I took my Golden Retriever, Sophie, beating on my friends Michael and Peter's shoot today on their farm. I had been beating once before on another, bigger shoot and I hated it so much I walked the 10 miles home. They were a drunken, disorganised rabble and treated their dogs and mine with impersonal disdain.
This shoot was completely different. My friends take a pride in everything they do and it was harmonious and companionable. Everyone was given a job to do and my friend Michael is a leader to marvel at. He is the sweetest person I have ever met and he commands affection and respect from everyone because he notices everything, tries his heart out to make things run smoothly and efficiently, and make sure that everyone enjoys themselves and feels wanted and appreciated.
They were all true animal lovers and all took the time to admire Sophie, and treated their own dogs and everyone else's with kindness and respect. They were a lovely group of people and I felt privileged to be allowed to join them.
It was a beautiful day and I had a wonderful time and loved every moment of it. I am definitely going to go again next season and try to train Sophie into a proper gundog.
I made new friends, spent time with old friends, had sloe gin and sausage rolls, Sophie and I were both given a delicious lunch of venison casserole and apple pie, and got to walk through some beautiful countryside in the best company imaginable.
Life doesn't get much better than that!
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