Thursday, October 19, 2017




                                                   





THE POWER OF ONE


                                           
Here we are three weeks into the 2017 quail season and one of our own has not been out yet.

I had Hank on the phone.  I was asking for his email address because I wanted to send him a
photo I'd taken on Opening Day.  Hank* was a camera guy like myself and I knew he would 'appreciate seeing a good action shot, but, I needed his email address, so I could send him the picture. He lives about as far from me as is possible and still be able to say we lived in the same area code.  It is fully an hour and a half, if not closer to a two hour drive between us. So, you can see why I preferred getting his email address.

It had been almost a year since I had last talked with Hank.  We've known each other for years, but we are not close friends.   We are both avid outdoors people, into bird hunting, photography and pointing dogs, just to name a few of the interests we have in common.  I admit that Hank is more accomplished than myself.  Whereas I have self published a book, he has published three.  He has been a professional guide and professional dog trainer forever.  Me, not so much.  Our shared interest in photography was my reason for calling.

I had just picked up a young English Setter and faced the daunting task of training him.  And, let's face it, folks, a dog trainer I am not,  not by inclination nor by aptitude.  I am a stout believer in the "click method" of training, and when that fails or comes up short, going to a pro for help.

This puppy was brought in to replace my eleven year old Setter who was so beset by old age and the ravages of severe arthritis, that his hunting days are probably over.  He was barely able to answer the call last year for limited time seeking out Means.   So, Wilson was to be Peso's replacement.  It was bring in another dog or join Peso on the couch to lay about through our golden years.  I chose to get a puppy who would keep me off the couch and out of doors.  It has been a year, and it has proven to  have been a great decision.

I called Hank because I was fairly certain that I'd need some help along the way in the  training of Wilson and wanted to know if Hank would be amendable to offering his professional services when I found myself stuck.   Well, to my great delight he said, "Yes, be happy to."  It was a short conversation, because I'd caught him in the middle of scouting Sandhill Cranes the day before that season opened.

So, almost a year has passed since our last conversation.  I called him just the other day and asked for his email address.  He said he would send it along just as soon as we ended our conversation.  He said he was looking forward to seeing the picture I was sending him.

Business out of the way, I asked him how he'd done so far this quail season.  I was curious what his take on the bird population might be  and how he had fared to this point. Well,  he started laughing, and it took a minute or two to get himself composed again.

What hank went on to tell me was surreal.   Here was one of the great outdoorsman of my generation who found himself hamstrung and hogtied by the failure of one little number.  It seems that Hank had recently purchased a gun safe to secure his guns.  After at least forty years of hunting, I'm guessing he had acquired a few "favorite" shotguns and rifles.  I'm also guessing he had decided the time had come to secure and provide them safety.  He purchased and had delivered a heavy-duty, metal gun safe of adequate size to hold all of his firearms.  He found a place in his home for the safe and, I'm sure, with a great sigh of satisfaction and relief packed into it his collection of firearms.  He said it was a beauty.  It was keypad operated, requiring a numerical sequence of numbers to be entered into a keypad to unlock the heavy door.

When Hank went to open his gun safe for the very first time, he punched  series of numbers into the keypad only to find that the door failed to unlock.  Not to belabor a point, the more he punched in the numbers, the more the safe wouldn't open.  I'm now in stitches, trying not to wet myself.  I'm laughing, no, I'm howling with laughter.  All the time realizing that Hank is laughing  and dying of embarrassment at the same time relating his dilemma   This went on for several minutes.  We finally stopped.... to get air.  Turns out that one of the numbers on the keypad was dead, nada, nothing.  It wouldn't register when pushed and, of course, it was one of the required sequence.

Imagine, if you can,  Daniel Boone heading into the Alamo without his trusty rifle, or Jim Bowie without his knife., or Michelangelo heading up the scaffold in the Sistine Chapel without his paint brushes.  This is akin to finding Hank gunless with the quail season already two weeks old.  It defies belief.  But it is a true story.  After wiping my tear stained face nearly dry with my tee shirt,  I managed to ask him what he was going to do.

