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Hunting Adventures with a Most Gifted Spaniel

Timberdoodle’s Rosie was born in 1990 out of a breeding of Timberdoodle’s Lovely Lady (Judy) to Druid Rock Boss, an imported English Springer owned by John Isaacs. I liked Druid Rock Boss because he acted like an English gentleman. Although I had never seen him run, he had an excellent disposition and I trusted John Isaac’s choice. Druid was much smaller than my female.
Glen and Judy

Rosie’s birth was complicated as Rosie appeared to be stuck for sometime in the birth canal. I was on the phone with the vet three times and Rosie was finally delivered. Her skin was very blue and I thought I had lost her. However, when Judy started licking her Rosie did revive. Only one other puppy was born in this litter. She was much smaller and named Debbie. Rosie became the dominant puppy. I made my first serious training mistake. It appears that I was very naieve in training two puppies at once. At seven weeks, I would throw the dummy and send both puppies. The smaller female soon learned that she would not get the dummy. This was very hard on Debbie’s confidence and development though Rosie became very bold. After Debbie went to a new home, her confidence rekindled and she became a fine hunting dog.

The first time I realized that Rosie might be exceptionally talented was during a training session for her dam, Judy, down at Isaac’s farm. Rosie was just tagging along. .I had a dead pigeon which I threw into the pond. It was mid-winter with a temperature of 20 degrees and ice clinging along the pond edge. My intention was that Judy could have a water retrieve. Suddenly, I heard a splash - and it was Rosie crashing into the water. Rosie had no experience retrieving a bird or swimming and she started floundering in the water. Mud and water were flying everywhere. Rosie was going nowhere, except in circles. I thought that I might have to jump in and save her. However, she started making headway towards the dead pigeon. It was very slow going yet she showed no signs of giving up. Her front legs were reaching way too high into the air. After what seemed like ten minutes, she reached the bird - a mere 15 yards away. The bird, now in Rosie’s mouth, weighed her head down and she started swimming properly. Rosie delivered the bird and that was the end of training for that day.
Rosie hits the water

In the spring, we started doing water retrieves on the Ohio River. At ten months, she was hitting the water full speed and leaping up to 15 feet before entering the water. It was a thrill to watch her retrieve even a dummy. One day, when Rosie was about 16 months, the Ohio river was at flood level. I threw the dummy out for Judy, who failed the retrieve. I wanted my dummy back. So Rosie and I ran down to a gravel bar about a quarter of mile downstream. I sent Rosie out on a blind. With a 15 knot wind from the south blowing up the river, the waves were two to three feet over the sand bar, which stretched far out into the river. None of this seemed to bother Rosie. I was able to get her out about 75 yards for a blind retrieve. As she rose over a big wave, she happened to see the dummy another 75 yards out. She swam over the breaking waves and reached the dummy. The current was so strong that she landed about 500 yards downstream. Then she had to work her way over logs along the shoreline plus a very steep cliff - maybe 20 feet high. She managed to return with the dummy a number minutes later... and that was the end of our training for that day. I realized then that I had quite an amazing little dog although the conditions were a little on the risky side for my comfort.

Living in West Virginia, I did not have access to training birds - except on a very limited number of occasions - so Rosie was trained for the most part with dummies and the occasional wild pheasants. We hunted pheasants in Ohio and managed to travel out to Oregon most years, when she was young.

One year, we hunted along the Columbia River of Oregon. After three days of hunting in very brutal, heavy cover for pheasants, Rosie was a bit roughed up. That night, she slept with all four feet straight up in the air. On the next day, we headed for a national wildlife refuge where we managed to harvest six drake mallards over decoys and finished the day hunting pheasants by working willow trees and cattails in a swampy area of the refuge. All afternoon, I could hear her crashing through the heavy cover and chasing the pheasants but rarely did I see a bird for more that a couple of seconds. Finally, I hit a pheasant and the bird glided far out into the swamp. Rosie clawed over log jams, dense cattails and through open water to made the retrieve. Later, we limited after she had flushed at least eleven roosters and many hens. For four days, Rosie met every challenge head on... and she succeeded. Even though the cover was very rough and she was cut-up from the cover, she managed to hunt with incredible energy each day.

