Puppy-Paddling | Shooting Sportsman Magazine

As a photographer, I have been privileged to introduce puppies to many “firsts”: first retrieves, first birds, decoys . . . and water. This image is extra special, as it is of a litter of field-bred golden retrievers that my family raised. When the pups were seven weeks old, on a sunny, warm day we took the whole litter in a wagon to the 3½-acre pond in the front our property. The pond is only inches deep out 30 yards or so and gradually tapers to knee deep at its deepest. My wife, Shannon, and I, both in waders, put the pups on the edge of the pond and, along with Solo, their mother, charged into the water calling to them. They were reluctant at first, but after a few steps here they came—first a couple, and then the rest following. The lure of people and momma was too great. They had to get to us! We progressed into deeper water as the pups got more comfortable until all of a sudden they were swimming without realizing it. The challenge of this photo was getting in front of the pups, dropping to one knee and shooting before they made it to me. Those little dudes were fast!

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