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Life with Bon Bon Dog.
Written by Kim Smith (
I’ve been involved with HRC for almost fifteen years. I love the people and the family environment, and it has provided me with some of the most enjoyable times of my life. My original exposure to HRC came through my first black lab female, Ashes (HRCH Ashes Winter Smith MH). When Ashes was just a pup I watched dogs in the finished level, and I dreamed of the day when I could have a dog of that caliber. With my knowledge of dog training, I knew I couldn’t achieve that dream. However, with help from two professional trainers, J. Paul Jackson and Chris Scott, Ashes earned her HRCH. After that I was hooked, and over the next few years I kept three different puppies out of Ashes and FC AFC Teddy’s Ebonstar James. Both of the females achieved there HRCH and Master Hunter titles and the male we kept went on to earn his GRHRCH, too.
J. Paul and Melanie Jackson
gave me some assistance with these dogs, but I did most of the training
After watching and learning from several
great professionals and training a number of my own dogs, about six
years ago I decided to start training for others.
I started out with four kennels but over
the years it has grown to twelve.
I train as a hobby and do all of my
training before and after work. Because of the love I have for HRC I
became an AA judge in all levels including upland and I am the hunt test
secretary for our club in
The next year while
running six dogs in
I was told you cannot train a Boykin the
same way you do a Lab; if you can’t then I knew we would both fail
because I only know how to train retrievers.
I was training five young labs as well as
Cinnamon at the same time.
By the time we were through with swim by
Cinnamon was one month ahead of the labs. While I was judging in KY I
had someone run Cinnamon for me in Started and she got her first pass.
Then I was judging in GA and she got her
second and third pass.
I have never run for a started title but
decided to take Cinnamon to IL and we got her started title at RU HRC.
While Cinnamon was doing Single T training,
our hunt test was in
The summer months
were hot here in
I was worried about training for the next couple of months because I pulled my bicep muscle away from the bone and was schedule for surgery a week after dove season opened (I could not miss the opening of dove season so I pushed the surgery back a week). I had surgery on Wednesday and was put in a cast and sling. I went out on Thursday to see if I could handle my dogs with one arm. It took them a few casts before they could figure out what was going on. I decided to enter Cinnamon in seasoned at Trail of Tears HRC in MO. My wife loaded the dogs and I into her Envoy with a dog trailer towing behind. She thought it was crazy of me (being heavily medicated) to run dogs at a hunt test only three days after surgery. Cinnamon achieved her HR title that weekend. My wife and I were both proud of our little brown Bon Bon dog.
Cinnamon was running good enough to pass finished but there was no way I could go by myself. My wife of twenty-six years agreed to take me every Saturday to a hunt test and on Sunday we would go to Church together as we have always done. Cinnamon passed her first finished test the next weekend at Tri-State HRC. My arm started to hurt and back to the doctor we went. They took off the soft cast to check my arm, this time they decided to put on a hard cast because I wasn’t doing what the doctor told me to do (rest). I wanted a camo cast and that is what they put on my arm. I knew that the next test was under Rod Rombauer and he would expect me to be in camo from head to toe. We received our second pass at RU HRC in IL and our third pass at Southern IL HRC. Then, while I was judging finished at Tennessee River HRC, J. Paul Jackson ran Cinnamon and she received two upland passes.
We had one weekend left for the year and by
this time my wife was worn out.
She had already taken
me to five states and now we were off to
When I went to the first series and looked at the water test I said “well there is always tomorrow”. The first bird fell across the water on land. The second bird hit on the waters edge to our left. The third mark was in line with the second mark. I watched dog after dog struggle with these marks. I ran my GRHRCH dog before I ran Cinnamon. I had to handle him on the second bird and he had a poor hunt on the hard in-line memory bird. I walked to the line with bon bon dog, with sweat pouring off my forehead; I felt like it was my first hunt test. The first bird came out and landed on land but the second bird landed in a bush, never making it to the water. I thought to myself, “You should have known nothing would go right since this is for her title”. Cinnamon picked up the go bird, and then I sent her to the second bird which she picked up with no problem. Now it was time for the hard memory bird and I didn’t have a clue were it was. I lined her up in the direction and she stepped on the bird. I was so happy I think they could have heard me yell “good dog” three or four miles away.
She also did a great job on the water blind. We had a normal triple in the land series but when the dog came back with the last bird, a diversion bird was thrown. The dog had to run past the diversion bird without picking it up to get to the blind, which is difficult for an inexperienced dog. I thought, if she passes this difficult test, she deserves to be a HRCH dog. She picked up the triple without a problem. I told her no on the diversion bird and she didn’t pay any attention to it while running to the blind. Now we were going to the honor bucket, everyone that knows me knows that I’m a cut up and like to have fun at hunt tests. J. Paul Jackson was coming to the line and I told him we had to be serious. He just smiled because he knew how excited I was about my LBD. We have always cut up and teased each other while at the line but not this time. After getting past the judges we had our finished title in the bag. This was one of those moments that you knew 100% your dog passed. We also got our third upland pass that day.
Now something that I didn’t mention,
Cinnamon was only 14 months and 11 days old at the time of this test.
She became the youngest Spaniel to achieve
I was excited about my LBD.
If you decide a LBD might be in your
future, train them the same as you would any other retriever and I think
you will be amazed in what these little dogs can do.
To top off the day, I won the Tri-Tronics
Ecollar and a Browning Citori over under shot gun in the raffle.
What a way to end the Hunt Test season.
