Breeding Powder to a Dutch dog in the Netherlands was always the plan. However, for her first litter I chickened out. The commitment level for that litter was extremely high, but still much less than traveling internationally. It has been said, traveling to Europe for breeding is not a trivial matter. Despite this being my fifteenth occasion of flying a pet internationally, this was another level for a couple of reasons.
Months in advance I registered the stud I was approved to use with the AKC Foundation Stock Service and ordered the required DNA kit, then carefully setting all of this paperwork aside to be packed later. Naturally, Powder flew with me in-cabin as my Service Dog, which required a few extra forms to be completed by my veterinarian for the airline; this was easy, but a step to be taken never the less. Then we waited for Mother Nature to do her job. Once things got started, we scheduled her first progesterone test and all of the appointments to get her veterinary paperwork in order: State health certificate, European Union/USDA paperwork, official rabies certificate and of course full vaccination summary.
Purchasing plane tickets before it’s “go time” is pure folly and this occasion was no different. Powder pulled Tule into heat six weeks early, and Tule slowed Powder down by two weeks. The results of Powder’s progesterone tests confirm what we knew to be true. Ovulation will be right at her day fifteen and I had a few days to buy tickets, execute the veterinary paperwork, get a reservation at a B&B, hire a car, and so on. Flying a pet internationally is quite involved on its own accord, but now with a time sensitivity and no room for error.
Checking in was quite simple with all of Powder’s paperwork in order, with no small thanks to Jenna for this! Getting Powder through Security was an interesting process, and she endured her first TSA “pat down” with aplomb. With a Service Dog you train to pass the Assistance Dogs International (ADI) Public Access Test, amongst other oddities you expect your dog to encounter in addition to the actual service they provide for you. Still here in Spokane there just aren’t many places with escalators, crazy tram cars, giant voices and so on – so you just never quite know until you do. But you do hope the things you have worked on were close enough and that those training events would effectively generalize for the dog. Powder was a champ! She handled the crush of people, the whirring of service carts zipping by, riding escalators and tram cars, rotating doors, and crazy voices like a seasoned pro.
Discerning a real Service Dog from a “service dog” can generally be accomplished by observing the handler and how the dog carries itself. For example, if the dog is being carried or in a cart (there may be a couple of exceptions here), not on a leash or some form of bridging handle (the leash is used to protect the dog), the dog is pulling on the leash (although it should be like the leash isn’t needed), the dog may be barking and/or whining (unless it is prompting their boss to do something), it is sniffing everything (dogs are going to sniff, but a dog without a focus on his boss will have his mind elsewhere), having potty accidents (speaks for itself), stealing food (or snatching stuff off the ground – it’s all about self-control and focus), seeking attention (be focused on the job at hand), looking nervous or being aggressive (they should be alert but not reactive). The absolute Number One sign is, the owner probably has a cleverly designed identification card from one of at least twenty different companies easily found on the internet – those are all just scams, each and every one of them.
In the U.S. there is no formally recognized certification for Service Dogs. The ADI is the standard we are moving towards, and it is likely there will be a codified certification process and licensing process in the near future. But fake Service Dogs are illegal. The dog should be required due to a disability (you can’t legally ask) and the dog has to be specifically trained to mitigate a disability (you can ask the animals purpose e.g. Medial Alert). Powder’s vest has a pair of pockets, and inside one is the documentation which covers my disabilities in a Privacy Act compliant way. A service dog’s training is always in the works and being finetuned. The flight process from check-in to ground transport was Powder’s biggest “on duty” shift times two. She really did an impressive job of staying focused and she surprised her fellow passengers as well as the aircrews based off of the comments we got from everyone before, during and after both flights. I am very proud of her.
Bastiaan and Sandra den Haan are the owners of Joeri, the handsome stud used for this litter, and they were amazingly helpful in addition to being incredibly kind, friendly and generous hosts! Sandra made a delightful Dutch specialty for dinner one evening, white asparagus with all of the traditional fixings – oh, buddy that is good living right there! She also helped nail down a dog friendly B&B for Powder and me. As it turns out “De Wijnberg” is owned and operated by a fellow Drent enthusiast Inez de Baar-Le Grand. Sadly, despite several invitations, I didn’t get to go walking with Inez, but I was able to enjoy the lovely surroundings of the Hazerwoude-Dorp area. During the short and quickly paced visit, Joeri made three successful covers, and the two dogs got along like peas and carrots as I had hoped. Joeri is handsome to behold, a real gentleman and a really sweet boy. He is a Drent I could add to my own household without a second thought. It was a real pleasure to make his acquaintance. Moreover, it was fantastic making new friends with Bas & Sandra. I can’t thank them enough for opening their home to me and being so accommodating and helpful.
