Yes, you read Part I right, Ila didn’t get to go Chukar hunting. Not quite a year and a half old, she still has to pass her OFA exams, prelims or not, and Fowler had been nursing a sore wrist. They were going to get to hunt Valley Quail. Sure, we have them in our surrounding areas at home, but not in places where you can hunt them mostly. In fact, one of the best indicators of Prime Valley Quail habitat is – can they be hunted here or not? If it’s legal, odds are you will not see them, and if you do, they will be like an apparition – did you really see what you thought you saw? If it’s not legal, the little winged turds will strut around with reckless abandon. Some say their call sounds like Chi-ca-go, all I hear is Suck-it-Monkey.
Jenna is becoming an adept habitat researcher. Juggling OnX, Google Earth, researching various blogs (seriously, I have no idea how she finds this stuff), and heaven only knows what. She decreed, “we need to hunt the area around the old center pivots up the road”, and so we did. We took the road to the west of the irrigation assemblies; it was a checkerboard of private and public lands. Which to me wasn’t exciting. But if you reference the above paragraph it had the effect of increasing the likelihood of finding these tricky little guys. As if on cue, we were approaching a break from private to public, and a covey was crossing the road – they were legal. Flirting with disaster, living on the wild side, all of fifteen feet of legal. If we got them to flush north, we could hunt them.
Quickly I got Ila out and let her work the covey – yes, straight out of the truck! Bam, she had them. I didn’t fool around and moved smartly past her point hoping to flush them deeper onto the public land, and maybe get lucky. Flush they did and just like the Rebel Fighters attacking the Death Star, they juked and jived through the sage brush as if they were rocking their speeders back home in Beggar’s Canyon, just like Luke Skywalker evading a squad of TIE fighters. No shots for me, worse yet, they flushed almost perfectly parallel to the property line – still barely legal (don’t Google that).
As Ila and I approached them again, many were easy to see, running on the desert floor here and there. She would point, look to me. Relocate. Point again. It was a chaotic scene for sure. She made a good point in front and pointing at me. The quail flushed at me, and regrettably I shot. The bird was rendered to a lump of quail-burger hurtling through time and space. I ducked so as not to be hit by it. The quail’s ruined carcass hit the desert floor with an unceremonious ‘thock’. Ila still steady despite all of this. I gave her the ‘hunt dead’ with quail still running hither and thither. She really didn’t know what to do, but she slowly worked towards me. Then abruptly the covey flushed again back to the truck. Clearly, they had the property line wrong by just the right amount! Ila located the crumpled bird and really had no interest in it. She literally looked up at me as if to say, “what is this”? I gave her a ‘here’ cue and stepped away. She grabbed the shattered bird ever so reluctantly and brought it towards me. Gawd, what a hit. That poor quail was a terrible mess. But hey, we were on the board!
We hustled back to the truck, where our friends were waiting. Ila picked them back up and quickly made a point. The quail were over this and began flushing north more deeply into the public land in desperation to get away from us. One bird abandoned the ‘Beggar’s Canyon’ mindset and flew high. It was an unfortunate decision for him. What a lovely little cockbird. Ila retrieved him with aplomb to hand. We decided it was time to let these guys be and departed for the area South and East of the old irrigation rig.
The southern edge was home to a large coulee running west/east filled with high brush, just the sort of thing valley quail love. It was a short out and back, and so we ran Fowler here due to his wrist injury. Within moments he was in the birds. They weren’t making mistakes and it wasn’t long before he was showing sign of being uncomfortable, so we wrapped it up. Another much larger but similar coulee system ran north/south joining the previously mentioned drainage not far from where we were parked. Tule and Powder hunted hard, but the only thing they managed to find were rabbits, and we discovered an ancient stand of giant sage. We took a moment to marvel these enormous bushes. Several of which exceeded ten feet in height.
Back to our regularly scheduled programing. All Ila, All the time. It was late in the day, and we wanted to give Ila another shot at the valley quail. We decided to put her on Fowler’s run and see what may come of it. She picked the quail up, pretty much in the same place Fowler did. She made her point between the steep edge and the tall, thick, and impassable brush. I gave her an ‘alright’ in hopes she might get them up for a shot. But what happened was she worked the birds through until she emerged on the other side where she went back on point. I was flabbergasted as to what to do next.
