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Open Season: Back to the dog training grindstone thanks to spring

The transformation of my dog, Remy, from the beginning of last summer's training to the end of hunting season was nothing short of miraculous.

By August, after months of training four to five times a week, the German wirehaired pointer was obedient both in the house and out in the field. By the end of December, with a full season of chasing birds under his collar, Remy was the definition of a machine.

When I commanded "woah," he stopped on a dime. When I hollered "fetch," Remy found the bird, brought it to me, sat at my side and held firm until ordered "give."

It was a thing of beauty.

Then that blasted winter came, as well as the dreaded months of sloth. Laziness abounded in our household. Remy got away with things. I became complacent; he became unruly.

Fast forward to today, and I hardly recognize the pooch that stares out the window in our living room waiting to bark at squirrels.

Thank God it's spring. Just as I have begun training for upcoming summer races, Remy, too will soon start a weekly regime to turn back months of neglect.

It won't be easy, but help is there. A good friend offered both an ear to listen and words of advice when the going got tough last summer as we trained our wirehairs together. And the local Red River Valley chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association will be utilized often for additional assistance.

And if all goes well, Remy will be running a Utility Test this fall with NAVHDA. Then we'll truly see how for both he and his handler have come.

The journey will not be smooth. At times, both Remy and I will wonder what the other is thinking. But I have faith that, in the end, the stressful roller coaster of emotion will be more than a benefit: it will be a blessing.

And it all starts now - just as soon as this commercial is over.