If you follow the blog, you know that recall is one of the things that we train most often. Our dogs are hunting dogs and often work off lead so it is important that they come when they are called. It is not just a matter of convenience. It is a matter of safety.
A couple of years ago we were out hunting pheasant and Storm flushed a bird over an ice covered pond. The weather was mild and we knew the pond was not frozen enough to hold a dog. Hubby did not take the shot and Storm was recalled from the bird. Better safe than sorry.
Last week I had yet another chance to test Storm’s recall. It went down like this:
I let the dogs out to do their business before putting them in their runs for the day. It was a warm morning for February and a little foggy. There was absolutely no wind.
Storm ran out and directly to a pine tree across from the door. I thought “wow she must really have to go”. But she did not go. She started sniffing. What I did not see when I let her out was that a bunny had just left that spot and moved a few feet over, where it froze like a statute. Storm did not see the bunny at that point. She was busy sniffing. I knew that any second Storm would swing her head to the side and spot it too. It was only a matter of time and the bunny was only about 2 feet away from her.
Bunnies must not be too bright. It easily could have sneaked away while Storm’s head was turned, but I guess it’s instinct was to sit still. The problem was that once Storm spotted it, she would have pounced on it or chased it. Then bunny would have run and probably headed to the front yard and the road in front of the house. Not a good thing.
We have an Invisible Fence system because we cannot have physical fences where we live. The dogs are well trained on it. The only problem is that the system failed last Fall, (there must be a break in the line). We need to get it fixed but we have to wait until the ground thaws.
Back to Storm and the bunny. As soon as I noticed the bunny was literally two feet from Storm, I recalled her. She gave me a questioning look, but she started to come back to me. Of course at that same moment the bunny must have gotten nervous because it indeed took off running: full speed, heading toward the road. Storm saw this and was ready to retrieve the wayward bunny for me. I called her a bit more urgently and surprise! She came to me. I was so happy with her that she got a ton of pets and I just happened to have a a cookie in my pocket so she got that too.
Storm will be 10 in June and you might be wondering why her recall would be in doubt after all of these years. Her recall is solid, however she and I do not often encounter bunnies right in front of her face. Hubby is the one who hunts her so normally he would be recalling her off an animal or a bird. We live in the city so I do not expect to encounter many things worth chasing in the yard. OK once in a while it happens.
After the skunk experience, I usually do not take any chances after dark and take the dogs out on lead. I guess I might have to rethink this for daylight hours too until we get the fence fixed. I am just glad we put so much time into recall and it paid off because at the moment, all I had was recall.