Indie joined the team over here in Boston back in June 2014. Rich has owned springers and hunted with them since he was a kid, but not me. Indie is my first dog. Before she arrived I didn’t know the difference between a field trial and hunt test, had never heard the word “hup!” and the only bright orange thing I owned was a flashy pair of running sneakers.
Over the winter Indie traded city life for county livin’, spending a few months at Craney Hill for foundational training. Near the end of her stay Todd and Christina invited us to visit and see how she’s progressed. Over our two days there we watched Todd work not just with Indie, but with all of his dogs. We saw the differences in skills between younger dogs still learning the ropes and more seasoned dogs, and Todd explained exactly where Indie was on that spectrum.
At some point I said, “I almost wish I was a hunter, so I’d have a reason to work with Indie like that.” And that’s when I learned about hunt tests.
Todd started teaching me how to maintain Indie’s training at home. But rather than demonstrating a few drills on his very best dog and calling it a day, he had me practice obedience work with each of his dogs, from the seasoned ones to the youngest ones just learning the ropes. The most valuable part was dealing with one particularly stubborn dog having an off day (I swear he could sense I was a softer touch than Todd), because that’s what obedience training is likely to be back at home.
Since that first visit Todd has coached me through the process of developing this new skill. I even visited the Craney Hill team at a field trial in Maine to see how sporting dog events worked. We’re planning to do our first hunt test for sometime in 2016. I’m not sure I’d have the confidence to try it at all if it weren’t for Todd’s encouragement.
As for Rich, he’s enjoyed working with Todd and has no doubt that he’s going to shape Indie into a great hunting companion. I’ve developed a completely new interest, acquired a lot more blaze orange stuff than I ever thought I’d have, and enjoy my dog in more ways than I could’ve imagined.