I have been posting here a bit, not much. I've had three labs now, among them a ten year old and a five month old pup currently and I'll make this as short as possible (meaning not short)
First: my first real hunting dog was a female lab who I put down about six months ago and I miss her dearly. Not a great hunting dog, but sound, and just a sweetheart and I miss her every day. I shot a LOT of birds over that dog. You know the song and dance. I have her son, a GREAT dog, I considered my "dog of a lifetime". He's now ten years old and since his mother passing six months ago he's just aged so rapidly that it's become noticeable and really troubling. I had my vet check him out and he's very healthy, just slower and more sedentary. It seems like Lucy was gone and WHAM he aged so quickly. Is this common? Has anyone else had this experience? Everyone notices that Duck is now "so old" and he was such a puppy in attitude and physical ability until his mother was gone. I hate to put human traits on dogs, but God, it seems like this threw him for a loop. Tell me if I'm nuts or not, but it's just breaking my heart for when this dog goes it will just kill me. He went from a young athletic dog to a senior citizen overnight.
Second: I got another pup about three months after my female was down, since I do hunt avidly and I need time to develop another dog. This pup (a Ryder pup) is just so much more full of potential than Duck, and drive, and fire, that I wonder how I'm going to handle him. Duck was always very biddable, easy going, very independent, easy to train and hunted hard, long and retrieved any bird that was retrievable. I shot about a gazillion ducks over him and he retrieved mine and those he shouldn't have gotten, just a great dog trained by Kingston Kennels in VA. My pup (Chooch) is so hot to retrieve at 5 months old I can't stand it. I watch the Hillman videos and this pup is the "Anti Hillman". When he's going through obedience with me and on a lead, and choke chain, he's quite steady, sits good, comes to heal, will retrieve from a bird boy about 80 yards away, is not gun shy, loves water, loves live birds, is learning simple doubles, uses his nose, just AWESOME for his age and coming along better than expected. He's everything I want in desire but so much HOTTER than Duck. My question here is, am I forgetting what it's like to have a puppy, or do I have a hot dog that might need collar conditioning sooner than expected? Force breaking sooner? He comes to me with the bird and bumper every time, but will not let go, will not stop chomping at it, will not stop going for it no matter what, he's just HOT to retrieve (never had this before). He knows the sit, here, heel command, but there are times I have to put him back on sit about 50 times if I'm just holding a bumper he wants to go so bad. Don't want to hold him back but don't want him out of control. Advice please? I think I'm doing a decent job with obedience, he listens well, but when the bumper is out it's bets off, I need come down harder on him just to keep him in line otherwise he's jumping for it and chomping at it (when it goes away he's much more calm).
And finally, any tips for handling your older fella while developing a young hot dog? How do professional trainers do it or is it a matter of time for each dog alone so they feel like they're getting individual attention? I'd like to hunt them together this year to let Chooch learn to hunt and experience it, but the little one is always pestering the older one, nipping at him and trying to take the bumper or birds out of his mouth (basically he doesn't "honor"). I have only a few short years left with Duck and don't want to deprive him, but also don't want to deprive the little guy at this critical age when I have limited time.
Thank you one and all.