Today I got to spend a few hours hunting chukar with my 10 month old Brittany pup Annie. I was very pleased with her drive and her ability to cover a lot of ground in a very thorough manner. She hunted close to me and checked back at just the right times. I was also pleased with her loyalty to me as we hunted four dogs between three hunters. Some of the other dogs tended to wander too far with no thought about where their handler was. Annie was a perfect role model in that regard. Aside from a few run-ins with jack rabbits she did splendid.
Annie has spent the last 8 months with my friend and hunting dog trainer Chris Colt at Cove Mountain Kennels. I am thrilled with her progress and can honestly recommend Chris Colt to anyone in search of a good dog trainer. Annie was nearly perfect today as far as obedience goes and performed well at heel, come, sit and kennel commands. Chris was a little concerned that Annie would not respond to my commands as she has spent so much time under Chris’ tutelage. A few more hunting trips with her and I think the bond will be easily renewed between us.
We hiked about two miles through rough terrain filled with lava rock, cactus, sage bruch and steep slopes. We thought we had been skunked and I unloaded my gun as we neared the end of our hike. It wasn’t 2 minutes later that the dogs flushed a small covey of 20 chukar. Needless to say, none of us were prepared for the flush and neither of us got a shot off. We gave chase and eventually got a little shooting in but only ended up killing one bird between the three hunters. Chris was the lucky shooter to down the lone chukar. I went home happy but tired after a great afternoon away from the office.
Through the hot summer months my dogs didn’t have much of an appetite so I only fed them once daily. Since the weather started to cool off a few weeks ago it seems they are suddenly interested in food. This week I started feeding the dogs twice daily again as they try to bulk-up for the winter. With Fall and Winter comes the hunting seasons and a lot more action. So, between burning energy to stay warm at night and burning more energy just flat out working hard they truly need more food this time of year. Specifically, they need more fats and proteins to get them through it all. I have fed my dogs Black Gold Performance Blend dog food since they were pups and I wouldn’t change brands for anything. Feeding the right dog food makes it easy for me to help my dogs stay healthy and strong for the bird hunting season. Another thing I do is sneak them a couple of raw eggs from our laying hens a couple times a week. This adds some good protein to their diet and also is a fun treat that they look forward to.
Part of the joys of living in the west is dealing with things like cactus needles. When I took the dogs for a run the other night Abby came back covered in cactus needles. It wouldn’t have happened if she would have just stayed on the dirt road with me. But, how to you tell a hunting dog not to hunt? I try to let them roam free on our runs in the hills, chasing jackrabbits and tweety birds. So I got to spend the next 15-20 minutes pulling cactus needles out of Jake and Abby’s legs. Abby had them far worse than Jake covering the front of each of her four legs. I pulled one very large needle from her front paw and immediately blood began to spurt in short rhythmic pulses. It was messy for a moment until Abby licked it and the bleeding stopped.
The funny thing was that neither of my dogs seemed to care that they were covered in cactus needles. They didn’t even seem to notice, no limping, licking or anything. I was pretty sure it was at least a little uncomfortable so I did my best to remove every last needle. The smaller ones were left because I found it impossible to remove the furry little clusters. When I checked both of the dogs the next morning, I couldn’t even find a single trace. In general, I think dogs are pretty good at taking care of things themsleves. After all, they aren’t really that far removed from the wild days of only the strong survive.
A few weeks ago I had a friend who was trying to decide between two well-bred german shorthaired pointer puppies. We thought it would be interesting to see how the two pups performed when placed in an enclosure with some live chukar chicks. The goal was to find out if one pup had more natural desire or prey-drive than the other. Take a look at the movie and see which puppy you think has the most potential as a hunting dog.
The real question is whether or not this test is conclusive? While one puppy definitely appears to be more interested in the birds, both could turn out to be great hunting dogs. I would guess that the more agressive dog may be a little more challenging to train and will probably be more head-strong. In the end, my friend chose the puppy that hung back (honored?) from the other puppy while still interested in the chukars. Which puppy would you choose to take home?
This is another female littermate of Abbys named Gabby. I was told that Steve Reis trained her as a started dog, and sold her a month or so ago. I like Gabby’s coloring and nice tail set. It will be fun to try to keep in touch with the new owners and see how she ends up.
This week I got a very nice email from the breeders of my german shorthair dog Abby. They were kind enough to send along a picture of Abby’s good looking littermate Shelby. They own Abby’s Dam “Gambles Princess Belle” and decided to keep this dog Shelby to see if the breeding was everything they hoped for. It sounds like things are going well with Shelby’s training out in Colorado and Belle seems to be a great bird hunter as well. A big thanks to Travis and Alexis John for choosing to send Abby to us, we are glad to have her.
I was also pleased to hear what some of the other puppies in the litter turned out like. Any first time breeding should be watched carefully to see if the good trates were properly passed down to the offspring. As we plan to have a litter of puppies with Abby sometime in the future, we are very interested in hearing about the other littermates. We want to make sure that we are carrying on with a good thing and not having puppies just for fun. Abby is still young, but we are pleased with her natural abilities and bird dog training so far. The Chukar season begins this weekend which means we will be getting Abby behind a lot of wild birds.
Today we launched our new website called DogBreederSearch.com. It is largely based on the same framework and code as our very successul gun dog breeder directory. We received quite a few requests from those raising hunting dogs that also happened to raise other popular dog breeds for pets. We purchased the domain name more than a year ago and finally got around to launching the new site this week. We have already got quite a few new dog kennels added to the site through our free kennel listings. We hope to get the word out on this new site as the pet industry seems to be very strong, especially heading into the holiday season. Please take a minute and look at all the dogs and puppies for sale.
When choosing a puppy from a litter it seems there is always a real go-getter in the litter. The pup that is always first to the feed dish, first to explore the backyard, first to run up to new people and the first to chase a carded pigeon. Sometimes the most outgoing puppy is a female but more often it seems the spitfire is a male pup. The question is – will the pup stay aggresive and outgoing. Usually a bold puppy will stay that way and will continue to have a burning desire to go and do. Some people look for this quality in a new puppy with the mindset that the most aggresive dog will be the best hunter or bird finder as an adult.
Then there is the wallflower. This is the puppy that stays back and watches things develop around them. Perhaps this is a smarter puppy that learns from its litter mates mistakes. The shy or reserved puppy is often a very affectionate puppy. She is often the one that crawls onto your lap for a nap while the others are chasing balls and each others tails. Will the timid puppy be less likely to get out and point birds? Or, does this puppy just require a compatible owner to bring out the best?
While both puppies have good qualities and may turn out to be great bird hunting dogs, I tend to stay in the middle of the road. I tend to avoid the hyper-agressive puppy that is bouncing off the walls and bullying the other puppies into submission. By the same token, I also avoid the reserved or timid puppy that hangs back from the group or stays too close to Momma. To me the perfect puppy is the one who is not the most aggressive and not the most shy. The perfect puppy to me is the one that is happy and friendly but not overly so. The key is in the parentage. If the parents are the kind of dogs that you would be proud to own, then there is a great chance that the pups will be the same.
September 1st was the opening day of the dove hunt in central Utah. My friend Chris Colt of cove mountain kennels invited me to come along as he would be working with my brittany dog Annie. The hunting was pretty tough and the dove were few and far between. We went to a spot where we usually train our hunting dogs and found several other groups already hunting dove there. When we finally did find a Dove it was well out of shooting range. We watched where it landed and sent Chris’ wife Julie in for the flush. She handled the shot nicely and was the only one of us to bag a dove that day. It was still a fun time and a good excuse to get out and work with the dogs.