Meet Lenny. He's an English Setter.
After a few hunting outings this fall, a seed had been planted to consider getting my own hunting dog. In a "what would you like for Christmas" conversation with my wife, I casually threw out, "I'd like a puppy [insert pregnant pause] a bird dog." She was cool with that. So it was decided this past fall that our house and family could handle another dog. We have a 10-year old yellow lab who never took to hunting birds - his prey are tennis balls and random sticks. The old dog needs a buddy. He doesn't yet agree with me, but I think he'll get it when Lenny is a little bigger.
The choice of an English Setter was an easy one for us. A friend of mine has a couple which are great bird dogs and excellent family dogs. Another friend has had the same great experience with his Llewellin. I knew I wanted a pointer who would have the same, great abilities with kids that our Lab does.
After researching, searching, and calling, I contacted Berg Brothers Setters and everything fell into place to pick up a puppy in late January. We visited the kennel, the dogs, the owners, and it was all good.
Since it had been years since I'd raised a puppy and conveniently forgotten just about everything that goes with that (like the first night at home away from the litter), I got back to the books. The Monks of New Skete were our guides 10 years ago - we like their style - so I picked up their updated "The Art of Raising a Puppy" for the first months of training. I've been pouring over bird dog training material too, but right now the focus is on housetraining, socialization, and eventually getting back to sleeping 8 hours straight. So far things are going well - with housetraining and socialization. And even though it took a couple days, he understands he's not the Alpha.
In April he'll go back to the Bergs for a few weeks to get immersed in birds and some preliminary training. Additionally, a friend of mine who is active in our local NAVHDA chapter has drawn me into their group. We'll start training days with them this spring. I'm looking forward to training my bird dog, learning from my dog, and eventually, hunting with him.
Until then, we're enjoying puppyhood and trying our hardest to keep legos, shoes, rugs, hats, gloves, cords, underwear, our dinner, socks, remote controls, the sofa, art projects, fly tying material, small children, homework, and books (I probably forgot a few things) from the fateful jaws of a 10 week old puppy.
Puppy kindergarten starts this Sunday.