Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gilbert, the Cockapoo Hunting Dog

cDSCN0246DSCN0140Gilbert is now in his second season of hunting. Last year, at 6 months of age, he came along on our bird hunt helping us find grouse for the first time. This trip he was an integral part of the hunt.  He normally is a 'therapy dog' where his gentler side is best displayed.  In the backwoods of Northern British Columbia his more ferocious and courageous side was most evident. He had many functions beyond the normal confidant and cheer leader capacity.  He protected the campground and RV barking away bears.  Laura felt safest when he stayed with her.
DSCN0123Several days of hard heavy hunting and the beginning of the rains, he crawled back into bed with Laura rather than accompany Luke and me at 4 am.  He figured she needed his comfort and protection  those days.  She spoiled him, feeding him treats, pulling burrs out of his hair, and wading by the lake where he was thorougly captivated by all the minnows. Later he told Luke and I that he really was tough drawing the line when painting her nails pink she eyed him with interest.  Maybe if she'd had cammo green.DSCN0202
. At other times he'd leave the raw windy cold outdoor back seat of the ATV and comfort Luke in the warmth of his truck drying himself out and cheering Luke with his enthusiasm.DSCN0223
DSCN0182Luke and I both shot several grouse and Gilbert found several birds we would have lost in the heavy under brush.  Back at camp when Luke went swimming Gilbert observed him as intently as any qualified lifeguard.
DSCN0143 On the rife range he served as monitor happiest when the firing was done to bullet himself off to check the targets and look for grouse in the proximity of where we'd been shooting.  His greatest achievements on this trip were searching for what we thought was a bear wounded at dusk.  Gilbert circled the whole area sniffing for blood, running patterns through the wood and confirming the bear had lived for another day.  The area was thick with bear sign but nothing that sent him off like a blood hound on a trail.  That came when I nicked a moose with poor shot creating a blood trail that led deep into the marsh before the bleeding stopped. Gilbert's nose was red with blood from sniffing and following the track. But then the blood dried up and the trail got confusing and I was so exhausted I almost fell down.  Further we were lost. Luke, who turned out to have great tracker skills, having followed the trail with Gilbert wanted to stay on while I hoped I could get back to the road following my compass siting.  I had to climb dozens of chest high fallen logs which Gilbert took with leaps hauling his little belly over the last bit to bound on to the other side. A regular Marines obstacle run with knee deep marsh.  We made it back and when Luke could be heard coming out Gilbert ran to show him the way.
He was forever checking up on us when we were hunting as a group, heeling behind me on command when we were alone together, ranging forward on command when told as well.  "Having Gilbert in the truck with me makes me realize how much I want a dog again.' DSCN0299
What a great hunting companion Gilbert is!   Cockapoos are a cross breed of cocker spaniel and poodle, both famed as hunting dogs.  With his running leaps scanning the environment around him and great tracking nose he's also fearless despite only being 15 pounds of sheer enthusiasm.    DSCN0265DSCN0227DSCN0126DSCN0198DSCN0322


Anonymous said...

This is awesome. I also have a cockapoo and have recently began scent training with him...can't believe how good of a nose these dogs have. Can't wait to take him out into the fields in 2012.

Cockapoo Place said...

Wonderful article and great pictures. Gilbert is amazing. We would love for you and Gilbert to join us at Cockapoo Place.

Ben Parrish said...

Great story. I too have a couple cockapoos and have recently thought about using them as bird dogs. They're 4 and 5, and while I don't expect them to do amazing things, the one is a great flusher in the backyard. Cheers.

haykind said...

Gilbert has found all our fallen grouse for us, hundreds by now. This year he began on his own 'retrieving'. That's what was amazing because they're bigger than his head. He flushed them naturally too. The cockapoo is a wonderful hunting dog. I can say, though, Gilbert doesn't like water much so wouldn't be a duck dog. He did chase away a black bear I was stalking and thought he was a very big big dog. Till I gave him heck. The bear had been startled by his barking then run down hill to get away from what was following the intrepid Gilbert who looking back to see I was coming didn't see that the bear was seeing me. Gilbert meanwhile had broken heel and put himself between me and the bear ruining the shot. That was his first year. I do take him deer hunting and moose hunting he stays right on the heel behind me with a little antsy behaviour on the first day of hunting till he settles in again for the season.
He's a great hunting companion.