A while ago, Facebook showed me a memory that made me all nostalgic. It’s a photo of Tassla in the Skåne twilight with the words “SHE SAT DOWN”. The photo was taken on September 19, 2013, and Tassla was a year old. It was the first time she got to flush a bird. I had driven 190 miles one way to get to try this. It was completely new for both Tassla and I.
Naturally, we’d done the training. With balls, toys pulled up in trees, bolting rabbit pushed away, etc. But this was the first time with a bird. We were at a south Swedish manor. I had no contacts, didn’t know where to go to get to train on bird, it seemed almost impossible to be able to. And then I got to come with a friend who has a spaniel that’s a bit older than Tassla, and who has some contacts. So, we got our first flush. And she sat down.
The feeling was absolutely magical. How is it even possible that they can sit down, just seconds after having chased around in the high grass and the thorny vegetation at full speed? It kind of defies all natural laws! 😉 But, she sat down.
It took two years from that photo until she had the chance to work on game again. I continued to work on the foundation skills, went to a couple of classes, tried to find game closer to where I live. It wasn’t easy. But after two years, I started to make some contacts. And I joined Jaktspaniels in Sweden (JiS) – an association sorted under SSRK and took my first steps on the journey we’re on today.
A journey that will probably never end. Not for my car either. My car begun covering many, many miles a year. Over 620 miles to get a day of training on grounds with pheasants.
310 miles for two hours among rabbits. And so on. Hours in the car together with my friend Lisa and her Cocker spaniel Bonnie, who’s the same age as Tassla. Endless dog talk, analysis, ideas for training, looking for grounds with scent…
There’s a lot of money poured into this hobby of mine. My wardrobe has gone from being IMPORTANT, to basically no shopping being done at all. Unless it’s clothes for dog training, of course. 😉
I took my hunter’s licence since it seemed a good idea to be able to shoot for training purposes. Yes, that was my purpose from the onset. But as soon as I started shooting and discovered how much fun I found it to be, my goals and my focus with my dog training began to change. The noblest goal must be to hunt over my own dog, I thought. So challenging, but such fun. An experience in so many ways; cooperation with the dog, the nature experience, the excitement of the hunt.
I was invited to participate in more and more hunts. Tassla managed excellently and developed from being a dog with really sad hunting skills to getting the shooters’ prize at a trial. She’s older now and there certainly isn’t anything sad about her hunting style anymore. 😉 She is a reliable hunting companion – if she’s hunted the ground, there is no game left there. She’ll find everything.
I shot my first bird and first started bouncing with joy and then began crying. How could I give myself the rights to do that? That was a very double feeling. The feeling of having succeeded but also of having killed another creature. I ate it, after cooking it with friends. It was the first time I ate meat in 34 years. It was good and I’ll do it again.
Now we’re in the middle of the hunting season and this season Tassla can’t hunt due to her surgery and rehabilitation, but she’ll be back for next season! Until then I practice my shooting skills, train, hunt and trial with Kat, my bonus cocker, and do a lot of puppy foundation training with Flippa.
Imagine if I had known all that on September 19, 2013, when I was euphoric about my very first tentative experience of the spaniel hunt. The day Tassla sat at the flush for the first time.
Just think about it. It’s fascinating how things turn out. 🙂