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.
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in dogs can be caused by a range of things, from serious illnesses such as cancer or other underlying health disorders. But more commonly, the condition can be induced by fasting a dog or in this case hunting. Hunting requires a lot from a dog. I have written about the mileages recorded by the GPS collars worn by my dogs being upwards of 36 miles in a single day. Most upland birds do not live in conditions which mirror pan flat parking lots. They do live in some incredibly rugged country. Can you imagine running a marathon in Hell’s Canyon? Not running the shore line, but up and down while busting through thickets of dense brush repeatedly the whole day. Working dogs are extreme athletes with incredible energy demands! Because of this exercise induced Hypoglycemia is something we need to be aware of.
I wrote not so long ago about the need for quality veterinary care for the older dog. Like people, as dogs age some of their systems just don’t work as smoothly as they once did. When in doubt get with your Vet and have them run those panels and observe your dog. Know what is going on so you know how to spot an onset of Hypoglycemia and how to manage it. Well, as you might have guessed, I have an older dog who is susceptible to Hypoglycemia.
When Hypoglycemia strikes, typically it will come on quickly and the sooner you can recognize and acknowledge what is going on the easier the episode will be on your dog. The most common symptoms to look for are: extreme lethargy, muscle twitches, possible loss of appetite (this can make recovering the dog super challenging), trembling, loss of coordination, unusual behavior, blindness, and unconsciousness. Please note, this list is far from being all inclusive of all symptoms a dog can display when Hypoglycemia presents itself.
In my case Booker, ten and a half years old now, goes from a hard charging bird finding machine, still capable of covering twenty miles in a day, rather abruptly. From hero to a dog who appears lost, confused, lightly trembling, and uncoordinated. It happens fast and to be frank it can be scary. Worst of all, it’s not entirely predictable other than after a good chunk of intense and prolonged activity the odds of an episode increase.
Once an episode is underway and detected, what you need to do is: Step 1: Stop doing whatever you are doing and get yourself and the dog to a safe area as quickly as practical. Step 2: You have to raise the dog’s blood sugar levels as quickly as possible. Hunters I know use energy gels used by human endurance athletes, they are cheap, small, easy to find and full of maltodextrin. Some use packets of honey. I prefer using pouches of soft dog food, as they pack much more than sugar… If you don’t have any of those options readily at hand, what do you have? How far are you from being able to have something – time is of the essence? Get what you have into your dog! Step 3: “If you were able to feed your dog” Just wait. See if they will take water. Encourage them to sit or lay down. Help them to remain calm. In a few minutes they should perk back up and become themselves again. Step 3: “If you have nothing to give your dog” my friend, you are in a jam. You need to get something into your dog immediately, and you need to be prepared to carry your dog out. He cannot afford expend any more energy. Good luck! Step 4: monitor your dog, don’t be afraid to feed him a small amount again in a little while.
If your dog has gone unconscious, you have a high order emergency on your hand and irreversible permanent damage is likely to be happening to your dog. Time is of the essence. You really need to get to a veterinarian – any veterinarian immediately. The vet will most likely have to administer an intravenous cocktail of dextrose and other fluids to stabilize and save your dog.
Once you know that your dog is susceptible to Hypoglycemic episodes there are a few things you can do. Talk to your veterinarian, run those panels, and see what is going on. What your dog needs may not be what someone else’s dog needs. If your dog suffers from the exercise induced variety which I am mostly writing about, make sure your dog has eaten but has had time to settle before intense activities. Pack, gels and/or soft food packets and feed the dog well before an episode occurs. Be cautious about feeding gels indiscriminately! I feed Booker soft foods periodically during the day if I am out for a long period of time* this is a better strategy for the soft foods versus the gel packs. *This is subjective based on conditions: is it Cold? Wet? Super hilly? Deep cover? Some or all of those conditions? Etcetera... Feeding could begin only 2 hours in, easier conditions 3 or 4…
There is an abundance of mythology and folk lore surrounding what constitutes a good dog food. Modern marketing strategies take advantage of this by leveraging our biases, and ignorance. Most likely, just as you have done, I have looked over all dog food comparison websites in search of the most stars or dog bones a particular website will honor a kibble with. About eight years ago I found The Dog Food Project when I was living in Spain and this is where I learned most websites use flawed grading systems to honor kibble with stars or dog bones as they see fit. In short, effective marketing equals popularity. Popularity drives demand and demand drives price. Meaning popular doesn't mean better or more cost effective. So how do you avoid buying the Ol' Roy and Beneful's of the dog food world, which are considered by most experts to the worst dog food ever produced? Just as important, how to avoid the Gold Plated and Hyper-priced dog foods, like ZiwiPeak and K9 Natural that really aren't worth the extra money - in our case feeding those diets would cost us over $3,000 per month to feed our brood! We spend about $40 p/month to feed our five Drents.
