I shouldn’t say this, but with Crumpet gone, I think there is every chance of her puppy, Waffle, coming into her own now she is out of her mother’s shadow.
She is admittedly far from being a puppy at three, although like her mother at the same age she is still tiny but is finally developing all those “feathers” and wispy bits that distinguish working cockers. She’s even developing a little pale quiff on top of her fox-coloured head which her mother had as a puppy, but which disappeared in later life. Her tail has ceased to be the rat’s tail it was for so long and now looks quite grown up, although terribly long. She was born just after the docking ban came in and I have to confess she looks all the better for a full tail. But like her mother she has cut the tip in thick undergrowth a couple of times while out beating – fortunately with no lasting effects.
Her most engaging traits are a very silly lopsided grin, not unlike Alexander in the meerkat commercials, and a habit inherited, we have discovered, from her grandmother: an ability to leap from ground level straight up into your arms at chest height.
It’s a cocker thing. Anyway we have started on a bit of serious training, or as serious as it gets around here, which had proved pretty hard when her mother was still around. Where Crumpet went, Waffle went too, which meant she never really thought for herself. We are not doing very well with the stop whistle which is supposed to halt the dog dead in its tracks, look back or listen for the next command. As it happens, she looks back anyway, constantly seeking approval, so we are halfway there.
For some idiotic reason – probably because Crumpet had just been run over and I wasn’t thinking straight – I bought her a ridiculously expensive training dummy at the Scone game fair: a sort of canvas-covered mini-rugby ball with a throwing toggle. I reasoned that as it is shaped like the body of a bird it would be good practice for a little dog struggling with a fat bird.
We now have three dummies – a redundant water filter made of string and one of those things that fires a dummy into the air, powered by a .22 blank. Waffle likes this one because the bang reminds her of a live shoot, although for excitement a lump of flying khaki canvas is not quite the same as flushing pheasant. And best of all she’s now learnt how to go around serious barbed wire or gorse barriers instead of looking pathetic and wagging her tail.
More to the point, she is remembering the route she took when coming back with the dummy. We’re getting there. n