You know the drill. You get home from a long day at the office to be met at the door by your very excited, best friend. And I don't mean your spouse.
Yes, having a rambunctious, young labrador retriever to greet you everyday is part of the joy of owning a dog. The other part is that she needs her training during the off season and it is 99 degrees outside. Your options are to train at the crack of dawn when it is 82 degrees in July in Texas or train in the evening with water nearby. Very nearby. And in Texas, that's not a given anymore.
Outside of training for hunt tests and/or field trials, I have found myself enjoying training my lab, Ellie, to be a better companion. How can a lab become a better companion one may ask? After all, aren't they one of the most devoted breeds on the planet?
Yes, but they love to learn. And continue learning. Of course you have to give them things to learn. For example, she can learn to be obedient while with you when you do your other hobbies. Ellie is another in my family's list of labrador retrievers that we have owned. After 30 years, I always wished I could have taught Lady, Sasha, Millie or Winnie something to make them a better dog. Whether you are a frequent hunter or just someone who always wants to hunt more but cannot get away, your best friend still wants to be by your side.
With Ellie, who is now two, she goes with me everywhere I go. Whether it is to run an errand at the local Home Depot or to peruse some new fly fishing gear at Orvis, Ellie is by my side. More and more merchants have become dog friendly, which is a nice thing, but only if you have a well-behaved, obedient dog.
And that is my point. Use the dog days of summer as a time for you and your retriever to frequent some of the shops that you enjoy visiting. It is not the time to shut down training. This is a great time to practice obedience on the leash, which pays huge dividends in the fall in the duck blind or out in the bird field. Most all pet stores allow dogs and yours will get a big dose of distractions that you can correct on the spot.
When I took my family to Estes Park, Colorado last summer, Ellie joined us. And boy did
she love the cold river out our back door. And when we went fly fishing, Ellie stood alongside watching my son and I cast. Again, a great lesson on patience. One fly fisherman walked by and noticed Ellie in the Big Thompson River on a rock watching me cast a fly. He remarked, "I wished that I would have taught my dog to do that when he was younger. It sure would be nice to have him alongside."
Well, maybe next time when he gets another dog he will teach his new companion to be his best fly fishing buddy.
This summer, when my family heads to Colorado, we are stopping off at the Western Colorado Hunting Retriever Club hunt test. Held at the Grand Mesa National Forest at an altitude of 10,000 ft., Ellie and I might need some oxygen after our workout.
It will be fun to meet fellow HRC members out west, share hunting stories and enjoy our common bond of owning well-trained retrievers.
Remember, training your dog can be fun, even when checking out the latest gear at a sporting goods store or having a cool one with friends at a local watering hole.
by Larry Lauck, Treasurer
Lone Star Hunting Retriever Club