Anyone who used to follow my blog might notice the name change from Zara the Vizsla to The Accidental Bird Dog. When I first started this blog in 2013, my intention was to document Zara’s growth and my experiences as a first time vizsla owner. Now that I’m six years into this dog mom adventure, my focus has shifted. When we first got Zara, she was simply a pet and my highest aspirations were for her to become a good running partner and achieve her Canine Good Citizen title. Obviously, I was aware that she had the genetics to be a good hunting dog, but I had no interest in it at the time. At her 8-week-old temperament test, Zara showed little potential for hunting ability, unlike some of her littermates. I remember being happy about that. If only I could have seen the future!
If it wasn’t for Zara’s breeder encouraging me to enter her in AKC Junior Hunter tests when she was two, I would have likely never wound up on this path. After her first Junior Hunter test and especially after she finished her title, my thoughts about owning a bird dog changed. I could have easily stopped then, because getting to the next level (Senior/Master Hunter or field trial gun dog stakes) seemed like an almost insurmountable goal. I had not grown up hunting, I did not have easy access to birds, and I knew very few people who could help me. But I felt like I had take advantage of Zara’s strong natural instincts and at least try to train her to become a finished bird dog. As author Gretchen Rubin says, “Choose the bigger life.”
Three years after that initial hunt test, I feel like my efforts have finally started to pay off. Zara completed the National Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s (NAVHDA) Utility Test this fall and she has earned two AKC Senior Hunter passes this winter. It has not been easy getting to this point. Zara was never introduced to birds as a young puppy and had years worth of bad habits that I had to correct in regards to retrieving. At times, I’ve felt like I’ve done everything wrong and wondered if a young, suburbanite amateur like me really has what it takes to get my dog to the desired level. I am not a dog trainer and my methods are not suitable for everyone and every dog. But in the next phase of this blog, I plan to delve more into the process of how I trained Zara and I hope that it can inspire people who are starting out.
Although the name of this blog is now The Accidental Bird Dog, I won’t solely focus on bird dog training. After getting our second dog, Colombo the Rhodesian ridgeback, as a show prospect, I’ve delved into the world of conformation as well, which has been journey itself. I’m also involved in lure coursing, dock diving, therapy dog work, and running with Zara and Colombo. I plan to cover broader topics that pertain to performance dogs such as nutrition, socialization, and health.
I hope enjoy reading my new and improved blog. If you’d like to receive emails when I publish a new post, enter your email in the Subscribe form in the right sidebar. Thanks for following along!