Category Archives: Training

Boykin Fun Day

Last weekend we had the awesome opportunity to truck it down to Gainesville, Florida to visit my brother-in-law and his wonderful girlfriend as well as combine the trip with a Boykin Fun Day being sponsored at the wonderful Watermelon Pond Plantation in Archer, Florida—about 20 minutes west of Gainesville.

While Boykins are South Carolina’s state dog, they’re growing in popularity out of state with their ability to hunt both waterfowl (Samson’s job) and upland. So it was pleasantly odd to be outnumbered by Floridian Boykin owners! Kate Boulos, owner of Watermelon Pond Planatation and lifelong English Setter breeder/trainer, offered such a wonderful day and use of her land. Over 400 acres set aside just for hunting—it was the most beautiful quail hunting land I’ve seen. Being the granddaughter of a pointer/setter trainer and avid upland bird hunter, it was a wonderful place to draw on memories and scenes of my granddad growing up.

Samson hit so many milestones this day! We started the day’s events on his check cord because my little guy will NOT leave a body of water once he has entered. As witnessed when he ran straight for the pond and delayed the clay shoot/bumber retrieve event until we finally had to set out in a row boat to retreive my dog! However, the beauty of the day was it was for fun. So once we completed the clay shoot/bumber retrieve times, you could spend the rest of the day at that pond if desired—or continue on to time the other events. We opted to spend some decent time at the pond.

If I can backtrack a minute, Samson’s recent stubborness in training, mostly from  boredom because the breed is so smart, led me to regroup with clicker training and goldfish. However, we’d only just charged him on a clicker the day before we left. So intermittently we’d been using it as it made sense but we were also traveling and out of his routine so not too worried if he wasn’t responding.

Back to our pond training. He fell in love on his check cord with his water retreives. He’d get a slight tug at point of retrieval to prompt his turn back on the whistle blow and by 4 retreives in, no more tugs were needed. He’d spin around and start coming back, holding his bumper all the way in. Remembering I had extra goldfish in my pocket just incase, the next two retreives in—still on cord—I’d lure in his return and hold with a goldfish. Much interest gained. The next mark and retreive thereafter was succesfully completed with no check cord. Completely responded on whistle (and some goldfish).

And he stayed so hungry for more. All the light bulbs went off for my little Samson in Florida on Saturday. He finally understood what all those yard drills were about and how much fun the end product can be. I can’t wait to see his excitement when he’s pulling ducks in instead of bumpers.

With us both working dogs, very few pictures if any were taken Saturday by us—but we should be getting some soon from a photographer that was on hand that day to capture some great moments. I’ll post anymore if I get these. But here is Samson flat worn out after his big retreives.


A Boykin’s Journey (and mine)

While we finish our kitchen cabinet project—final pictures coming very soon—we also recognized our big-hearted, little brown Boykin, Samson passed a new milestone this week seeing his 6 month birthday.

I know 6 months sounds silly but as a new Boykin owner, I’ve been just amazed at his personality and progress. Only being able to compare to Labs before this—and my Beaufort was even such a laid back Lab—but Samson’s ability to listen and roll with the punches at his early age impresses me. Maybe that’s just a common Boykin trait, and if so, I’m a fan.

I started his training Richard Wolters style at 7 weeks and he took to his obedience commands and whistle training like a champ. But as time came to start working on basic retrieve concepts, it coincided with his awful teething. I never noticed teething as much with my Lab—partly because I was younger, maybe even because they’re larger dogs, also I didn’t work my Lab like I am Samson. But his teeth were bad and really put a hold on his overall training. I opted to not push the issue and give a break on his training rather than risk bad training experiences for him—especially at the retrieving portion.

As we rounded out the duck season and have now begun a solid month of serious house renovations, this all kinda timed itself well. We have an official countdown for Samson—27 more days—and training will get ramped up for him. After a good week or so of confidence building and reminding him what he knows, I’m going to set him up a fetch table to work on his holds. He loves to retrieve and he’s birdy as all get out but needs to learn in the bigger picture, it’s not a game of keep away. He’ll only be retrieving what I grant him and must return it to me. So hopefully with some focused but simple work in this department, we can make that connection before going back to retrieving work.

