMN: Gundog school for Moss beckons

BEEP beep beep. A continuous warning bleat from a large 170 horse power tractor reversing across our yard into the grain store means you had best keep out of the way.

I remember with sorrow how my lovely Labrador Pip failed to get out of the way of John reversing in the foldyard. She was such a greedy dog and although she seemed always to have the good sense to keep clear in the yards, a nest of eggs that had toppled from a straw stack and fallen just under the tractor’s wheels as John backed away, were just too tempting to miss.

So now whenever any large vehicles come into the yard, the dogs are put into their outside kennel, and much to their frustration, have to watch the comings and goings and take no part them. In fact Moss, our spaniel puppy, is so fed up that she has managed to dig a great hole under the netting of the run, and will soon be able to squeeze out. We need a rethink.

Moss is in for a surprise this afternoon, however. She has become rather a wilful puppy. Whereas before she cowered if Millie, our Jack Russell, or Fizz, our sheepdog, dominated her, now she has become top dog. She determinedly gathers all the bones that I bring back from the butchers so that she has three in her kennel, instead of a fair distribution of one each for each dog.

When any of the toys are thrown, she tugs it out of the jaws of either Mille or Fizz to bring it back. Good retrieving skills but does not bode well for the shooting field, when I can envisage the trouble she will cause if she decides that every other spaniel or retriever has a pheasant or partridge she fancies.

And there are dogs like that. They will sneakily observe a growing pile of birds on an adjoining guns stand, and then whip over when the dog is retrieving and bring it back to their own guns’ heap. Maximum return for minimum effort.

So later on today she is off to gundog school. I have been told not to feed her, which has gone down like a lead balloon, so that she will be keen to listen and get a reward. I have even purchased a tin of training treats to encourage her learning skills. The problem maybe not the dog, however, but the owner. “Don’t let her jump up onto the sofas,” says John. Who I then find cuddled up with a sleeping dog. “Don’t feed her any more bones,” says John. Who then passes the remains of a leg of lamb to a greedy spaniel. “Don’t let her jump up onto the Landrover seats.” says John. As I then observe a triumphant Moss gazing out of the passenger seat window.

I shall have to book John into a school for besotted and indulgent gundog owners. He needs schooling more than her.


The Bark Box

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