I have just seen a clip on the television reporting on a new extreme sport which involved hurtling oneself down a tarmac surface while laying prostrate on a specially adapted skate board. The exhilaration and exuberance on the young male 20 something year olds face as he explained the 'buzz' of reaching speeds of 80mph while only 3 inches above the ground was obvious. However I couldn't help but notice that members of the female gender were conspicuous by their absence. The male hormone testosterone was definitely prevalent for this activity.
This brought me to wondering why in such a physical and demanding sport as the shooting field why people seem to have a preference for female gundogs, retriever or spaniel Is it because by having a litter from their bitch they can recoup some of the expenditure of ownership or do they seem to think that a bitch is more easily handled.
I have in the kennel some really nice flashy, stylish bitches but my personal preference is for a good dog. I find that dogs although taking perhaps longer to mature [they have more physical growing to do] when fully grown have that little extra power and determination to succeed and as long as you have asserted your authority from an early age they will work well as part of a team. The girls are on heat twice a year which of course means that you loose them for around 2 months out of the 12 of which one is bound to be during the shooting season.
On the glorious 12th (August grouse shooting began) I was having to field a team for picking-up on a friends grouse moor. I really wanted to go with a whole pack to do a thorough job. The beauty of a grouse moor means that one is able to keep the pack in view which makes keeping control of a number of dogs more possible. I went to the kennel to make my choice for the day and I ended up with a complement of nine. Six Cocker Spaniels and three Labradors. Of the six cockers four were male and of the three labs two were male. Six of my pack of nine were masculine. The team performed really well with the cockers doing the close work while the labs worked at a longer wider distance. There was no conflict between the males (mummy wolf doesn't allow it) they worked excellently as a team with plenty of drive and stamina. Six out of the pack of nine were Field Trial Award Winners so keeping them under control was not too difficult. Only one moment of one up man ship came while I was handling a Labrador into an area were I knew a bird had fallen I glanced down to see FTAW Contrail Comanche (Jack) standing about 10 meters away looking at me with the bird in his mouth as if to say forget that silly lab I got the bird here mum! Oh how I love these little cockers.
So for those of you looking for a female gundog in the future do give the poor old male a consideration because who knows you may be pleasantly surprised.