Thirty some odd yards away, but she may as well have been a mile away on the other side of molten lava – I wasn’t going to be able to get to her. The quail cracked first and flushed. A pair came back over towards us, I have no real idea where the others went. Ila stood steady to the flush. I waited a moment, then asked her to come in, which she did with great enthusiasm. I told Jenna I had an idea where the two birds went, and we set out in their direction. Ila canvased the desert floor then suddenly, she skidded to a stop ending with a dramatic point. Clearly the bird was pressured, and it flushed giving me a high-speed passing shot. The first shot caused him to rock in the air, the second caused him to fold up. I looked back, with Ila still standing, gave her the ‘hunt dead’ cue, and off she went. We searched, and searched and was near to giving up, when suddenly the little dog found the bird tightly nestled in a thorny bramble at the base of some desert brush!
In the area, we were able to cross over the channel cut in the desert floor without difficulty and began heading back to the truck. It wasn’t long before Ila became birdy. Point, go, point, go. She was managing running birds. Then somehow, they were visible. Possibly a dozen or more, running to and fro. Crossing one another’s paths with Ila standing in the middle of them. Picking her feet up like a cat on a hot tin roof. I gave her a recall since she about to lose her edge and start chasing them around. Then the quail went up and over the small ridge never to be found again. This is why it’s called bird hunting and not bird getting. The dogs are always learning and improving, just as I to continue to learn and improve as an amateur naturalist and dog handler. I suppose I too will only get a little better so as long as we continue to learn together.
It’s been said many times already but please indulge me, just one last time. We had one heck of a busy summer. Tule and Powder have not just timed their heat cycles together, but they have taken it to a level we think few would believe. Their cycles are not the same duration, and they ovulate at different times in their cycles. Starting their heat cycles on the same day, well, that’s for rookies. These girls started when they needed to start to begin their ovulations within twelve hours of one another! Yeah, it’s like that around here. They also gave birth barely eighteen hours apart. It was very generous of them to allow us some rest and the threat of getting some sleep. But within short order we had a baker’s dozen of gorgeous pups to attend to. You can visit their litter pages HERE & HERE to see and read about these glorious pups. These litters came a bit later in the summer than we would have preferred, but it’s not like we get a vote…and as we were gearing up to receive our clients for pick-up week, others were hitting the field and getting into birds.
We had been kicking around plans to hunt Eastern Idaho since last winter, but when it came time, we heard the call of the Montana Hi-Line. We had never hunted the region, and it had been a full decade since I had hunted Sharptailed grouse – I no longer had a dog with experience on the species. As we juggled client communications and care for the pups, Jenna did what she does best and hatched a travel plan. With just a tiny bit of input from me she lined out an excellent itinerary – holy crap, we were going!
Like crazy people, the last pup left and the next day we were on the road, hoping that our newly installed and minimally tested sprinkler timers would not disappoint. We started our journey exhausted, but it was fueled by the hope of being like those we saw on the various Facebook groups we are members of.
Montana’s system of block management is quite frankly a wonderful example I feel more states should try to emulate. Landowner recruitment is good across the state and in some areas nothing short of amazing. Better yet, the properties enrolled in the program, generally speaking, are pretty darn good, or in many cases downright amazing – quite unlike what we have here in Eastern Washington…
For our first hunt, we had selected a place where three large parcels converged, one Bureau of Land Management (BLM), one state owned, and the other a beautiful piece of block management land. We stopped to look over the map to locate the sign-in box and to our surprise, we were gifted with an enormous covey of Sharptail crossing the road. From the private block management property to the BLM property – no sign-in required, have a nice day.
We took our time and put both Powder and Fowler down and within moments, they were on the birds – but the birds had really covered some ground in these few minutes. As you might expect, Team Double Dutch worked them perfectly and I was able to pull two Sharpies from the first covey rise. One for each dog. How about that?
