Rescuing The Wild Goose.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper.
We start out in early summer of 2020, I had finally finished putting the finishing touches and polishing off Tess the springer spaniels training, Tess is my Dad’s dog, I did try training Dad too but as the old saying goes, you just cannot teach and old dog new tricks, this is certainly the case in my Dad’s case, this was almost two years since I had lost Brook my baby girl to cancer, I just did not have it in me to have another dog.
Tess filled the empty gap in my heart for a time, but she was my Dad’s dog not mine, if you want to read about Brook article here.
She was one of the most written about, photographed and filmed working dogs on the planet, so there are literally hundreds of articles etc to give you a chance to get to know Ole Brook, may I suggest you start with her final article the once that celebrates the best dog that has ever owned me, also the dog that captured the hearts of everyone she met, especially the Young Sports she helped train, but be warned have a toilet roll or a box of tissues handy for the tears will flow, I am welling up now just thinking about her.
Two years after I lost Brook, Tess had gone part way into mending my broken heart, I started to feel ready once again to have my own dog in my life, each day I stare out of the office window looking across the farm seeing people walk their dogs, the yearning to have another kept getting stronger and stronger, I suppose its like when a woman feels broody, yes that was it I was a broody ole hen, although I still feel all my long gone dogs spirits walking beside me it was just not the same.
I had this dream one night, all I can say it was spiritual, all my dogs were there looking at me over the rainbow bridge, out of the mist strode a little Cocker spaniel being sent forward, the little bundle sat in the middle of the bridge and just looked at me, I awoke in a cold sweat the dream so vivid in darkness, I did not go to sleep any more that night and as I lay there I watched the sun come up.
I went down to see my neighbor who is also the Pass It On Young Sports Secretary to the organisation that I head up, I told here of my dream over a mug of tea and proper farmhouse buttered toast, she just laughed at me and said I was going bonkers, now hurry up we have a lot of emails and paper work to get through and a range night to organize, but I just could not get that dream out of my head, were my spirits telling me something, I felt something was waiting to happen but id not know what, by sheer accident or spiritual guidance I have no Idea what.
I was looking for a website for a client of mine and then well just stumbled across Buddy’s Rural Rescue, I don’t know why I clicked on the website but I was just drawn to it, blow me over it was for re homing working dogs, I found myself forgetting about everything else and writing and email via their contacts page, as the tale goes on its gets much spookier than this I telle, a lovely lady called Judy got back to me, she did not have anything in that was suitable for me, I have never rescued a dog before, I always had bred my own, but felt I could give a wonderful home to the right dog an older dog.
I did not want a puppy as my personal life would not fit a puppy and the time it needs, I did not want a dog, I wanted a bitch I was sure of that, I have only had 2 dogs in my life Billy and Bracken, both great dogs but boy did they make me pull my hair out, oh the stories I could tell you, a bitch was perfect for me, after many many telephone calls and an interview with Judy, she considered me to be suitable to have one of her rescued four legged angels, passing Judy’s very strict interview and what’s expected from me to be able to give one of her angels a home is no easy thing to pass, as it turned out we had a great many mutual friends, many of whom had re homed some of Judy’s dogs themselves several more than once.
One such friend gave me a wonderful character report, I was truly humbled and honored by such a reference from a fine lady, a professional lady, a pillar of the community, who also has one of Judy’s four legged angels, if you think you could give a wonderful loving home to one of these awesome working dogs look for www.brarrescue.co.uk but be warned its no easy feat passing the interview.
A couple of weeks went by and Judy and I stayed in contact, we became friends on face book, I wanted her to really get to know me, so she knew I was the right man for one of her dogs, the phone rang, it was Judy, Judy said she had considered me the right one to try Tilly the rescued pure bred English Cocker Spaniel, Tilly had been used by ghastly puppy farmers, she had been rescued with her litter, the litter were all almost six months old now and all having new homes to go too.
Judy was keeping Hooley (Goose) for herself, to join her working dog beating team, Hooley was short for Hooligan named after one of Judy’s long gone four legged angels, this is where Tilly came in, when she came she was completely shut down, just a milking machine, wanting nothing to do with her pups, who could blame her after what she had been through, Judy had worked with here tirelessly with nothing but love and praise, Tilly Finally responded with love and praise back, so we jump on several months, Judy is at my place with Tilly and Hooley (Goose) the puppy, as always I get down on the floor right away with the dogs, Tilly a little unsure of me.
Hooley (Goose) came bounding right into me, jumping all over me licking me, as you would expect from a well loved little angel, Tilly soon came round and was sat on my lap getting all the praise and cuddles, Judy left a few hours later with both dogs, I was simply walking in the clouds, could this be the Cocker Spaniel from my dream, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, the next morning the phone rang, it was Judy asking would I like Tilly on a two week trial, well I could barely compose myself I was fit to burst, it was arranged Judy would bring Tilly over the following morning and we would go through some paper work, I rushed out bought a new crate with big padded bed in, loads of training toys, water bowl, feed bowl, lea and collar the lot, I did not sleep that night with excitement.
