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quickly if the conditioner is precise and timed to correspond with the command exactly." By snapping the lead rather than yanking or pulling on it I was sending a very precise signal to the dog. If you time the command to be given at the same fraction of a second that the jolt from the snap of the lead reaches the dog's neck, the dog will take notice of the command very quickly indeed. I've had people with all sizes, shapes, and breeds of dogs say to me that their dog would not walk on a lead without pulling. I don't recall any of them that didn't start walking perfectly on a lead after a few well-timed snaps of the lead.

In years past, Anglesey, and I guess many parts of the U.K., were infested with rabbits. Estates would have full time rabbit catchers. Rabbits were considered to be like a crop. I even met an old Welsh farmer who said he got the money for the down payment on his farm from poaching rabbits. I believe it was the late 40's or early 50's when the disease myxamatosis was introduced to control the rabbit populations, which were having very adverse effects on farm crops.

"Rabbits were ideal for starting young dogs and giving them their first shooting experience."

Talbot told me before then that spaniel trials relied heavily on rabbits. One would get numerous finds and retrieves of rabbits during a trial series. After myxamatosis, most trials had to be run much more on pheasants and other winged game. Talbot said the whole nature of trials changed fundamentally. To this day, pockets of rabbits will still develop. Eventually the population of rabbits will become diseased and die back. When the rabbit population would build up, you could look down a hedge and see 50 to 150 rabbits sitting out.

Rabbits were ideal for starting young dogs and giving them their first shooting experience. First of all, there is nothing better than rabbit scent to get a young spaniel tearing through the most intimidating cover. Secondly, if you had a dog steady to rabbits, you had a dog that would be steady to anything. And finally, when a rabbit was shot the dog had the opportunity to track scent to a retrieve, as the retrieve was usually unmarked. I always found it great fun training Spaniels on rabbits. I understand some of the Scottish trials are still run largely on rabbits.

Rabbit Shooting

When Scud and his littermates were about a year old, there were no wild populations of rabbits to work them on. Talbot was not keen on planting pigeons to train dogs on. To fill in the gap before the pheasants were ready to start working again after their nesting season, we got about twenty semi-domestic rabbits and let them loose in the big pen next to the kennels. It worked very well. Although I couldn't shoot the rabbits, I could steady the dogs to the flush and it certainly increased their hunting intensity. The rabbits only lasted a month or so before getting myxamatosis, which was all I really needed them for.

In Scud's litter there was one dog that was sort of an odd one out. He was smaller and finer boned compared to the others, but was a very fast and sharp dog. He went to America around this time as a started trial prospect. I never heard how the dog was getting on. A few years later, the son of the man who got this dog visited the kennels. He was in the Air Force and was passing through. He said the dog was very talented, but seemed a bit too much for his father to handle to its potential.

The dog that really stood out in my view was a darkly marked dog I called "Laddie". Although he was predominately liver he had enough white in the right places to be a very good-looking dog. After a bit of experience on the rabbits, this dog was hunting with great intensity, speed, and tremendously exciting style. He was a bit shorter in the leg than Scud. He was a dog who I felt that I needed to really keep on top of or I would lose him. He was ready for serious, hard training and I set about giving him this training. I expected Laddie to respond instantly to the subtlest commands. I didn't give him an inch and he didn't mind. We came to an understanding without thwarting any of his intensity or enthusiasm.

Scud and Saga, the remaining two dogs of the litter, were going well, but were not at the level of Laddie. I always found when developing dogs they would plateau at a level for a period of time then suddenly reach another level in their work. Scud and Saga were on a different plateau from Laddie. Saga was a big strong dog with a completely dark head and tail. Most of his body was white. When compared to the really classy Saighton dogs, I always felt he was more of a carthorse type rather than a thoroughbred. I didn't think this of Scud, however, he was not as advanced as Laddie and couldn't be pushed as hard as Laddie in training. I was going to have to bide my time with Scud until he

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