Bird Dog & Retriever News

August / September 2003 issue Page 40

 The Tolling Process
continued from page 14

Eddie Kenney who owned, bred, and hunted with Tolling dogs for over sixty years in Yarmouth County, the dogs' ancestral home, went a step further. He believed training beyond retrieving should begin at two months of age. He believed an eight-week-old Toller pup is perfectly capable of handling the basic commands of sit, stay, and come in light, playful, one-to-two minute training sessions.
"He never let us play with the puppies after they were two months old," Eddie's granddaughter Audrey Goudy recalls. "Their training was starting at that time."
Training a tolling dog utilizing their unique abilities is an ancient art. Small, red dogs were used as lures in ancient Japan in conjunction with falconry. Later, but before the innovation of firearms, similar canines were employed along the canals of Holland and England to draw ducks up these waterways into waiting nets. The Tolling Retriever, however, was a unique development of early North American settlers.
These people first realized the advantages of tolling for waterfowl when they witnessed its implementation by that wiliest of all marshland predators, the red fox. The fox would cavort about on the shore, its white-tipped tail flagging, in clear sight of ducks rafting far out on the water. The ducks, drawn by this display, would swim closer and closer until, snap! The fox's mate would leap from its hiding place in the tall weeds and grass and seize their dinner.
At other times, a fox hunting alone would prance and jump about on the beach well within view of the ducks until the birds began to move toward the shore. Then he would stretch out on his belly, hidden the marsh grass, and wait.
If the ducks hesitated, the fox would raise his white-tipped tail and flick it to and fro a few times to start them moving again. Soon they were within range and shortly it was evident that even a bachelor fox could manage his own version of Peking duck.
To emulate the fox's success, people developed dogs that not only resembled reynard in appearance, but also in action. Like a pied piper, a tolling dog could lure unsuspecting ducks and geese into his master's clutches, and thus render itself indispensable when it came to putting dinner on the table.
"When the (red) foxes see the game approaching, they run and jump; then they stop suddenly in one jump, and lie down upon their backs," Nicolas Denys, colonizer of the Atlantic Provinces during the mid-1600's once wrote in explaining how the tolling process came to be. "The wild goose or the duck keeps constantly approaching. When these are near, the foxes do not move anything but the tail. Those birds are so silly that they come even wishing to peck at the foxes. The rogues take their time, and do not fail to catch one, which pays for the trouble.
"We train our dogs to do the same (attract ducks as settlers had observed red foxes doing), and they also make the game come up," Denys continued. "One places himself in ambush at some spot where the game cannot see him; when it is within good shot, it is fired upon, and four, five, and six of them, and sometimes more are killed. At the same time, the dog leaps to the water and is always sent farther and farther out; it brings them back, and then is sent to fetch them all one after another."
Tolling dogs actually remained little known outside the Maritimes of Eastern Canada until the early 1980's when two Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrieves took Best in Show at a pair of dog shows in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Although Ron and I live in the province adjacent to their ancestral home, we only became acquainted with them in 1986. We're extremely glad we did.
It's been fifteen years now since Ron and I first watched Chance draw in those ducks and we're still fascinated by the process each time one of our dogs lure a flock to shore. To watch a prancing, little white-toed dog dancing up and down a driftwood strewn beach, a large flock of Black Ducks swimming vigorously toward her is to view one of nature's truly amazing mysteries.

Gail MacMillan hails from Bathurst, NB, Canada www.gailmacmillan.com

I want to die peacefully, in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming, terrified, like his passengers.

Go to the previous page

 Go to the next page

Go to the table of contents page

Go to the back issues page

 

 Go to our home page

Subscribe to BD&RN 

Advertising Rates 

 Advertise with us

 Send us a message

 Art

 Airedales

 American Water Spaniels

 Birds

Boats

 Books

 Boxes & Trailers

Boykins 

Brittanys

 Calls

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers 

 Collars

Clothes 

Cocker Spaniels 

Curly Coat Retrievers 

Decoys/Blinds

Dog Food

 Drahthaars

 English Setters

English Springer Spaniels 

 French Brittanys

 Flat Coat Retrievers

 German Shorthaired Pointers

 German Wirehaired Pointers

Golden Retrievers

 Gordon Setters

Guns & Gunsmithing 

 Gun Shows

 Hunts & Training Areas

 Irish/Red Setters

 Irish Water Spaniels

Labrador Retrievers 

 Large Munsterlanders 

Llewellin Setters 

Miscellaneous 

 Perdiguero De Burgos

 Pointers

Pointing Labs

Publications 

Pudelpointers 

 Rare Breeds

Real Estate

Supplies

 Training

Video 

 Vizslas

Wachtelhund 

 Weimaraners

WP Griffons

Go to Canine Today.com

 Go to Bdarn.com

Go to Guldans.com 

 Cool Places on the web

 Go to Hunter Angler.com

Power State Pages

 Power Breed Pages

 Power Back Issue Pages

 Power Board Pages

 Power Misc Pages


Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
Maintained by Dennis Guldan e-mail
Bird Dog & Retriever News, 563 17th Ave NW, New Brighton, MN 55112,
Phone/Fax 651-636-8045 Adv deadline 1st of the month prior to the issue.