Last month we attended the annual Michigan Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club Fun Day which was held at a local state park. First order of business was a club meeting and then fun socializing while the dogs had fun bobbing for apples. After a lunch of hamburgers for the human members and guests, the dog members and guests headed to the lake for some training fun.
To get to the lake near the picnic area required a walk down a steep bluff so we decided to find another area. There was an area near the boat launch which was an easy walk from a parking lot, but that area was not appropriate to set up wingers because people needed to use the launch and we could not interfere with equipment. It was however a good area for puppies and seniors to do water retrieves so some of our group stayed there.
We moved further down the lake shore for our training. This required us to wade through waist high cover to get to the water. Initially we had planned to throw a land mark; however, we ran into someone from the DNR who warned us that there may be Michigan rattlesnakes in the grass, so we nixed that idea.
We all stuck to the same path to get to the water and since it was a hike, once the dogs were at the water, they all kind of stayed there in a row waiting their turn. It was a good opportunity to work on steadiness.
Most of the dogs at the training day are hunting dogs rather than hunt test dogs. The difference being that many have not been trained according to any type of formal training program. They have been trained to retrieve game, but they may or may not have been trained to do some of the precision things that we work on with our dogs. For example, they may deliver to hand but without returning to the heel position and sitting. No one cares how straight a line they take to retrieve a bird. Most do not know handling. Hunters do not need this type of precision in their training. Most hunters work on obedience items like steadiness and recall. A well bred retriever instinctively knows their job is to find and fetch the bird and bring it back.
We set up a hunting scenario with two simple water marks through decoys and a fairly challenging down the shore water blind for advanced dogs.
Our dogs have trained with a winger, but most of the other dogs have never seen one. It was fun to see how quickly they picked up on watching the arc of the throw and how excited the got when it went “zing”.
Here are some pictures of the dogs retrieving. I was loading wingers so I was not able to get everyone. Click any photo to see it larger.
Of course Thunder, Storm and Freighter had fun training too. Thunder was running a water mark as a club member was putting out decoys. You can see the mark just behind the kayak. Thunder only had the dokken on his mind and paid no attention to the man with the decoys.
Thunder ran the two water marks as singles, but Storm and Freighter ran them as a double and they did the water blind. They were the only two dogs that tried this blind. They both did ok on it, staying in the water the entire length.
Everyone was having so much fun that we kind of lost track of time. There were so many dogs that the wingers were always working. Unfortunately a rain storm blew in and it was time to pack up so that was the end of the training fun. We hope everyone has a good hunting season and we look forward to next year’s fun day.