I used to worry a lot about the SBD when we were picking up rather than shooting. She did ok but I had to be on the case the whole time to keep her shortcomings under control. She is now a peg dog and I can’t really concentrate on shooting and having complete control of her at the same time. These days I start her off tethered while she is fresh, full of beans, and excited. Later, when she has settled I walk her to the peg on lead or at heel then leave her free. She lies down beside me and pretty much brings back anything I shoot and sometimes the odd bird shot by a neighbouring gun, but she acts as a free agent most of the time and, of course, that’s not to be recommended. Usually there’s not too much for the others to complain about. I won’t go through the whole of the action on Saturday, but there are a couple of Small Black Dog incidents that struck me and I thought worth mentioning. I was a walking gun making my way up a hedge to my peg near the start of a piece of woodland. Lady was off lead at heel and we were just behind and to one side of the beating line who were making their way up through a cover crop. I was unsighted on the beaters behind some bushes when I heard the keeper call to me that a bird was coming through in my direction. It was a high fast hen pheasant. It fell in the field over the hedge behind me and I sent the SBD off which she did with enthusiasm including slithering at high speed under a field gate. I left her to it and continued to move up. A voice called my name and looking back there was Lady complete with hen pheasant completely stumped by the field gate she’d so easily found her way under about 1 minute before! Dogs just don’t seem to be able to generalise a lot of situations and she needed a lot of encouragement to duck under the gate. Mind you it could have been the legs and wings putting her off! I was asked to walk up to my peg a second time later in the day, this time in a field together with a flock of sheep including a ram. I know this flock quite well and they have a bit of “attitude”! There are 25 Ewes and 1 ram – I’ve counted them. Lady was at heel again and off lead with me ahead of her walking slowly up the field as the beaters progressed through the wood, and the sheep were bringing up the rear and following us. A few birds came out and Lady did her stuff and I cursed myself for not having my game carrier as I was on my own. When we reached my peg position at the top of the field Lady and I of course stopped and Lady lay down just to one side of me, but the sheep continued to advance rather alarmingly for sheep, I thought. They formed up around Lady who steadfastly tried to ignore them by having her back to them, but I did note she had her ears back listening. I so wish I hadn’t been busy and had a camera to record the scene. A Small Black Dog lying down with a three-quarter circle of black faces looking at her intently from a distance of about 5 ft! I think it must have been a defensive reaction in the sheep to the presence of Lady. A bird came over and the moment was lost. I shot it and Lady picked it up. The magic moment having been broken, the sheep wandered off about their sheep business having decided, I guess, that Lady wasn’t interested in them that day. Spotted during the day were a Roe deer up close and personal and later a sizeable flock of Lapwings passing over and five Herons all together in a field.