Some of you may be wondering what a scurry is.
You hear me banging on about it or see me posting pictures of Guinevere and Eleanor amongst the Christmas trees and running around with canvas dummies in their mouths. I can wax on about it until the cows come home and despite very busy days training manage to practice and train them twice a day.
What on earth is a scurry I have heard you shout? So I thought I would let you know how I discovered this fun activity and introduce you to my addiction so maybe it can become your dogs!
Well many years ago when I was a young lad, my father’s best friend was an old country man and a butcher . He would take me in his beaten up old van to collect pheasants from shooting estates, we would always avoid the main house and head quietly to the game keepers cottage or some days a field where I would wait as Ralph would chat and laugh with said keeper and then shake hands. At this point I would be called from the van and under instructions from them both, load huge numbers of dead pheasants quickly into the vehicle before hiding them under some blankets … I wonder why?? One day, it was different, the gamekeeper was very relaxed as the Lord of the manor was away with his family. This day he showed me and Ralph about and we came to his kennels. Inside was a gaggle of liver & white dogs all jumping , barking and basically bonkers. They were spaniels after all.
Yet one word from the softly spoken keeper and they all went quiet and glued their eyes on him … He took three out and we walked down his garden . At the bottom was a small field with piles of wood, sticks and branches . The dogs were off lead and without so much as a word he threw some things out into the bushes .. All three dogs waited, just staring at him, he took a big puff of his pipe and told one to “out” … This dog flew off in a blur of liver and white head first onto a pile of scrub, Whilst it was away he spoke again “ find it “ and the second was away over a fence nose down, bum up. The third dog waited, looking at the old man who smiled and gently whispered “go on“. That last dog almost thanked him before disappearing into the undergrowth. Before I could breath all three were back proudly holding their respective retrieves for the keeper to take …
Watching the pure joy on their faces, seeing how they almost stopped breathing in anticipation waiting to be sent was amazing and I was hooked.
Now most people think that in the world of gundogs, you have to go shooting and wear tweeds, let me tell you something this is not the case. Yes the shooting world is there, and for a dog to go shooting with its owner and retrieve back something for the pot is why they are trained, why 100’s of years of breeding Spaniels, Retrievers and all the other gundog (or sporting dogs as they are also known) has taken place. Yet there is another way .. you don't have to shoot or be a lord of the manor, you don't need tweeds and a plum in your mouth and you definitely don't need to kill anything.
A Scurry has all the aspects of the above yet takes place in a purpose built training field or area. It started as an activity for gundogs when the season was closed and they could not go shooting so as to keep them up to speed… And there in that word SPEED is what all scurrying competitions are about .. It's against the clock only. Now there are other gundog competitions and they are called Field Trials, they do shoot and kill birds and it is judged . Nothing wrong with that if that's your thing but it is extremely strict, your dog can be disqualified for a slight bark and it's all down to the judge and how he sees the dogs working abilities.. Scurrying however… it's against the clock only !!
Do you have a dog that likes to retrieve?
Well if you do and you want a sport or activity that you can do with your dog to keep it mentally stimulated, that builds a bond and working partnership, that taps into their natural instinct to hunt, use their nose and is great exercise for them without you having to do the running! Then scurrying could be for you. Maybe you are competitive and want to enter competitions and handle your dog in some beautiful countryside. Then this could be for you and its not just for spaniels!!!!
But WARNING…. THIS is very very addictive!
Find out more in part 2 how we train to scurry and the different courses that are used in competition and that we have here.