What follows here was a series of poor decisions on our part. We had assumed Ila was ready to hunt in a brace, and that running her with Tule, our other Higgins dog, would be fine… yeah, about that. They weren’t ready to be run together and the experience was an unmitigated disaster. Each dog caused the other to make an error, and those errors only created more energy management problems, and errors. It was like a hurricane made of fire. Ila was running around like a total lunatic, chasing every bird, and not heeding any input from either of us – so far from her norm. The disaster culminated in her putting up a large covey of Sage Grouse and promptly ran them off the block of BLM. Finally, she regained control of herself and was returned to the truck. It was a quiet, tense, eternally long walk. At least for me that is.
We took Tule back out and as we did a new covey of Sharptail came over from the block management property to the BLM and landed about one hundred and fifty yards in front of us. Can you believe this? Tule had also regained her self-control during the intermission, so she was allowed to hunt these birds. She over pressured her first contact and they flushed. She remained steady. We caught up to her and set her out again. This time much more careful, but more or less the same result, too much pressure. The birds were spread out now, so it was all about remaining calm and allowing her to work. Then, bam. We had a point. The birds were running, so Tule carefully began tracking the bird(s). Point. Stalk. Point. And so on. She was being very careful now and then it happened. We had The Point. She had one dead to rights. I moved into position and released her to flush. She did so and I did my job for her and took the bird. Once it was down, Tule was released for the retrieve. Tule did a great job working the rest of the birds, and just like that we had a limit of Sharptail in a matter of no time.
Now to let us fast forward to Ila’s redemption. We had explored nearly the full expanse of Greater Middle of Nowhere, Montana. Some places more productive than others and some much less so, but that’s hunting for you and to be expected when you don’t have any honey holes mapped out. Ila and I came to a nice-looking piece of block management filled with a lush carpet of prairie grasses. Two of its edges were bordered by cut wheat fields – promising. Just as I was finishing up my sign-in card a local pulled in. Geez, I thought to myself, “It’s not that big, you saw from a mile away I was here…really”? He seemed just as off put by being beaten to the spot, yet he went and signed in. He opened the conversation sheepishly asking how I had intended to hunt the property. I basically stated I was planning to try to keep my pup into the wind as much as I could by doing a rather large counterclockwise loop in the large rectangle set before us. He offered to go to the far end and hunt the fence bordering one of the cut fields. I said, “sure”. In hindsight I’m positive it came out quiet curtly, much more so than intended, but in the moment, I thought I had done a good job of sounding out a compromise. Ila and I set out, and he drove off.
I have been blessed with some really nice hunting dogs. However, no matter how good your dog is you have to get through their puppy and juvenile phases. Ila is cresting her juvenile phase and so is subject to some young Drentisms. Said quirks can be outright comical most times, but in the same breath can be so frustrating when the timing isn’t optimal. All my Drents have enjoyed pointing field mice and working up a few meadow larks as a pup, some more so than others. Then there is Ila. She has taken the art of hunting mice and larks to a rather elevated level, really, I should just call it what it is – fine art. Few have seen such exquisite work from any dog! I have a friend who regularly produces National Field Trail Champion German Shorthairs – Terry, who has seen countless dogs work in the field would have his spine shiver to see her work (on field mice).
With that said, yes, the first thirty minutes were filled with this ‘great dog work’ on field mice. My soul slowly filling with despair. I was thankful that Jenna, my beloved, wasn’t with us for the first time ever – she would have been spitting red hot nails. Yet Ila went from mouse nest to nest, working each one with such great care, then mounting such dramatic and stylish points as ever recorded in Drent history. Each time, my excitement was like a veritable tidal wave. Rising. Climbing far above the ocean floor. Rolling. Growing. Climbing. Cresting…then crashing into oblivion. We walked on. Ila happy as a lark. Hunting for whatever may be possible.