Now I’m getting her
ready for her first year hunting ducks in the timber of
Life with a Bon Bon Dog.
Written by Kim Smith (
Bon Bon dog hunted off a stand in the timber and I noticed that when the birds slowed down she would start to doze off—kind of like I do in church sometimes. It was funny to watch because she would nod off and sway from side to side. One morning when the temps were in the 40’s Bon Bon dog made a mistake. As the sun came up and it got warmer she fell asleep and off the dog stand she went--head first into the cold water. She looked up at me like, “What in the world just happened?” After that fall she learned her lesson and adopted a new way to sleep, leaning up against the tree so it would hold her. It’s amazing how fast she learns, but I guess if you hit cold water while you are sleeping, you would learn to do something different, too.
Karl Duce and Corey Burks came up from
At the end of the season we decided to chase snow geese. Bon Bon dog had no problem picking up geese until we killed some Speckle Belly’s. I made the mistake of sending her after a cripple; the Goose spread its wings and hissed at Bon Bon dog. When the Goose spread its wings Bon Bon dog looked very, very small. She backed up and circled the goose trying to figure out what to do next. She finally looked up at me, as if to say, “Would you please come down and help with this bully?” I finally came to the rescue and she was relieved. As we were driving around we saw two kids shoot into a bunch of snow geese. After they shot, snow geese were going everywhere. I sent Bon Bon dog on about 10 blind retrieves for the guys because they didn’t have a dog. We noticed a Blue Goose running across the field about 400 yards out and then it went out of sight. One of my hunting buddies' got his binoculars out. He could see the goose in the field but I couldn’t, so he would tell me what cast to give Bon Bon dog. She ran the blind with only 5 whistles and a cast, which was amazing to me. She was worn out after bringing that goose back to me from that distance.
During the hunting season, I hunted Bon Bon dog with an E-collar. When she would get wet the collar irritated her neck, so I decided to hunt her without the collar. This was the biggest mistake I’ve made with Bon Bon dog. I’ve always told people to put the collar on them even though you will not use it much. It’s also a safety device if they some how get away from you in the timber. After hunting season was over, we started training for the new hunt test season and the Boykin Spaniel Society Retriever Nationals. The very first day of training I put the collar on Bon Bon dog and I noticed she looked down like, “Man, do we have train again this year?” It was like she was telling me, “I know everything already and I don’t need to learn anything new.”
Each day we trained, she just wasn’t into it and I was very disappointed in her attitude. She was running well before the hunting season and I was at a loss on how to get her attitude up for training. We went to our first hunt test and she did a great job, but I noticed her starting to shake ducks. The next couple of weeks of training were just as bad as the first week. She wouldn’t pick up singles, but her blinds were still good. I entered her in another test where she did well the first day, but she was getting loose at the line and shaking every duck she picked up. I thought to myself, ‘this is just great with the Nationals just around the corner.’
The week before the Nationals was her worst week of training yet, so I decided if she could just hold it together for a couple of series I would be satisfied. We got to the Nationals on Wednesday without much confidence. At that point I was just glad we could get her eyes and heart certified at the free health clinics sponsored by the Boykin Spaniel Society . On Thursday we trained with Marty Griner on a farm about 20 miles away for the grounds. Bon Bon dog did a great job and hunted hard for the singles we threw. She also ran 3 blinds well and my confidence level started coming up.
Our Open class had 19 entries including Bon Bon dog’s father and grandfather. At just 20 months old she was 1 1/2 to 8 ½ years younger than the rest of the field. I thought she could do the first series, so nerves never played a role with me. She did ok in the first series, but she was loose and still shaking ducks. The second series was a well thought out test which I knew dogs were going to have problems with. Bon Bon dog didn’t handle in that series, but did give me a couple of whistle refusals on the blind. After seeing the setup in the third series I figured I would have to use up a handle but Bon Bon dog did a good job—it was her handler who made a mistake. I thought she picked up the short bird so I tooted her in, but she didn’t have the bird. She hunted for a couple more seconds then picked up the bird. This could have been considered a handle, but I think the judges knew what happened and didn’t count that as a handle. Now we were off to the 4th series. At this point I knew we could have a chance to place in our first Nationals. I was the first dog to run so I didn’t know the pitfalls of the test. When Bon Bon dog went after the Go bird she was on the wrong side of a stump to wind the bird and was distracted by something white that looked like a duck on a stump 10 yards past the Go bird. At this point I had to handle Bon Bon dog back to the bird and she picked it up. Next, she went on to pick up the long Memory bird. Now it was time for the blind, 75 yards down the shore about 3 feet from the bank. She did a good job until she got within 20 yards of the bird. She decided to check out a stump next to the bank and gave me 2 whistle refusals. At this point she was on land but the cover was too thick for me to see her. I knew if I whistled her back in so I could see her we wouldn’t have a chance, so I give her a loud ‘Over’ without a cast hoping she would get back in the water. She ran on land for the last 20 yards to pick up the bird. I thought at this point we were out, but I was still so proud of Bon Bon dog holding it together through 3 series to at least give us a chance to place.
This being our first Nationals I didn’t know what to expect. I thought maybe only 2 dogs were getting ribbons, but when they called out Bon Bon dog for fourth place I was excited. Not bad for a 20 month old pup running against the veterans. Maybe one day if we can work together we will get a first or second at the Nationals, but if not we have done more than I have ever dreamed. Bon Bon dog amazes me with something new each day and brings joy to my family. Now we have the rest of the year to run Hunt Tests and hopefully enjoy another great duck season.