Off Season Shenanigans

The man must learn to know his dog as a personality, not a formula.” -George Bird Evans 

“Peat No!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as he booked full speed through the dog door and outside to the backyard with a big piece of cauliflower firmly gripped in his mouth. The piece had rolled off the kitchen counter and onto the floor. I followed him outside to the backyard out of pure curiosity to see if he’d actually eat his sudden treasure. He did eat it. It surprised me because our dogs have always disliked raw vegetables in any shape or form. Peat has an uncanny knack for appearing to be sleeping but the second somethings falls on the kitchen floor or when a bird hits our big living room window outside, he’s all over it. Angus with his deafness hasn’t been part of this game lately. A sad reality.

Two-month old Peat

The week before, while getting the toaster from the pantry, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a lightening streak zip past me. Peat was just starting to bolt through the dog door with a plastic package in his mouth that he pulled off the shelf behind me. I managed to grab his fast, furry hind end just as he was halfway to a corn tortilla bliss.

I started making handwritten lists of things Peat has snatched and taken through the dog door. I’m not sure why I started it, but maybe because deep down in my perverted mind I thought it was funny. How can you get mad at a bird dog that is so obsessed with putting things in his mouth and carrying them around?

Prescription glasses, two pairs — one of Bob’s, one of mine — were the bigger ticket items Peat carried outside and destroyed. The rest were smaller items, like a $10 coffee gift certificate, boxer shorts belonging to a guest, throw rug, entire pan of brownies that were in a plastic container, silicone computer keyboard protector x 2, kitchen sponges, 3-, dime store reading glasses (several pairs of which he’d sometimes bring back inside to chew on some more in front of us like it was no big deal), kitchen spatula, custom osage wooden spoon, entire loaf of nice artisan bread, insulated cooler bag, Tupperware container + lid, fleece blanket, towel from bathroom, lunch bag with apple inside which he pulled out and ate in front of us while we were in the hot tub staring at him with disgust, pot holder, brewing equipment foil insulation, Zippo metal hand warmer, Kitchen-Aid mixer lid, stack of old Christmas and birthday greeting cards, expensive fly-tying rooster hackle, Tupperware bowl full of huckleberry muffins of which he ate the entire batch. I’m sure I’m missed things, but you get the picture and not everything was destroyed. He’s very selective. He ate some of them and has earned more than one trip to the vet. Remorse was nowhere to be seen in Peat’s visage.

Boxer shorts, not our guests but another pair found by an alpine lake.

Bob on the other hand isn’t so amused by Peat’s shenanigans because during Peat’s first season of hunting he grabbed from Angus’s mouth at least the first 6 chukar Bob shot that season and refused to return them. I don’t think Peat really cared. Bob did.

Yes, it’s okay that you blame us or me. We put things where there is a good chance he might grab them. The one second you let your guard down he takes advantage of it because he’s no dummy, plus he’s one fast mofo. I’m sure some of you can relate and have similar stories of your own high energy bird dog and their attempt to get your attention. We didn’t have a dog door until Angus was about three years old but do remember him managing to squeeze one of the large couch cushion pillows through the medium-sized dog door to take outside to chew on. Angus had his share of destroyed objects but not as many. You forget these things and end up with another puppy sometime in your lifetime again, and then you remember. Some of us, like a bad habit, keep doing it over and over.

I’m the first to admit that Peat isn’t perfect. He’s not spectacular, and he’s a total piece of work. Bob blames it on not enough exercise in the off season. I blame it on Peat being Peat. I could also blame it on some bad advice we got from a dog trainer friend that told us when Peat was a puppy, “Don’t yell at him when he puts something in his mouth and try to make him give it up; he might get confused and think it’s a bad thing and then not want to retrieve anything.” Some of us aren’t the best dog trainers and handlers, and we are included in that group. Peat, our badly behaved dog at home turned into a fantastic upland hunting dog. The only downfall from Peat is now Angus has to be coaxed into releasing a retrieved bird to hand because of his fear that Peat might intercept it.

