It has been just over 7 months since Xip made a retrieve that she is built for – a shot duck while hunting. I start to miss it this time of year, and I can’t help but think she really does too.
She has a life that most dogs would enjoy and love to have. She is a backyard Lab for most of the year, sharing it with our other lab, Chamois. Chamois is a beautiful yellow lab that we have had for 8 years. She is the boss of the 2, but they love each other and spend a lot of time playing. They live in the yard together with lots of shade, a view of the lake behind the house, and a one hundred square foot insulated dog house with heat and air conditioning. It has a door for us to enter to check on them, but they enter and exit, when they feel like it, thru a doggie door to the yard. In past years, they would kennel in the living room during extreme cold or heat, but now they are more at home in their room than anywhere else.
Xip has truly been a great dog for us. She is at home in the yard, but she is built for hunting and she knows it. She is dual registered, tattooed, micro-chipped, and certified in more ways than I could understand or explain, and perfectly trained as a duck hunter. She takes great lines for extreme distances, casts for hand signals, perfect on marks and blinds, honors other dogs that hunt with her, doesn’t break, and is quiet. During slow times, sometimes I forget she is there. But at the sound of a duck call, she immediately raises her head from the box scanning the over the decoys for the birds we are after. If you keep a scorecard of what you want with a hunting partner, she checks off every trait. You’d think she is spoiled because of her off season accommodations and daily life, but if you watch her one morning from the blind, you’d quickly realize she would rather be there than anywhere else.
Because she gets so much work during the hunting season, I rarely work her in those months. Also, after hunting season, I give her a little vacation so she can rest, relax, and enjoy her time off sleeping late and laying around.
I keep bumpers around and throw them for her a lot in the yard – giving Cham a head start on most retrieves, but Xip still usually gets the dummy first and brings it back ready to go again. She has very little quit in her – but we don’t over do it – just a little maintenance on her skill set and then back to being our baby. As the summer starts to set and the hunting season approaches – we start more of a regimen. Daily workouts or single marks and blinds are the standard. A couple times a week we mix in some TT drills and baseball to make sure she remembers to trust me for the ones she doesn’t see fall. This year, she has quickly picked up where she left off which makes me even more ready for hunting season because the only thing better than a great day of duck hunting is a great day of duck hunting while watching your hunting partner and pet loving her life as she is picking up the days limits.