Two nights ago after I had already gone to bed a former client texted me asking if I wanted Boomer, the dog I trained for him. We talked. He says that Boomer snapped at someone and now his wife insists that he get rid of Boomer. I know Boomer well. I can't imagine that he actually snapped at someone. He's high energy, no doubt, and whatever he did may have looked like that, but I'm not convinced. At most it's a management issue. Boomer's owner first came to me a few years ago. We were doing a weekly retriever class program. We don't do those anymore; it's too hard to get anything meaningful done. So, he shows up with Boomer, a year and a half old. He had all the equipment; ecollar, heeling stick, etc., etc. and didn't know how to use any of it. But, in the words of Billy Crystal playing Fernando, "You look marvelous." It was evident that Boomer hadn't learned much in his first year and a half. His mouth habits were terrible. He had a belly full of fire. I told that owner that Boomer had to be force fetched (among other things) and that's something that can't be done in a once-a-week retrieving class. Finally, the owner decided to let me have Boomer for a month to force fetch him. That grew into more training. He also wanted me to run Boomer in hunt tests. During force fetch, at first it was a nightmare. I usually start with a paint roller, then when I proof them on that, I go to a hardwood schutzhund dumbbell and, after proofing, then do the rest with a bumper until the end when I mix in all kinds of retrieve objects. Something told me that I should skip the paint roller and start with the dumbbell. I had just bought a new one; the old one was at least 30 years old and had been used so much that the dowel finally was so worn it broke in half. Initially, it didn't go well. His mouth was so wet and active that he cut 1/8" deep grooves in the dowel. Finally got him all the way through fetch-no fetch and decided to start force fetch with ducks. I thawed two, tossed one out, told him to fetch and he literally tore it to pieces. OMG! I took the other, he started the same thing. I reached for the duck, he somehow ripped my watch off my arm, started to come down on my hand, but when he realized it was my skin, he backed off. All I got was a little blood blister. The owner had told me that he had hunted him the prior season. I thought that the owner must like duck burger because there's no way he got an undamaged bird. I also thought, "He wants me to run Boomer in hunt tests? OMG!" The next day, I began with frozen birds. By the time we were done, any bird he retrieves can be taken to the taxidermist. Not a feather out of place. I kept wondering where this dog got all the fire. I found out when the owner gave me a copy of his registration so I could enter him on Entry Express. I said, "Do you know what you have here?" He said all he knew was he bought Boomer for a few hundred dollars (I forget how much; maybe $700) as a the last puppy in a litter while on a business trip in NW Ohio. Boomer's dam is an HRC Hunting Retriever. But, his sire is NAFC, FC, AFC Coolwater's Hawkeye Legend. OMG! Boomer got his JH easily in 4 tests. I then started intermediate training. He took to handling work very easily. I ran him in a few tests in Senior, but he had trouble keeping his butt on the ground (imagine that - I dog with fire in the belly not keeping his butt on the ground - hahaha). If he kept it on the ground long enough to get through the work, he did a stellar job. But, then, he'd break on honor. The owner decided to stop running him.
I haven't seen Boomer in awhile. He'll be six years old at the end of this month. I don't want to see Boomer go just anywhere, so I told the owner I'd take him as long as he signed the registration over to me. I don't know what I'll do with him. Probably continue his training, working on keep his butt on the ground and maybe try to senior title him at least. Maybe at some point, if I can find the right owner, someone who will love him and let him hunt ducks and geese to his heart's content, I'll sell him. The owner made the mistake of neutering him a month ago thinking that would calm him down. I told he he should have called me first. I knew it wouldn't.
All I know for sure is that I've got two kennels opening up this weekend. I've got 8 people on the wait list, but one of these kennels will go to Boomer. I love that guy.