Monday 19 December 2011

The working barbet

Spot the barbet working on her own.
Three shoots in a week, tough on a working dog and owner! On the second, a Wednesday shoot  Bepop had an interesting day, she flushed well but generally about a mile from the beaters, and she found more puddles to lie in than birds, yes we had fun and luckily no one really noticed that she was enjoying herself in a solitary sort of way. When we did find each other, she had that look of defiance, a look I know well from bringing up three children. I tried a few tactics, the Clint Eastwood hard stare, lifting up the ear flap and bellowing 'bad', I even resorted to the word 'treat' but when the opportunity for some picking up work came our way on one drive, I accepted with a wry grin. She was given permission to `run in` as it`s a drive that can result in lost birds if they are not picked up quickly enough. A free thinking dog given a freehand was in hindsight a bit of a risk, but hey, she did enjoy the experience when it started raining pheasants and she retrieved at high speed with a very silly expression. After that, calming down a turbo charged barbet was yet another challenge.

The third shoot was the following Saturday, I went with an open mind after the previous Wednesday, and with 3 spaniels picking up (all trained) we were in the mindset of a day beating with Bepop flushing the birds. All went well, she flushed within my sight at all times, only one incident with 5 deer which could have become front page news had I not launched myself and flattened her in her stride but on at least once the moment had passed, she resumed flushing. We had three lost birds on one drive which was holding things up, so I went to help. Two birds were found and the last one had been seen going into a hedge. This was no ordinary hedge, it was thick bramble with no real breaks for the dogs to enter, an impossible retrieve even if the bird was in there. I walked along looking for a gap, just as a bit of training for Bepop, a retrieving Jack Russell with attitude was what was needed, not my hearth rug. We found a gap which surprisingly enough she wriggled into on her tummy and disappeared. The noise of breaking twigs was deafening and you couldn't help but grin, and after some time she appeared out of a gap at the top of the field. As we walked up to meet her she was definately showing some interest, so I casually sent her back in to the awful hedge. There was a lot more crashing around, which is all we had to locate where she was, then it went quiet. So now we are not only looking for a lost bird, but also a big black dog. We stooped down looking to see a glimpse of black curly hair and bingo there she was and I was pretty sure she had a bird. Bepop takes her time to pick up a pricked bird, hopefully one day I will be near enough to see how she does it, she is careful and quiet, certainly no excitement. She found her way out of the hedge and presented the bird, and I heard from behind me the words '' that has to be the best retrieve of the season'';  am I proud....yes! was an amazing feat for a big dog. She is fearless of bramble, and her strength means she can get through the toughest cover if she wants. She certainly made amends for being free spirited on Wednesday and my conclusion is that every shoot needs a barbet; when all else fails send in the barbet.....
Bepop still wearing part of a hedge.