Beltabout was my dog, this is the only name not made up, and when I read the other litter names (Frolicsome, Sidney, Lonely, Carnival and Seymour) I often wonder why I did not chose Sidney.
Beltabout was my first and last English Springer Spaniel, and I taught him every thing I know about dog training. I brought Beltabout from a spaniel breeder who then charged me ten pound an hour to teach me how to train a working English Springer Spaniel, after about One hundred and fifty hours (and pounds) I have learnt one thing, I am unable to train spaniels.
I will know next time try another breed or better still a fully working model about three years old.
I have only myself to blame, Beltabout know to us all as Bracken has long since passed over rainbow bridge to the cover crop in the sky a handsome bold dog who loved to hunt. The problem was he lives in a silent world, when he looks and follows hand signals he is magic, when he cannot see you he is off, and I mean off. I know that it is possible to train spaniels until they respond almost robotically, I have seen these dog in action. Beltabout will do all of the thing that these dogs do but, under his terms and conditions, when confined within in an escape proof area he is ‘Robot Dog’. If the pen gate is left open he is a manic liver and white game seeking missile. On three occasions I have had to leave him behind when I have taken the other dogs home, and returned to find him an hour or so later, sat patiently waiting where I last saw him.
When crossing the harbour for evening flight Beltabout was stood like an Aunt Sally on the front of a ship. When he spied what looked like a swan about a mile and a half across the harbour. He turned to look for the hand signal, however I was busy removing a tick from one of the other dogs, so using the skills instilled in him by my own hand. He dived from the bow of the boat into the ogin in hot pursuit of a highly amused and not so far away seagull. The boat changed course and headed him off, and dragged him back aboard.
Beltabout took early retirement from the working field and went to live with a family who threw him balls all day, and not only let him sleep in the house he even had his own space on the settee! I think we both good the best out of the relationship as I went back to training Golden Retrievers.