rol and can draw the dog back into the blind without
giving himself away to the birds.
It's generally agreed tolling works best on bluebird days; that
is, calm with clear skies. Sunlight enhances the visibility of
the dog's red coat, making it more readily attractive to the
birds. Therefore, shaded areas should be avoided if at all possible
when planning the dog's run.
Then, too, some species of waterfowl are more easily tolled
than others. Col. Cyril Colwell of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the
man responsible for having Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers
recognized as a breed by the Canadian Kennel Club compiled the
following list of duck and geese susceptibility to the charms
of a tolling dog.
He rated Dusky Mallards as one of the best to toll; Teals, as
easily tolled; Whistlers, as difficult; Mergansers, as tolling
too easily, a nuisance to keep away; Sea ducks, as moody, tolling
only occasionally; Blue Wings and Black Ducks, as splendid, coming
in very fast; Canada Geese, occasionally.
Over the years, stories have come to Ron and me about people
who have supposedly used other breeds of dogs to toll. Perhaps
they have, but none we've become acquainted with in over thirty
years of gun dog association can match the magnetic powers of
a flashy, prancing Toller. Moreover, these clever, little dogs
literally "come out of the wrapper ready to use." They're
natural-born retrievers with an intense desire to please. It's
this innate desire to satisfy their master that makes them return
to the blind again and again, retrieve after retrieve without
bothering with the birds rafting on the water behind them.
This characteristic also makes a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
easy to train. The only rules are to keep training fun and fresh.
They're extremely clever and bore easily with mindless repetition.
They're also highly sensitive little critters. Praise them and
they'll exhaust themselves trying to do your bidding. But yell
at them or use any harsh training method and, as one well-known
trainer expressed it, "You'll end up with something just
a little more stubborn than a Missouri mule."
Toller training should begin at an early age. Avery Nickerson
of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, considered by many to have been the
North American authority on tolling and tolling dogs for over
forty years, advocated starting to develop the dog's natural
retrieving ability as soon as they could toddle.
"Take a puppy into the house as soon as it can walk,"
he said. "Then roll a ball down a hallway with doors on
all sides closed. The pup will naturally go after it and, with
encouragement, bring it straight back to you."
Continued on page 40