Author Topic: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1  (Read 154 times)

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Offline OffGrid9

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Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« on: November 07, 2017, 12:27:16 AM »
   [ the "Prologue" was written at the end of a fourteen year period in which I wrote this.  It's really more of an epilogue, but I've moved it to the beginning, as a way to introduce and encompass the entire project. ]
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Prologue  --  5 November, 2002

Seems like most dog-lovers latch onto one dog that was and is and ever will be the only dog.  I had dogs before Sophie, and after, and I?ve loved every one of them. But Sophie was my one dog.  Like a puppy wriggling its way down into a pile of old blankets on a cold evening, Sophie pushed her way into my life, into all the warm and friendly places in my mind. She?s been gone for three years, now.  It took a while to get far enough away to finish this.
 
Throughout her life, I kept a series of documents:  AKC registration, annual licenses, spaying certificate, vet?s receipts.  And then there were things I wrote:  notes to myself, emails to friends.  Pretty early I started weaving them into this narrative.  It?s grown.  But for three years now it has lain at the bottom of a drawer, in a dark corner of my memory, waiting for me to come back.  It?s a bit disjointed and uneven ? that?s just the way it grew.  I never meant it to get so big.
___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ____

Chapter 1 ? 19 September, 1988

Well, I guess I?ve finally gone and got me a hunting dog.  Name is Sophie, and she is some kind of dog.  She was one of a litter of eleven black Labrador retriever puppies born on Vashon Island 12 March 1987 (AKC litter number: SM459973).  They were bred on Vashon Island by Patsy Miles.  Patsy?s husband, Mike Miles, is an officer in the King County Sheriff's office.

Sophie's mother is named "Cindy" (Blaze's Black Cinder, AKC registration number: SE423439), and is owned by Patsy Miles.  I don?t know if Cindy has ever been trained for hunting, but it is my impression that she hasn't.

Her sire, "Grit" (Vashon True Grit, AKC registration number: 50419275), was owned by Cam Sigler, long-time member of the Vashon Sportsmen's Club.  This was the only registered litter ever sired by Grit, who washed up on the beach dead about the time the litter was born.  Grit is reported to have been a great hunting dog, although very "high-power and full of energy? (a bit hard to control?).  One of Sophie's brothers, Joe, is still owned by Cam Sigler.  As a hunting dog, Joe is said to be even better than Grit ? calmer, I?ve heard. 

Patsy Miles said there may be one other littermate of Sophie's still living on Vashon.  I don't know her owner or her name.  Like Cindy, her mother, I have not heard if she was ever trained for hunting.

Patsy started selling the puppies when they were about two months old.  Not all were sold quickly, and when the remaining two female puppies were four or five months (July or early August, 1987) Patsy gave one to a young man, a friend of a friend.  She thought he?d give the pup a good home. 

The young man never asked for nor received copies of papers for the pup's mother or father, nor did he ever get the AKC Registration Application form from Patsy.  He named the pup "HK" ("Happy Kamper").  I've been told he was fond of the pup, but for some reason he neglected her ? alcohol, no money, out of work, no place to keep a dog?whatever.  She was poorly or seldom fed, left outside without proper shelter, and allowed to breed ? at just one year old ? with any dog in the area.  She had a litter of seven or eight mixed breed pups on 15 May, 1988.  She picked up worms from the pups.  Because she was so young and in such poor condition, it took a lot out of her, and it took a long time for her to come back from it.  She was cared for by various people off and on, mostly by Janice Richards, a cousin of the young man and a friend of my wife, Yoko. 

"HK" and her puppies somehow wound up at King County Animal Control a few months back, about mid-July 1988, and were to be destroyed.  All the pups but one were put down.  Janice arrived at the pound just in time to save HK and her last pup, a large male.  She then started trying to find a permanent home for the two desolate dogs.  She called Yoko.

Earlier, I had told Yoko, that I was going to buy a Labrador puppy, and it would probably cost about $250, maybe more.  She was not thrilled.  She said we already had a dog, Brandy, why didn?t I hunt with her?  Brandy was a Heinz 57, appeared to be an Australian Shepherd mix, an out-of-shape, big-hair mutt?a lovable dog, but as far as she was concerned, if I wanted something retrieved, I could damn-well fetch it myself, or maybe get Shiloh the cat to go for it.  As a retriever, Brandy made a pretty fair door-mat. 

