Branxholme Gundogs

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January 26th                   Stoker's Report Card
Hi Ma
am knackered......Uncle Al has had me out picking up at Hallrule today, he thought I would like it better than being in the kennell on my own....and he was right.  He told me to email you and fill you in on what happened.  To begin with I was quite excited what with all the other dogs...lots of bottoms, both girls and boys, to sniff!..I was whining a bit and Uncle Al said Shh and flicked my snout each time I did it......sod this I thought so I stopped it and so did the Shh and skelp from Uncle Al. He said 'good boy' quite a lot after this.  I like Uncle Al when he says 'good boy'. Anyway  I was making the other dogs with Uncle Al a bit jumpy because they don't like it when he says shh cos they know what can happen!  Here is my report card which I have to get you to sign and return.
1st Drive
I was off the lead a good distance from the guns and watched what was going on. Rigg, he's my dad by the way, got sent for a long retrieve over the brow of a hill and the bird was running when he got it....better for us cos it's difficult to grab them when they fly up in the air again!  That was it as far as retrieves go but Uncle Al spotted a pricked bird going into cover at the end of a wood so we trooped off in that direction. We all jumped over the wire fence and Uncle Al said 'out' so we all scarpered pretty quick.....Cola. Rigg and Isla hunted around Uncle Al but i thought 'I'm off' and sprinted up the other end of the wood. I found a woman and her dogs and made the most of it and then I heard my name being shouted and somebody whistling me back, so I went back at the same rate of knots I had departed at. Uncle Al said 'good boy' again.  Cola found the hen bird we were looking for and Uncle Al chucked it on the ground and we all walked off back to the Discovery.  I though that was a bit funny that he didn't put it his bag with the other one but then I figured out why he did this... guess what!... he sent me back for it and I brought it back to him.  He was chuffed and said that was a perfect delivery and I had a soft mouth.
2nd Drive
As soon as we got out the back of the Disco I made off with another picker up over a ploughed field, then I heard the whistle and I came back to be with the other dogs. Cola got a retrieve from the edge of a wood but I didn't get to do anything other than sit beside Uncle Al and the other dogs and watch the birds fly past.....AND I got a few 'good boys' for just sitting doing nothing....amazing! We hunted out a wood after this and Uncle Al directed me left and right and kept blowing his whistle to get me back, which I did.  Sometimes the other dogs would get to hunt and I wouldn't so I had to walk nice and wait my turn.  I know when its my turn cos he says Stoker and I look at his hand before he casts me out, otherwise I stay put and avoid getting a whack on my nose or chest!
3rd Drive
Again we can't see the guns but we hear plenty banging. I'm off the lead as usual( cos I'm a Gundog) and we are just waiting on something to do.  Suddenly I see a bird fall out the air over a hill and I hear the word Rigg so I go for it.  Oops! ... me and Rigg take off at a great rate of knots and Rigg goes back when he sees me racing him and I bring back the bird.  Uncle Al says he should have had me on the lead when he sent Rigg because I'm not used to seeing other dogs get all the good jobs when I have to stay put.  I've got to remember to wait for my name, which is Stoker if I'm not mistaken, before I do anything  (breathing excepted).
4th Drive
We go into a field and down a hill to a river and wait for things to happen. Rigg gets sent over the water for a bird that might be hit and I accompany him.  Oops again....didn't he forget to put me on a lead before sending another dog! I said sorry but enjoyed the swim anyway even if it was bloody cold.
Uncle Al tucks in to sandwiches and cake and all we in the back get is a few biscuits.  How unfair is that?  The sun has come out and it is a beautiful day now and up on the hill the fog has cleared.
5th Drive
We all walk over to a turnip field and watch the guns beside a wood in the distance. Again we have to just wait and watch. Lots of pheasants fly overhead and we hear lots of bangs but not one pheasant lands on the ground. BORING!  Uncle Al sees some fly down a gully beside the burn so we all go and have a look to see if any are pricked.   I'm  getting   pretty clever with the stop whisle now and I take right and left commands whenever I get told  to.
I really like working with the other dogs and I think they know I am a Gundog now so we're all in this happy family. We hunt the cover but don't find anything so we have to go back without anything in the bag for this drive.
6th Drive
The guns, who speak a different language to Uncle Al, and I don't mean that they don't cuss and swear, walk down to a stubble field and we trail behind them quite a long way back. They walk through the field to meet up with some of the other guns at  the other end. A bang is heard from the other end and a bird drops into the field and starts running down the hill. It's a long way off, at least 200 yards and Uncle Al in his haste makes a mistake.  He forgets again to put me on the lead before sending Cola who has marked the bird down. Off we both go, tearing through the stuble field and out of view.  Cola is whistled up, I know it's her being whistled up cos I'm on to the running pheasant by this time (that's my story anyway) and Im not giving up on this one,  and I eventually catch the blighter and take it back to Uncle Al. We walk down to the river and wait for more action. The wait is in vain because no more birds are downed and the guns are congregating to walk back up the hill.
Uncle Al says I have been a really good boy today and then I go and spoil it all.  I'm sorry Mam, but I was really having a good time and I thought with the day coming to a close I would have just one last run. There was a commotion with the dogs a long way accross the open field ( I saw a yellow one and I am particularly fond of yellow dogs) and a pheasant got up and flew away.  We were all sitting minding our own business when I take off and join up with the barking dogs. I was off like a shot and Uncle Al was shouting by this time and whistling my return......he was mad after just telling me that I had been a good boy all day.  When I got back I got the mother of all tellings off and I knew I had been bad. Uncle Al took me across to the other dogs and I was at close heel and I knew better than to stray towards any other dogs, including the tempting yellow ones, for what my life was worth.  I was very good walking to heel now and Uncle Al said 'good boy' again. He says that I need more experience walking amongst other dogs with the lead off and avoiding the temptation to go near them on pain of death or at least a whack on the chops! The Head Keeper remarked that normally he doesn't see Uncle Al with a dog on the lead and I heard him say that I was a Dalmation with the white spots coloured over to black and he wasn't taking any chances.  What's a Dalmation Mam?  Don't worry Mam, Uncle Al said he was only joking. (I'm hoping?)
Untill I'm cured of my wandering habits towards other dogs I'm told I'd be better off avoiding the beating line. I'd be happier with that anyway cos I can then chase the running birds and catch them without getting a ticking off. (by running birds I mean pheasants and not bitches or gay dogs, especially yellow ones)  ....and just for the record  Uncle Al  said 'stoker' 1098 times and 'heel' or 'get in' 1069 times.  When we got home Aunty Shiela asked how I had got on and Uncle Al said I had the makings of a really good Gundog.  Aunty Shiela said 'good boy' and gave me a biscuit.
I havn't shifted from this cosy basket all night.....if I move somebody else will nick my place.

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