Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Four, "Dog Training, Sir!" Part 4

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section

We made the necessary preparations for the trip to Iowa, and I was pleased to finally be able to do things like pack my own dog crate, make sure there was enough food and water, pack a dog first-aid kit, plus throw in some some dummies in case some spare training time appeared.  Oh, then there were the multiple collars and leads, some toys, and the requisite dog snacks.  And create pads.  And crate blanket.  By the time I got through loading all of my stuff into JT's rig, the vehicle resembled the Campet's on their inaugural ride to Beverly Hills. 

But a fit was made, and our next stop was to get Blitz from Terry's.  We swung into his place, and I unlocked the door and stepped into the kennel area to be greeted by over a dozen very excited gun dogs that were absolutely convinced that I was the guy that was going to let them out of their confinement and get them on birds.  Unfortunately for them, I was there for just one little yellow lab. 

Blitz met me at the front of her kennel door, where she was bounding up and down in an almost perfectly vertical movement.  It's not very often that one is met at eye level by their dog, but there she was, bouncing like a furry pogo stick.  I didn't even need to ask if she wanted to go - it was clear that we were both looking forward to this trip to Iowa.  While waiting for us, the guys had got out of the vehicle and let their dogs out to air one last time.  As I attached Blitz's lead and walked her out the door, I was instantly struck at her size relative to the other guys' dogs.  She was just 7 months old, and all of the rest of our party were full grown dogs.  I was faced with clear evidence on the differences between Blitz and the others, and wondered if my little dog was just too young for this.  I had seen her in the field successfully hunting, so I knew she could do it.  I also was too far in to back out.  The only path was forward, so we gathered up the jumble of dogs that were still busy greeting each other and sorting out order and made for the Hawkeye state. 

Our trip was uneventful, and we settled into our routine at our comfortable little hotel.  This time, though, I was on the hook for dog chores and making sure that my pal sleeping in the crate in the rig was comfortable and ready for her big day.  I relished every minute of it, especially making small talk with other hunters who were tending to their dogs in the parking lot as well.  It is amazing, but regardless social, political, economic, or any other difference you could mention, two hunting dog owners will always have something to discuss.  Name of the dog, lineage, hunting stories, questions, compliments - it all flows easily and warmly between two hunting dog owners.  And they're always conducted with smiles.  Most people love dogs, and most hunters really love dogs.  When two get together, it is always a warm conversation. 

Morning could not come fast enough for me.  While the rest of my crew rose late as a function of the previous nights' imbibing, I was up first and had aired and watered our entire dog crew.  Getting ready, taking in breakfast at the nearby Country Cake, driving to the field, and waiting until the opening minute seemed to take forever.  Finally the call was made to gear up and get ready, and I bolted from the vehicle to the back to gear up. 

Blitz was as hyped up as I've seen her, and I had to physically restrain her a the mouth of her crate as I attempted to get her electronic collar on her prior to her exiting the vehicle.  And attempted is the correct word.  The squirmy dog bobbed her head like Sugar Ray Leonard, and it seemed like every time I went to make a move to wrap the collar around her neck, I came up encircling nothing but air.  Ultimately Blitz made a wrong move, and I got her electronics around her.  Upon securing the collar I lifted my arms like a rodeo cowboy that had just roped a calf, and Blitz shot out of her crate in a flashing blonde blur. 

Finally, we were going to go on our first hunt together.   

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