On Thursday, 11 August, I agreed to look at the two dogs.  That evening, Janice brought them to our house.  HK was emaciated, and the pup was not much better off.  I found out later that both HK and her unnamed pup still had round and flat worms three months after the litter was born. 

The pup was all self-confidence and brash, swaggering good-looks ? skinny, but handsome ... and BIG.  In conformation, he looked a lot like a pure black Lab pup, maybe just a bit on the furry side (rather than the normal sleek look of a young lab), but he was big.  At three months, he was three-fourths the height of his mother, in spite of erratic and insufficient feeding.

And HK?  She was all whale-bone and spring-steel, not an ounce of fat, deep hollows between rib-cage and jutting hip-bones.  Still, under the loose skin she had enough muscle to move like a wired-up Doberman pinscher.  Janice and her little girl proceeded to throw a stick or ball for HK to retrieve.  She showed an intense desire to fetch, but no discipline.

I had read that one shouldn't accept "gift" retrievers ? uncaring breeders have let some Lab bloodlines deteriorate, breeding for show-dog conformation and/or house-pet personality rather than for hunting qualities.  Also, many full-grown dogs will already have been ruined by improper introduction to gun-fire or water, or may already have developed reinforced bad habits such as breaking, hard-mouth, etc.  Also, this was clearly a mistreated dog, a victim of semi-starvation at the minimum, and maybe physical or mental abuse, too.  There was a terrible potential for psychological damage...but she was so damned beautiful....

With some strong misgivings, I accepted the two dogs, and Janice drove away, leaving HK shaking and bewildered.  Nothing seemed to bother the big male pup.  I named him Tucker, after my father's big one-eyed black Lab, and I renamed HK "Sophie" ? after a dog owned by Bob Hammer, my best friend (?Uncle Bob? to all my kids since forever).  The original Sophie was the best dog I had ever hunted over ? she was killed in an accident about three years back.  It wasn't until some time after I had picked these names that I realized I had a "Sophie-Tucker" combination ? I hoped no one would think it a bad joke.

Sophie (my Sophie) never crawled on her stomach or whined, nor did she grovel or roll belly-up.  She did, however, project a lack of self-esteem ? she was a picture of dejection.  With head and tail down, she would shiver until you?d swear you could hear her teeth rattle.  She displayed little or no enthusiasm for anything except retrieving...but she had a fanatic devotion for that.  It was an obsession.  Sophie showed an incredible, bursting desire to fetch that never faded, even after dozens and dozens of retrieves.  No one had taught her to hold steady until told to "fetch".  Every time an object was thrown, she would break and retrieve without being told.  Nor would she "drop" a retrieved object, or "give" it to hand.  Any retrieved object had to be pried out of her mouth, pinching her lip cruelly to force her to release.

I decided that, with less than three weeks until the opening of dove/grouse season, Sophie could not possibly be prepared in time.  I thought I'd try to bolster her self-esteem and confidence, get rid of the worms, feed her up, and talk to some friends and read up on how to train a gun-dog.  If things were going well and she looked like she were ready, I'd try to take her hunting in October or November for grouse and pheasant, maybe duck.

The worms and the feeding were the easy part.  Then came confidence-building.  I'd just sit and hold her close, scratching and patting her, and talking to her.  I read a couple of dog-training books...one of them gave the strangest damned advice I ever heard on building up the confidence of a really shaky dog:  spit in its mouth!  After a few days, she was still suffering jags of violent shivering and shaking, so I figured I'd try it ? I spat in her mouth (in accordance with the book, I hadn't smoked or eaten anything for a good while before doing this).  I don't know if that's what did the trick, but in less than 24 hours, the shaking had disappeared, and hasn?t returned.

Sophie took to training as if she had been waiting all her life to have someone show her what to do...and I guess she had been, at that.  I started training on about 13 August with simple non-hunting commands ? "NO", "come", "sit", "heel", and "stay".  She picked them up fast.  On 20 August I began to work on her retrieving ? I insisted she hold firm until sent.  She didn't like it, and would focus on the dummy, shivering slightly, until told to "fetch".  Then she went like a champagne cork.  She also began releasing the dummy when told to "give", though reluctantly.

