Our first morning last season started with pros and cons really. It was the 8th of September and the young dog Danny Jnr who we had entered at about the previous Christmas time and had looked good, failed on us at a simple earth. What a start. But then the unentered bitch Fury did the job; she didn’t set the world on fire, just did it with no fuss and next to no commotion. She is a Spider x Peewee pup so there were mixed feelings to start and that afternoon we went for a little mooch and dug to Danny Junior’s litter brother Reggie, just three feet from a simple spot followed by Spider at two feet from another easy earth. The season was well away and the long summer rest was over and the rest of the month was busy with digging on most days and also quite a bit of work on the lamp for my mate Ash’s bitch Bella, a 1/2 cross German Shepherd/ Greyhound. Starting with two the very next day – or night!
An earth with a woodpile covering can sometimes be a problem. It can’t be netted very satisfactorily and a bolt is also hard to cover and even if it’s just a matter of the terrier getting to an immediate stop end the dig can be delayed while the branches, tree stumps, logs and general debris are cleared away before digging can even start. But wood shifted, job soon done, resulting in a three legged fox dug with a friend’s black and tan terrier. Three legged foxes seem to manage well enough in the countryside, the loss of a limb doesn’t appear to handicap them too much though I suppose it would if they had to run before a Lurcher or a pack of hounds. But it doesn’t seem to stop them feeding or living as well as their four legged brothers or sisters.
On the same day we had an easy do after one had dived into a tight hole at the last minute only to find that he could only get on a few feet, an easy one. Immediately followed by a good bolt from a nice earth which took a while but the dog stuck to the task and got us a good result.
When you start doubting a young dog it plays on your mind a bit – at least, it plays on my mind and five days after his sad start on the opening day I took Danny Jnr along with me and came to just the perfect earth, a place we look on as a training earth really, and our luck was in for it was occupied. Danny worked it just fine and after finding I left him a little while to get on with it before digging him out at three feet. He’s a young dog and young dogs have to learn their trade and even some of the dogs that go on to become outstanding may have their moments of doubt while learning the trade. All we can do is keep trying, keep persevering, put him in working situations and give him his chances. The rest is up to him. Or down to him in the case of a terrier.
With plenty of work about, sharing it out between my dogs and also the dogs of my mates, it was time for my bitch Tinkerbelle to have a go and we had a nice little dig to her; just three feet but quite stiff into what started off as a sort of dry clay but quickly turned into sandstone. But she’s a good finder and stayer so what more do I want; if it doesn’t bolt she will stay to it whatever the situation.
By the middle of the month we were into some very hot weather and Reggie did well in a tight sandy place where he had to perform – and he did. He stuck to it and showed how keen he was right up to the end. Fortunately, it was not a deep dig though roots hindered the progress. Just as well for in that heat, a dry sandy earth can soon bring a dog down, the air in the bury gets hot, the dog finds it difficult to cope, the harder he has to work, the harder it becomes to breath and the harder it is for him to survive so a quick clean dig is all for the good. A long drawn out affair is best avoided.
Five days later it was a much longer do at seven and a half feet but the intense heat was over so that was in our favour and we dug a brace to Todd on his first work of the season. Not an easy start for him and he’s not reckless; I like a sensible dog that will stand his ground (I suppose we all do!) and he stood his ground here resulting in a bit of a test for himself but he came through it well and though it was his “first match” he will have a week or two off before he goes again. I get all my dogs fit through August but only work will get them “work fit”, proper work for proper working fitness.
Next time out it was “horses for courses” or “dogs for buries” in our case and the smallish dog Spider was entered in a shallow but sprawling old bury, a fair sized place which can cause a larger dog some difficulty due to the tight tubes with few stop ends. The smaller Spider can keep the pressure on until his opponent makes a mistake and ends up in the stop end but on the other end, if a bigger dog manages to get close enough to take a hold then that can also speed things up. Depends on how the cookie crumbles I suppose. Either way, when the dig starts it’s only a few feet and soon over and at the end of last season a big hard bitch I have, called Salt made it quite easy for us.
A couple of days later, or nights later I should say, we were out testing a friend’s fancy new electric squeaker and it worked very well, no complaints from us though the fox may not agree.
We were coming to the end of our first month and it had been kind to us. September can be a bit of a problem at the end of a decent summer. The thick trash can make things difficult for man and dog and much easier for the quarry. Foxy can, and will, make the best of any cover he can get into and it often takes a spell of bad weather to get him routinely using his earth shelters and a pack of hounds can be at a huge disadvantage until the cover starts to die back.
So can the terrier and lurcher man for that matter, but it must all be taken as it comes, you win some and lose some and we were lucky back last season for we had a very good start with plenty of early sport and plenty of digging and we had some quality hunting with no lack of quantity, we had both and the month came to an end with a dig to Reggie. Diggers and dog had to work for it. Not too hard, not too easy, but just right. Just right for an inexperienced dog taking his early steps along what I hope will be a very long road.
The season has stared well and it continued well and I hope to let you into some more of our work days in the coming months.