"My eyes bored into hers with a subliminal message that said "let go of this damn thing or else you and I will have some serious issues later on." She got the message - one down and one to go."

On another trip west, we were hunting ducks in the desert of the Alvord basin in Eastern Oregon. This area was in a drought, even for a desert, and the lakes were significantly reduced in size. In place of the water was an almost quicksand like mud that was impossible for a human to walk through. I was hunting with two friends who had labs. As we approached a lake, mallards took off, of which two were dropped. The labs were sent, but they were trapped in the mud and came back. I sent Rosie and she became stuck, also, but she would not turn back. She struggled through the mud - an inch at a time - and finally broke into open water. The first duck was about 75 yards out and when she came back to the mud she could not move with the duck in her mouth. She dropped the duck and moved into the mud. Then she turned her head back and picked-up the duck and moved it in front of her. She used this process to pull the duck all the way across the ten yards of soupy mud and handed the duck over to me. She then turned around and headed straight back into the mud to get the last duck, a good 200 yards away by the time she reached it and completed that retrieve in the same fashion. There was nothing going to keep Rosie from making the retrieve

For a year or so I tried to train Rosie for field trials with the Ohio Valley Club. However, I was not able to get her steady. In 1996, we decided to breed Rosie to Flying Tiger and she delivered nine puppies. There was not much interest in the puppies, so only three went into field trialing. Spock, Molly and Speed became dominant field trial dogs. All three became amateur field champions and competed in numerous national championships. In 2000, Timberdoodle’s Roise was the high point bredding bitch in the U.S. Rosie had one more litter of which AFC Timberdoodle’s Freckles was born.
Glen, Rosie and pups

In her later years, I used her with the youngsters to start their training and get them all excited. When I released Rosie into a field, she had one thing in mind and that was to flush all the birds in the field. Rosie’s enthusiasm seemed to stimulate the drive in the youngsters and I found it very useful to run younger dogs with her.

We also continued to hunt ducks together. On one occassion, we were hunting ducks in a swamp near the top end of a series of four lakes in mid-January Rosie was sitting with me in water about a foot deep. For three hours, we dropped ducks in the cattails and she managed to find them even though they were buried in the cattails and flopping about. She was cold and shaking. One goose and one duck where hit lightly with both landing down at the far end of the series of ponds. Rosie and I went after the duck as evening approached. She quickly trailed it down and retrieved the duck My partners could not find the goose and called for us to help. It was snowing lightly and getting dark.We went around the lake and could not find any signs. My partners were ready to leave when I asked for time to quarter her into the bean field. As Rosie quartered to the far right, she spun around after hitting the scent of the goose and started chasing. At the same time, the goose sensed the dog finding the scent so started calling, running and lifted into the air - much to my surprise. The goose was roughly 40 inches in the air with Rosie chasing the bird at full speed up a hill which dropped into a ravine. I was sure the goose was lost but Rosie continued to chase it. Just as they approached the top of the hill, Rosie launched herself into the air and pulled down the full size, 18lb. goose out of the sky. We all started yelling as no one could believe what we had just witnessed. I would have liked to have had a picture of that capture. This was an amazing retrieve and something that neither my partners nor I had ever seen in our life - nor expect to see again.

As Rosie became older, she still hit the water full speed - though a bit slower - for her retrieves. I now had three other field trial dogs, all related to Rosie. She ran the house and the others were never much out of place. Finally Rosie passed away one weekend in front of her family. For the next two weeks, all three of her family members barked insesently for hours and sometimes all night. Finally, the house began to settle down but it was never quite the same without Rosie around.

Glen DeMott

Glen DeMott

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Spaniel Journal - your source for flushing spaniel training, hunt test, field trial & hunting information