I read that I should not train her at only one location, lest she think the commands only pertained to that one place.  I put her in my car to go to the shooting range of the Vashon Sportsmen?s Club, as an alternate training location.  As I drove out of our yard, Sophie looked like her heart was going to break.  She began to moan.  I had no idea what was wrong.  At the club, I tried to get her to retrieve, and she did, but for once her heart wasn?t really in it.  I thought she was sick.  I took her home.  And she came alive again, wagging her tail uncontrollably.  I called Janice, who told me that the last four times Sophie had been put into a vehicle, it was to go to a new home or to the Animal Control kennel.  I guess Sophie had figured I was going to get rid of her.  I started taking Sophie with me in the car everywhere, and after a few trips, when she knew she was going to come home again, she started to love traveling, and took great interest in the passing sights and smells.

To prepare her for gunfire, I started making loud noises, beating on a pan around her head at feeding time, and at first it made her nervous, but she was so hungry, she forced herself to eat through the racket.  The first time I subjected her to real gunfire, though, I blew it.  I fired a 20-gauge about 30 feet away from her, and she almost came out of her skin.  AFTER I did that, I read you should start with a quiet .22 caliber, from maybe 100 feet.  I started over, with a .22 rifle, and then graduated to a louder .22 pistol, and back up to the 20-gauge, from a distance, slowly getting closer.  For over a week, she tended to jump at the sound of gunfire, and would come back from a retrieve at an angle, spiraling in to me, clearly hesitant to approach the gun.  She seems to have got over her fear, but I believe I came within a hair of making her gun-shy. 

The rest of the training went so well that I began to feel that Sophie already knew the drill and was testing me to see if   I   knew it.  I checked with Janice ? nope, Sophie had never been trained to do the things I was teaching her:  to hold firm, even through gun-fire, to mark more than one dummy, to go first to the one she was sent for, and to remember the location of a second dummy (two was the limit, at this point...I didn't want to overdo it).  I had also started to teach her to take a line to a "blind retrieve" where she hadn't seen the dummy fall, but she wasn't too sharp on that, yet.  All this in about ten days.

I realized I?d subconsciously moved up my timetable for taking Sophie hunting:  it was now 29 August.  I had been working (and learning) with her for only two weeks, and she was about as ready as I could make her for her first hunt.  I was going hunting in two days, and she was going with me.  Until the moment I realized that, I hadn't fully recognized how much Sophie had gotten to me.  I had hunted over other men's dogs, but I hadn't had any idea how much it meant to have your own gun-dog.  The anticipation of the hunt was almost painful ? I was having trouble going to sleep with all the pictures in my head ? dreams of cut-corn and birds and Sophie, grape-vines and birds and Sophie, brush-fields and birds and Sophie.  It was worse than the night before quail-season when I was 15.

I called ?Uncle Bob? Hammer, who said he was going down to the lower Yakima valley around Sunnyside to hunt doves with some friends on opening day with his latest black lab, Josephine (everyone calls her Jo-Jo).  Jo-Jo is about a year older than my Sophie.  Bob said Sophie and I were more than welcome to come along. 

I figured we'd hunt dove, off by ourselves where she wouldn't get confused by lots of gunfire:  a simple, quiet introduction to hunting, with easily visible game, no flushing spaniel-work, no fuss, no muss, no stress, no strain. And Uncle Bob said, "Sure, you can go off and hunt by your lonesome, if that's what you want."  ...Yep, that was the plan, all right. 

?So there I was at 5:40 a.m. opening morning, with Sophie, waiting for shooting light in a line of hunters stretching along a fence line, from 50 to 100 yards apart, no place to get away.  And in came the doves, in ones, in twos, and in threes.  The guns began to go off, and I stooped to hold and gentle Sophie, who was showing some nerves, but not really bad.  Then it was my turn, the bird coming by just to my right.  I forgot about Sophie, swung the muzzle just in front of the dove, squeezed off...and watched the wad cut across the line of the bird's flight well behind it, a clean miss.  Feeling the pressure of the passing shot string, the dove dropped suddenly as if I'd hit it, then regained height, tearing off in that distinctive flight-pattern of a startled dove, with a series of flickering moves like a loose-wadded piece of paper in a high wind.

