Locals train dogs fetch and retrieve hunting techniqes

Published 12:40 am Sunday, May 29, 2016

Two-year old American chocolate lab Max stood at his owners side, patiently awaiting his command.

Austin Doughty rattled of a series of calls, yet Max remained at attention.

“John! Sam! Fetch! Go!” Doughty shouted, but Max still wouldn’t budge.

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“Max!” Doughty exclaimed, and the lab sprung forward and leapt into Kaiser Lake, furiously chasing a bumper floating atop the water.

Doughty, alongside friend and neighbor Stewart Williams, has been training their dogs together on a daily basis for approximately the last year.

Williams worked with his dog, Molly, in an open field near the lake, practicing and perfecting line drills — where Molly took off in a straight line and halted at the sound of Williams’ whistle before being directed to move left or right to track down and retrieve the downed bird.

“Obedience is a very important step for these dogs,” Williams said. “It’s probably one of the most advanced training techniques that you can do with an animal. You’re stretching these dogs out from 150 to 200 yards, and when you give them a command, they need to know what it is.”

Williams said he and Molly try to practice every day rain or shine, always attempting to improve their craft.

“We’re nowhere close to being where I want to be,” Williams said. “It’s kind of like puzzle pieces. You put a piece here and a piece there, and it’s just a long road.”

Doughty said the process of molding their dogs begins at an adolescent age in order to instill a strong discipline.

“You start as soon as they get home as a puppy,” Doughty said. “As soon as they get used to you and the new environment, you start with the discipline. If you don’t drill discipline into their head, you can’t go forward with anything else.”

Doughty said perhaps the dogs serve as most advantageous when hunting on water.

“Not only are they your hunting buddy, they’re a tool,” Doughty said. “If you’re hunting out of a boat, it’s really a headache to try to get out of the boat every time you down a bird. First and foremost, they’re your buddy out there — they’re your hunting partner. Second of all, they’re a tool.”

Doughty said Max picked up approximately 65 birds the first year he had him, yet a bird count is far outweighed by another trait.

“He’s my buddy,” Doughty said. “I take him everywhere with me. I’m going somewhere, he’s there with me.”

Williams echoed Doughty’s sentiment, proudly stating the affection he has for Molly.

“It’s hard to explain,” Williams said. “She’s a part of your family. She goes with me everywhere. If a dog can be there, she’s going to be there.”