Now we wait…
There are, I suppose, three primary ways to breed a female. 1) Put a female in heat and a male together and just let Mother Nature run it's course. This works pretty well for strays, I am assuming here, and many "backyard breeders". 2) The Old School way: put them together on days 10, 12, and 14. This too has worked for many breeders for many years, but not all females ovulate at this point in their cycle and using this method can result in small litters or missed breedings all together. 3) Use progesterone testing. This is the only method which scientifically quantifies when and what is actually happening in the female's body, which tells the breeder what to expect and when to expect it. As you may have guessed, we use option three: Progesterone Testing.
Why is this important? We have two main factors involved. Egg and Sperm viability. Some females "run fast" and ovulate before day 10. Some "run slow" and ovulate well after day 10. The canine egg takes forty-eight to sixty hours after ovulation to be ready for conception, and remains viable for up to three days. In all from ovulation you have about five days. So knowing when this window of opportunity is open is key. In particular when you know it takes Sperm time to capacitate and have they a finite window of viability. Generally, sperm can be expected to be viable in the female up to seven days for a live mating. For chilled and frozen semen the timeline is much tighter with sperm viability being around 24 hours for chilled and only 12 hours for frozen.
Like two ships at sea wishing to exchange passengers while remaining in motion, there is an optimal time for this to happen, the further we get away from the optimal window of opportunity the lower the odds of success. As you might imagine, just like the passenger exchange. Too early, not all of them will make it, too late you get the same effect, but for different reasons. In the sweet spot as many that could make it will. So having everything in place at the right time really matters.
Finally its Game On! Tule surprised us by coming into heat this past Monday and Powder followed suit today :) So we will be VERY busy this summer with hopefully 2 healthy litters of puppies. These due dates are approximate, but both litters should be here the first week in June. For more information, just give us a ring.
Who knew I left it there? Well, Erik, a Dutch Ex-Pat, got to have his first upland hunt today at Miller Ranch hunting over Team Double Dutch, Powder and Fowler. We put ten birds in the field, and found all ten - one did get lucky and make an escape. The dogs worked together pointing, honoring one another, and retrieving like champs as we have come to expect, despite the cold and wet conditions. As people who know me know, my shooting is Amazing (Amazingly bad, or Amazingly good) and today I got to wear my shooting mojo like Hugh Hefner wore his silk PJ's. Erik managed to punch birds out of the sky like a boss as well. Unless you were a pheasant in field #2 it was a good day.
Duck Creek's Two Gun Katmai, daughter of Ember & Paxson, aka Mila (pronounced the Dutch way: "My-lah") spent the back half of her first summer here in Spokane for training. Where she learned the in's and out's of being a bird dog with our friends over at Dunfur Kennels in Cheney. After which she came to stay with us for another two months to learn a myriad of other basic things all good family dogs should know and do e.g. develop a strong recall, be relaxed through nail trimming and teeth cleaning, walk into stores, and so on. Her Guardian came to get her and we had an action packed two and a half days running them through everything. Also included are a few shots of her on her random training outings. Enjoy
Well...besides some criminal activity like: steal one from a current owner. You'll need to head on over to my web store and order a Print On Demand copy. Sure, they are a bit spendy but honestly it's cheaper than I could sell the book on Amazon due to all of their fees and be able to break even! Let that settle for a quick moment. Craig uses Blurb, and he also doesn't do anything half-way, so all of the "settings" are on maximum quality. We used the service to create the first two proof-books, and speaking from experience the quality of the binding, paper, and printing is as every bit as good in all ways as the print run I had done (which was freaking top notch).
But it is best to have it before you do! Conibear traps are out there, and in some of the damnedest places. Most of our Drents are too big for most of these deadly traps, but for young Drents and some females they are a real threat. Downloadable PDF guide HERE. Be safe and enjoy your time afield.
