"Chase" My Newest to-be Hunting Buddy ~ a pup from Love's Kennel
I love duck hunting. More than loving duck hunting; I love duck dogs. I have owned several hunting dogs over the years. All have enriched me and my family. To me, hunting ducks or upland birds or for that matter bass fishing without a dog near me is like eating eggs without bacon; yea I’ll do it but it isn’t what I like best.
When I moved to Oregon my best buddy Bear tore after the geese right away. Unfortunately, he has a bad allergy to the Willamette Valley where I am now living. Several trips to the vet lead to little relief. So after some soul searching, I gifted him to my son who lives, works, and hunts, North Dakota and Montana.
I had picked up a white lab named Boo two years ago right after Bear had blown his knee. Boo is the sweetest, perhaps prettiest, lab I have ever known. Although a joy to train he was born with little bird drive. If I don’t keep my eye on him there is always a chance he will turn and come back without the bird on a long mark. While I love Boo, I knew I wanted to get a more driven bird dog before next fall.
Boo, will remain a valuable family member and continue to retrieve hugs from all as well as a few birds. After a discussion with the wife, my goal was to seek out a new family member who I could spend my free time training and develop into a trusted hunting partner that loves birds as much or more than me.
That goal lead me to first searching the internet for breeders with upcoming litters from proven hunting parents. That means trail dogs. I do not want the next world champion field trial dog that is too hyper to be around my family ... but I do want him to be “birdy”. Boo, was breed to be beautiful, and that he is. I wanted my next pup to be good looking but be my best bird dog ever, (and I have had some fine bird dogs)!
After finding some breeders with up-coming litters of field breed Labradors, I needed to talk to the owners and get a feeling for what they prioritize in their breeding program. After talking to a few, I found one I was excited about.
I wanted a breeder that prioritizes health, structure and birdiness. One that does more genetic testing than anyone else I talked. I wanted a breeder who is proud to be able to confidently assert her pups are healthy and birdy! I had to reach a little bit deeper in my pocket, but the increased confidence that I’ll have a buddy that will be by my side for 12 to 14 years (or so) is well worth it. Besides, divide it by the total costs of owning a dog over his life time and it really isn’t all that much more.
Besides, health, pedigree, birdiness, and breeder background; I needed a dog that my family will love as much as I. My wife and my live at home daughter don’t hunt. They do love dogs. I needed a family member. This is where it is important NOT to get a dog from a kennel that is focused on trial dogs. You might get a dog you like when you are hunting but less thrilling, is to get a dog you can’t tolerate in the house, car, or yard … believe me it happens.
Chase’s parents are both lovable, approachable hunting dogs that are a joy in and out of the field. I was confident they would provide me a pup for my family.
Color, was the least important factor for me. This flexibility allowed me the opportunity to get in on a litter that had other perspective owners wanting only Chocolate Labs. Chase was the only Black in his litter!
His birthdate is about perfect for me. Born 12-17, he came home with me on 1-28 (six weeks). I am confident I will have him “trained up” and ready for North Dakota next October at 10 months of age.
For Chase’s first week I am only focused on loving him up, exposing him to the world and familiarizing him with his name. In the weeks that follow I am going to share with you my training plans, Chase’s progress and challenges. To me, a big part of the joy of having a waterfowl dog is training him to be YOUR hunting buddy.
Until I see you in the field, Be Safe, Be Good, and Be LUCKY!