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reviews by Bill Fawcett

Retriever Training Drills for Blind Retrieves by James Spencer

"James Spencer", I told the editor, "now that man can write!" So, I headed into this review with no preconceived notions. Hardly. But what an opportune time to review Spencer's Retriever Training Drills for Blind Retrieves.
Blind Retrieves

You see, it had been just a week or so that I packed my handy Springer and headed out to see what all the Hunt Test brouhaha was all about. Although Jenna had been doing water blinds in the previous season, she apparently forgot all that she had learned about water blinds in the midst of a busy field trial training schedule. With that factor in mind, I entered debutante Jenna in the Senior Hunter test, while my friend, Mike, put his SH dog, Moose, into his first Master leg. So water blinds, and blinds in general, were foremost on our minds.

Blind Retrieves bring their own problems to Spanieldom. The "Black Dogs" seem to pick it up right fast, but they don't have the same hunting urge (or nose) that a good spaniel has. Hence, the spaniel does not like to run in a straight line. The spaniel trainer spends a lot of time establishing good hunting practices, then works against those with the blind retrieve.

Spencer's book is oriented towards the Retriever breeds. But there is nothing in this book that is not applicable to a spaniel. As expected, the book is methodical and complete in its presentation. This book is part of a pair of books on retriever training drills, the other being Retriever Training Drills for Marked Retrieves. As a precursor to both, I would suggest Spencer's book Hup!, which was reviewed in a previous edition of the Spaniel Journal.

As the title suggests, the book is a workbook. It is a collection of drills. Drills that have been passed on from trainer to trainer; drills that are our training legacy. Where possible, Spencer has identified the source of the drill.

I guess that many handlers get into training ruts from time to time - or just cannot imagine what drill would be appropriate for whatever ails them at the moment. The e-mail lists are populated with such questions. Sometimes the answers are good, sometimes they are not. Spencer's drills are all tried-and-proven, and they are explained in a manner that you can comprehend them. This is the good stuff.

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