Beautiful, Intelligent, And Great Hunters !
The relationship between Man and Canine is centuries old. Much of the early bond was established around hunting, and that tradition remains strong even today. Dogs are invaluable to hunters in pursuing a wide variety of game, and there are many breeds that retain this ancient instinct.
Mike Ludwig of Grand Island is a breeder and trainer of Field Bred English Cocker Spaniels, a dog used in both bird hunting and canine competition. Ludwig fell in love with the breed years ago, and believes that for hunting birds in tight places, there is no better. "In Western New York, and certain parts of the country where you're hunting in the woods and thicker cover, as you saw out in the woods, what they will go through, they're not afraid of cover, they go in, and they find the birds, and they put 'em out."
Bird hunting dogs need to be able to flush birds out of heavy cover and retrieve them where they've fallen That means a lot of training, and though the process is a long one, the end result is always worth the effort.
Ludwig explains, "It takes a good solid year and a half, almost two years before you're going to have a full, a truly fully trained dog ready to be in a duck blind or out in a field, it takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, a lot of kindness, and a lot of discipline...nice discipline, but just discipline, and showing the dogs right from wrong."
Although the English Cocker Spaniel is a small breed, that diminutive size is by no means a refection on it's immense heart.
Ludwig agrees, "I've had these dogs for fifteen years now, and the things I've seen them do, yes, their heart is truly amazing. I've seen, personally have seen my 32 pound dog, Buster, who is no longer with us, pull a goose in from the Niagara River. That goose, I would say, not in weight, but in size, was every bit as big as my dog."
But that doesn't mean these intense little hunters are all business. They make great family dogs as well, according to Ludwig, "It's like turning on a switch, if they see you grabbing your gun and getting ready to go outside, that's what they want to do, but when you bring them in the house, they'll lay on the couch and sleep in your lap, they're great house dogs...but when you take them out into the field, they're pretty amazing."
Though thousands of years old, the connection between hunter and canine companion has remained much the same, a primal bond that is as strong as it is old.
"My dogs love my wife and kids, but if they see me grab a pair of boots or a hunting thing, you could have a piece of steak sitting on a plate, and they're not coming over to get the steak! They're going to go hunting! Yeah, the bond that you get with a dog, through training, training with birds and hunting...it's an amazing bond."
Ludwig's Island Pet Lodge is located on Grand Island, and is available for both boarding and training. They also have a new litter of Field Bred English Cocker Spaniels available!
If interested, you can contact Mike at 774-7297 or www.islandpetlodge.com.