Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A bird in the hand

November is a prime sport shooting month. We're shooting pheasant and partridge three times a week on the estate. I work three dogs per day, in rotation, so each one gets enough exercise balanced out with enough down-time to recoup physically and mentally. On non-shooting days, the dogs nap in their kennels or enjoy a knuckle bone each from the butcher's.

I'm equal parts proud and amazed at the stamina and drive of working dogs, most of which is bred into them. Training simply directs their natural instinct towards something that, hopefully, benefits both dog and handler. I thought a short video might show this better than a wordy description from me.

Here, Spud, Dulcie, and Pip are searching for a wounded partridge. I know it came down in these woods, but I can't see where. However, their noses are perfect for finding lost birds in thick cover. The 'Get On' command means go forward. The 'Get in!' command means hit the cover and have a look - something none of these dogs need much encouragement to do. Spaniels especially are happiest rootling around in the bushes.

Spud's delivery isn't perfect but she makes up for it with her work ethic. She never leaves anything un-picked and always returns to me with every treasure. And that's a red-legged partridge for the bag.

Lest you think we're into shooting and completely over the sheep dramas - how does a maggot-infested scrotum sound? The lamb didn't like it much either. The foster ram was laying down too often and starting to walk with a stiff-legged gait. I caught him up and when I turned him over, saw that the castration ring wasn't doing its job properly, and there was a hole in his groin teeming with maggots and infection.

As an aside, I think it goes without saying that you should never read this blog when you are eating.

My recent failures experiences in lambing left me well-prepared. I removed the maggots one at a time with a pair of pliers, worked surgical scrub into the wound, and gave a heavy dose of strep antibiotic injected into the lamb's breast muscle (IM works faster than under the skin). I phoned our friend Terry the vet who happened to be on call that night. I drove the lamb to his house and, while I held the lamb on the workbench in his shed, he surgically severed the spermatic cords to finish the job, gave lamb a shot of painkiller, and praised my administered dose and method of antibiotics. A small but much-needed salve to my ego.

Two days on and foster lamb looks great. He's getting more nimble and therefore harder for me to catch him to finish his course of injections. That's where I'm headed now, right after I put our partridges in the oven for dinner.


Poppy Cottage said...

Mmmm.... now longer going to have rice for dinner!!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear the (mostly) good news about the foster lamb.

On a quick side note, do your dogs ever get "limber tail" or "cold water tail" where their tails go flaccid and limp after a hard day's work? My dog will get it after dunking herself in chilly water. Just curious!

Jen said...

Colette - I should have put a warning at the beginning of the post...

Simplesavvy - Oh yes. Pip gets limber tail easily (we call it 'wet tail' here as it's often associated with dogs who like swimming). Hers is so bad that I usually don't work her for a full day, and then only one day a week now.

Pip was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and a bad cruiate ligament at 8 months old. A sensible work regime has kept her fit but too much would be detrimental. I take the wet tail as a sign that she's overdoing it.

Cynthia said...

What an interesting video -- thanks.

Anonymous said...

Good plan, taking wet tail as a sign. Lily doesn't work too hard er... at all, so we take it to mean that she's warm -- usually half a second after she lays down in the ocean even though there's snow on the ground.

Paula said...

Yes- interesting video. Just makes me miss having a dog.

You seem to be getting better with the diagnosing and treatment. You'll make a shepherd yet, I think.

Hope you enjoyed the birds!

me said...

Thank you so much for that great video!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

So, you know how I'm always jealous of your material? The idea of picking maggots out of a sheep scrotum with pliers in order to get it keeps the green-eyed monster in check.

More videos, please!