In my mind I had resigned. Partially a good thing. Being detached can be quite amazing for your energy management and how that may potentially affect your dog. Her search was arrested abruptly. She geared down and was for a moment channeling her grandfather, Booker. A panther, stalking in the grass. God it was beautiful. This wasn’t a field mouse; it was something special. “Jesus”, I thought, “It’s happening”. She carefully stalked and gently eased into a point. I still had ground to cover forty yards at least to even consider being in range. Her point only magnified. Intensified. Did she grow in size? This was it. I carefully positioned myself. She differed to me and a moment later I gave her the queue to flush. She launched herself into the grass with abandon and a hen pheasant erupted. She remained steady without any encouragement from me, and we watched her fly away. I went and knelt by her side, stroked her up, and told her what a good girl she was. Was this it? It was time to hit the part closer to the road, where the local was to theoretically have hunted.
Within a few minutes I was able to see, he never came to our field, but instead hunted the coulee bisecting the other cut wheat field which ran up to the road. Soon after Ila began a ‘wiggly butt’ march. Clearly a sign of being birdy, but not with the level of self-control I wanted from her. I handled her away and watered her. No matter once released she resumed the behavior within moments. Then without warning they flushed – Sharptail! She stood and watched. I shot at one like a fool. We regrouped, shared a snack and a drink then set back out. Just like before, the wiggly butt started again. She was tracking Sharptail. But was she being too aggressive? One flushed wild. She stood, and I let it go. Inside I was like, damnit. Our chances are near done, if not… But we did still have a long walk back to the truck.
Again, her body language was telling. She had bird. This time she was more controlled. More calculating. Still, far out of range, but I know if it’s going to work out, it will. If she gets the point, it doesn’t matter how far out she is. She trailed the birds, I trailed her. This game of ‘cat and mouse’ went on for some time. It was intoxicating. Then suddenly it happened. Her point. She was nearly two hundred yards out. The exhaustion of the sleepless nights and never-ending work of the puppies, these days of relentless hunting and driving from sunup to sunset, washed away. It felt as if I floated through the thick as molasses prairie grass. Still she stood, as if hewn from granite. I drew closer. She stood. I started think, it’s going to work, she has them. She stood. I closed ground. She stood. I realized I took a line which veered me left of her by a fair distance. Floating or not, the grasses where dense and high. Making a bee line just wasn’t practical for me. As I drew abreast of her still a good twenty yards away. She differed to me. I paused wondering what the right answer was. It was then the covey flushed from between us! I looked to Ila; she was statuesque. I picked out a bird and shot – it fell. I looked back to her, still standing, motionless, watching the birds. I looked back, and thought, I can take another. So, I did. It was soft hit and did quite a dramatic ‘danza de los Muertos’ for our benefit. Still, she stood. Watching the covey vanish from sight. I came to my senses and released her to retrieve. Still she stood – LoL. I released her again and stepped off, she followed suit and there is it. A covey rise double on Sharptail over my fifteen month old pup.
Yes, there was much, much more to this trip than this brief excerpt. We had a grand time, met up with a former client, and fellow DPCNA Board member and now friend. We also had several Sharptail hunts ruined by hundreds to pheasants… We were also left wondering why we had not been doing this every year.
Would you consider your gundog a valued member of the family? Or maybe even your buddy? Then maybe you should take some time to hear me out, because there is a better way to get a high-drive dog to perform like a rock star in the field than what is commonly accepted. The Higgins Method will help you to capitalize on the relationship you have with your dog, and only make it better by bringing you closer by building you and your dog as a team.
But before I get to that, I’d like to help frame up my personal experience and how I’ve come to this conclusion. I’ve trained dogs for about forty years now and to be honest, I still feel I have much to learn and improve upon. I acknowledge this and actively take active steps towards educating myself and developing my skill set. Done so by reading dozens of books, watching countless hours of videos, and seeking out hands-on training for myself. Part of this ‘mission’ of mine has led me to train with the best trainers and groups I could work myself into. Since I became serious about gundogs, and the training of gundogs, I have only redoubled my efforts in this arena. So, while the number of gundogs I have trained outright is not exactly an impressive number, I have learned by watching others and participating in the training of hundreds of dogs.