So as not to leave you in limbo, l'll quickly recount the rest of the story:  Hank found that the manufacturer of the safe was willing to send him a new keypad [which they did, and it also failed], but that was as far as they were willing to go.  The retail outlet that sold him the safe said they would give him a replacement safety at no charge when he turned in the defective one.  Well, to do that, he'd have to empty it first.  To do that Hank found it would cost him $200-$300 to have it drilled by pros.  This he had desperately tried to avoid having to do.  Why should he have to spend money to correct a problem not of his making?

When all was said and done, all pleading, cajoling, reasoning, and  logical arguments had been exhausted,  Hank realized that to see any of his firearms again, he was going to have to pay for the privilege.  The call ended shortly thereafter with more laughter.

 The only question left is:  Will Hank take a new safe with a numerical keypad or opt for an older combination controlled safe, or maybe even go for a key locking safe?  Maybe a junkyard dog chained to the house would be the answer.

* Hank is a made up name to protect the the already shredded dignity of  the victim of this unfair treatment by the Fates.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

GETTING THE SHOT


Carry on an interest in photography long enough, inevitably, you will find yourself getting some unexpected and interesting pictures.  I have learned through the years that to get such shots you must be camera-ready, able to spring into instant action,  or you will miss opportunities  that rarely present themselves.   From hard experience, I  learned that being prepared can mean having to have my camera  preset to the available lighting conditions.  It's takes vigilance and living in the present, to always be ready, or the chance can come and go, leaving you wishing.

Another piece of the successful equation to "getting the shot,"  is having a working knowledge of your  subjects.  In my case, that was animals.  The better I understood their behavior, the better I was able to estimate their tolerance to my presence, how close and in what way I could approach, how they tended to move, and when they might take flight, be they a bird or a four legged creature.  Were they solitary creatures,  what time of the day was I most likely to encounter them,  what was their favorite habitat?  Were they migratory?

 Many mammals migrate from higher elevations to lower elevations to avoid harsh winter conditions, Sage Grouse, for instance.  Blue Grouse do the opposite, they migrate from lower to higher elevations with the onset of winter, contrary to what one might think.   Better photography comes from greater knowledge.

Learning to be observant,  to really see,  opens up worlds of opportunity.  With each passing year,  my ability to see has improved, despite my declining vision.  The natural world is fascinating, if we only take the time to see it.  It will never run out of interesting subject matter. Whenever I pick up my camera, I become more alert, observant, and more in the moment.  It has become a habit.

Photography has been an interest for years, an avocation.   But, I could never be confused with a professional.  I have read and conversed with professionals; I am not that. The rest of us have recently been made near equals by the photographic abilities that has been programed into cell phones.    Virtually anyone  can now point and push a button on a cell phone, and with a little luck,  get a result that is acceptable to the masses.  This is largely due to the technology imbedded in our phones.   Be that as it may, the chasm between the cell phone user and a true professional will never be closed.   The computer savvy can alter photos in Light Room and Photoshop,  producing results that were not obtainable by the untrained just ten years ago,  but producing professional work requires more than just computer skills.

Because I was ready and because I was able to anticipate  behavior, I've managed to be there to get pictures  that I would have otherwise missed.  I have caught deer  in mid-jump,  have anticipated Osprey fledging,  and caught hawks making an mid-air kills.  I have managed to get a few good pictures of rising quail that included a hunter and  his pointing dogs all in the same shot.

I'll  end this blog with the mention of a couple photographic experiences that provided humor and unanticipated surprises.  The first involves a photo shoot I undertook here in Tucson.  I found a group of Burrowing  Owls residing in dens in the side of a drainage ditch that ran adjacent to a main thoroughfare.  Golf Links  Blvd. is a major Tucson artery.  It is six lanes wide,  running East to West along Tucson's South side. Beyond the roadway, the the south, lay Davis Montana Air Force
Base.

