Waterfowl guys have a term called "blind retrieve," where the dog doesn't actually see the bird drop yet is required to streak right to the duck and bring it back. After watching video from the camera I mounted on Buddy, it looks like virtually every retrieve is blind to a dog.
It's a matter of geometry. A dog is low to the ground. His line of sight to something else on the ground is easily obstructed by bushes, rocks, even high spots in the terrain. The obstruction doesn't have to be very tall — a few inches, and your bumper or dead bird is virtually invisible.
Buddy's perspective is too darn low to see beyond even short cover. The tall stuff, I'm just glad he has a good nose. Doubt me? Try it yourself some time. Lob a bumper, kneel down and see what you can — and can't — see.
In the future when I send Buddy for any dead bird, I'm sending him to the downwind side of where I thought it landed, to give him every chance for a successful retrieve — blind or not.
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