To combat the boredom of no significant training & watching skies devoid of ducks, I decided to write a tell all post about the dark side of retriever training. Moderators please delete if this is too graphic or too much information for the average dog trainer.
What topic did I choose? The use of ratshot, cattle prods, sling shots or BB guns. No those don't even compare to the true dark side. What about the early collars that could have powered the electric chair or at least a travel trailer for the weekend. Nah that is merely childs play compared to the topic I chose.
The topic I chose has the fairly innocent name of duck freezer. It is a necessary evil for those of us that want to use ducks when training. A hunting retriever picking up ducks & pheasants is certainly more natural than retrieving oblong cylinders made out of cheap plastic. So when my lovely wife decided she needed a new side by side fridge & freezer I happily bought her a new one. As I moved the old, worn out freezer to the basement, I was one happy dog trainer. Now I could store ducks in the freezer & keep them cool between training sessions in the refrigerator section.
This system worked like a charm. I would pull frozen ducks out & use them. At the end of training they went in the fridge. Little did I realize the evil I had allowed to enter my life.
All went well for years lulling me into a false sense of security. Then it happened. I got the call at duck camp from my wife. "Something is dead under the house" followed by "when are you coming home?". I had planned on staying 2 more days but decided "tomorrow" was the right answer after some persuasion. She was planning a stay at the most expensive resort in driving distance until I remedied the problem.
As I hunted the next morning I got the dreaded call. "Your duck freezer has died"! As most trainers I know use second hand freezers for this task I knew several that had experienced this. Their previous descriptions of the odor caused cold chills to shoot down my spine. I quickly made my excuses & went home to deal with the carnage.
Upon my arrival home the house looked like some Satanic ritual was taking place. Candles were lit everywhere. I had never seen so many Glade plug ins & those twist open air fresheners in one place. There were also cans of Fabreze on every flat surface. All I could smell was candles & air fresheners. Maybe I had showed up before disaster.
As I walked over to the basement side of the house, I first smelled the evil. I gagged. Now for most that may not mean anything. Those that have trained with me will begin to understand the true complexity of the odor. I train with ducks for 2 weeks after most would have discarded them. My reputation for skanky training ducks is legendary in the Southeast.
As I descended into the basement the smell got worse. The agony of hell was becoming clear. I threw open the door to the basement and immediately lost my lunch. As I opened the freezer door, I had to revisit the outdoors. Anything I had eaten the last two days was displayed in a large puddle immediately outside. Thankfully cleaning up the vomit kept me from the task at hand.
Now a tutorial for those who think a broken freezer simply stops cooling. No it heats the contents in a closed space & allows it to fester in its own juices. Ducks being smelly creatures to begin with, receive no benefit from an unspecified time period in such an environment. The juices that escaped when I fully opened the door caused yet another round of dry heaves.
There are simply no words to describe the aroma. I already had cotton soaked in mouthwash in my
nostrils but it overpowered that with no effort. Breathing that scent for a prolonged period could easily induce suicide. Burning down the house seemed a perfectly legitimate solution at the time.
With no sunshine it seemed a perfect time to provide a warning for the uninitiated. Unfortunately the temptation proved too strong & I had my new duck freezer delivered last week. Evil is hard to resist!