Judy arrived as arranged with only Tilly, no Hooley (Goose) this time, after all the formalities Judy left leaving Tilly behind with me for a two week trail, Judy had already met Mag’s my secretary as I explained when I am away Tilly would be staying with her, so Mag’s passed the interview etc too, the first walk up in my woods on the shoot, I think was a nervous time for both Tilly and myself, but as the days went on we got on very well, but it was very clear Tilly had bonded with Mag’s more than I, this was most likely because Judy a woman had showed her love for the first time, Mag’s well she just spoiled the dog and showed her so much love the bond was there, she bonded with me but not the same.
I could see this in the dogs eyes as well as Mag’s, I discussed this with Mag’s explaining that Tilly just was not right for me but perfect for her, actually she had already decided if I did not take Tilly on she was going too as that little dog was not going anywhere, just look at the photo of Mag’s and Tilly on the Ipad it says it all in one photo right there, they are inseparable, as it turns out Tilly and Mag’s make a great beating/picking up team on my shoot, that dog is loved and spoilt beyond words and quite rightly so, Judy came over and did all the paper work and signed Tilly over to Mag’s, she then left saying she will keep a look out for another bitch for me.
That night I had a restless nights sleep, almost feeling like my right arm was missing again, my heart was aching, those of you that are real dog people who have lost a dog will know what I mean right there, mere words cannot explain the feeling, I had that dream again, all my old dogs were there, Brook was at the foot of the rainbow bridge on the other side, she nudged this Cocker Spaniel pup forward through the mist, it sat on the middle of the bridge for a second, looked back then walked forward to my side of the Bridge, this was when I awoke, NOOOOOOO I want to see who the pup was, was this my little bitch I ached for, did Brook send her on to me, I got up, sat in the office with a mug of tea and started out of the window watching the sun rise over the hills to the East.
It seemed like hours sat there just writing emails/method statements/Risk assessments etc, then my phone rang, it was Judy, a friend of hers had passed away leaving her dogs to her, one was a disabled dog by this I mean he had disabilities, this had put Judy in a bit of a predicament, with the two new additions and the one needing so much help and care, Judy made the hard decision that she just could not keep Hooley (Goose) in her present position.
Judy said I know you are adamant that you want a bitch and most definitely not a pup, but would you consider Hooley (Goose) on a two week trial , in a heart beat I said yes, I don’t know why it just felt right, was it this dream, was it spiritual, was it meant to be, or just coincidence, I don’t know, but I felt it was the right choice, my very soul had a wave of emotion and excitement go through it, I had arranged for Judy to come over the following afternoon with Hooley (Goose) for this two week trial to start.
Sleep what sleep, I was too excited, the bit of sleep I did get had that dream in it, this time the pup came right to me, the bridge disappeared into the mist with all my old dogs, Brook being the last to fade away, I still could not quite make out this older pups face in my dream but it had to be Hooley (Goose) that was the only logical explanation for it all, logic, what logic it was spiritual the two don’t mix, or do they, you can say its my subconscious making this happen, my brain playing tricks on me what ever, all I know is I have learnt to trust my instincts in life, a dream means something, so I truly believe all my long gone dogs spirits, especially Brooks sent this pup to me.
Judy arrived and Hooley (Goose) jumped straight in my arms, when Tilly met him it was like they had never been apart, Tilly recognized Judy immediately, lots of cuddles right there, we did the necessary paper work and the two week trial started, Judy asked could I call him something other than Hooley as that’s the name of her old dog long gone, of course I said and as it was I already three names in mind, Bramble, Teal or Goose, I said all 3 and the boy trotted right over to me when I said Goose, so there you have it, Goose Chose his own name, Judy left with the dogs excitedly saying goodbye, right from that moment little Goose has not left my side, in fact he is sat right next to me right now as I type.
The Rescue of The Wild Goose.
I have never had a cocker spaniel before or trained one, something I have learnt very fast, this breed is highly intelligent, they learn quickly so its easy to bugger them up too, no room for error with a cocker that’s for sure, they are real characters too, I can see why Judy called him Hooley short for Hooligan, he is a little scamp that’s for sure, the bugger stole my lasagna, Mag’s pork chop, chewed holes in my slippers and is an escape artist.
There is a lovely photo of both Goose and Tilly sat in the front of my land rover sunning themselves, lovely yes but they were supposed to be in the dog box in the boot not on my passenger seat eating my lunch, proud as punch of themselves too, I could not tell them off it was so funny, so I took the photo and asked what exactly are you two up to then, I got a wag of the tail and a what us Dad, as Goose dropped me a crust of my lunch in my hand, almost as if to say you look hungry I will share it with you, these two have brought such delight in to my life as well as Mag’s, since her husband and my dear friend and Masonic Brother died coming up for five years ago, she had a real lonely time, but Tilly has filled that gap for here, as Goose has for me since I lost Brook.