...And Sophie was gone, 50 yards away before I knew it.  I shouted for her to come, but either she didn't hear or she paid no attention.  After 200 yards or so, she slowed down, then came to a stop, still watching the bird flying away.  Then she looked back at me in confusion.  "Why didn't it come down?", she asked with her whole body.  I whistled and called her back to the post where I was stationed, and softly cussed her out.  ...Some gentle laughter up and down the line, nothing mean ? but I felt bad about missing the bird, and Sophie's breaking...and my forgetting her.  Not a good start. 

And then another bird was coming in.  "Stay, Sophie.  STAY!"  I knocked that bird golly-woggle.  And Sophie was gone, breaking again, on the dove almost as it hit the ground maybe 60 yards away, going so fast that she snatched at it on the way by, flipping her whole body in mid-air and getting only a few feathers, and then she was turned around, throwing dirt as she came down in reverse, snapping it up and coming back fast.  I knew I was NOT going to discipline her for breaking.  No way.  Not on her first retrieve.  I'd wait?scold her if she did it again. 

Thirty yards out, Sophie started to slow down.  There was a look of growing disgust in her eyes.  She stopped, dropped the bird on the ground, made a few spitting and gagging motions, and continued back toward me, skirting the dove carefully.  Again, much laughter and comment from the other hunters.  I ran out to meet her, patted her once, then took her back to the bird.  I picked it up, I held her by the loose skin under her chin so she couldn't get away, I held it to her nose, and I said "bird, Sophie, BIRD!"  Then I tossed it a few feet away, pointed her at it, said, "FETCH!", and I threw her at the bird.  She stumbled up to it, sniffed it disdainfully, and looked back at me with disgust and confusion.  I said "FETCH  IT!"  She sighed, bent and picked it up, and started to bring it to me, very gingerly.  I rapidly back-peddled, going to my station, saying "fetch, Sophie ? that's a GOOD girl ? fetch." 

?And it happened.  A light came on in her eyes, and you could actually SEE the idea being born:  "So THIS is it, THIS is what I've been training for.  THIS is what I'm supposed to do."  She danced back to the post, "gave" me the dove quietly, sat down, and stared up the long reach of sky where the birds had come from:  birth of a retriever.

Sophie didn't break again the whole day...she's broken a few times since, but not that day.  She was as close to being a perfect hunting dog as you could want.  She didn't find the third dove I hit.  It went down in a hedge-row, and may have flown away later, unseen, for all I know.  We looked and looked, Sophie and I and two other guys and two other dogs.  Nothing.  That's the only bird she missed that day.  She retrieved my nine other birds, and about fifteen more for other hunters without dogs (she'd bring them to me, I'd give them to the hunters).  She even got two doves that other dogs had missed.  At the end of the day, she made a blind retrieve perfectly.  Sophie did herself proud...or rather, she did me proud.  I walked around with a pressure-cooker smile that simply would not come off my face ? I could have 'sploded.

We spent the next morning hunting for dove, but we ran into the usual second-day dearth ? there was nothing flying.  Uncle Bob and Laura ? my twelve-year-old daughter ? and I took off for the mountains in his ancient International Scout, looking for either Blue grouse or Spruce (Franklin) grouse.  That afternoon and the next two days we hunted grouse up at the 5,500-6,500 foot level around Old Scab Mountain, Flatiron Lake, and Clover Spring.  Bob got a couple of grouse.  I didn't.

The week-end of 17-18 September found us, once again, hunting grouse in the same areas.  There weren't a lot of grouse, and Sophie was just starting to pick up the idea of quartering in front of me, not working areas I couldn?t see.  She flushed out two birds working with Bob?s Lab, Jo-Jo, and she kicked out one bird all by herself, in easy gun-range, open sagebrush, going straight away?which I, of course, missed.  How can anyone miss a shot like that?  Only thing makes it bearable is I?ve seen so many others miss them too.

