Bird Dogs on Scent

The calendar says Spring is here but the clothing I needed to wear while photographing Pointers and English Setters in the field deceived me!  A steady 30 mph wind blew relentlessly from the west as John and Austin carefully set up the homing pigeons in a grassy area of his property.  Secured from the dogs, the pigeons settled while the dogs, hitched to a strip of chain, barked, whined and waited for their turn to scent and point the birds.

The first two dogs, seen below, came down the mowed path, picked up the scent, and like a trained Marine in a drill team, pivoted sharply to their left at the first sniff of the pigeon scent, and assumed the statuesque point of a bird dog.  Beautiful – simply beautiful!

English Setter on point

English Setter on point

This scent test was sponsored by Illinois Bird Dog rescue (IBR) and they hold these tests to see how their rescue dogs are doing.  All of the dogs that enter their rescue are tested for tick-borne diseases.  Since May is Lyme disease month, it’s important to know that Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Erlichiosis, Babesia and other tick-borne diseases are increasing in both humans and dogs.  Once a disease like Lyme is discovered through veterinary care, the long process of treatment is begone.

One of the clinical manifestations that IBR sees in infected dogs is that their nose doesn’t work as well until the treatment process progresses.  A few dogs came down the path and barely scented the bird but none were scared.  Time and medication are on their side.  One of John’s dogs below displays a calm, steady point as I am at the level of the pigeon.  Take a look at that ‘flag!’



The were even a few ‘fresh’ rescues that participated and while they were working on their point, this one took the time to show off the typical Pointer personality and temperament.  What’s not to love about a Pointer?  John should know, he owns a few of them, and this one is up for adoption.

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

As the day wore on, the sun started popping out and the landscape of east-central IL took on a painterly quality to it.  The dogs were done with their scent test but that didn’t stop them from picking up the scent of free-range pheasants that wafted through the strong winds.  Genevieve (English Setter) and Athena (English Pointer) had just come into the rescue the night before and in spite of little rest, they showed off their best looks for me.  Chloe has already been adopted and Genevieve will not be far behind!  Sweet dogs!





A big Thank You goes to John and Rita for opening their home and property to us.  They also have hunt horses that they care for.  The dogs can also be in the field and hunt out ahead of the owner/hunter on horseback.  It’s a team approach!  Here’s John and Rita with one of their great Pointers.



I hope someday to photograph a hunt that occurs on horseback.  Maybe in the Fall when the light, and wind will make for gorgeous photos!  If you’d like more info about adopting/fostering an English Pointer or English Setter, click here.

2 thoughts on “Bird Dogs on Scent

  1. Hi Peggy,
    What a nice photography shoot and experience for you and your people. You do beautiful work indeed. Everyone must have been thrilled with the very professional shots of their sporting class dogs. I loved seeing them.

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