This morning in the Netherlands Joeri got to earn his kibble working for five gunners. Enjoy
Sure the Washington pheasant opener is tomorrow morning and the place I wanna go is dictating a very early wake up. But it's been too long! We've made a few tweaks here and there, and over the coming weeks new imagery will begin to populate throughout. Our super cool coffee mugs are finally on the merch page after spending almost two years in seclusion and being coveted gifts to friends... Also, via a Facebook contact I managed to get a t-shirt source that is affordable in super small batches. You know it, an order is in the works! Until next time, keep it rubber-side down and take care of yourself and yours as best you can.
We are actively planning a spring/summer 2019 litter. Breeding plans will be released soon, the potential list or studs has been narrowed down to two. One being a beautiful and highly decorated Dutch hunter.
Please feel free contact us with any questions you may have. To be considered for our direct mailing/waiting list, please complete and submit our application. Otherwise regular updates will be available here on the Dutch Dog blog.
Two Gun has been on the move with a myriad of comings and goings these past several months. It seems some things are beginning to settle and things are getting to their new normal. First we have relocated, still in Spokane, and still on the esteemed South Hill, we are near Hamblen Park in a tastefully restored 1950's rancher with a larger yard. Paxson just celebrated his twelfth birthday yesterday. He continues to soldier on despite what father time has had to say. Also yesterday, we took Fowler and Powder to participate in Spokane Bird Dog Association's annual Chukar Challenge where 28 dogs ran in braces and had a maximum of 15 minutes to find and retrieve 2 birds. The 8 fastest times from Round 1 moved onto Round 2 where the final dogs battled it out for bragging rights and a big jar of pickles. Fowler qualified in 3rd and Powder qualified 6th, he finished 2nd and she ended up 5th in the final round! He won a jar of pickles and both won a small Buck Knife. We had a great time despite the terrible conditions and we couldn't be more proud of them both!
If it isn’t you… you have seen plenty of people out “dog skiing”, being pulled down the sidewalk by their amazing canine companion… or tangled around sign posts, tripping over irregularities in the pavement, or heaven forbid there be another dog walking towards you on the other side of the road! If you are like me, with a with a bad back, putting up with this is not acceptable. Tolerating this behavior will become a matter of riding the sofa for weeks and choking down pain meds, so it’s a full stop, “no go”. So how do you prevent it? And how do you become that guy (or gal) in your neighborhood who is secretly the envy of all other dog walkers with your dog neatly at heel?
Showing off is one thing, but safety and security is another thing altogether and is a legitimate goal to pursue. I often walk all of my Drents together at once, so having their cooperation is quite important, as I could easily be carried away.
Safety and security, sounds pretty serious, but the health and welfare of you and your Drent are something of importance! Maybe you are accustomed to being dragged along by your dog and don’t realize the implications, and that there may be a better way. A leash-puller can run the risk of breaking away from your control, which can be a danger to your dog. Things such as continuing to run into traffic, towards some unfriendly animal, and of course the danger to yourself as I’ve already eluded to. Furthermore, proper leash manners minimize the risk of you injuring your dog in a moment of overzealous leash yanking and will make the time spent walking your dog more about walking and less about tug-of-war, or skiing, with the typical accompaniment of cussing and fussing.
“From a relationship perspective,” explains Sarah Fraser, a certified professional dog trainer and co-founder of Instinct Behavior & Training in New York City, “if your dog is walking nicely on a leash, it likely means that your dog is paying more attention to you, making it easier for you to provide direction and guidance as needed along your walk.” I find this quote to be very accurate and important to take note of. Fraser goes on to say, “Teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash allows you to take her more places and for longer walks, because it’s more comfortable and enjoyable for the both of you.” Few truer words have been spoken I feel.
Tips for Better Walking Behavior
Adjust your attitude.
First, ask yourself: “What would I like my dog to do instead?” Instead of teaching a dog to stop pulling, think of teaching your dog to heel as teaching your dog how to walk nicely beside you.
Remember it’s all about the rewards - sorta.
Since a Drent is nearly always hungry you can use this to your advantage! One of the easiest and most effective ways to start teaching a dog to walk properly on a leash is to reward the dog for paying attention to you and for being in the desired position (next to you or close to you) when out for a walk.
“As the dog learns that walking next to you is a pleasant, rewarding experience, she’ll spend less time pulling and more time walking nicely beside you,” says Fraser. “Try using very special treats in the beginning, like small pieces of boiled chicken or roast beef, to really get your dog’s attention,” Fraser advises. I’m a huge fan of raw hotdogs cut to pencil eraser sized pieces. Just have your dog sit near you, say its name, and give half once he/she looks you directly in the eyes. The better your dog gets at this, treat him less and less consistently. Sessions should only last a few minutes at most a couple of times a week. If your dog “loses the bubble” with his consistent and prompt response just go back to being more consistent with treating. Keep in mind reinforcement behaviors on your part, positive or negative, need to be within 1/3 of a second.
Play the “follow me” game.
This is an extension on the game from above and how I prefer to teach a recall: ‘come’ or ‘here’. Doing this with a partner is ideal. Each person should have a store of high-value treats at the ready, and the pup with collar and line (you can use a 6’ lead, but a longer cord can be helpful). You both are within an arm’s reach of one another. Person one (P1) has pup nearby, and Person two (P2) says the pups name in an upbeat and higher pitched tone, once pup looks them in the eyes, they take a step back and say ‘here’ (or command of choice). While P1 allows the line slack, P2 holds the treat out to help entice pup in and allows pup to have the treat once he is in close. Tell him ‘good boy’ and be enthusiastic but not overwhelming. Wash, rinse, repeat. As pup becomes more and more responsive, add distance slowly. Keep sessions short, and use the line as needed to ensure pup doesn’t stray in the event he gets excited and decides to run if the game becomes too fun.
Once pup is pretty good at this, try this without an assistant. Hold on to your leash and take several backward steps away from your dog. The backward movement is inviting, so your dog is likely to turn and follow you. You don’t need to use your recall command, but it can be helpful if Sparky doesn’t find your step back inviting…also, he is accustomed to this from the earlier exercise. Say “yes!” as your dog approaches you, then immediately reward him or her with a treat.
“The game helps your dog focus and move with you,” says Fraser. Then back away several steps in another direction. Once again, say “yes!” as your dog approaches and reward him or her with a treat. Repeat this sequence a few times, until your dog is actively pursuing you when you move away. Remember to stay upbeat, and be sure to remain attuned to your dog’s interest in the game – better to go short than long. A few really good ones are significantly better than a bunch of so-so ones or worse yet ad handful of bad ones. This lure and reward technique is very low pressure, and you can become more and more selective as to what earns a treat as pups’ performance improves e.g. getting him to sit beside you versus in front.
Practice on your regular walks.
Once you’ve started your stride, each time your dog looks up at you or walks next to you, says “yes!” and immediately reward him or her with a treat. For those of you who like clickers, pop your clicker in leu of saying ‘yes’.
"Frequent rewards will help your dog figure out more quickly what behavior you’re looking for and make the learning process easier for her,” Fraser goes on to explain, “The trick to making this work is using very special treats at first, and keeping your rate of reinforcement high, which just means that you are marking and rewarding often — maybe every 4-5 steps at first — for any and all ‘good’ leash behavior.”
“Over time, you can thin out your rate of reinforcement, rewarding your dog less frequently throughout the course of the walk,” Fraser adds.
Consider additional assistance.
If your dog is already a practiced puller, there is still hope. Like nearly all training issues with dogs, going back to the beginning and using lots of treats can many times work small miracles. Sometimes you may need to consider employing more serious training aids for the job at hand. For these you may want to visit with an experienced trainer to learn how to correctly use these aids, but a properly fitted prong or JASA collar, while looking pretty rough, are generally much subtler in their employment than a traditional training (choker collar). I am not a fan of the various body-clip or head-muzzle harnesses, as most tend to give the dog leverage, or can be very dangerous to the dog. However, if your dog already pulls hard, consider working with a certified, science-based positive-reinforcement type trainer.
Finally, remember that walking on a leash is a skill that takes time and practice for everyone involved, so be sure to celebrate your incremental improvements.
Our buddy Jenna Myers has her web page up and running finally and has finally announced the planned and approved mating of her Ember and our Paxson! For more details and waiting list inquires please visit her website soonest. HERE
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some odd years later this is what you get.