So far this year, I've only got the ten dove (never found that tenth one) and four grouse.  Other dogs beat Sophie to the first two grouse I shot ? Ken Hammer's old golden retriever, Buck, got the first, and Jo-Jo got the second.  Sophie was looking more than a little insane, what with nerves and frustration.  When I knocked down the third grouse, she didn?t wait to be sent, she broke (with my blessing) and she got to it first.  Just as well.  I suspect she?d have disemboweled any dog that beat her to it.  As she gave it to me, she seemed to be saying, "Now we?re cooking with gas?we make a good team, boss,"  the whole body going wag, wag, wag.  I think we do, too.  Every time I sat down, she?d come over and smell at my game pouch.  She doesn?t seem to object to the smell and taste of grouse like she did with the doves.  When she retrieved her second grouse the next day (yesterday), it was almost routine, but her eyes still had a sparkle, and once she had dropped the bird into my hands she did a little dance, her body bent like a banana, grinning and laughing (no joke, her panting was clearly an expression of delight), dancing in a tight, spinning circle, her feet seeming to be about an inch off the ground.  I hope she never loses that.

Oh, by the way, when we got back from that first four-day trip, I called Janice Richards to get the name of Sophie's breeder.  That's when I called Patsy Miles and got all the information at the beginning of this?this narrative, this story?Sophie?s story.  I am paying Patsy $25 for the AKC registration application so I can register Sophie as mine.  Patsy says she will also provide copies of the registration certificates for Sophie's mother and father, which will give the names of her progenitors, and their championship status (at what point in time, I don't know...at time of death?).  In addition to all this good data, Patsy said she thought she heard that one of Grit's forebears (grand-daddy?) may have been Canadian national field champion, or something....
The older I get, the better I used to be.  --  I thought my Dad coined that...but he stole it from Lee Trevino

Offline OffGrid9

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 12:38:38 AM »
woops!  When I copied and pasted the text from my LibreOffice Text Writer file, I didn't realize that many of the special characters (', ", --, and others) got transmogrified into question marks in the B&B board text.  Is there any way to edit a post?  It would take me a while, but I could edit/correct all those ?'s.
The older I get, the better I used to be.  --  I thought my Dad coined that...but he stole it from Lee Trevino

Offline Unknown

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2017, 01:08:03 AM »
 you'll have to do it before the modify grace period expires. I dont know how long that is but after a spell it's writ. One tittle at a time is the only way  know how. Most every copied trip report or other copy past is left as received~ a la ?'s.

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 08:18:44 AM »
  Great story OG, Thank you for sharing that with us,  I've had a couple of good bird dogs in my day, one was a champion, a German Short Hair named Joy,  the other was far from being a Champion, he was a Brittney, I got him when he was just old enough to be apart from his mother, probably the most loving dog we ever owned and the least likely to listen to you or do what you wanted him to if he got distracted.
  I worked with him and finally got him to stay close, and to hold a point until told to flush, the very first time I took him out is something I'll never forget,  I had just let him out of the truck on in a field on the edge of the woods, I was in Partridge country and he was excited to be there,  I had just put on my vest, uncased my Charles Daily o/u 12 gage, loaded the chambers and checked the safety, then I noticed the dog had quit making noise.
  When I turned to look for him he was on point in a small stand of Birch and brush, now what could he be sniffing at, I certainly wasn't expecting a real point seconds after leaving the truck,  as I got near him I said OK (meaning lets go hunting) as soon as I uttered OK he took two steps forward and flushed a big cock pheasant, It surprised me so much that as I raised the gun and clicked the safety off the barrel brushed a birch sapling and I fired the shot accidently,  I wasn't anywhere close to the bird and he just flew off into the woods.
 As I looked down at Rusty, he looked up at me as if to say "I did my job, what's your excuse".   
« Last Edit: November 07, 2017, 08:37:57 AM by Moe M. »
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 10:16:46 AM »
Interesting story.

I had a few great dogs over the years and hunted with guys who also had some good dogs.  Your story reminded me of a lot of times and places with dogs and how great it was to be afield with them.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
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Offline OffGrid9

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2017, 02:56:13 PM »
  ...I've had a couple of good bird dogs in my day, one ... was a Brittney, I got him when he was just old enough to be apart from his mother, probably the most loving dog we ever owned and the least likely to listen to you or do what you wanted him to if he got distracted.