Any other Boykin owners experience a similar reaction at this point?

Here are some pictures of him growing up since coming home last September.

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Our next big piece of news, that’s we’ve been patiently awaiting, is the arrival of our newest family member Samson!

Samson comes from Dovewood Kennel—a wonderful Boykin breeder and gun dog trainer who has been exclusively working with the breed for over 20 years. I’ve never bred dogs, nor do I plan too, but while growing up as a child and watching my grandfather, his brothers, and close friends work and train Pointers, I’ve certainly come to appreciate and respect the hard—and proper work—that goes into well-bred, healthy, hunting dogs.

So we welcome Samson home at 6 weeks with a fantastic personality full of curiosity, independence, and drive as he prepares to start school next week. I hope to bring you some updates on how he progresses with his training and retrieving! And for all of you that know our Moultrie—he has become an excellent big brother over night!

Black Dog Birthday Cake

Two years ago today, our black dog was born to a precious litter we found out of Kingstree. My husband, being an avid duck hunter all his adult life, was ready to train his own hunting partner. We piled in the car, along with my brown dog so he could meet the little pup, and drove upstate. Choosing was easy, as there was only one black male available and we were sold. He was only three weeks old that day and we’d have to wait another three weeks to come back for him. And once we did it was game on. That little black was so full of life and spunk and still is today. He got one week of solid play and adjustment to his new digs and started training the next week. Each week adding new skills and learning new tactics.

To watch him hunt today is so inspiring. It reminds you on slow days when there’s barely a duck in the sky, that you gotta stay in it because he is. His hind legs twitch at the sight of birds flying by wishing they were ducks…and that we’d killed them. And don’t think he doesn’t know what it means when the alarm clock goes off at 3 or 4 am for a morning hunt. My husband has worked with a few close cousins and been active in the training practices and hunts using their dogs. He’s pooled lots of research, taken notes and observations along the way, and made adjustments where needed truly in line with the art of training a retriever and I couldn’t be more proud of his practice and the end result.

I didn’t grow up in a predominately duck hunting family, but bird dogs nonetheless. The focus being on quail, dove, and pheasant. My dad’s dad was an amazing bird dog trainer working mostly with pointers. Growing up with my older brother, we had a set of cousins our same age and each our own bird dogs. The boys had the boy dog—Tony, and the girls had the girl dog—Angel. What else did you expect? We got to help our granddad work with his own dogs running quail scent from wings tied to fishing poles and keeping the dogs at point. Talk about something amazing to watch was the way my granddad had such a connection with these dogs and shared such an intuitive common goal with them. My dad always like to share a great story capitalizing on the legend surrounding these dogs my grandfather produced. It reminds me a lot of that scene in The Notebook, after Noah re-finishes the house and the buyer offers him $10,000 more than his asking price. Noah refuses the sell because “He must be plain crazy to pay all the money and I’m not selling my house to a crazy person” or something along those lines…In the 1960s, some gentleman showed up at my grandfather’s house in a brand new Cadillac offering it as payment for one of his bird dogs. And in the same fashion, my dad said my grandfather’s response was, “I can’t do anything with a Cadillac.” And he continued training pointers until he no longer could.

So tonight we celebrate our black dog’s second of many birthdays, and another season of hard work with a homemade birthday cake! I’ve never made this recipe before but have made other dog treat recipes from one of my favorite books ever; Country Wisdom & Know-How, Everything You Need to Know to Live off the Land. A gift from my brother and sister-in-law, it’s always within hand’s reach at our house.

Here’s the recipe for Best Friend Birthday Cake and Frosting:

2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2/3 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup carob chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. Combine all above ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into your pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, roughly 25 minutes. Allow cake to cool before frosting.

1 8 oz package low fat cream cheese
1/4 cup mashed bananas
2 tablespoons pure honey
1 tablespoon unbleached flour
1/2 cup carob chips

In medium sized bowl, combine cream cheese, bananas, honey, and flour; mix until smooth. Spread a thin layer of frosting onto the cooled cake. Sprinkle carob chips over frosting to decorate.

And if you’re wondering, both dogs devoured their cake and are sound asleep as I type.