This blog is as much about writing as it is about trying to train a bird dog. The point is not to update friends and family about puppy antics, which is difficult, because they’re abundant. However, I feel like important milestones should be marked, even if they don’t inspire any deeper thought. As such, I’ve created a new category called Sawyer’s Firsts, which should be explanation enough of the category’s contents. So…

Sawyer chased his first live birds.

This might not sound like a big deal, and it probably isn’t, but I’m very excited about it. Here’s what happened.

Sawyer’s been increasingly annoying (read: destructive) around the house when we haven’t had time to exercise him. I try not to hold it against him, but I still do, a little. Despite another busy week, I wanted to get him out of the house for a little while. I thought about taking him to the hills which, as I mentioned in my second post, are not that far away at all, but decided even that was a time commitment I couldn’t make. Instead, I took him to an open field near my house that, in accordance to some long-lost will, has remained undeveloped for many years.

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I walked slowly across the stiff grass (alfalfa?) while Sawyer tore left and right. These are the only times he isn’t closely monitored, and I can tell he enjoys it, running nose down, chasing some long-faded scent. After running him for an hour or so, we started to head back to the car, following a dry irrigation ditch that wound from one corner of the field to the other. I’d seen the birds darting in and out of the taller grass shrouding the ditch, but I assumed Sawyer had either missed them or didn’t care.

It happened fast, so I can’t be sure if he did it on purpose or not, but Sawyer scared up two small sparrows. He slowed down a little and his sniffing became more deliberate. Then a rustle, the beat of wings, and two small dark spots darting out of the brush. They flew low, skimming just over the taller grass. Sawyer chased after, also staying low, fast. Then, after he’d lost them, darted back to me with his tail thrumming.

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We won’t be hunting sparrows, and eventually behavior like this will have to be eschewed, but for now it implies an inherent desire to chase things with wings. That’s very, very good. With dogs, and humans I think, it’s all about bridging the gap, making the simplest connections first, then building upon them. A dog who chases tiny birds now can be taught to seek out specific birds later.

– Matt

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