One of my gifts, or curses if you will, is to notice patterns where they don’t seem to exist. It happens most when I am at peace yet fully engaged. Suddenly the connections begin to appear. When it occurs, these connections help me to rather quickly rule out or rule in information, what is effective and what is not, identify trendlines, and so on. It is a quality of mine people have both loved and despised in my previous professional life…but that is a story for another day.
Getting back to it. I’ve had the opportunity to train and befriend some really notable gundog people, several with a presence on the national level. People who I am friends with and hold great respect for to this day. I saw why and where their method worked, the parts of their programs that were money in the bag, their overlaps and similarities; some parts being practically magical and then the parts that just worked be it for whatever reason: force of will is a commonality. And yes, the differences too.
Of particular interest, in dog sport, the ‘positive methodology’ (poorly named, hence it being so poorly understood by many) rules supreme! I mean really, pick a sport from Agility all the way to Tactical dog ‘training’ and just about every point in-between ‘positive’ is The Way, not just a way. With one notable exception, the gundog. The poor gundog, which spends most of its time as a humble family companion, is trained in a brutish old-world way. Why?
I’ll venture this – it’s tradition. Most or all other dog sports are relatively new, and therefore people haven’t been steeped in a particular mindset for a full generation, let alone multiple generations. On the other hand, we humans have been doing the gundog thing for a few hundred years now. The whole hunting over a gundog isn’t just an institution steeped in tradition, it’s been painted, and written about both academically and poetically. Training the gundog has been brought to a state of near mythical proportion. How do you change that?
The old way is centered on the perception that the handler must control the high-drive dog. This control must be absolute. Stop when I say stop, go when I say go, as if the handler knows better in all situations – anything else is disobedience and subject to punishment. That’s assuming the dog even understands why. We can get more into that later if you’d like. The use of force to get what the handler wants when the handler wants it is the easily moved forward backstop. When in doubt, add ‘stim’ seems to a tried and true panacea for all gundog problems. Maybe you even bought videos, books, or into a membership with some organization advocating the use of force. Worse yet, not just advocating the use of force but actively promoting and normalizing it. Some methods are better than others, but at a certain point they all neck down and follow a similar methodology which is wholly dependent on the use of force. How draconian a particular method is seems to be related to how much force the prolific trainer needed to use to generate “success” - then their followers’ line up eager to replicate what they perceived ‘worked’ for so and so. As always there is talk of washouts, dogs that couldn’t hack it, the abuse they don’t want to talk about. Yep, I said it, abuse. That and my sense of pattern-detection has kept me from being able to go all in with all the variations based in this old-world methodology.
Okay, now all the traditionalist out there are looking to burn my house down – that’s fine, it’s insured, its value it tracked appropriately, and we are looking to leave Washington. Just let me get my dogs out first, please. Trust me, I’m not being dramatic, the responses I’ve gotten on a variety of forums has only been met with varying degrees of hostility. One does not threaten tradition casually or make hamburgers from a sacred cow...but my grill is hot!
Okay, enough of that. Let’s talk about the Higgins Method. First and foremost, the Higgins method is entirely Force Free and capitalizes on the intelligence of the dog, the dog's natural desire to be cooperative, and energy management for dog and handler – wait, what!? Yep, that's it in a nutshell. In short, Brad uses a truck load of good flying birds presented to the dog in a way where the dog gains an understanding that in order to be fully successful it needs to cooperate with you, the handler – all without the use of force. Once the dog believes this, the rest is up to you. How long will it take for you to trust your dog and believe it will play its role for you? Once you have achieved the fifth stage of grief, also known as: acceptance, a team is born. Once dog and human are a team, hunting is a relaxing exercise in watching your dog perform. You’ll need to put your constricted chokes away and possibly consider adding spreader loads to your arsenal.
