Higgins Gundogs: A Review*
Overview: First and foremost, the Higgins Method is a ‘no force, no whoa’ method of birddog ‘training’ which is modeled from his experience working with falcons. It’s all about the relationship shared by predator and prey while simultaneously recognizing well-bred dogs are intelligent creatures capable of learning from their mistakes and want to cooperate with their ‘boss’. Afterall, if you try to use force while ‘training’ a falcon it has a high probability to just up and leave. The beauty of the method is in its simplicity once you have opened your mind to this concept and made yourself ready to learn. The cornerstone of his program is a large block hewn from pure Cooperation & Trust. Brad trains handlers in the art of mindfulness/self-awareness and energy management for both dog and self. Then he presents realistic hunting scenarios to the dog and handler team and hopes errors are made, since this is where the gold is found. At its core Brad’s birds do all of the dogs’ training, we are only there to help the bird and partner with the dog. By increasing the dog’s success, we only increase our own. The result is the handler improves and the dog learns its odds for success go up dramatically when it allows his ‘boss’ to help. Brad’s unique falconry inspired ‘fly the dog’ methodology is elegant as it simply works and works simply.
Who isn’t it for? If you love to lay on the e-collar and shout ‘whoa’ until the small vessels in your eyes begin to burst, this technique isn’t for you. If you take a lot of joy posting photos of your statuesque dog posing on a Whoa Table/Barrel or fence post, this technique isn’t for you. If your collection of bird launchers is a point of personal pride, you guessed it, this technique isn’t for you. Alright, I’ll dispense with the Jeff Foxworthy shtick, since I am pretty sure you get the point. In short, this methodology isn’t for you if you can’t or are unwilling to open your mind to the possibility that traditional obedience training has nothing to do with cooperation and trust, but is instead much more about coercion, intimidation, and frankly bullying or worse. The use of toe-hitches and ear pinches can very easily cross the line into abuse...
Who is it for? Have you become disillusioned with the traditional obedience style ‘whoa training’? Do you want better for your dog, and yourself? Have you been looking for or are you ready for something different…well, and if I am to be honest, better? Are you ready to be in real a team-partnership with your dog? Are you ready and willing to learn? If you can answer yes to most if not all of these questions, you need to get off your laurels and get in contact with Brad to get yourself started. Yes, that's right. Just do it.
So, what do you get? A better way to manage your dog and hunt. What used to be stressful situations become learning opportunities where growth and improvement in both handler and dog are cultivated. Meaning, learning and improvement come at an exponential rate with no risk of the dog shutting down – after all the dog thinks you are out hunting and having a grand ol’ time, the whole time, every time. Depending on where you and your dog are in your readiness this experience can progress at a truly unbelievable pace. Brad says he can get a team through his program usually in 10 to 15 hours over the course of a couple of days. We brought a well started pup and an adult in need of some serious rewiring. Each managed a smidge over eight hours per dog to make it through Brad's (HGD) 'fly the dog' program. Brad is a consummate gentleman and professional with superior problem-solving skills. He is passionate with a dry sense of humor which was appreciated by us, and even helped us to let go the vestiges of our left-over baggage needing to be jettisoned in order to be successful. Brad isn’t cheap but as a value proposition, seriously, the experience from start to finish is quite the deal. You walk away with having been given a personalized private lesson in what to do and why, be gifted a host of new tools in your dog handling bag, as well a Higgins Quail 'trained’ dog all in just a few days. Simply put, you are not going to get that any place else and you aren't going to be disappointed with the results. I am sparing of glowing endorsements after 30 years of military service - but Higgins Gundogs deserves high marks and public praise!
*We were recently clients of Higgins Gundogs. No goods, services or discounts were exchanged for this review.
German Style Pheasant Schnitzel
Brown Gravy for Jägerschnitzel
Paxson the Gloucester CGC, 9 June 06 - 13 November 19.
Whether the North American Drent community realizes it, we have all suffered a great loss with the passing of Paxson. Without so much as making a deliberate effort, he became the face of the Drent in North America - a true ambassador for the breed. It is without ego that I can say, if a North American has a Drent under the age of eleven, odds are the owner learned about the breed because of Paxson. If it were not for him there would be no DPCNA, the Drent would very likely not be part of the AKC's Foundation Stock Program and been one of the first breeds to be allowed to participate in both Hunting and Retrieving tests, and I most certainly would not have written any book.
Most dog owners would say their dog has enriched their lives, made them more complete and/or balanced. Some may even say their dog had been instrumental to their ability to pull through some dark times (I can count myself among this crowd). After all dogs are pretty much perfect companions. Paxson did all of that, but he did more. He changed my life in ways no other dog has, because of his love I was inspired to create the DPCNA, connect with the AKC, as well as Gun Dog Magazine, and write a book. Because of this many more people are now coming to learn about the Drent and their ability to move into your heart. Because of him the best kept Dutch secret is out.
Rob en Tiny Key, of the Gloucester kennel, selected Paxson for me. They could not have chosen more wisely. I will forever be grateful for their mentorship and friendship over the years. Most of all I will forever be thankful of the gift which was Paxson. Smart, affectionate, gentle are some words which come to mind, but so do goofy, and athletic. He was selective with who he warmed up to and those he deemed worthy of his attention and love generally were gifted with a dog willing to make himself a fool for you. It was always interesting for me to see who he approved of.
Paxson was my first from pup bird dog and sadly my inexperience and lack of understanding of training in this filed were evident in his work, but it was through no fault of his own - it was all me. Still over the years he managed to overcome many of my missteps and became an effective pheasant hunter and when hunted alone he was deadly on Mearns quail. There wasn't much Paxson and I didn't do together: hike, hunt, bikejor, and canicross to name a few. Most of all he was my beautiful friend, always nearby and always ready for a new adventure. He was the consummate 'good boy' from his first days to his last.
Paxson was born in Boxtel, The Netherlands, and because of my military career, he lived in The Netherlands, New Mexico, Spain, Idaho and Washington. He also had the opportunity to travel to many other places in between. His stately looks and gentle disposition drew people to him wherever he went. Paxson had a life filled with love, as many mud rolls as he could manage, and plenty of adventure.
I can't imagine a day where I will not miss him.
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I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some years later this is what you get.