We almost gave up on Peat. I’m glad we didn’t. Don’t ever give up on your puppy or dog. He or she might come around and surprise you, and allow you to buy that new pair of glasses you really wanted.

Fond of finding things to carry around. Peat pointing with a bone in his mouth.

12 Replies to “Off Season Shenanigans”

  1. Wow…I’m reminded again of what an angel my Jessie was. When she was about 6 months she chewed up one new Teva sandal. After a few firm “no’s” I found a carabiner and hung the sandal from her leather colllar. She stood there motionless for about 2 minutes. Yes, an epic event for a shorthair. I let her drag it around for about 6 hours. She never ate another valuable item. A few years later I held up the same kind of sandal for her. She turned her head away and wouldn’t look. Man I miss her.

    1. Sam, there is still time! 😉 Just kidding.

      You’re a better dog trainer than us anyway, at least Susie doesn’t jump up on us.

  2. This seems like an invitation for sharing a story. So, I had a Brittany pup named Sioux who slipped into my wife’s closet and snatched her left ruby red high heel shoe. Sioux chewed it up, leaving me with the problem of replacement. I was lucky the shoe store had the correct size and color to keep me out of marital purgatory! I now own setters and pointers, having blamed a Brittany for bad behavior.

    I also have had my boxers snitched from the laundromat (cleaned), but it wasn’t the dog. We still remain friends.

    1. Ron,
      I appreciate you sharing a story about your dog. I love reading comments. Everyone out there that owns a dog has a story, no dog is perfect.

      Peat makes me laugh everyday…several times, I’d hate to own a boring dog or one that wasn’t mischievous.

      P.S. I’m glad you found the shoe replacement 🙂 Leslie

  3. Nice story, Leslie! I read these all the time, just don’t usually comment. Janene (not Larry this time!)

    1. Thanks Janene.

      I appreciate your comment. I hope everything is going well for you, Larry, and your new puppy.

      Cheers, Leslie

  4. Nice story. It’s a very nice natural quality that Pete has. Force fetch training would channel his natural zeal to retrieve to be more productive and require less effort from you in the long run.
    With my first two Brittanys and first two GSP, I thought there was plenty of natural ability that I didn’t force fetch train. I tolerated the occasional tug-of-war retrieve, the frequent dropped bird. (Because live ones were still to be found!) I was concerned about losing a desirable quality of the dogs by over-training. All my concerns and tolerant behavior were rubbish as I learned when I bought my current dog. The breeder/trainer of my current dog strongly recommended force fetch training. I’m so glad he did. I recommend using a recommended professional trainer at least the first time you train for a specific behavior. Choose a trainer who wants you involved in some of the training, so you can be consistent and maintain the desired behaviors. I have far fewer lost cripples, no more mangled birds, and a more focused dog as a result of force fetch training.

    1. Kerry,
      While out hunting, Peat has no problem retrieving and bringing the birds to hand right away. He’s actually quite stellar at doing this. Bob did some basic retrieving training with a check cord when he was a puppy and he figured it out right away.
      It’s just at home when he’s bored and wants attention that it usually involves grabbing something with his mouth with hopes I’ll chase him because he lives to play. Other than that, he’s not much of a problem and he’s an awesome pet and companion for me.

      Thank you for your comments and training suggestions. Maybe someone else will find them very helpful. I appreciate it. Leslie

  5. In the 44 years I’ve had bird dogs, they have all been kenneled so have avoided the ripping, tearing and losing of personal items routinely associated with house dogs.

    In the field that’s a different story. One of the worst was a long time friend had a Brittany who loved skunks. He would retrieve both live and dead ones. On a memorable occasion my Brittany and his came out of a thicket each with half a skunk. We never knew whether it was alive or dead when they found it. Both dogs were great retrievers of birds so I’m sure they were very confused by the yelling and our attempts to get away from them. We had several other days of skunk encounters with those two dogs. I was always amazed at how they could still smell quail and ruffed grouse when their own skunked up odor burned my nose at fifty yards.

    Thankfully in the last 28 years of hunting Idaho, we have only had one skunk issue and that was in the middle of a wheat stubble field near Grangeville.

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