wasn't exactly your normal idea of training a duck dog.
female chocolate Labrador retriever was bred in the Lost Corner
Kennels of A.W. Harrell.
who lives between Jacksonville and Mayflower in northern Pulaski
County, has produced some of the best duck-retrieving dogs in use
would be half-proud of the 75-pound, lean and fast recent mother
of a dozen brown puppies. But there was a small problem.
Chocolate Missy jumped out of the pickup as soon as her crate was
opened and hit the ground running straight for the White River.
an exciting distraction stopped her dead in her tracks.
wasn't your ordinary road-kill chicken, the sort of personality-less
white creature that falls off a Tyson or Hudson truck in the Ozarks.
distraction was a high-dollar chicken, the sort with a variety of
colors and a variety of moods to match. It was clucking and scratching
the ground contentedly, probably finding a wealth of insects that
aren't available on the high ground where its owner ought to have
kept it that fateful day.
didn't so much stop dead in her tracks as spin 90 degrees to the
right and accelerate down the dirt road paralleling the river. The
chicken gave up a couple of tail feathers but got airborne in time
to avoid major damage.
river was wider than the chicken remembered. Or maybe that chicken
had never encountered anything on four legs that can swim as fast
the explanation, the chicken casually eased into the water about
half-way across the river and started a liesurely swim to the western
shore. Missy flew as far as she could off the high embankment and
hit the water swimming considerably faster than the chicken.
spun 180 degrees in the water and headed to shore with her prize
firmly but gently locked in her jaws. She climbed the slick bank
as though it were an escalator and dumped the bird at her master's
grabbed her collar just in time to keep the 4-year-old retriever
from heading down the road to search for more chickens.
chicken's feathers were ruffled, but it stayed in the position Missy
placed it until the dog had been led 40 yards away and put on a
leash. Then the bird gingerly arose seeming more embarrassed
than injured and darted into the thickest part of a nearby
wants a dog to chase chickens, unless there is a really good reason
to do so. But Missy's efficiency at the chore was such that everybody
watching the performance seemed in awe. What she did was similar
to what she may have to do during the coming duck season if a wounded
duck falls in sight.
rule among retriever trainers is to thank a dog when it successfully
retrieves anything, even something it ought not to have picked up.
The dog is giving a person an object and in that sense is doing
a dog to leave chickens alone but to fetch up doves, quail, ducks,
geese, pheasants and woodcocks isn't easy. The only solution is
to insist on a level of obedience that will allow the person handling
the dog to stop it with a whistle or scream at any time and at any
needs a bit of work in that area.
there'll be plenty of training time before duck season begins in