Well it has been a crazy week around my house. My wife Lacey and I recently welcomed home our very first bird dog, an English Setter named Hartley. Needless to say it has been an extremely eventful week but I don’t think either of us could be any happier with our decision to invite the little monster into our home permanently.
Hartley was born on June 13th and as such was eight weeks old to the day when we brought him home on August 8th. At just over nine weeks old now, I have been so impressed with Hartley as a pup, granted I am a rookie bird dog owner so this should be taken with a grain or two of salt. Nonetheless, Hartley is a fantastic looking dog and so far he’s showing all of the instincts I would hope to see in a pup of this age. He’s shown confidence and curiosity in all environments, quick learning aptitude, and wonderful resilience. For all of that, I owe a big thank you to Jerry and Betsy at Northwoods Bird Dogs in Sandstone Minnesota. Check out their website at Northwoodsbirddogs.com and see for yourself. They’ve done a fantastic job breeding their dogs and the experience they provide to the customer left my wife and I feeling we made the right decision all along. We of course, were uncertain of the process and had many questions along the way. Both Jerry and Betsy were responsive to our concerns, very informative and they helped us feel comfortable at each step in the process. Again, I can’t thank them enough and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in English Setters or Pointers. Hartley will be going back to them in November to receive some additional bird work after he’s spent a couple of months in the woods with me this fall.
As I’m sure many of you could have guessed… this week has been a learning experience! My hands are certainly full with a nine week old pup but it’s been an adventure that I’ll never forget. I’ve been doing my best to stay focused with the basics like house training, crate training and taking lots of pictures, after all they’re only puppies for so long and I want to remember this fun and exciting time. So far this week, we’ve made great strides in both house and crate training. Both Hartley and I are learning each other’s routines and becoming more comfortable with daily life around the house, although Hartley is still under the impression that every object within his reach is ultimately his own personal chew toy. It’s so fun to watch a puppy on both ends of the energy spectrum in such a short period of time. Running around, following you everywhere, nothing but playtime one minute; sprawled out, on his back, feet in all different directions and sound asleep the next minute. Ahh the joys of puppy life!
Being that this is my first bird dog and I’ve been anxiously awaiting his homecoming ever since I made my deposit last October, I could not resist the opportunity to see the little guy give me a sneak peek at his natural abilities which I hope to enjoy for years to come! One day last week, I took him out to the back yard where I had conveniently set aside my St Croix fishing pole, only I had replaced the usual jig on the end of the line with a grouse wing I had saved from the previous hunting season. Immediately, Hartley was interested in this new toy and of course began chasing it back and forth as I flipped it over his head before he could catch it. He continued this for about sixty seconds or ten flips of the wing until nature and selective breeding took over and he absolutely froze in a most amazing puppy point! I was immediately filled with excitement and satisfaction as I watched my young pup display the natural instinct we so very much desire as pointing dog owners. My wife was quick with the camera so we could both remember this moment and so I could share it here. I must say Hartley is a fine-looking English Setter on point and I can’t wait to see him develop and hone this ability. Quickly the wing was put away and Hartley was overtaken by an intense desire to locate his now hidden quarry. His nose searched high and low for some time until I distracted him with another toy and he seemed to snap out of a trance and return to his normal self. I know enough not to put much stock into a puppy sight pointing a wing, but regardless, Hartley did show me something that he does not display on an everyday basis and it was extremely fun to watch his instincts take over.
Hartley and I have a long journey ahead of us, but I look forward to each day and each individual adventure we share together. We plan to keep everyone up to date with our pups’ progression this season. Be sure to stay tuned to NorthwoodsR.com as the fall season gets underway. Garrett and I will be bringing you weekly updates and bird reports from our adventures, mainly in Northern Minnesota. Let us know if you’ll be out there in the woods with us! Garrett and I are always open to sharing a craft beer or two with our fellow sportsmen and sportswomen!