Ila has been brought up this way. We used compatible Force Free techniques to shape every behavior of hers leading up to her Higgins introduction. Afterall, it is hoped that she take over her mother’s role of being my Medical Response Dog at some point in the future. Ila is deeply in tune with me because of this, to the extent that her performance is tied to how true my handling is. If I do my job right, she will do hers right. Not that I look forward to becoming a sloppy handler, but as she continues to mature, her dependance upon my exact handling will lesson. For the record, she has been steady to wing, shot, fall and release since six-months of age – without a single zap. Wouldn’t you like to know what it feels like to bring a Gatling gun to a knife fight? If so, it’s time to ditch the old paradigm and step into the era of modern canine learning and bring this to your beloved gundog. Once you do, you can focus on your tactics, getting your dog get into the best cover, and supporting their effort to find every bird in the area for you. Sounds rough doesn’t it?
This is more or less a companion piece to the Higgins Gundogs review I made last year. We are clients of Higgins Gundogs, and receive no preference or benefit from writing anything ‘pro-Higgins’. To that end, Ila is still in pursuit of her Higgins Gundog title. Which will only be earned when she and I can unequivocally demonstrate our mastery of team dynamics. We are hoping to achieve this goal in early 2021.
As a long standing and current representative of the Drentsche Patrijshond Club of North America and a Preservationist Breeder of the Drent I field a good number of questions on a very regular basis. One of the questions that I’ve get hit with several times every year is Drent coat care. In general, most start off more or less the same, “…I am reading about people saying you need to trim a Drent, and/or cut the hair on the ear and/or body hair to keep it from getting to long. Also, since I have you how much effort do you put towards grooming/combing to help with seasonal shedding?”
So what I’ve done here is to try and capture what a person really needs to know about Drent coat care: body & ears:
Drent hair, tends to be pretty fine, but surprisingly dense, so regular combing and brushing almost totally eliminates the need to bathe your Drent. Even if they get really dirty or a little bit muddy, just put them in their kennel to dry. Once dried, take them out and brush (outdoors preferably). This works great unless the mud is super goopy, and your Drent ends up with dreadlock-like looking mud mats in their fur. Then you will want to get after that with a hose or some other running water with some pressure behind it before it all dries hard. Otherwise a nice comb and a pin brush are what is needed most of the time to keep your Drent looking smart!
Drents do not have a true undercoat, unlike breeds like Labs, Golden Retrievers, huskies, etc. But they do have a decent amount of hair, and they do pretty good in cold in environments, in particular if they have been given a chance to acclimatize (they will grow a denser coat). The Drent may not as good as a Lab in icy cold water, as they do not have the sebaceous oiliness common to the retriever breeds, but way better than a GSP, or English Pointer, based on my experience. I've managed to hunt over both breeds with my Drents. Working in heat is very much up to the individual dog and how well they have been acclimated to the heat…
Like most breeds, Drents tend to shed twice a year. Managing the seasonal change is generally handled with a comb, followed by a pin brush, finished with a boar bristle brush. At the height of a Drents shed, we recommend using an undercoat rake with a set of double-row pins. I have pictured a rake with a single row, which is fine, but the double is...well twice as good. Start with the undercoat rake to loosen and get the bulk of the hair which is ready to come out. Start cleaning your Drent up with your combs, working from coarse to fine. Then when you are about to wrap the grooming session up break out your pin brush, the dog will love, they feel amazing, and it’ll do a nice job of sweeping up much of the stragglers. At this point you may see some dander, and so enters the Boar brush. The boar bristles will clean all that up and help to distribute the natural oils, making the coat nice and shiny. If the bristles whiten, take the brush outdoors and pat/rub the bristles on a stone or brick – that is all dander you don’t want in your house. This is also great for people allergic to dogs, like me. As a side note: humans are not allergic to the hair, hairs, or fur – but we are allergic to a dog’s dander (and saliva - so there really is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog, it all BS and marketing). By reducing the dander on the dog it makes the dog easier and more pleasant to be around.
Usually a brief weekly grooming session handles everything pretty well, and between shedding seasons, you might get to skip for a few weeks. That is if your Drent doesn't carry the brush to you for the extra attention. Normally, we trim nails every Wednesday, and each dog gets a quick brush down. Having four they all line up for their turn - it's a nice trick.
