« AnteriorContinuar »
the one object till the puppy will beat his ground as shown in the diagram, at first single-handed, and then crossing it with another dog; but it seldom answers to use two together until steadiness at “the point” is attained, as there are few old dogs which will beat their ground properly long together when they find that they are worked with a young one which is constantly flushing his birds or committing some other faux pas. For these reasons it is better to work the young ones at first singly, that is, as soon as they will work; and then, after they range freely and work to the hand and whistle, turning to the right or left, forwards or backwards, at the slightest wave of the hand, and when they also begin to point, it is time enough to hunt them double.”
In order to complete the education of the pointer in ranging or beating his ground, it is not only necessary that he should "quarter” it, as it is called, according to the method inculcated at page 254 et seq., but that he should do it with every advantage of the wind, and also without losing time by dwelling on a false scent, and, above all, avoiding such careless work as to put up game without standing to a point at all. I have before explained the principle upon which a field is to be “quartered,” and described the way in which the dog is to be set to do his work, by the hand and voice, aided by the whistle. As a general rule, pointers find their game by the scent being blown to them from the body, constituting what is called a “ body-scent,” and not from that left by the foot on the ground, which is called a “foot-scent.” Hence it is desirable in all cases to
give the dog the wind, that is to say, to beat up towards the wind's eye; and therefore the breaker will put his dogs to work in that direction ; and then, though they do not always beat directly towards the wind, yet they have it blowing from the game towards them in each of their crossings. (See diagram on p. 255.) But suppose, as it sometimes happens, that the sportsman cannot well do this, as when birds are likely to be on the edge of a manor, with the wind blowing on to it from that over which he has no right of shooting ;-here, if he gave his dog the wind in the usual way, he would drive all the birds off his own beat; and, to avoid this, he begins at the edge of it, and makes his pointers (if they are well enough broken) leave him and go up the other side to the far end of the field (if not too long), and then beat towards him in the usual way. It is true that the necessity for this kind of beating does not often occur; but sometimes a considerable number of shots are lost for want of teaching it, and the perfect dog should understand it thorougbly. When, therefore, the puppy has learnt to range in the ordinary way, and will work to the hand well, as before described, give him a lesson in this kind of beating; and, if any difficulty occurs, send a boy to lead him until he is far enough away, and then let the biped loose his charge, first catching the dog's eye yourself, so as to make him aware that you are the person he is to range to. In a few lessons he soon begins to find out the object of this departure from the usual plan, and by a little perseverance he will, of his own accord, when he finds he has not got the wind, work so as to make a
circuit and get it for himself. Nevertheless, a good dog, who has a master as good as himself, should always wait for orders, and there is always some excuse for very clever ones becoming headstrong when they are constantly misdirected. Let me again repeat what I have observed on the importance of teaching, at first, the correct mode of quartering the ground, and of persevering (without regard to standing or pointing) in the lessons on this subject alone, until the puppy is tolerably perfect in them. At the same time it is true that some little attention may be paid to the “point;” but this is of far less consequence at the early stage which we are now considering. Indeed, in most well-bred dogs, it comes naturally; but none beat to the hand without an education in that particular department.
But at this stage it will be frequently needful to correct various faults which are apt to show themselves in young dogs, such as (1) “ hunting too low,” leading to “pottering or dwelling on the foot-scent;” (2) hunting too wide from the breaker; and (3) “ blinking," or leaving the game as soon as found, which last is a fault depending on undue previous severity. With regard to the first of them, there is, unfortunately, no certain remedy for it; and the puppy which shows it to any great extent after a week or ten days' breaking will seldom be good for much, in spite of all the skill and trouble which an experienced breaker can apply. The method of cure most commonly adopted is that called hunting with a “puzzle-peg" on, which is shown applied in the annexed cut. It consists of a piece of strong wood, such as ash or oak, attached to the neck by a leather collar, and to the jaw by a string tied just behind the tusks or canine teeth, so as to constitute a firm projection in continuation of the lower jaw; and, as it extends from six to
nine inches beyond it, the dog cannot put his nose nearer to the ground than that amount of projection will allow of. The young dog should be well accustomed to it in kennel and in the field, before he is hunted in it; for when it is put on for the first time it inevitably “cows” him so much as to stop all disposition to range; but by putting it on him for an hour or two daily while he is at liberty and not expected to hunt, he soon becomes tolerably reconciled to it, and will set off on his range when ordered or allowed. With it on, a foot-scent can seldom be made out, unless pretty strong; but, at all events,
the dog does not stoop to make it out in that spaniel-like style which occasions its adoption. Nevertheless, when it is left off, the old tendency to stoop most frequently reappears, more or less, and the sportsman finds that all his care has been thrown away. Still I have known it cure this fault, and if it fails I have no other suggestion to offer but sixpennyworth of cord or “a hole in the water.” If used at all, it must be kept on for many days together, that is to say, while at work, and when left off it should be occasionally reapplied if the dog shows the slightest tendency to put his nose down, or dwell on the scent where birds have been rising or have “gone away.” I may here remark that “false pointing” is altogether different from this low hunting, though often coupled with it; but this we shall come to after describing the nature of, and mode of teaching, that part of the pointer's education. There is a wonderful faculty in some breeds of feeling a body-scent at long distances, while they have no perception of the foot-scent, and this is the quality which ought to be most highly prized in the pointer or setter, unless he is also wanted to retrieve, in which latter case such a nose will be found to be defective. But of this also we shall come to a more close understanding in a future part of this inquiry. In addition to the use of the “puzzle-peg,”— which should only be resorted to in extreme cases, and even in them is, as I before remarked, of doubtful utility,—the voice should be used to cheer the dog when he dwells on the scent too long, or carries his nose too low. “Hold up!” may be cried in a cheering way, and the dog encouraged with the hand waved