Selecting a good dog food really comes down to a few things, and it requires some time and energy on your part. So here is what The Dog Food Project has taught me:
1) Understand the Label
2) Know what to Avoid
3) Recognize the good stuff
Now you know, not all of the "bad" ingredients aren't as bad as we have been "taught" and not all the "good" ingredients aren't as good as we have been "taught". You have the basics down, it is time to read some labels and make some choices. Has your dog shown sensitivity to an ingredient? Can you be sure it was actually the ingredient you think it was? The FDA recently published an article which strongly suggests grain-free diets are not what they are cracked to be are linked to certain health problems! What is your budget? How many dogs do you need to feed? What is their activity level? and so on. You will learn there are a number of very affordable high-quality kibbles hiding in plain sight.
and no, we aren't sponsored by Kirkland...I wish though...
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.
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.
Earlier this year it was looking like father time had finally caught up with the Old Man. He was taken to a vet, one that gave us a terrible prognosis. Yet, he soldiered on. With moves, house shopping, a looming retirement, and a whole lot of life going on...sadly it took longer than desired or expected to get him to my vet. Urine & blood were run, and all the "shot from the hip" diagnoses he had been given were quickly dashed away. We did learn he had a raging UTI (urinary tract infection) and most likely he has arthritis in his lower back. So with some basic antibiotics, and a minimal dosage of carprofen it is as if Paxson has been bathed in the fountain of youth. Thanks Dr. Nick!
1. Remember that the animals you select for breeding today will have an impact on the breed for many years to come. Keep that thought firmly in mind when you choose breeding stock.
2. You can choose only two individuals per generation. Choose only the best, because you will have to wait for another generation to improve what you start with. Breed only if you expect the progeny to be better than both parents.
3. You cannot expect statistical predictions to hold true in a small number of animals (as in one litter of puppies). Statistics only apply to large populations.
4. A pedigree is a tool to help you learn the good and bad attributes that your dog is likely to exhibit or reproduce. A pedigree is only as good as the dog it represents.
5. Breed for a total dog, not just one or two characteristics. Don't follow fads in your breed, because they are usually meant to emphasize one or two features of the dog at the expense of the soundness and function of the whole.
6. Quality does not mean quantity. Quality is produced by careful study, having a good mental picture of what you are trying to achieve, having patience to wait until the right breeding stock is available and to evaluate what you have already produced, and above all, having a breeding plan that is at least three generations ahead of the breeding you do today.
7. Remember that skeletal defects are the most difficult to change.
8. Don't bother with a good dog that cannot produce well. Enjoy him (or her) for the beauty that he represents but don't use him in a breeding program.
9. Use out-crosses very sparingly. For each desirable characteristic you acquire, you will get many bad traits that you will have to eliminate in succeeding generations.
10. Inbreeding is a valuable tool, being the fastest method to set good characteristics and type. It brings to light hidden traits that need to be eliminated from the breed.
11. Breeding does not "create" anything. What you get is what was there to begin with. It may have been hidden for many generations, but it was there.
12. Discard the old cliché about the littermate of that great producer being just as good to breed to. Littermates seldom have the same genetic make-up.
13. Be honest with yourself. There are no perfect dogs (or bitches) nor are there perfect producers. You cannot do a competent job of breeding if you cannot recognize the faults and virtues of the dogs you plan to breed.
14. Hereditary traits are inherited equally from both parents. Do not expect to solve all of your problems in one generation.
15. If the worst puppy in your last litter is no better than the worst puppy in your first litter, you are not making progress. Your last litter should be your last litter.
16. If the best puppy in your last litter is no better than the best puppy in your first litter, you are not making progress. Your last litter should be your last litter.
17. Do not choose a breeding animal by either the best or the worst that he (or she) has produced. Evaluate the total get by the attributes of the majority.
18. Keep in mind that quality is a combination of soundness and function. It is not merely the lack of faults, but the positive presence of virtues. It is the whole dog that counts.
19. Don't allow personal feelings to influence your choice of breeding stock. The right dog for your breeding program is the right dog, whoever owns it. Don't ever decry a good dog; they are too rare and wonderful to be demeaned by pettiness.
20. Don't be satisfied with anything but the best. The second best is never good enough.
• Don't make use of indiscriminate outcrosses. A judicious outcross can be of great value, an injudicious one can produce an aggregation of every imaginable fault in in the breed.
• Don't line breed just for the sake of line breeding. Line breeding with complimentary types can bring great rewards, with unsuitable ones it will lead to immediate disaster.
• Don't take advice from those who have always been unsuccessful breeders if their opinion were worth having they would have proved it by their successes.
• Don't believe the popular cliché about the brother or the sister of the great Champion beingas good to breed from, for every one that is, there are hundreds that are not. It depends on the animal concerned.
• Don't credit your own dogs with virtues they do not possess. Self deceit is a stepping stone to failure. In other words don't be kennel blind.
• Don't breed from mediocrities, the absence of a fault does not in any way signify the presence of its corresponding virtue.
• Don't try to line breed two dogs at the same time; you will end by line breeding to neither.
• Don't assess the worth of a stud dog by his inferior progeny. All stud dogs sire rubbish at times; what matters are how good their best efforts are.
• Don't allow personal feelings to influence your choice of a stud dog. The right dog for your bitch is the right dog whoever owns it.
