TAILS OF WOE
My wonderful bitch, Snoop, who was known as “That Nice Black Dog”
at all the Lincolnshire Farmer’s shoots
A reader asked me how it is traveling to multi events on board the RV with a sled team of dogs ? Well
of course there is a one word answer but that wouldn’t make for much of an article.
Snoop Dog who didn’t take up shooting till she was 5 but had 10 great
years at the sport R.I.P.
Several years ago my faithful black labrador Max had to be put to sleep and for many of you animal
lovers out there you will know the heart wrenching trauma of having to sign your best friends death
warrant. Now Max was a huge lab who came with a pedigree that would make Royalty jealous. He was
from a pairing of an all Americas Show Champion who was mated with one of the Queen’s best
hunting labs from Sandringham. The combination of all the hunting lines and the show dog stature
indeed produced a wonderful looking dog. In the main, the rest of his litter was sent off as Sniffer dogs
for the Police and UK Customs and when I came across him he was the last of the litter and I bought
him on the spot.
Max at 6 months, you can tell by the paws he will be BIG !
Having had many black labs over the years he was a perfect, or so it seemed, replacement dog for my
recent loss of Schuler my 3 year old bitch. Schuler was an excellent dog and never needed any training
at all as everything in her life seemed to be inbred, including first class obedience to go with her
perfect hunting skills,tell her or show her once and she had it.
Schuler in her prime
Regrettably she licked up a winter puddle while out on a Sunday afternoon walk, contracted
Leptosperosis and died within 36 hours while I was on a NATO exercise and uncontactable.
The Finest hunting lab I ever had, Schuler, who died at 3 R.I.P.
Max was a very headstrong dog and pulled like a steam engine on the lead until the benefits of walking
to heel were explained to him via a small ash twig. Max never had a nasty thought in his head, infact I’m
not sure that he had many thoughts in his head at all! Being such a beautiful dog I decided that I would
send him off to the best gun dog school I could find and away he went for Gun Dog boot camp. Within 2
weeks the school rings and asks me to come and collect him as he is deemed untrainable and just
wants to turn everything into a game.
Not being deterred by this minor setback I try and train Max myself and he responds well to all “sit and
stay” games and the retrieving also goes well. However in the field it is a different matter as passing
pheasants are too much to resist. “The pefect dog” will not sit at his master’s side at the shooting
stand and wait until the drive is over before recovering all the downed birds, first shot fired and he is
Various other methods are employed including the use of an 18 inch steel tether with a corkscrew
that you wind into the ground and secure your unruly beast to. ” Bang” ……… no dog!………. no tether
either as he has pulled it straight out of the ground like a tent post. Oh well, another good idea that
won’t stop 100lbs of hunting keeness……. lets try my son Edward as the handler. Next shoot with my
local syndicate in Hampshire,.. First drive and I’ve drawn No 2 so I’m down at the edge of the wood in
a small clearing. Edward is briefed “Whatever YOU do under NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER
let go of that dog’s lead !”…………… first birds come in high over the 40′ beech trees planing down to
land behind us. I take the stance, produce an elegant swing, allow about a five bar gate’s worth of lead
and fire……… classic head back, wings in, the bird crumples and falls….. excellent ! ……. at this point my
daughter screams ……. DAAAAAAAAAAADDY…………. and I turn to see Edward’s green wellingtons
disappearing through a laurel bush while he grimly holds onto the 100lb tractor which is off in 4 paw
drive and hot pursuit. This was Max’s last visit to the hunting field.
Maximus, never a nasty thought R.I.P.
When I decide to take up residence in the USA Max comes too, but he is too big for the standard airline
dog box so he has to have a “custom” one built. I arrive at Heathrow with faithful companion who is
carrying his favorite toy, a blue teddy bear, which he won’t go anywhere without. The girl at the desk
says he is not allowed to have blue teddy as he may suffocate……… “Does he look like he will EVER
suffocate ???” some time later Max and the blue teddy arrive in Phoenix.
Max, the worthless gundog, but a very faithful friend
A few years after his death Brenda suggests I have a new puppy and a chocolate labrador is found
and joins the household for Christmas. She is duly named Cadbury after the famous chocolate
makers and takes her place and does what all labrador puppies do……… chews things……. shoes,
slippers, furniture, TV remotes and anything else she can find. A beautiful dog but unbelievably
disobedient ! Well they do say Chocolates are different but I have never had a dog like this before!
Everything is on HER terms and she will come back when she is good and ready but not before.
5 years later and not much change in that department.
Being a chocolate labrador, Cadbury, or Doof to her friends, is a water lover and during the summer
months there was no way to keep her out of the pool. She became an extraordinary diver and her
favorite game was “fetching the collar” which if you were unlucky enough to be a participant in was a
“Game without End” and no matter how deep the collar landed in the 9′ deep end she would retrieve
it without fail bringing it back to your sunbed before the refreshing whole body shake! Should you not
wish to play she would take it to the deep end herself and drop it in and wait until it sank to the bottom
before diving in for the deep water retrieve. No wonder these dogs could kedge anchors!