Full disclosure, I have poached the basis of this blog post from another Preservation Breeder, who is allowing the article to be shared. Sadly, I failed to save her information so that I could attribute her inspiration for this post – I am sorry for that. But if you are out there, and recognize the ‘bones’ of your original post, please let me know so I can make the necessary adjustment. Until then, thank you for putting together a collection of well-articulated thoughts on the topic.
Purposefully bred purebred dogs brought to you by preservation breeders. We are so proud of what we do for the next generation of happy, healthy Drentsche Patrijshonden.
As they say perception is reality and for many the word breeder is a dirty word. What is the difference between me being a responsible breeder and a commercial/profit breeder, a backyard breeder, or the horrific puppy mill breeder? Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are not a “dog person” and you are just trying to find a nice puppy for your family. So, what are we in reality?
Here at Two Gun Kennels, we are a Preservation Breeder, as such it is our job to preserve and protect the legacy of the Drentsche Patrijshond and to work at moving the breed forward.
Let’s face it Preservation Breeders like us are never, ever going to produce enough dogs to satisfy the dog loving general public. There are lots of puppy buyers out there that might be wonderful homes but do not meet the criteria that we set out for our placements. In reality, we feel commercial/profit breeders are likely to take the place of what many think of as “responsible breeders” and they will be selling dogs that may have some health testing etc., since that is what much of the public now expects. So how do we the “responsible breeders” of today educate the public on the difference?
Education, anyone can talk about breeding dogs. Why should someone listen to what we have to say? Why? Because we are a legacy breeder, that is why. Our job is to protect and support the breed and as such we are compelled to mentor anyone interested in the breed. Does mentoring mean we are going to sell you a puppy? No, not at all. But it does mean we are going to give you the best information we can and give you the tools you will need to make an informed decision on how best to choose a dog for your lifestyle. We only hope that you recognize the heartfelt sincerity in this effort and not take it personally.
So, who made us a Preservation Breeder? To be frank, we made ourselves a Preservation breeder and did it by lots, and lots of hard work fueled by a constant need to learn and do more. First, we know that we have Drentsche Patrijshonden, that meet the breed standard. How do we know that? We have taken them to 3rd party experts for evaluation. That’s right we took them to Dog Shows, and when practicality didn’t allow for it, we involved our mentors for evaluations and feedback! In the case of Esp. Ch. Joksan NABAR the Gloucester, there was enough consensus that was such a good representative of the breed he was awarded a Championship title. Okay, so our Drents look like Drents, but do they that act like Drents? Well, yes they do and we know this because we have them in working events and out in public where their temperaments are tested so we know they are intelligent, loyal, biddable and act like the way one should expect a Drent to. In fact, one of our Drents is my Medical Alert Service Dog, in addition to being a great hunting dog, and first class family companion.
Ok, so now as a breeder, we know we have dogs who look and act like Drents but are they healthy? Many breeders do health testing but using the test to produce superior puppies that look and act like Drents are what should be expected from a Preservation breeder. Genetics, environment and plain old luck can make a difference in the health but as a Preservation breeder I am doing what I can to make sure the dogs that I am using in my breeding program are producing healthy puppies. We don’t just look into the past, we study it by pouring over database records by the dozen ferreting out all the pertinent details of the Drents we involve in our program.
Now as a self-proclaimed Preservation breeder whose job it is to protect and promote the breed, we have put in a lot of hard work to protect the breed. We’ve bred to the standard; we’ve made sure our dogs are temperamentally sound and Drent-like. We have done our health testing and made it publicly available. What else should we be doing to protect and promote the breed? We should be educating and mentoring people who are just discovering our breed. This includes telling potential puppy buyers that the Drent might not be the right breed for them. Helping new people at dog events, any new person, not just the people who got puppies from me or my friends. People who get a Two Gun puppy will know because we are a Preservation Breeder and that they can always count on us to assist them with their dog and we will be supportive of their success and failures.
We should also be serving the breed by working with other Preservation breeders and the parent club to promote and protect the breed – in which case are and do. By educating we should be helping the public understand the difference between a Preservation breeder and others who breed for profit. We should educate not preach, but sometimes it can sound remarkably the same…(sorry for that)
So as a self-proclaimed Preservation Breeder have, we fulfilled the requirements for what we believe separates us from profit breeders? How do we ‘get off’ calling ourselves so?
