Now this is not a story of my dogs but a close friends. The dog is question is called jip, he's a 3/8 5/8 bull/ grey. Now to look at jip is a spectacular animal but brain wise he just seems to lack a lot of it. The dog turned a year as the season started, now he hadn't done much at all but chase a few bunnies up the local park and it was now time to start him.
The first night we took him out I can remember vividly, we went to a local farm I have about ten miles from plymouth. The conditions where text book for rabbiting, drizzle with a nice wind and no moon. The pup was to be took by himself to see what he was like, based on the fact he had good recall and would retrieve most thrown things we hoped for the best. The first field only had a few bunnies in but one was squat so we picked that as the target for jip. Within about 20 yards of the bunny it jumped and darted for the hedge, now the dog was immediately on the coneys tail and unluckily missed. Due to his age and lack of experience he pulled up at the hedge which was a disappointment but what was more frustrating was his utter refusal to return. When he eventually returned we decided to just take him home, now some people may see this as have been a pointless exercise but it gave us an idea of what we were working with.
It was only a few days later when we decided to take him out again but this time we were going to do things slightly different as we were going to take my bitch aswell and see if he would pick up anything from her. We were going to the same farm but going to just do one field on the other side of it. Being a few days later the moon still was only a tiny slither of a game keepers fingernail but we didn't have the lovely wind from the previous night. The field we were walking was a large seeded field that always held a few squatters down the far end towards the rough patch by the hedge. As we walked quietly down the near hedge I look into the center of the field and could see several out eating so we continued to walk past them to block of there escape route. Once past them and on there homeward side I let nia go, she ran straight up the beam and turnt one back towards us. They were gradually getting closer and closer until they had ran within yards of us. After they had past us I told ingram to slip the pup. He obviously joined the course as quick as he could and tried to keep as tight as he could as nia turnt the bunny inside out before picking it up. Once in nias grasp jip also grabbed it and tried to run with it but nia was firmly planted on the ground and was not gonna release her prize for anyone. As they were tugging it we just walked up to them and took it of them. We decided to end the night on a high and went home for the night.
After the success of the night before we decided that we would be out again the next night. Again we went to the same farm but we chose yet another field, one that was more suited to the pup to run alone but unfortunately nothing was out on this field so we walked across the road to another field. Now this field was just a field of fallow plants and weeds but we had to walk through it to get to the next field. Because it was only rubbish we let the dogs off for a bit of a mooch and too empty themselves. We kept the lamp on them as they where paying a lot of attention to what we assumed must have been a fresh line as neither of these where daytime dogs. They where scouting all over the field so we decided to stop walking and just watch them when a bunny jumped up and started. Within a few seconds it had been picked up by jip before it had even had chance to turn. As I said earlier jip would retrieve a ball so we expected him to bring this back but that just wasn't happening. He would get the bunny chuck it in the air then pick it up and repeat this action whilst running. We didn't want to get angry with him so we just ignored him to do it until the time he chucked it up and nia caught it and retrieved it back before the pup knew what had happened. We continued to walk into the next field but weren't able to see any and just walked back to the car.
We had taken the pup out a few times and his recall had improved greatly so we decided to take him with us up to somerset and let him run on bigger ground so that ingram could see more then anything. We drove up to the wetlands and started lamping, we didn't spot anything for a while but then as luck would have it there was a few on a field, so in we went and booted it towards them. Nia was out like a shot closely followed by the pup who manage to stay very close til the quarry split the hedge which meant nia did, thus in good fashion the pup clambered through aswell. Now we didn't actually get anything this night but it was worth it just to teach jip to commit to his chase as it came in handy at a later date but ill get to that when its relevant.
The next time we had him out saw us going to the same farm as before but as we felt he was getting it we decided we would walk the whole farm, so we parked at the top and made our way towards the first field when we got there it was to long to run as the farmer had put winter crop into it so we let the dogs off to empty themselves. This was enough to take the edge of them before we started properly. Now I know its not good practice but we decided we would run the pair just to make sure the pups recall was definitely ok because if not he tended to follow my bitch anyway.
The first grass field saw a few squatters and a few running so we picked a target and let them go. They sailed straight down the beam and got on terms with the coney, turning it up and down the hedge before it was eventually snapped up. The next part surprised us because rather then try and pull it away the pup just stood there and let us take it off them. This was a marvelous thing as although we wouldn't retrieve he wasn't running away. We continued to lamp the farm, there was a few runs had. Unfortunately you can't catch everything but what wasn't caught saw an immediate return from him. We went home happy with three bunnies that night.
About a week or so later we decided to take him and nia to another farm just abit down the road. Tonight he was going to be run single handed and see what happened. We pulled up into the farm yard and let them out to empty and then proceeded down the lane to the first field. We had already decided nia was running first, as we entered the field we spotted a squatter only a few yards ahead. Nia was slipped and picked up the bunny in good fashion. After the retrieve we walked over the umbra to the top of the field where there where a few more bunnies, jip promptly caught one and just remained where he was until ingram walked down and got it. I know this isn't perfect but its a damn sight better then him running away with it. This night we only had the 2 but where again more then happy with the way he was improving greatly and where already looking forward to the next outing.
A few days later I get a call from ingram asking me to charge my battery as we had to go down to a farm he had just got the permission for but we had to take the farmer to show him how our dogs behaved. This was abit worrying as jip had only just started to do so but none the less we had to put in an appearance. The farmer was already where we arranged to meet him when we got there so pleasantries where exchanged and we were on our way. Now this night we ran nia and jip run for run and nia picked up four rabbits but she was already an experienced dog at the time so its not relevant to this little story so I will only tell you of how jip performed.
To actually get to the fields worth lamping we had to walk up what seemed like a mountain but the fields that we wanted formed the plateau so we had no option but to clamber up this horrific landscape, now as I said nia was also running and actually ran first. When we got to jips run we where still in the second field but much further along the hedge. The pup ran this rabbit like a pro, twisting and turning in sync with the coney before it hit the hedge but this time jip plowed right in after it and managed to catch it. This was a magnificent thing to see after the hassle we had with him at an earlier stage, once the prize was in his mouth he walked away from the hedge and simply stood there as expected. He carried on in this fashion picking up
Another three rabbits but its not needed to tell you every detail of every rabbit or I'm afraid it will be very repetitive. I will how ever many his last catch; we were on the last field and far out in the center was a bunny just sat feeding, this bunny was a good 300 yards away but we decided to run him anyway. He went up the beam like a heat seeking missile, this caused the bunny to start for the hedge as jip is a big old lump and unfortunately far from silent. The pup changed his course and headed to cut it off which he managed to do just before the hedge, turning it back into the field. The bunny went out so far and turnt back on itself again then back up the hedge. By now the lamp was fading and they where such a distance that all we were watching was jips eye. He continued to course it in and out, up and down before we seen him go to the head and stick his head in. We weren't able to see and as he started to walk back we assumed he hadn't caught it but half way back he stopped and just layed on the floor and it was the we were able to see he had a prize.
What a rewarding night we had; guaranteed the permission from the farmer, 9 bunnies in all ( 4 to nia, 5 to jip) and most importantly the penny had finally dropped for jip.