A friend and I were out with our long lenses to photograph these birds in the early morning light.  We set up laying down, straddling the sidewalk adjacent to Golf Links Blvd.  About fifteen minutes into our picture taking, all hell broke loose.  Suddenly,  in front of us appeared  an Air Force Military Police vehicle.  Its red and blue lights were flashing, and its siren was wailing.  Three Military Police  jumped out, each armed with an M 15.

It took some time to convince them that we were photographing owls and posed no threat to the security of the air base.   Apparently, more than just a few of the morning commuters had phoned the air base,  alerting its personnel to the presence of two possible terrorists pointing cameras cameras at the air base.

An unexpected event  ended another picture taking session.  It occurred when Jim, my photo buddy, and I headed to an area  golf course to photograph ducks.  I had noticed migrating ducks,  almost a dozen different species.  They  were using a small water hole near the 7th green as a rest area during their migration north.

Jim and I were blazing away with our cameras,  while being steadily helled by each new foursome teeing off on this short par three hole.  The water hole lay just short and to the right of the green, not a safe place to be, we learned.    Five or six disgruntled foursomes walked by us being somewhat verbally abusive.  They found perverse   pleasure verbally taking out their lack of golfing skill on us.  It was insult added to potential injury on my score card..


After the sixth foursome rolled through,  I told Jim it was time to remove ourselves.   Being a golfer, and knowing how things work, I knew management would be unhappy to hear of non golfers loose on their turf.   I was right. We met management just as we  crossed into the parking lot.  We exchanged barely cordial salutations as we loaded ourselves and cameras into our vehicle and departed.

On another occasion, Jim and I headed to yet another golf course.  Our mission was a different one from our last one, the duck shoot.   I had recently played this new desert course, Qusil Creek,  and had seen half a dozen coyotes and a goodly number of Jack Rabbits during my round of golf.  Out hope was to photograph both.

 It being July and too hot for golfers to be found  playing mid to later afternoon, I thought we could get on the course to photograph.  We carried our cameras sporting big, long telephoto lenses into the pro shop.  We chatted up the bored-to-tears pro, who, we not only talked  into giving us permission to go out on the course, but talked  into letting us borrow one of his golf carts at no charge.  It turned  out to be an afternoon to remember.  Best Jack Rabbit photo session we've ever experienced.  We got "the shot" many times through  our use of a little knowledge, a little luck, and at the cooperation of a friendly and accommodating  assistant golf pro.

I have been in Montana with a first-time, visiting friend whom I had invited to come north to hunt Huns, only to  drive him crazy.  We were supposed to be bird hunting  but too often I would put aside my shotgun in favor of my camera.   But that's another story for another time.

I have found photography to be fun, informative, a thinking man's challenge, a very worthwhile avocation, an activity that can be engaged in for as long as one likes, from an early to a grand old age.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

NO KANGAROOS IN AUSTRIA


 It was to be a riverboat cruise on a Viking Longship.   It was an invasion of Europe starting in Amsterdam and ending in Budapest.  Prague, with its marvelous architecture, was added as a trip book end, and it was a great one!  The trip itself was a 18 day cruise with extra nights allocated to better cover Amsterdam, Vienna, Nuremberg, and Prague.

After years of coaxing, Connie was able to get me to agree to take a trip to Europe. It was a trip  through five countries with dockings in 15 cities.   We took in many great museums, churches, monuments,  seeing exceptional examples of several styles of architecture, covering nearly a thousand years.

 By inclination, I have not been a person who seeks or desires to take in urban activities.  The idea of traveling through Europe on a a "culture crawl" held little initial appeal, but I took the plunge.   I enjoyed myself more than I thought possible.  I loved the trip and would repeat it,  or take another like it tomorrow. 

We started in Amsterdam, staying two nights at the Radison, in the heart of the "walking" area of  Amsterdam.  It is a beautiful city  with its  interesting architecture,  great museums, seemingly endless history,  and a canal system that enhances any walk through the city"s colorful streets.  Bicycles are plentiful and have the right of way, requiring pedestrians to keep one eye roving defensively at all times.