1. We’ve bred to the standard and have had 3rd party experts judge my dogs and confirm that they look like Drents. √
2. We’ve trained our dogs so that they can perform tasks in a public setting and have been rewarded with titles to show we were successful. √
3. We’ve performed health checks on my dogs and made the information available. √
4. We’ve not only joined our parent club but work with the membership to promote and protect our breed. Jenna is currently the President of the DPCNA, and Brian is the Vice President/Breeding Commissioner for the DPCNA. In fact, Brian founded the DPCNA, a two-term former President, and he authored the by-laws & Code of Ethics. √
5. We have had our program evaluated by third parties and been accepted or certified by them. We are a Good Dog breeder and have been accredited by Breeder & Rescue Certification. We are working toward becoming an AKC Breeder of Merit. Some may argue that “that isn’t saying much” but to us it means we have opened our doors to the scrutiny or experts and passed. Additionally, we have agreed to abide by their code of ethics and conduct in addition to that of the DPCNA. We have promised to provide adequate health testing for my breed, we have promised to register and place my puppies wisely and it shows that we have bred dogs who meet their standard and have been rewarded for other working activities. √
6. We use this blog and social media as an outlet for education about the breed and dogs in general. Open lines of communication and a commitment to work with other Preservation/Legacy Breeders on the health and welfare of our beloved breed. As an added bonus in the education department, Brian authored The Drentsche Patrijshond for the North American Fancier, and is currently working on a second edition of the book. √
Yes, we think we have met all the criteria generally accepted to be labeled a Preservation Breeder, do you agree? Do you think having a title or description would assist those of us who have always been termed “Responsible Breeders” but go a lot further for our chosen breed be distinguished from those commercial/profit breeders who meet minimum responsibility requirements?
Listen to world-renowned leading canine behaviorist and co-creator of C-BARQ, Dr. James Serpell, and veterinary specialist, Vet of the Year, Dr. Chris Zink, DVM, for a discussion on how breeders can use C-BARQ to breed for behavior and recent research on the effects of early spay/neuter.
Dr. James Serpell's, BSc, PhD: Director at PennVet’s Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, co-creator of C-BARQ (vetapps.vet.upenn.edu/cbarq/), author of The Domestic Dog, founder of the International Society for Anthrozoology, committed to the scientific study of human-animal interactions, Professor of Animal Ethics & Welfare at UPenn, and has published many studies and articles on canine behavior, health, and welfare.
Dr. Chris Zink, DVM, PhD, DACVP DACVSMR CCRT CVSMT CVA:
Vet of the Year, award-winning author, has put over 125 titles, Co-Founder of Avidog-Zink Ventures, and expert in canine sports medicine and rehab (instrumental in establishing this as the newest specialty in veterinary medicine).
Good Dog Team Panelists:
- Cat Matloub, Esq.
- Judi Stella, PhD
- Monica DeBosscher, Esq.
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)**
When Pigs Fly! Training Success with Impossible Dogs, by Jane Killion, founder/creator of Puppy Culture. This book picks up where we left off with the Puppy Culture protocols we used with our puppies and isn't just for "impossible" dogs! However that being said, those who are intending to develop your Drent for field work please disregard pages 80-84 her ball & tug games run contrary to your aim.
Dog Sense, by John Bradshaw
The Genius of Dogs, by Brian Hare
Bird Dog, the Instinctive Training Method, by Ben O. Williams
Absolutely Positively Gundog Training, by Robert Milner. To learn the mechanics of "Positive Training" and developing a natural retrieve.
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:
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!
Stonnie Dennis: A client 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 to Stonnie... If you have patience and time his videos can be highly informative.
McCann Dog Training: As I have delved more and more deeply into the use of LIMA (Least Invasive Minimally Aversive) training techniques I have also become a huge fan of McCann as they offer a wide range well put together videos covering all manor of training challenges, and even offer online courses here.
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Fifty some years later this is what you get.