Elfyn Thomas and his gundogs at the Royal Welsh Show
Gundogs are divided into retrievers, setters, pointers and spaniels. Each group has its own specialism, but all of them can do the retrieving. The joke goes, of course, that they must be stupid, bringing back something their owner throws away, but these are some of the very cleverest dog breeds around.
Their capacity to understand and follow instructions, over-riding their instinctive behaviour until given permission to go, is what enables them to be used for the game hunting or other sports that their owners use them for.
Would that I were able to control my two as well as Elfyn, whose command of his spaniels and one Labrador is amazing. Even his new young dog, which has only been with him for a fortnight, behaves himself (just about). Patience, repetition and uniform training techniques are essential to make the pack do exactly what he wants. But he needs to ensure that the dogs are never bored, as he explains: