Paxson the Gloucester CGC, 9 June 06 - 13 November 19.
Whether the North American Drent community realizes it, we have all suffered a great loss with the passing of Paxson. Without so much as making a deliberate effort, he became the face of the Drent in North America - a true ambassador for the breed. It is without ego that I can say, if a North American has a Drent under the age of eleven, odds are the owner learned about the breed because of Paxson. If it were not for him there would be no DPCNA, the Drent would very likely not be part of the AKC's Foundation Stock Program and been one of the first breeds to be allowed to participate in both Hunting and Retrieving tests, and I most certainly would not have written any book.
Most dog owners would say their dog has enriched their lives, made them more complete and/or balanced. Some may even say their dog had been instrumental to their ability to pull through some dark times (I can count myself among this crowd). After all dogs are pretty much perfect companions. Paxson did all of that, but he did more. He changed my life in ways no other dog has, because of his love I was inspired to create the DPCNA, connect with the AKC, as well as Gun Dog Magazine, and write a book. Because of this many more people are now coming to learn about the Drent and their ability to move into your heart. Because of him the best kept Dutch secret is out.
Rob en Tiny Key, of the Gloucester kennel, selected Paxson for me. They could not have chosen more wisely. I will forever be grateful for their mentorship and friendship over the years. Most of all I will forever be thankful of the gift which was Paxson. Smart, affectionate, gentle are some words which come to mind, but so do goofy, and athletic. He was selective with who he warmed up to and those he deemed worthy of his attention and love generally were gifted with a dog willing to make himself a fool for you. It was always interesting for me to see who he approved of.
Paxson was my first from pup bird dog and sadly my inexperience and lack of understanding of training in this filed were evident in his work, but it was through no fault of his own - it was all me. Still over the years he managed to overcome many of my missteps and became an effective pheasant hunter and when hunted alone he was deadly on Mearns quail. There wasn't much Paxson and I didn't do together: hike, hunt, bikejor, and canicross to name a few. Most of all he was my beautiful friend, always nearby and always ready for a new adventure. He was the consummate 'good boy' from his first days to his last.
Paxson was born in Boxtel, The Netherlands, and because of my military career, he lived in The Netherlands, New Mexico, Spain, Idaho and Washington. He also had the opportunity to travel to many other places in between. His stately looks and gentle disposition drew people to him wherever he went. Paxson had a life filled with love, as many mud rolls as he could manage, and plenty of adventure.
I can't imagine a day where I will not miss him.
We usually send this by email sometime late in October to our clients for the next year. Yes, we know, it's nearly a year before a new Two Gun pup will cross the threshold into your home. Which means, right now is a great time to start looking into different training options and methods, as there is little pressure. You can read, ask questions, seek out advice, find a local trainer: observe training sessions, etc. and really see what is going to work for you. Making these kinds of decisions once you have the puppy is a whole lot like attempting to fix an airplane while it is in flight...generally not advisable.
Since I regularly get requests for books I like, I figure it's time to give the list a place on the blog.
So here it is, I have dusted off the Recommended Reading list yet once again and getting it published in time for the holidays - so you have time to add one or more to your wish list and see what Santa has to say and see if anything makes it to your stocking.
What do these books have in common? Generally speaking, they are in tune with modern canine behavioral science vs. the old school ways I was taught when I was a young man which were quite barbaric by today's standards. They relied on force and were much less effective. So without further adieu:
The Puppy Primer, by Patricia B. McConnell
- for that matter any Patricia B. McConnell book on training/dog behavior
How to raise a puppy you can live with, by Clarice Rutherford
How to help gun dogs train themselves, taking advantage of early conditioned learning, by Joan Baily. **(this is a favorite)**
Dog Sense, by John Bradshaw
The Genius of Dogs, by Brian Hare
Bird Dog, the Instinctive Training Method, by Ben O. Williams
The Drentsche Patrijshond for the North American Fancier, by B. P. O'Connor
Since we have you here in the mindset to learn and read. Here is some reading we believe will also be worth your time and why we build our guarantee around a spay/neuter in early adulthood, if you feel compelled to do it. In short, the early spay/neuter is being strongly implicated/tied to joint irregularities, tendon injury, and even increased the risk of many cancers, please take some time to review these scientific articles:
Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete
Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers
There are also some great training resources on YouTube:
HigginsGunDogs: Brad's methods emphasize a dog's natural cooperation. He uses his experience and background in training falcons on pointing dogs. We will train 1-on-1 with Brad later this year and we are very excited!
