The Pirate Chessie.

If I ever had any doubts that size and strength are an asset when it comes to dogs working water it was put to rest on Tuesday morning.

The Chessie Pirate, Mossy

The Chessie Pirate, Mossy

We have being taking advantage of the heatwave currently sitting over our small island of Ireland and every chance we get Elly and I will head for the beach with some fourlegged friend. This morning we took Mossy.

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Now, I have an unwritten rule when it comes to beach walks here….if a dog and owner approaching are free running their dog then I allow mine the same freedom. I have spent too many walks when Elly was small having my dogs under control, walking to heel and sit-staying while yelling at a distant dog owner to call up their dog as my own dogs have to endure some posturing male. So beach walks now for my dogs are more about meeting other dogs, interacting and moving on.

The beach is wind-down time for my dogs...

The beach is wind-down time for my dogs…

So as we made our way back along the waterline on Tuesday morning a middle-aged couple  coming towards us were running their two Labradors. They were having a grand old time running in and out of the water in pursuit of the dummy their owner was flinging into the waves as they walked.

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He had given them a generous headstart.

They were about 70 meters away when Mossy spotted the last throw, it landed about 50 meters out in the frothy water. Without hesitation the Labradors dived in after it through the waves  but this time they were about to have some extra competition.

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On seeing the throw Mossy ran the beach to where the owners stood and without breaking stride plunged through the chest deep water after the two dogs who by now  had a twenty meter head start and were closing in on that red dummy fast.

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His acceleration through the water made it look like the Labradors were simply threading water as this big brown thug churned through the waves, overtook them, retrieved the dummy, swam over them on his return and ran back towards me with his booty. 

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As I walked towards the owners to return that red dummy we looked at each other and then we looked at the three dogs milling round our legs and then we looked out at the waves and in unison we all said WOW!! that was some retrieve.

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I spent much of last weekend watching some fantastic Labradors competing at the CLA gamefair in Blenheim palace and with all due respect they are incredibly fast, agile and athletic on land work. I have read countless threads on forums over the years in relation to whether size and strength is better than lighter and more agile and perhaps again on land faster and fleeter of foot possibly has an advantage but water and in particular heavy water changes all the rules as I witnessed on Tuesday morning…..even I was surprised 🙂

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My Perfect Chesapeake.

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I want the perfect Chesapeake….or I think I do.

From the moment he is born,( and he will be a ‘He’ so I don’t have to worry about seasons and cycles), he will know that he exists purely to please and obey me. But I also want that independent thinking type of dog that will work unaided when I need him to hunt for a bird in darkness or beyond a bank of reeds.

I want him to have the power, stamina and energy to endure the coldest hunting days in Winter, take on the toughest water and face the hardest cover. But in his off-time he will drop like a stone before the fireplace and lie quietly for hours until asked to come forward and do my bidding once more.
I want him as a protector of my home so he will be strong and confident in his masculinity. But I also want him to love and trust all people so we can sit amiably with other male Chesapeakes as we share our picnic blankets around the show rings in summer.

In the show ring he will be poetry in motion, everything which the breed standard asks for and more; all those specific breed points such as ear set and shape, tail carriage and the absence or presence of white spots that are so infuriatingly hard to get right will be perfect in my perfect dog…. He will drop his heavy winter coat on the last day of shooting season and grow in a new thick full coat in time for the start of the show season at Crufts, this he will obligingly retain all through the hot days of Summer.

He will pass every health check I subject him to, even the ones that haven’t been invented yet…he will have excellent hips and elbows, clear for PRA and clear for hereditary cataracts, have a perfect set of teeth, be DM clear, EIC clear, Cardiac clear, Long coat gene not a carrier and even though many of the bitches that come his way will have more than a blemish or two on their health sheet only his perfect set of genes will pass on to all his perfect progeny….

He will be born to the whistle, there will be no battles on the training field as to whether my eyes are better than his nose but when I take him to work on the shooting field I want his nose to work better when my eyes fail to be able to pinpoint a bird that sails over a bank of gorse or swims through a curtain of reeds.

I want him to have a high bird drive so that he will work and hunt tirelessly for birds day after day and hour after hour in Winter but he will be able to control that high level of energy in complete silence as we wait in line for a drive to end at a field trial…and then only when asked to do so he will unleash all of that power and pent up energy in a single dead straight line, ignoring wind direction and terrain and only follow the line of my hand to the fall of the specific bird I have asked him to retrieve. But I also want him to be able to cover vast tracts of ground when I need him to find numerous birds in hard to reach areas after a drive so he must know to use the wind and quarter into it without being asked.

His love for canvas dummies will equal his love for finding game so that I can carry on the fun of competing with him in working test competitions throughout the summer months. He will never show his distaste for being asked to retrieve such menial objects, in hot weather, with full coat by peeing on the dummy thrower or dropping the dummy just short of my hand….

He will be everything our society asks for in a dog, never poop on pavements, never square up to another dog that invades his bodyspace in the park but will just turn the paw  and walk away, will only chase squirrels and rabbits in designated areas, (and when they have a sporting chance), and will never ever  chase livestock. He will know only to retrieve tennis balls and training dummies and will never bring back roadkill or roll in… ahem….very mature dead seagulls or foxpoo.

And even though me and my life are often chaotic, disordered and I make very many mistakes my perfect dog never will.
….And as I run my hand over his perfect Chessie head and gaze into those perfect shaped eyes I realise that the dog gazing back at me is no longer a Chesapeake, that somewhere along the way in pursuit of perfection I will have lost much more than I will have gained  and  I will have learned too late that part of the genius and joy of owning this breed is that they are simply PERFECT in their IMPERFECTIONS.

Enjoy your dogs for who and what they are and not what you envision them to be.