Last week I alluded to the fact that summer was drawing to an end for me. Last Monday Joe, Coach, Bo and I took the day to take the dogs up to the H. Cooper Black Memorial Field Trial and Recreation area in Chesterfield County. This is a public facility run by the state of South Carolina Parks service. It is set up for dog and horse events.
Joe’s family are avid campers and they are constantly checking out state parks. The extent of my exploration of State Parks is going to Huntington Beach State park with the family for a day several times throughout the year. When I read about this recreation area in the Summer 2011 edition of the South Carolina Farmer magazine there was little doubt in my mind that I would be able to get Joe to take the hour and a half drive with me to check it out.
Now, as I’ve said, it’s very seldom that I visit State parks, so I don’t have anything to compare this facility with, however, I was impressed. There were camp sites, and plenty of stables for horses and kennel facilities for dogs. There were numerous horse trails for horse lovers, and well manicured fields to work bird dogs. There were three ponds made specifically to work retrievers.
We were at the facility by nine thirty, and already the summer heat was starting to show its wicked head. We went to one of the training ponds to work the dogs. You are welcome to work your dogs there free so long as the ponds haven’t been reserved. I think activities are slow at the facility in the summer and we nearly had the place to ourselves. If you want to work your dogs there in the fall you may want to call ahead and check to see if the ponds are reserved, and if things are busy you may want to reserve a pond for yourself.
Our poor dogs don’t get worked nearly enough. I green broke all of the dogs, my two and Joe’s as well, so if I talk trash about Joe’s dog please understand that I am not criticizing Joe’s dog, but my work with Joe’s dog. Goldie is shy. If there are people around she refuses to perform. We really do have to work more with her. When Joe takes her to the blind during the season she will retrieve for him, she will also work for Joe if there is no one else around. Again I say, we have to spend more time with her.
Old Cindy Girl, what can I say about my dog. She is what I trained her to be, a duck dog, that’s all, nothing else. I have to work her alone because I never trained her to work with other dogs. She is the queen and she knows it. She refuses to acknowledge the presence of another dog when there is retrieving to be done. She does not acknowledge hand signals because I never took the time to teach them to her. Despite her lack of training, her instincts and keen nose have brought many ducks to hand that would have been lost without her. She is twelve years old now and she doesn’t move as well as she used to. There really was no reason to take her with us, but I did. She is past the point of me training her now, but I knew she would love the ride, and she did enjoy a few water retrieves to cool off.
My Ebony Duchess. Duchess is without a doubt the best dog I have ever trained. You can tell that I have taken more time with her than I have with any other dog I have owned. I worked her on line retrieves and hand signals, but what she seemed to enjoy the most were the water retrieves, I don’t know why, it was only a hundred degrees out there.
The time you can work a dog is limited by their interest. When they loose interest you are wasting your time if you try to continue working them. After we worked the dogs for a short time in the pond, we explored the property. We checked out all the training ponds. We found a pond tucked back in the woods that was extraordinarily beautiful.
We also took some time to fish, or attempt to. All of the ponds are supposed to be stocked with bream, bass, and catfish, and they may be, but it was really the wrong time of the day to fish, and we didn’t get so much as a bite.
Before we left I took a few more minutes for a little more dog work. After we left the state park we went up the road a few miles to McBee before we headed home. South Carolina is second only to California in peach production. It’s peach season and there are lots of peach orchards in McBee, so Joe and I had to get some peaches. Joe put up peach butter and peach jam and he canned some peaches. I ate mine.
On the way home prayers were answered. It started to rain. It rained Monday afternoon, through Monday night and all of Tuesday morning. It was beautiful. It was the best rain we had gotten all summer. Slow, soaking, wonderful rain. By Friday it was dry again. It is now Sunday afternoon as I write and we are getting another wonderful soaking rain. It’s wonderful!
Praise God for the rain! It’s the Briary River Way!