StandingStoneKennnels: This young couple has some really nice videos, and some I'm not so in love with. They use a blend of different training methods and they cover a wide range of dog and puppy topics.
Stonnie Dennis: A client recently turned me on to Stonnie. He uses a gentile technique and is a talented handler. The downside, now I have been accused of being long winded but really can't hold a candle... If you have patience and time his videos can be highly informative.
This post was inspired by having a few memories jogged after reading a favorite article by Dave Carty: Slow Down (Let Your Dog Work)
After a few pit stops on our long and winding way, we arrived to the spot. Dave got his Chevy parked in one of the standard places for hunting the area and, it became quite apparent that the temperature was already getting the best of us. Dave was immediately expressing concern over ‘dropping’ Powder to hunt, but the desire to have her down was high, since it was clear she was not going to have another season. Having an old and frail dog now myself, you take it day by day. They could have six more months, or today might be their last. I know this is where Dave was, so I just did my best to be supportive and respect his decisions doubly so when it came to Powder.
The intent was to hike down one branch of a ‘Y’ shaped coulee, mill around at the junction and then head back up the other unmolested branch. So that is what we did with very little fanfare. I still have a soft spot for Brits since my own, Mountain Sal. As we hiked, keeping an ever-watchful eye on Powder, we reminisced over some of the hunts we had shared over her. One which will likely stick out in mind for as long as I am able to keep memories neatly cataloged, is the hunt in which Dave bagged a gorgeous fully masked adult bull Mearns over a nicely stuck point from Powder. Making the event even more memorable was the high overhead passing shot Dave successfully made to bag the bird. With the bird plucked from the sky, it pitched into some heavy cover. Powder was asked to make her retrieve, which she did so with purpose and grace and with an impressively gentle mouth the bird was retrieved perfectly preserved. Dave gifted me the bird and I had it mounted.
I digress - after hiking ever so slowing down to the heart of the ‘Y’ the heat continued to rise, and it was clear Powder wasn’t really liking the heat. It was easy to see in her gait, how much water she had taken, so it was no surprise the level of Dave’s concern was ever so increasing with every few minutes. We paused in the shade in the crook of the ‘Y’ and talked about the easiest way to go back up, how best to try and keep Powder in the shade and debated at what point do we consider picking her up to carry her. The more we debated the pros and cons of our ideas, interspersed with our normal casual conversation Dave became very frustrated with himself for taking her ‘this far’ and that she hadn’t even gotten birdy. The risk wasn’t worth it, and I understood. As we talked about all of these things Dave kept his gaze uphill, presumably looking at the peak which the truck was parked just below. I, on the other hand, was watching Powder.
Let’s me honest. When you own a puppy, stuff is going to happen. It’s just a matter of time - I don’t care how on the ball you are, an accident is going to happen. Aiding potty training is fully and properly cleaning where the accident happened. So how do you deal with it? Sprays are pretty much 100% ineffective on their own regardless of how fancy they claim to be. You gotta get up what got put down. Using a sponge or a stack of paper towels is much like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. Sure, you’ll feel like you did something, but really far too little to actually be effective. Your patient, er ah your carpet, is about to flatline (have an odor pretty much forever). You really need to invest in a carpet cleaner. If cash is tight, one of the handheld units is better than the old school paper towel routine you may be used to. At least these have the ability to suction stuff up, and then pull clean water and/or cleaning fluid through the carpet. However, I used one of these portable units for years because I didn’t want to invest in an upright cleaner, and I was sure it did a good job. What a mistake! About six years ago I saw the light. I bought a Bissell ProHeat Pet Pro Cleaner - the new ones are even better - and I now wonder how I ever thought the portable unit was even effective. What makes is so much better? Break out your best Tim Allen, or if you are a Top Gear fan, Jeremy Clarkson, impersonation. Raw Power. Lots and lots of power. You can pull the accident wetness out and make the carpet nearly dry, then set about cleaning it by cycling ample amounts of water and cleaner through the affected area. The final suction run will pull all the remaining wetness out of the carpet, even out of the padding. Most have a hand attachment, and most have much less power than the main cleaner, but still much more than a portable unit. Even once pup is potty trained, accidents happen, or they may get sick…who knows you may even have a major spill of your own. In the end your nose will always appreciate the purchase.
