“We’ll need waders, screws, an axe and a chainsaw. Then we’ll get the dogs.”
An old, permanent duck blind that had succumbed to Mother Nature and has laid under water for the last 3 years was to be resurrected. We’d be working in the slough and nowhere near a power source, so we were slightly limited in our options as far as tools were concerned. First off, we’d need to raise the structure. A couple guys using some good, old ‘Merican willpower would need to lift while a rope tied to a rope tied to a cable attached to a winch on the front of a ranger parked across the duck pond provided some power. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the duck blind stood upright once again.
Structurally it seemed sound. Some support sections would need to be replaced, but overall the frame was in good shape, considering the watery slough-bottom it’s called home since 2010. We’d put on a new wall, fix the roof, add supports, build shelves and sink anchor posts. But what got the crew the most excited:
The new dog ramp.
A small hole had been cut for the retrievers, but it sat a couple of feet off the water. Some scrap wood was assembled along with a few boards across for traction and voila: The ramp was complete!
This also presented us with a chance to work the dogs over the water. There was a slight learning curve with the new ramp. Something would need to be added to provide further traction as the dogs would slip and slide there way up. Bumper after bumper would be tossed across the clear water, clogged in places with thick weeds and summer scum. Each dog would happily bound down the ramp, splashing through the slough, as eager as their owners for the upcoming fall season. At times the young labs were confused as they’d all want to jump at the commands given for another dog, but like our first training session, they learned to focus their energy and figured out the program by the end-for the most part.
As with any young dogs, occasionally you need to isolate them from the chaos to work alone. One lab decided too much was going on and appreciated some one-on-one time. Once the frenzied mass calmed down and the other labs were removed, he worked like a champ. That’s what training is all about. Dogs learn like people-in different ways. Sometimes you just need to step back and remove the distractions. Next time out, he’ll be that much better.
Training sessions right now are as important as cleaning your gun. I’ve come to enjoy watching my dog work as much as pulling the trigger. A good dog will make every experience more enjoyable and give you a reliable hunting partner when all your buddies bail. Spending the appropriate amount of time with them now, before the season begins, will ensure that you have bragging rights when everyone starts the friendly banter about how great their dog is. Every owner is always biased, and that’s the way it should be.
What’s your favorite way to train in the summer?