“The first thing we hunted together was early-season honkers,” Vandemore says. “But a lot of his training was set up for hunting. You can’t sit a dog in a blind with a bunch of shots going off and expect him to go out and do it. It takes time to prepare a dog for actual hunting.”
Ruff has taken to his job well. And then some. By Vandemore’s estimate, Ruff, now five years old and weighing a little over 60 pounds, picked up 3,000 birds last season. Included was one three-day stretch while spring snow goose hunting when Ruff retrieved 500 geese.
“At this point, regardless of where we are hunting, he marks and handles well because of his experience,” Vandemore says. “The first time in flooded corn, he didn’t mark so well because of the depth perception. It took him a little while to get used to it. Timber hunting was the same way. You can’t expect a dog to go into a new situation and nail it right off the bat. Now, there’s not a situation he goes into that he’s not familiar with.”
My lesson learned? Don’t judge a dog on first-look impressions, because drive can be measured only by performance.