A Man, a plan and a bird dog named Kate
March 9, 2001
Dr. Tim Ivey, a Meridian physician, decided about a year ago that the hours and days of his life were being spent largely working, with too little time devoted to recreation that he and his family enjoyed. He also decided that he would change his routine to include something he genuinely enjoyed doing. His love of the outdoors, nourished in his youth by hunts in the Clarke County woodlands, guided his pondering. And his love of wingshooting settled the issue. He would acquire and train a bird dog.
Ivey's fondness of the outdoors began early in life as he started hunting when he was 7 or 8 years old.. "My grandfather Lawrence Ivey gave me a .410 shotgun when I was 10," said Ivey. "I will never forget that day, and I am keeping the little Youth Revelation .410 for my children," he added. "I bagged my first squirrel with it."
He learned early that his favorite outdoor sport was wingshooting. He still prefers flushing birds and dove hunts. A bird dog was the logical choice for his return to serious pursuit of his favorite pastime. The popular outdoor television show "Hunting With Hank" influenced Ivey to seek a Llewellin Setter, the same breed featured on the show. An Internet search revealed a Llewellin breeder in Booneville, Mississippi, Fred Gaines.
Llewellin Setters are a specific, pure breed of English Setters stemming from the 19th century kennels of P.L. Purcell Llewellin of South Wales, who obtained his breeding stock from Edward Laverack. Llewellins are known to be intelligent pointers with strong natural abilities, a desire to please, willingness to work for the gun and a companionable disposition.
Ivey visited Gaines' Booneville kennel and chose an 11-week-old female from just 3 puppies remaining in a litter. "The little dog locked on point when presented a feather on a string while the other puppies played," said Ivey. The new dog, which they named Kate, thrilled the Ivey family, including daughters Hannah, 6 and Lauren, 4 and their mother Debbie.
On her first night in Meridian, Kate dug out of her pen and ran away. The Ivey's searched the neighborhood with no results. Then they put out posters, advertised on radio and newspapers, offered a reward and searched far and wide. It appeared that the little puppy was lost to the Ivey's for good. Five weeks later, a man drove up in the driveway with Kate in his pickup truck. He had found her on a highway 5 miles away. She was emaciated and sick with parasites. Veterinary attention brought back her health.
Though Kate's training began 5 weeks late, she took to the work enthusiastically. Dr. Ivey read books and watched videos to learn dog training and made time to work with Kate. His approach was firm instruction with lots of rewarding by praising, petting and loving the dog. This now popular technique of training dogs contrasts with the other method of using punishment and pain to discourage unwanted behavior. Kate soon would heel, point, retrieve and hunt right or left from a whistle and hand signals.
Making a pet of the bird dog and showing regular affection mimics the relationship evident on "Hunting With Hank" as Dez Young interacts with his dog, Hank, on their jaunts across America. Young usually ends his show by saying, "Remember, never, ever spoil your bird dog." Then the camera shows Hank in some form of being spoiled. Ivey has talked with Young about Llewellins. These days, Ivey's daughters, and now his new son, John Michael, watch the "Hunting With Hank" show without fail. They also help with Kate's training, sometimes grooming Kate's tail while she is on point to help polish her style.
The result of regular, patient training sessions is a bird dog that has become a fine pointer in the field. Dr. Ivey hunts on his land in Clarke County with his brother Murray. On Thanksgiving Day at just 6 months of age, Kate pointed a wild covey and a bobwhite tumbled to the ground in a cloud of feathers; Kate's first quail. Ivey took the bird to Jay's Taxidermy south of Quitman to have it mounted, thus preserving Kate's initial success.
Ivey walked into Jay's shop carrying the tiny quail as a number of deer hunters standing among seemingly giant whitetail racks and mounts looked on. Appearing to the bystanders to be quite out of place, Ivey hastened to explain the significance of the little brown bird. Hunters all, everyone understood.
Good times lie ahead for Tim Ivey and his family, which includes Kate, and this lover of bird dogs and bird hunting sometimes wonders just how good Kate would have been had she not lost 5 weeks of early training. And he wonders how good she will be when she gets to be a year old and beyond.