Training Goose is training myself too.
We are a team, it all starts with maintaining that bond, I am showing him what I want him to be, but he has other ideas, I want him to walk before he can run, he wants to fly, as with everything in training a gun dog, its little steps with lots of praise, always finishing on a positive, he came to me at six months old, he is now nearly nine months old, we have come so far in such a short time.
I am holding him back and progressing slowly much to Goose’s annoyance, although we have done a lot more than I wanted too, he has mastered the being on a lead, the first day he was like a kite on a lead, by the end of that day we had learnt that my box system of lead training never fails, I cant stand a dog with bad manners and pulling me on a lead is a no no, the boy learned very quickly with lots of praise and the occasional treat, now hardly having a lead on he walks to heal like a young gentleman awaiting command, his retrieval work with the dummies is coming on splendidly.
I am very pleased with this, again my 1 in 10 system really works wonders here, go over to Eley Out Doors Eley and read my article on dog training, it will explain my methods in vast detail, there is no rush for me to train little Goose, I have the next 2 years to get it right, in the spring or summer when he is ready we will move on to water retrieves but not yet in the cold of winter, too young, too soon, although I have treated both Goose and Tilly to their very own Jack Pyke English Evolution hunting jackets, these are perfect when on our long walks etc as the weather right now is freezing, I can hear some of you saying they have a fur coat, yes maybe so, but a coat they will have as I don’t want them catching a chill in this harsh weather.
Goose has come on so much, but like I say I am holding him back, he comes with me on all my Professional Pest Control jobs, or up on the shoot I keeper, helping me feed and check all the drinkers and traps, this is also a great time for him and I alone, training and building that bond and keeping it strong, he does have a blip now and again when he comes face to face with a cock pheasant, but he soon learns when I tell him off, but such a sweetie he gets cuddles too.
He has caught a rat and paid it no quarters in the grain mill, he came with me to pick up some grain, as I was chatting to the farmer, we heard a squeak and out he marched with it shaking it dead as a door nail, not something I have encouraged him to do, but he has had a couple now if I take my eyes off him for a second.
Squirrels, he has a real passion for marking them up a tree, I always take a shot gun with me when feeding etc, something my Pappy (Grandfather) taught me was listen to what your dog is saying, Goose can find a squirrel up a tree blind folded, again not something I have taught him but he just has it in him, I have shot several, they drop he sits and waits for me to send him, then retrieves them straight to hand, again this is doing more than I want too soon, but none the less the boy loves it.
I have let him retrieve a couple of pigeon on command, the same again he drops it right into my hand on command, I cut the wings off a duck/pigeon and pheasant have put them on his dummies for retrieving, using my 1 in 10 method he is getting quite good at retrieving the left and right, so I am very pleased, like I say these Cocker’s learn very quickly, I always have in my minds eye not to go too fast, but so far so good, on a job the other week I was shooting rabbits with another pest controller, his old spaniel was retrieving them from a ditch for us, he could not find one, so I let Goose out for a stretch of the legs and a pee, he marked the ditch on point, so I said go on then boy if you think you can find it, 20 seconds later he dropped the rabbit in my hand eye wiping the older dog, that’s enough of that, lots of praise now back in the truck.
Just last weekend I took him on a walk on a my wild bird shoot, we were just going for a walk with the gun really, a bit of training, just a stretch of the legs, he suddenly went on point near some short bramble, I sent him on, he flushed a Cock Pheasant. I shot it, he sat to shot as I had been training him, I sent him on the retrieve, that pheasant was nearly as big as him, he brought it back with a mouth as soft as velvet and dropped it into my hand, I kept him to heal after that, only one retrieve keeps him interested, more would make him unsteady.
I will write more about Goose and His training etc in part 2, but here you are right from the start, now you will see us both grow as a team in all our adventures, that’s a good book title right there The Adventures of Goose and The Ole Hedge Creeper, in time I may write it, but for now our training continues.
Before I finish off can I ask you all to keep your eye out for a 10 year old chocolate cocker called Bracken, its Judy’s own dog, it has gone missing, either stolen or foul, if you go on to her face book page all the details are on there, but please keep your eye out Judy is heart broken, I have even been over searching with my thermal equipment.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this long article, but like I say The Adventures of Goose and The Ole Hedge Creeper has just begun, I will write more as the next chapter or Book unfolds, stay safe and well one and all in these ghastly Covid 19 times, please keep all the letters and emails coming into The Countryman’s Diary Magazine, we try to answer you all but some do slip through the purse net.
Rescuing The Wild Goose.
by The Ole Hedge Creeper.
Judy’s details for missing Bracken.