Making my way to the back of the bus, I am suddenly aware that of two dozen dogs and handlers, I am the only one being disruptive. Teetering off-balance and trying to find footing between paws, leads, and muddy boots, I make a lame joke about practicing for the circus tight-wire, only to be met with silence and blank stares - and some of those were coming from the dogs.

Note to self: American sense of humor not going over well.

Instead I find a spot to stand and keep my mouth shut for the rest of the ride through the Packington Estate to the area we'll be hunting today. I observe my surroundings and am absolutely in awe, and I don't mean at the beautiful English countryside. Think of the last time you went to the dog park - how many fights broke out? How many uncomfortable situations between dog owners and joggers have you encountered? Just the other day my brother was telling me how much he hates jogging past dogs because they always trip him up or act aggressively. Now imagine loading up on a bus with 24 dogs and 30 people - it's cringeworthy! So you can appreciate the fact that I snapped this photo and thought,

'The girls back home are gonna love seeing how well-behaved these labs are!'

I was very fortunate to spend a week in England with Robin Watson of Tibea Gundogs! I tried to absorb as much as I could from the experience, and I'll be sharing details and insights in upcoming newsletters and on our Forum and Facebook.

Overall, the most effective insight was into the general temperament of the dogs I encountered at the Midland Gundog Field Trials at Packington Estate and New Farm. Field trials are one or two days long, each a full 8-hour day spent in the fields with all of the competitors (In these cases there were 24 competitors). Because they are conducted in actual hunts, the scenarios are unpredictable. Some dogs may be 'on the line' competing for several hours - off-leash with guns going off sporadically, game of all sorts flying or running by, and other dogs working and retrieving in front of them. Because the rules are very strict on 'breaking' dogs (dogs that run to retrieve without being sent on cue) or dogs that wander, creep or whine, the field trial competitors are of the highest standards of calm, well-mannered dogs. These are the best possible versions of gundogs, and I have definitely been inspired to work towards this standard!

...more to come from Liz's UK Blog, including "Rabbit-proofing your dogs! Duckhill's new secret weapon for 2014!"