Here is another nice video from Standing Stone Kennels and something you are likely to have to deal with if you do a lot of back country hiking, and/or upland bird hunting like us. Last year we spent over eighty three days afield hunting, and easily as many just out hiking. We had two Q-Pine incidents, just in 2018. Ethan does a pretty good job here and I'd like to add a couple of pointers to help you get your dog through this. First if it's a fairly minor incident like one one captured in the video, by all means, do your best to calm the dog and get those quills out. I keep a pair of spring loaded leatherman pliers on me additionally my hunting vest has a pair of hemostats on board just for the purpose of grabbing quills. You really cannot pull quills with your fingers, but you can use your teeth! I only advocate the use of your teeth if you are either crazy, or you dog is ultra-calm. If you have a helper, like in this video, have them help calm the dog - it will feed off of the anxiety - so breath deep and chill. Even more importantly, have your buddy do their best to keep quill impacted skin puller tight. As you remove quills the skin will be able to slide against the dogs body normally, this is the high-risk time when broken quills can and will pull through and go under the skin - this is a trip to the veterinarian. Ethan does a really nice job giving his dog an good exam, which is just perfect. If your dog has really been hammered by Ol' Porky - disregard all of this, and get him (or her) the the vet as sedation is most likely going to be necessary.
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 total from ovulation you have about five days to get the job done. So knowing when the window of opportunity is open is absolutely key. In particular, when you know it takes Sperm time to capacitate and they too have 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.
Paxson will soon be thirteen years old. He is surprisingly healthy, but his rear-end just isn't really with the program so much. So we took Paxson Double Barrel Ranch so he could get some action, and Booker was brought along for back up - as we were pretty much counting on the fact Paxson couldn't make the whole hunt. Also, we brought young Robert, my four and a half year old son, for his first pheasant hunt. All in all, a good time was had.
Just so we are all on the same sheet of music, I found the classic graphic I believe most "pointer people" can agree on to define the various "levels" of steadiness.. The further to the right, the "higher" the level of steadiness.
In the world of pointing dogs this can be quite the debate. In Real World hunting situations, with all of the people I have hunted with and all the different dogs I have had the opportunity to hunt over I have heard a lot of things, mostly yelling, cussing, copious whistle bleating and even witnessed a tantrum or two over dog performance for one thing or another. The one thing I never heard a peep over is a guy complaining his dog was too steady.. Let that soak in for a quick minute. Hell, I'm guilty of this. Please allow me to digress...it is my blog after all...In fact my first real bird dog from puppy is Paxson. I thought knew a lot about dog training already, read a half dozen books on Bird Dog training - man I got this, I thought. I was living in New Mexico at the time, and The Poof was about eighteen months old. He spent his first year and change living in Amstenrade, The Netherlands and had only seen a few pheasant and Grey Partridge when I took him out for walks in the South Limburger countryside.... Back to New Mexico. It was a banner year for Scaled quail, the coveys out on the mesa where epic - hundreds of birds, just in a single covey! It didn't take long and Paxson began to point naturally, doing an amazing job really. People have paid more to trainers and got less - just saying and since I thought I knew so much I allowed Paxson to be hunted with my dear friend's yellow Lab, Drake. I love Jim, and I really thought the world of Drake, but he was no pointing dog! True to type, he'd blaze on in and the quail would fly. Soon this became a competition for Paxson and turned into a behavior I have never been able to completely rein in. I learned I couldn't hunt him with another dog and so Paxson, despite being an amazing bird dog, has never had his talents showcased to anyone wanting to run their own dog during the same hunt.
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Fifty some years later this is what you get.