• Don't allow admiration of a stud dog to blind you to his faults. If you do you will soon be the victim of autointoxication.
• Don't mate together animals which share the same faults. You are asking for trouble if you do.
• Don't forget that it is the whole dog that counts. If you forget one virtue while searching for another you will pay for it.
• Don't search for the perfect dog as a mate for your bitch. The perfect dog (or bitch) doesn't exist, never has or never will!
• Don't be frightened of breeding from animals that have obvious faults so long as they have compensating virtues. A lack of virtue is far the greatest fault of all.
• Don't mate together non-complementary types. An ability to recognize type at a glance is a breeder's greatest gift; ask the successful breeders to explain this subject - there is no other way of learning. (I would define non-complementary types as ones which have the same faults and lack the same virtues.)
• Don't forget the necessity to preserve head quality. It will vanish like a dream if you do.
• Don't forget that substance plus quality should be one of your aims. Any fool can breed one without the other.
• Don't forget that a great head plus soundness should be one of your aims. Many people can never breed either!
• Don't ever try to decry a great dog. A thing of beauty is not only a joy forever but also a great price and pleasure to all true lovers of the breed
This was a "High-Stakes" members-only-event put on by the Spokane Bird Dog Association. Sadly, we missed last year, but there was no way we were missing this year! The stakes are very high at Bingopalooza, it may be possible if you are caught not having fun you may have to wear a ridiculous hat, a tiara, a tutu or even possibly all. With pressure like that, you can imagine what this does to both dog and handler. A perfect opportunity for Nik to debut her mad handling skills.
As the handful of you who frequent my little corner of the internet have likely figured out long ago, in addition to Dutch Dogs, and chasing birds, I really enjoy photography. Nik and I have had a Nikon D60 for the past nine years, and it has served us well. In fact about eighty-percent of the photos in my book where taken by that very camera, and much to the dismay of Craig, my publisher, none of the photos were shot "RAW" and many weren't even "fine JPG" either. I've lugged that camera around just about everywhere, even my buddy Dave had to use it to capture some photos for an article he was working on when he forgot his own rig. As my photography needs grew, it became apparent the D60's auto focus system wasn't fast or accurate enough, nor was it's frames per second adequate - 3fps, which we thought were blazing back in 2008. I've spent the past two years researching DSLR cameras and pounced on the new Nikon D7500 shortly after its release. This new body gives me much of what the D500 offers without the added expense: an amazing processor, a deep buffer, 8fps, yet still holds onto Point and Shoot capability for when that's all I want to do, and Snapbridge - which set up easily and has worked flawlessly for me. Pretty much all wins across the board for me - yay!
On the side, I've fooled around with various editors, most weren't that great either in their power or flexibility or cost. I've become a big fan of Google Photos over the years, and use it extensively - but still I wanted more, and I wanted it for free. Getting the new DSLR has put me to search, and I have gone with Tony Northrup's recommendation to use Photoscape X and Raw Therapee to meet my emergent needs. These programs don't adulterate the original file and are much, much more flexible and powerful than either MS Photos or Google Photos, and you don't have to fool around with adding an Andriod OS on your PC to use cool apps like Snapseed.
This photo was shot on the US-Mexico border, conditions were clear skies and bright sun light. Original un-edited from the camera on the left. a bit washed out, with deep shadows on Booker's face. MS Photos, was able to bring back back some more natural color, and manage a simple crop. Photoscape X helped bring up more natural color, and through masking I was able to ease (lighten) some of the deep shadows on the left side of his face and make his eye visible - pretty sweet.
Bird hunting is a surprisingly hazardous occupation for a bird dog, and it can be tough on people as well... without adding being careless to the mix. Don't worry, there is NOTHING graphic here, just some good ol' boys having fun.
A member of a forum I am a member of just recently posted this VIDEO of a group of gentlemen hunting one of my favorite game birds in areas I have hunted and by accounts, coveys I have hunted. Bird hunting can be much harder on dogs than most might think, in particular Southern Arizona where Mearns quail live. "Road hazards" abound, be it; barbed wire, hardscrabble, catclaw, cactus and the list goes on. We also need to add the hunter to that list, as a potential threat to the dog, and frankly to other hunters in the area. Sure there may be some camera angles at play here, but I'm willing to wager overzealous hunters coupled with a lack of full situational awareness is really what is mostly whats in play here. Enjoy the scenery, enjoy the quail footage - please try to ignore the dog "work" and count your blessing you weren't hunting with these guys.
Despite being only two years of age, Powder is drawn to quail like fillings to a magnet. While I never was able to make the time to get hunt test results for her father, I've managed to successfully hunt him in eight states on most of North America's upland bird species, and her mom is one of the first Drents to earn NAVHDA credentials. She has finding birds and pointing in her blood. Her favorite game is clearly quail.
Through some of the twists and turns life throws at us, we managed to opt out of taking advantage of Powder's spring heat cycle. We have plans for a 2017 litter, and have full intent to make that happen. Until then enjoy these two best buds enjoying some time together. As always feel free to reach out to us, we are happy to field your questions. Until next time - take care.
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some odd years later this is what you get.