I had to laugh, Moe, when I read the passage above.  In chapter 2 of Sophie's Story I describe a hunt with a couple of Brittney's, and you brought back that memory in spades.  I'm glad you finally got him toned down enough to hunt.  As to the unspoken reproach in his eyes when you blew a shot, well...I've received that look from all three of my my lady labs so many times now that I just have to laugh, squat down, scratch her ears, and say, "next time, girl.  I'll pop the next one."  And I always get a wagging tail as forgiveness.
The older I get, the better I used to be.  --  I thought my Dad coined that...but he stole it from Lee Trevino

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2017, 07:32:15 PM »
  ...I've had a couple of good bird dogs in my day, one ... was a Brittney, I got him when he was just old enough to be apart from his mother, probably the most loving dog we ever owned and the least likely to listen to you or do what you wanted him to if he got distracted.

I had to laugh, Moe, when I read the passage above.  In chapter 2 of Sophie's Story I describe a hunt with a couple of Brittney's, and you brought back that memory in spades.  I'm glad you finally got him toned down enough to hunt.  As to the unspoken reproach in his eyes when you blew a shot, well...I've received that look from all three of my my lady labs so many times now that I just have to laugh, squat down, scratch her ears, and say, "next time, girl.  I'll pop the next one."  And I always get a wagging tail as forgiveness.

  You probably won't believe this but later that morning he got on another pheasant, the bird was keeping just out of sight of me and the dog,  somehow the dog sensed that he was gaining on him, I could see the change in his level of excitement, but as inexperienced as he was he wasn't sure which way to jump next, when the bird stopped running, I had no way of knowing but the dog seemed to know, as he was just going into his point,  he stopped for just a second, looked back at me, then went on point and held for my command.
  I couldn't help but crack up,  I could be wrong because it was just a couple of weeks before that he was running around and ranging way ahead of me,  I tried calling him, tried a long leash and nothing helped to break him of getting too far out, if I leashed him he stayed right at my heels.
  I told a friend of mine who trained his own dogs, he told me to pay attention to the puppy,  he said the dog would range out until he didn't feel safe, at that point he'd stop and look back to make sure I was there before advancing any further, my friend said to break him of ranging so far out, I should let him go and I should hide behind a boulder or bush so he can't quickly see me, but I could see him.
 I followed his instruction and it worked, when Rusty turned and looked back he didn't see me, he panicked and ran back towards the last place he'd seen me, I was behind a stand of bushes, as he ran past me I called his name, he put the brakes on so fast he tumble head over tail,  for the rest of the day he stayed within 25 yards of me.
 That could have been that kind of reflex that made him look back at me before he went on point, but in my mind I remembered how he looked at me with disappointment when I missed that bird a little earlier, and I think he was looking back at me as if to say "OK, are you ready this time".   
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Offline OffGrid9

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2017, 03:00:06 AM »
... it was just a couple of weeks before that he was running around and ranging way ahead of me,  I tried calling him, tried a long leash and nothing helped to break him of getting too far out, if I leashed him he stayed right at my heels.
  I told a friend of mine who trained his own dogs, he told me to pay attention to the puppy,  he said the dog would range out until he didn't feel safe, at that point he'd stop and look back to make sure I was there before advancing any further, my friend said to break him of ranging so far out, I should let him go and I should hide behind a boulder or bush so he can't quickly see me, but I could see him.
 I followed his instruction and it worked, when Rusty turned and looked back he didn't see me, he panicked and ran back towards the last place he'd seen me, I was behind a stand of bushes, as he ran past me I called his name, he put the brakes on so fast he tumble head over tail,  for the rest of the day he stayed within 25 yards of me.

I had the same problem with all of my labs, doing spaniel work in heavy brush or bushes or trees.  If you get a chance, read Chapter 3 (I'm about to post it).  About half-way through, I tell how I got my dogs to stop ranging out too far.  I wish I'd known your technique, it sounds better than mine.  Mine worked, but it took time.

