Murph Training X: Murph Finds the Water

It’s cold up here, although spring is finally starting to show up. There is still ice in most of the ponds, and I’ve still got snow in the yard. I had no intention of even trying to introduce Murph to the water until it had warmed up significantly and the water temps weren’t just above freezing. I certainly didn’t want to give him an unpleasant shock at the very beginning. I’d been thinking about how I was going to do it, but was in no hurry.

Every afternoon, now that it’s light out after work, I take Murph and Pickett for a three-mile walk along a few country roads. I let the dogs run free for a while, make them heel for a while, and throw in an occasional sit whistle when they’re out away from me. This is not formal training time, but there is a lot that can be reinforced and accomplished, even when you’re just enjoying the walk and their company.

We walked down past a pond that borders the road, and yesterday the ice had disappeared, literally overnight. It was gone. The dogs were running ahead and suddenly I saw Pickett head for the water. It was the first open water he’d seen in three months. He ran in the shallow area by the road and began splashing around as he always does, and then I realized Murph was right behind him. I knew he couldn’t get in big trouble so I kept my mouth shut and watched. Murph was so entranced in playing with Pickett, I don’t think he realized he was in the water. They splashed around for about a minute, and came out. Murph shook the water off and continued as if it was nothing special.


Murph water 3

Excited to see his first open water of the season, Pickett jumped
right in, and Murph didn’t hesitate to follow.

photo by Paul Fersen


I realized at that moment that Pickett was the better teacher here. Sometimes we overthink a situation, when letting nature take its course is the best alternative. Bottom line is that Murph has no fear of the water, and I didn’t get the chance to create any fear by doing something stupid and freaking him out in my zeal to get him in the water. That water was freezing cold, but he seemed impervious to it, which bodes well for duck hunts to come. For the next few weeks Pickett will be the educator when we get to the pond, and I will simply observe with great pleasure.

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