The Kerry Bird-Dog

Edited by Janet Joers

Bianca is one of those good-natured, obedience-trained Kerries who enjoys running in the park sniffing after squirrels, and playing with other
dogs. But she’s never displayed any particular hunting instincts. Take birds. Whether on lead or off, she pays no attention to birds of any
kind–and believe me, we have lots of pigeons in my part of the world! So I was totally unprepared for what happened on her first pheasant
hunt.

   

She was 2 years old at the time, had never been hunting, and had never even seen a pheasant before in her life. We took her for the fun of it,
though I was a bit concerned she’d be frightened by the gunfire.

When we arrived, there were about 70 people waiting in line, and about 9 other dogs of the sporting breeds, 8 of whom had passed special hunting
exams. I’m sure people wondered what I was doing there with my little terrier!

The gunfire didn’t seem to bother Bianca in the least, as we watched a few dogs retrieve the downed birds. Soon it was our turn. The gun went off,
Bianca made a mad dash through the bushes, and soon came racing back with the pheasant in her mouth, which she promptly deposited at our feet.
But instead of waiting for the signal, off she went again in search of another bird! This caused a bit of confusion–it was not part of the
plan. So a hunter shot another bird, which Bianca also retrieved and dropped at our feet. Then she charged off again! Things were getting out
of control.

The crowd began to talk excitedly about the Kerry Blue who “worked like crazy,” and more than a few of the professional hunters were getting
a bit angry that a terrier was outperforming their specially trained bird-dogs! Technically, Bianca was not doing everything according
to the book, but what she was doing was pretty amazing. Later, we worked her with my friend’s pointer, who would point in the direction
of the downed bird, and Bianca instinctively understood where to search for the bird.

In all, Bianca retrieved 10 birds that day, and would have kept going if we hadn’t controlled her. I think it was the best day of her life!
She came home dirty, carried an excellent plant collection in her coat, had a thorn in in eyelid, but was happy like never before.

Bianca must be conserving her energy for the next hunt, because she’s again paying no attention whatever to the birds all around her.
Perhaps she knows the difference?

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