Thanks for your responses, Moe.  I haven't gotten many.  If I don't get more feedback on the first three chapters, I won't post the last three.  I think maybe Sophie's Story is a "glut on the market".  I should have posted a much shorter piece to start with.
The older I get, the better I used to be.  --  I thought my Dad coined that...but he stole it from Lee Trevino

Offline wsdstan

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2017, 08:36:45 AM »
I have been reading them and, as I said, they remind me of all the dogs I have had.  We hunted several States each year  back when I could walk pretty well.  Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota were the three favorites with Oklahoma visited for quail every couple of years.  Montana was good for hungarian partridge.

I never could get up to North Dakota just because driving past South Dakota to get there seemed pointless.

All of my dogs were flushing dogs (Labs and one Golden).  Trained to whistle and hand directions they were the best partners a guy could have.  I can look out the window at the farm and see where we buried the last two of them and it is a comfort at times to do that.   

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline wolfy

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2017, 08:49:37 AM »
Don't give up the ship!   Keep on posting the rest of the chapters.    I enjoyed what I have had the time to read, but I have a lot on my plate right now and simply do not have the time or energy to do much here. :-\

All three of our dogs were liver & white Springers and all three were named Rusty.....hard-headed, pheasant hunting MACHINES with great personalities that would tear themselves to pieces in plum thickets just to get at a hard-to-flush bird!   I missed the last one too much to ever get another. :'(

To paraphrase old Chris Lapp...."ah, no matter, weren't no pheasants left anyway." :shrug:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline imnukensc

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2017, 08:56:05 AM »
Keep going, OG.  I'm thoroughly enjoying your writing.  It's a chilly, rainy day here today so I'll have time to catch up on the other chapters.
The universe is made up of protons, neutrons, electrons, and morons.

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2017, 10:01:47 AM »

I had the same problem with all of my labs, doing spaniel work in heavy brush or bushes or trees.  If you get a chance, read Chapter 3 (I'm about to post it).  About half-way through, I tell how I got my dogs to stop ranging out too far.  I wish I'd known your technique, it sounds better than mine.  Mine worked, but it took time.

Thanks for your responses, Moe.  I haven't gotten many.  If I don't get more feedback on the first three chapters, I won't post the last three.  I think maybe Sophie's Story is a "glut on the market".  I should have posted a much shorter piece to start with.

 I know from experience (all my posts seem to run long) that sometimes not getting many responses to a thread, especially one that is so close to the heart can be a let down,  but, one has to remember that just because there's few replies that doesn't mean no one is interested or that not many are reading your words, all it usually means is that some folks don't know how to respond to that type of story,  or that some have never experienced that kind of special bond with an animal and have little in the way of experience to contribute.
 For those of us who have had those kinds of shared experiences and are enjoying Sophie's Story, for you to stop sharing your stories with us would be disheartening, it's my hope that you will finish her story and go on to share more of your writings with us in the future.   
In youth we learn,   with age we understand.

Offline madmax

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2017, 10:41:19 AM »
...and sometimes the story hits close to home and takes awhile to process.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
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Offline OffGrid9

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Re: Sophie's Story - Prologue, & Chapter 1
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2017, 01:15:09 PM »
To all you guys who've sent encouragement --- THANK YOU.  It means a lot to me.  I'll keep posting chapters, but for long files like these, it takes a lot of time to strip all the formatting, paste the text into a post, and add the formatting back in.  It does work, I finally got rid of the question marks.  They were like cockroaches.

In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to post them in a board with fewer threads, just to keep the chapters closer together.  You know, I doubt I'm the only writer here.  Does anyone think it might be a good idea set up a new board, just for stories, narratives, and poems, about hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, knifemaking, etc -- a general receptacle for bushlore-related writing.  Contributions wouldn't necessarily have to be our own writing, I've seen some really great stories and poems by other folks...of course, anything we posted here would have to be old enough that there's no longer any copyright issue.

I'm not really lobbying for such a board...just making an observation, there are a lot of good stories out there, and I'll bet our members could write a lot of new ones, too.  Just read the responses I've received from Moe and Stan.  They could be fleshed out just a bit, and make great stories!  I really loved reading how Moe was able to break his dog from ranging out too far when doing spaniel work (flushing).

Again, thanks for all the kind responses.
The older I get, the better I used to be.  --  I thought my Dad coined that...but he stole it from Lee Trevino