January 14, 2012
Our third hunt for the season. The first one was a disaster, Tessa all over the place, chasing, bumping birds, and there were other issues beyond my control (other than that it was a bad move on my part to expose her to those issues) but long story short, totally unacceptable. For the second hunt, I didn't put her in the field until later, after the other two dogs had their run and she wasn't competing nor being interfered with. That worked, and she did better, and I had much more control over what was happening out there.
Today, she was a joy to hunt with. We were assigned a zone that consisted of a narrow stretch of land, mostly chest-high dense sorghum fields, and there were other hunting parties in all adjacent zones, meaning our dogs were not to stray past the perimeter of our zone, which I feared would be a challenge at best. To my surprise, Tessa never ran into the other fields. At first I kept a close eye on her and turned her when she got close to the cut-off, but after a while I didn't even have to do that anymore, it was almost like there was an invisible fence. Maybe she figured out that because of the different terrain, dense cover, and low visibility, she had to hunt close if she wanted to be part of the team.
The first casualty was 1-year old Rhys, who cut his tongue on the sorghum about 10 minutes into it. For those unfamiliar, a dog's tongue can bleed like crazy - I had never seen it before and thought for sure he would bleed out but my friend was completely unfazed and sure enough, Rhys never skipped a beat and the bleeding stopped on its own (left a mess on his beautiful white coat though!).
The field was tough work, but all three dogs worked hard and I suspect that the harder they have to work the more they enjoy it. All birds were accounted for and then some.
Shane, who is 16 years old, had a good run, and came out unharmed, just very, very tired. Rhys somehow managed to collect a lot of cockleburs in his paws, and one paw required veterinary care. Tessa is chafed up on the underside but nothing serious. After 3 hours of running through this stuff, she wasn't even tired when we got home. I am also happy to report that there have not been any signs of lameness or stiffness on the right hind leg that gave us a bit of trouble last year.