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je vous en prie, jusqu'a nous trouvons un lievre, et vous verrez s'il peut courir ou non.' We very soon found a hare, and the chien aVarret did certainly surprise me by his speed, and was soon out of sight, the Frenchman continually exclaiming, 'Vous voyez a present.' He however returned in about ten minutes, when the Frenchman remarked that if the hare had only been a trois quart, instead of an old one, the dog would certainly have caught it and brought it back; and he appeared delighted at the opportunity which had occurred of the dog's giving proof of this valuable qualification. He was, however, rather surprised when I told him that a pointer in England would either be shot or hung who acted in this manner. This dog, however, pointed remarkably well, and was very good at snipes, which abounded. I therefore purchased him for the sum asked, sixty francs, and found him very useful—his chasing propensities not being very detrimental to my sport, as hares were very scarce; and I stopped him from chasing birds by giving him a small dose of snipe-shot when in flagrante delicto, and I have ^seldom found this remedy fail, a second dose being rarely necessary: of course care must be taken never to shoot at a dog obliquely, but when he is proceeding directly from you, so as to hit him in the hind quarters, and with small shot, at about sixty yards. I must now return from this short digression to the method of instruction adopted pour le rapport.
Dog-breakers like the dogs to be about ten or eleven months old before they commence instructing them. The man in the first instance makes the- dog thoroughly acquainted with him, and leads him about with the spike-collar on for several days before be gives him one lesson. There are two cords to this collar—one to lead the dog by, the other to inflict punishment, when necessary, by tightening the collar, by which operation the spikes are forced into the dog's neck. The man is provided with a piece of wood about 9 or 10 inches in length, and 6 inches in circumference, round like a rolling-pin, with two small pegs through each end, crossing one another, and projecting about an inch, so that the round part does not touch the ground when the ensemble is thrown down, thereby admitting of being easily taken up by the dog's teeth when he is disposed to do so. The first lesson consists in placing this piece of wood in the dog's mouth, the cord from the collar being brought round it in such a manner that he cannot easily eject it from his mouth; but on every occasion of his making the attempt, he receives a sharp jerk from the other cord; and if the wood has fallen, it is replaced, and the man leads the dog about with it in his mouth.
After having taught him to carry this implement about without attempting to drop it, he next places it on the ground, and endeavours to make him pick it up. To accomplish this the dog receives a considerable quantity of severe pricks with the collar, and the man's patience and assiduity are put to the test: but, after succeeding in this point, the progress is more easy and rapid; the implement is first thrown a short distance, the interval being gradually increased, — the dog's energy, activity, and disposition to obey being constantly stimulated with the spike-collar. At first he obeys with reluctance, but subsequently with alacrity, from fear of punishment, as a moment's hesitation is rewarded with an instantaneous jerk of the collar; and this correction is invariably administered to all dogs who hesitate in picking up the bit of wood, or who, after having secured it, do not instantly return. The advantage of this well-timed punishment is found subsequently in a dog's never mouthing or dwelling upon his game after he has picked it up, but returning instantly,—the impression never being effaced.
I had several English setters of a first-rate breed, broken by one man; and they all brought their game perfectly, without ever disturbing a feather, and returned the instant they picked it up. The setters which were 'forced' to bring in this manner at the age of 10 and 11 months I taught subsequently to stand back, &c I had no trouble with them whatever, the application of the spike-collar having made them perfectly docile and submissive.
When the dog under instruction will bring the bloquet perfectly at all distances within the length of the cord, the cord is tied loosely round his neck, and the bloquet is thrown to greater distances, and the dog generally obeys; but in case of any resistance, the cord is immediately resumed, and the dog is rewarded by a series of severe jerks, till he finally becomes perfect pour le rapport par terre. Then follows the second course of instruction by water, which is not so easy as might be supposed, as some dogs evince a great indisposition to obedience in this respect, especially smooth-haired pointers; but there is no failure as to ultimate success with the spike-collar, no matter what breed the dog be of, and a dog, when once perfectly taught in this manner, never refuses water in the coldest day.
The trainer in the first instance resorts to some piece of shallow water as the field of his preliminary instructions, and commences by dropping the bloquet in, near the edge; then frequently ensues a severe contest between the man and dog, the object of which is to make the latter faire le premier pas. Having succeeded in this, he throws the bloquet gradually farther and farther; but as he occasionally meets with determined resistance when he chances to throw it prematurely too far, he is obliged to take his shoes and stockings off, and walk into the water; hence the selection of a shallow place for these early operations. By dint of perseverance the dog's education is perfected in about a month. I had several setters broken in this manner, and they never refused water in any weather, nor required in the slightest degree stimulating to fetch their game, but on the contrary were eager to do so, and I scarcely ever lost a head of game with them.
Dogs that bring their game certainly appear to me to enjoy the sport more than those who do not, and are indispensably necessary in a marshy country for snipe and duck shooting. It would be difficult to make dogs used for this purpose and in this manner, 'down charge' strictly, as they almost invariably mark down the game that is killed, and like, if not restrained, to go immediately to the spot for it. I have seen a dog on one or two occasions, returning with a snipe in his mouth, point at a live snipe, the dead snipe not having prevented him from winding the living one.