Last week I went with my neighbor to a secluded parcel of farmland where she trains her two dogs. Toby, her 3-year-old lab, is a titled master hunter/retriever, and he takes his occupation seriously. He swam through a pond laden with lily pads and emerged on the opposite shore, running up the grassy hillside. At the sound of his master's whistle, he stopped, pivoted and sat in one smooth motion, giving her his full attention. Her hand signals sent him to the right or left, forward or back until he hunted out the decoy she had hidden in the grass and brought it back to her.
If Toby is serious about his job, Smarty, the 7-month old lab, finds nothing but fun in training. She has the energy of a bronco on steroids, and if Toby out-performed her, it was not for lack of physical ability or desire, but only something that time and patient training will change. Chances are, she'll be a master before long and have a good time getting there.
Smarty and her trainer paused for a moment before we left, just long enough for me to snap this picture of her, wet and happy.