Cadbury in full flight for another Deep water retrieve
Now Brenda has never been a dog lover but over time these things change………. and so it was when
one day she announces that as it will soon be Valentine’s……… she would really, really, really like a
King Charles Spaniel of her very own. The dog duly arrives and as its Valentine’s Day is named
“Valentina Rossi”. Which of course is Rossi for short.
Hello, I’m Valentina….. but you can call me Rossi
Now we are TWO !
One year later and another Valentine request comes in and she would really, really, really like a boy
dog so that she can breed from them. He is found and is a very placid tempered dog and never does
anything to upset anyone and continuing in the road racing theme of the period he is named “Hayden”.
I’m Hayden and I’m here about the job ?
Now we are THREE !
The first experiment with breeding doesn’t take long and Rossi is soon waddling around while Brenda
gets a “Jack the Ripper” medical bag and we armed with every known medical implement to assist.
Surprise, surprise when the morning we are due to leave for the Ahrma event at Milliken Brenda
awakes to some soft mewing heralding the arrival of the first black and white puppy born on the pillows
between us and all perfectly cleaned up and feeding happily. Being an only pup there is no way she is
leaving and is called Milliken or Millie for short…….
A black and white mole arrives on the pillow
I’m Millie and you can’t sell me !
Now we are FOUR !
Rossi and Hayden have more litters of the normal size now we have learnt to keep them apart while
Hayden “recharges” and they are all normal and healthy and depart for their new homes. The last litter
which was born in Colorado was a different matter. All puppies arrive without any assistance and are
all black and tan. Millie who has been watching the operation with interest hops into the basket when
Mummy Rossi vacates it to go on break. Strangely Millie starts lactating so the pups are now double
dipping from both Mamma and big sister ! From about 4 weeks on one of the males is the first to do
“everything”, first to walk, first out of the basket, first to find an escape route “cheater line” and as they
continue to grow, first to venture up and down stairs, jump up on things and so on. By 8 weeks he is
slightly bigger than the others, but not that much, just the Alpha dog of the pack. As the others depart
for their new homes he is noticeably bigger!…… and when prospective owners arrive he jumps up by
me as though he is already part of “this family” and has no intention of leaving………and so it was, he
made his wishes quite clear and was happy with his current surroundings and was going Nowhere!
Now we have FIVE !
Double Dipping !
Now whether he trod in some Miracle Grow in the garden or whether it was the “double dipping” as a
pup we will never know as he just continues to grow! He is now approaching 14 months old, is
THREE times bigger than his mother and TWICE the size of his father. He is named Hercules and
I’m wondering what his labors might be ?
Mummy Rossi on the left, Daddy Hayden on the right, and their giant
offspring HERCULES in the middle
So now with the history lesson complete I can perhaps answer the original question of “How is it
traveling to the events with all those dogs?” Well they know, they look forward to their mini vacations
and road trips and go completely nutty on the day of departure until they are aboard. As they see all the
food, trials clothing, boots and helmets going out the door they know and chaos begins! The Pre
Boarding walk is little more than a joke as the only thing they are interested in is getting on the RV.
Constant crying, yapping and pulling until the door is opened and the team crash over each other to
get the best seats. Once on the road normality returns with most of them taking turns in the front seat
whether Brenda is using it or not. During en-route breakfast I have a line of sitting customers all
waiting for something to be donated to a worthy cause or to show their prowess as vacuum cleaners
should anything fall from my grasp. We used to stop and let them out after about 4 hours but all that
ever happened was a whole load of sniffing so now they have decided we should just push on to the
venue or night stop. If cooking is taking place they will join in as sous chefs or just do what dogs do
Cadbury will assist as the relief driver, quite useful as Brenda doesn’t want to, so having taught her to
steer its simple enough to select “cruise control” and let her get on with it while I’m eating. She tells me
she wants to take her CDL A in the future and fancies being the first dog to drive the “Dalton Ice Road”.
Regrettably the others are too small and they can’t reach the wheel with their short legs.
Doof at the helm of the 42′ 525 horse power Beaver Marquis
Doof holds the line as an 18 wheeler hammers past the Safari
On arrival they start eating and then parading along the dash barking at all unleashed dogs that come
anywhere near the coach. At bedtime they see no reason why they can’t all fit in the bed and seem to
have established their own spots although Doof, who weighs a ton, is kicked off and generally sleeps
on the couch until dawn when she manages to sneak up.
Hercules wakes me with a wash
Walking a 5 pack can be problematic but I’m seriously considering the Iditarod in the future now that
they are fully snow trained after this year’s Colorado winter. Until then its a “woof” fom him and a
slobbery kiss from her.
The team have enjoyed their Buckeye trip and are looking forward to the new venue at Terlton, OK but
until then its back to their regular routine soaking up more couch potato time.
….let sleeping dogs …….
Here is an interesting pic which is offered as as a test. How many dogs are in the picture?
Bonus points for being able to name them.