Amsterdam residents,  like most European,  do more walking  than do Americans.  Due to the much higher cost of fuel, cars, lack of parking, and the narrow, winding streets in these old cities it is easy to understand why.  Public transportation is more widely available and more utilized  than in the States.  Connie and I rode  the subway systems in Vienna and Prague extensively, skipping the provided for,  but scheduled shuttle.  Subways are fast, clean, efficient, and easily get one within a short walk of to virtually any corner of the city it serves.  What can't be walked to can be reached readily by public transportation.

Following  Amsterdam, we boarded our riverboat.  It would be 18 days before we'd have to pack again.  We traveled on three rivers, the Rhine, the Main, and the Danube, all the way to Budapest.   We stopped at 15 cities, taking in the local sights of each.  We crossed central Europe's continental divide.  We negotiated 67 locks in the course of our trip.  The travel was so smooth that you couldn't tell if the boat was moving, was  moored dockside,  or being raised or lowered in one of the locks.

Viking Longhips are architectural marvels.  Like all boats that ply these rivers,  from ore boats to cruise ships, they are built low to the water.  This is necessary because of the low clearance tolerances  of the many ancient bridges that span these waters.   Viking's ships are 30' wide and 443' long.  They carry 190 guests in 95 staterooms.  There is never a feeling of being crowded.  They have 4 decks and a Library.  The dining room and enclosed lounge have floor to ceiling windows.   The food and ship's staff are absolutely first rate.  Wine and beer are provided gratis at both lunch and dinner.            

The glass enclosed lounge is spacious,  the floor to ceiling windows  provide excellent  viewing.   It is an extremely comfortable and popular place from which to take in the travel sights. There is a small open-air deck at the front of the ship. There are three or four days when the upper deck is closed  because even a sitting person would be peeled off the deck passing under the Main River's low spans.  Clearance under some the older bridges is just a matter of inches.  At times of heavy rains, the river can be too high to float under these bridges,  necessitating a holdover in place until the waters subside.  Interesting.   The upper deck was an extremely pleasant place  to spend onboard time.  The view was unimpeded in both directions, up and down river. 

A shuttle or bus  would take us on daily nearby  sightseeing tours,  or drop us at nearby sights, to be seen on foot.  Knowledgable guides were provided to inform us about whatever the subject of each day's tour was.  It was the rare day that we didn't have the afternoons to do with as we saw fit, even after a morning of guided sight seeing.  We spent our afternoons further exploring on foot or expanding our walking area. There was always time for shopping and time for a coffee and a pastry taken at an outside  table of a local cafe. 

A marvelous trip with none of the hassles that come when a traveler has to pack and unpack frequently,  searching out dining and lodging facilities.  Not having to sort out travel routes, places to eat, or working out time and distance problems, or finding available gasoline, all make river cruising very comfortable and relaxing.

I spent my waking hours with camera in hand.  I took bazillions of photos and spent considerable  time each day culling them.  I ended the trip with 322 photos.  I was a rarity.  I only saw a half dozen full-sized cameras during our  trip.   Cell phones have virtually replaced  cameras.  Even the groups of Japanese I saw were all using cell phones to take pictures.   With the latest built-in photo  capability, the totally inept cell phone owner can and does get very acceptable results.   I may  join them when my current camera wears out, and they do wear out.  Cell phone cameras produce reasonable photos  and these can be sent to Facebook, family, or friends within seconds of being taken, with notes and commentary added.   We live in a world of immediacy,  and nothing is more immediate than sharing your trip experience with others in real time.  I would no longer have to wrestle with my computer, reason enough to go it alone with my cell phone.

I would and do recommend river boating as a very enjoyable means of travel.  It's made a convert of me.  And,  river cruises are fast growing to be available in many countries around the world.  The possibilities are seemingly endless.  Get started

This seems the place to mention an observed difference  between Americans  and Europeans: Americans tend to think anything two hundred years old is old, really old.   Europeans, on the other hand,  think two hundred miles is a very long distance.  







Friday, April 28, 2017

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT





                                       


 I first heard the word Ishkabibble in the telling of a poem that was recited around an evening campfire.   I was 10,  attending summer camp  in northern Wisconsin.   We campers were turning marshmallows into flaming orbs of molten sugar,  that when partnered with a piece of  Hershey's chocolate and a Grahm Cracker became s'mores.   That I can remember hearing the word ishkabibble while in the throes of creating this heavenly treat,  gives testimony to its impact.  It makes a strong  impression. Once heard, it is hard to forget.

I was in my early 30's, driving west across southern Ontario with my  pregnant wife and first born when I came in contact with this word for the second time.  It was written on an old, weathered board serving as the name of a very narrow, small,  creek that wound through a nondescript, plain-looking grass field.  The stream was in the middle of nowhere.  Much to my wife's surprise, I skidded to a stop, leaped out and I grabbed the sign.  Yup, uprooted the whole thing and threw it in the back of our old Ford station wagon, and took off in a shower of dust like the thief I had just become.  Powerful word to the ear and a strong influence via the eye as well.

Where did that word come from?  Where is it from and what does it mean?  I have finally decided to find out.  When I first encountered this word,  ishkabibble, there were no computers, no internet.  Many years have passed, and now  finger-fast fonts of information exist for quick research.  I was on the job in a nanosecond looking for answers.

 I looked it up.  There is a surprising amount written about this word, but it all adds up to very little.  It is the name of a San Francisco restaurant.  It was taken as a stage name by an American comedian/ coronet player who lived 1908-1994.  He, more than anyone,  put the word in the public's eye, ear, and  into the public vocabulary.

 There have been a few attempts at defining this word,  and the consensus is that ishkabibble actually has no definition.  It has been described as a mock Yiddish word, but is not a Yiddish word.  This description goes on to say that the word is used to describe the indescribable,  and is used when there is no more to say.  That said, Ishkabibble shows up on many word lists.  Among the more interesting  lists are:  the Pseudorandom list, the Whimsical Word Waggery list, Slackagogo's word list, and Logodaedalus' Lexical Locutionary list.
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Perhaps, the most defining characteristic of this word is that it is not recognized as a valid Scrabble game word!  That about seals it!  Ishkabibble  is not an accepted word, it has no definition, no place of origin, no meaning,  means nothing and  yet, remains in use.  Imagine, not good enough to be accepted by Scrabble.  Still, I find it a marvelous word and I am happy that it still lives.

My most recent occasion to use the word occurred  just a couple of years ago.  A fishing friend and I had the good fortune to fish two spectacular trout streams, taken to them by a Canadian friend who had access and was intimately familiar with both of them.   I gave my word that I would not give them up, never speak their names aloud.

Being a rather chatty character, I realized that it would take Draconian self discipline not to divulge the names of these rivers, by accident or otherwise in some future conversation.  I solved the problem by assigning them pseudo  names, names that would protect their actual identities.

The first I name the  Ishkabibble.  It was too perfect.   For the second stream, I chose Sparnfarkle as my substitute name.  It is a German word.   At least in central Wisconsin it is.  Sparnsfarkle is a large  party-sized BBQ on wheels, usually hired to cater a  lawn party or large family gathering.  The one I attended, where I learned the word,  came with a cooked-to-perfection  pig,  complete with apple in mouth.   The trailer had its own serving sideboard and the owner carved and served the pig.  Outrageously good pork, and quite an impressive operation was this Sparnfarkle.

 I have spoken about these to magnificent trout streams many times to fly fishers and others without ever having broken my promise to never reveal their names.   By giving each a substitute name, I have succeeded in protecting them by hiding them in plain sight.  And with their unique pseudo names, it is unlikely that I will ever  forget them or the great fishing I shared on them with good friends.

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE TOILET WARS

                                           

                                       
.

I have been busy doing household chores.  I have dusted our 20' beamed living room ceiling with my own  concocted apparatus.  It removes otherwise unreachable spider webs from  the rough-sawn, planked under side of the ceiling and the support beams.   It negates having to use scaffolding, saving time, money, and huge inconvenience.  I also use this rig to remove lint buildup  in our clothes dryer vent pipe.   Cleaning the vent from the roof reduces the chance of inline fires and keeps the dryer operating efficiently, saving time and money.

Clearly, there are a multitude of other once a year jobs I've done that I won't bore you with.  Who wants to hear about under-the bed dust bunnies, defrosting the freezer, etc.?  There is one other job I undertook that merits mentioning, however.  Actually, there are several of them.

I have come to the reason for this blog.  That is share with everyone who has fought in the  toilet wars.

 Our house has four toilets.  Two checked out fine, one needed a minor water level adjustment and, then, there was the fourth, the rarely used one.  When I checked it, it clearly was holding its water by sheer force of will alone.  The flapper had been tortured by age and chemicals to be almost unrecognizable   I new flapper needed to be installed.   No problemmo.


Change the old flapper for a new one, and all will be right with the world.  It is the end of the second day and all may be right with the world,  [assuming you are in 100%  agreement with our President and your team advanced to the Sweet 16],  but my toilet is still nonfunctional.  After hitting two different hardware stores,  plus Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe's without finding the proper replacement flapper, I changed course and spent an hour ranting to friends by email.

 The five stores  were visited over the course of three different road trips, the shortest being a six mile round-tripper.  I was guaranteed by two different hardware store plumbing gurus that the flapper each handed me was the proper one.   Wrong.  Twice, after me explaining the nature,  shape, style and nasty demeanor of my problem child, I was assured that I'd been handed the right flapper.  [I even showed the wrinkled old one to no avail].

The offending toilet is a Kohler.  I finally found a Korky made Kohler replacement flapper that did not fit my toilet, but it did provide four pictures of different toilets on the back of the packaging card with pictures of their water towers and the proper flapper part number.  One of those pictures matched  mine and provided the part number.  The problem was that none of the five stores carried that  part numbered flapper.  I finally gave up, called my wife in Denver and asked her to order two of the flappers made by Korky that were made to fit my particular  Kohler toilet.  I'll will have it in two or three days.  It should take all of 20 seconds to install it. Assuming it is the right one!

That ends the flapper caper.  I won't tell you about the spraying stop-cock that had held its water for 15 or 20 years, right up until I turned it off,  at which point it hemorrhaged water until I shut the water main line to the entire house off.  That I installed on the first try, after changing into dry clothes and mopping the bathroom floor.

Since I seem to be into toilets, it occurs to me that other males might enjoy my run-ins with toilets past.  [My rant email written yesterday elicited strong responses from several friends, so I think there is an angst that I tapped into by sharing with others.  I think most males have a story of their participation in the toilet wars, but haven't found a way to share it with others.

My first bad potty experience occurred when I was an undergraduate living in an old, old rented home.  I perched on the throne one morning and ended up on the floor.  Apparently, my toilet had leaked long enough to entirely rot out the hardwood floor upon which it had once been bolted.  It took  threats to my land lord to notify the health department [which got no action] and, finally, the promise of not another rent check until the toilet was up and running to  get some action.  In the two weeks it took to get a working toilet, I became  well acquainted with my next door neighbor.

Exactly eighteen years ago, and I remember this because as I was paying over $20,000 per year to have my now 36 year old daughter attend a small Liberal Arts College.  I had a professional plumber out to set a wobbly toilet in a bathroom with a Saltillo tile floor.  I had to call him back out. He had not removed the wobble and had to start over to get it right.

I mentioned my daughter's tuition.  Upon Bozo's departure I wrote a rant email to a friend saying my daughter should quit school and become a plumber immediately.  It was unlikely that she would ever equal what a plumber made annually, even with a college degree.  She wasn't big on dress wearing anyway.

When the environmental movement started,  I chose to replace my toilets with low-flow models.  I somehow managed to get three mounted over their wax rings.    The fourth one didn't go so well.  It was the one in the Saltillo tile bath.  After crushing three wax rings I stood up and stated aloud,  "I know how to mount this SOB" and proceeded to smash it on the bathroom floor.  My wife, who had been watching my efforts  and I both walked out of the bathroom without another word being uttered...ever, about that toilet job.  It was two or three days later that I called the pro out to mount a new toilet I had waiting for him.  And he screwed it up on his first try.

The last story was relayed to by a friend who replied to the rant email I sent out yesterday.  He stated that he had problem with his toilets not flushing completely.  To solve his problem, he had pressure tanks installed and had no further problems with inadequate flushing.  BUT... the manufacturer of the pressure  tanks notified him and others who had installed them in their toilets that several had blown up!   So,  Jim has in the back of his mind the possibility that one day one of his toilets may explode, soaking his house, water damaging who knows how much in the way of flooring and furnishings.  Now,  that just isn't right.  It is hilarious because the very idea is insane and it ain't gonna happen to me, but, really, it just isn't right.

For all the technological gadgets available today, with push button control of our house lights, ovens,  sound systems, garage doors, no matter the distance from home, that we can be held hostage by a potentially exploding toilet is beyond the pale.  Really.

The very idea that the Throne, that sanctum sanctum is no longer a safe place to sit quietly, to read, to hide, to avoid facing the day,  to dawdle is just unacceptable construct.  It's not right!




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

RENEWING THE CHALLENGE




                                            RENEWING THE CHALLENGE

 I picked up an eight week old English Setter puppy two weeks ago. Getting Wilson at the perfect age and avoiding the cost and stress of shipping him in was almost serendipitous.   It took only a week to find this puppy.   Wilson shares much the same DNA as my ten year old,  Peso.   An old shoulder injury, with its resulting arthritis,  has slowed Peso considerably.  Wilson was brought onboard to maintain continuity.

 Raising and training a young dog is a real challenge for me. The problem lies in me choosing to be its trainer.  I am easily distracted and have a short attention span.  They had no name for this  when I was a kid.    Today it is defined as ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder.  Thats me, in spades, and  it hasn't dissipated with age.

 I have trained only a few dogs over the years.  Each has been very challenging for me.    Each puppy has tested my lack of patience, focus, and short attention span.   To compensate,  I try to zero in on the essential commands required to to train up a puppy into a birddog.   The commands Whoa and Here are musts.  These two commands can literally save a dogs life.  I rely on  the click method for Hunt Dead, and teach running pattern afield.  No problem.   I have avoided  force-breaking to retrieve entirely.    I don't feel comfortable taking on that responsibility.

Generally speaking, well bred bird dogs train up easily.  Some people, on the other hand, don't.  Im one of the don'ts.  The trick to training is to give a young dog as much  experience on live, wild  birds as possible, and stay out of its way.  The breeding and lots of experience will sort things out between a young dog and birds.  The rest is just basic discipline training.

 The art of training a bird dog is instilling sufficient direction and control without interfering with the birding instinct that came in the puppy. It is a balancing act.  Less is more.  It is certainly preferable to leave a little slack in a dog than to make too many training mistakes.  Mistakes create a confused dog, and a confused dog may require a professional trainer to spend months unraveling mistakes made by an inexperienced owner/trainer.   I have read and heard from several trainers:  Given a choice, I would much prefer to train the owner rather than his dog.  Many professionally trained dogs become quickly untrained when returned to inexperienced owner/handlers.

 It is hard for me to stay disciplined and consistent long enough to get a dog trained as well as a professional could do the job.  I willingly  accept that difference.  My puppies and I have learned from each other,  about each other, and by the end of the training process,  and have become a team.   Neither of us is perfect, but we are nearly perfect for each other.

 My dogs  have been happy dogs and I have been happy to follow them.  For me, it is far more enjoyable and satisfying watching my dogs do what they love and were bred to do, run with style, locate and point birds.  The opportunity to photograph this dog/bird interaction, trying to get the rare wall-hanger, is why I still go afield.   Being out afield with your best buddy, walking, involved in the magic that occurs between dog and bird,  is what makes putting ourselves through the training process so very worthwhile.

 Wilson and I are starting a grand new adventure in both our lives.  We both look forward to it.