Monday, June 29, 2009

Update on Patti (now Lucy)

We received e-mail from Dan Davis from Wisconsin, who picked up Patti (Lucy) on Thursday. Actually P-puppies (out of Theo and Keena) are 13 weeks old today.

I wanted to let you know that we ran our first blood line with Patti today. We ran it in the woods behind our house. The line aged 3 hrs. before she started on it and was 60 yards long with one turn. She made it to the end with very little trouble. She left the line twice, but corrected herself after no more than 5 yards off of the line. As you observed, she was quite possessive of the deer leg we left at the end. After we practiced her letting me take it from her several times she carried it off and hid it in some ground cover we have in the backyard. The only time we have heard her bark since we got her was when Mary tried to take the leg from her. With a few repetitions that was easily corrected too.

We have also introduced Patti to a few other dogs and so far have found her to be very submissive. The dogs have been bigger and older though so that may explain her submissiveness. She is still a little confused about when she is inside and when she is outside, but we're working on it.

We have noticed one little quirk with Patti in that when she lays down she always lays next to my tennis shoes. I have made it a point to leave them next to her crate and she has gone into the crate on her own ever since.

The picture attached is Patti with her first "find."


Saying good-bye to two more Gilda's puppies

Today we said good-bye to Gunther who is going to live in Marshall, Michigan with Don Dickerson and Cori. Don impressed us with his enthusiasm and knowledge, and we expect great things from this blood tracking team.

On Saturday Grannie was picked up by Saralynne Hudgins from Kennesaw, Georgia. Grannie is going to track for Sara and her husband Terry Meier.

Good luck to all of you!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gwen is on her way to her new home in Indiana

Yesterday we spent the whole day with Chris Barr and Joe Walters from Indiana, who came here to pick up Gwen. Joe Walters has already a tracking dog from us - a two year old "Doc" (Magnum v Moosbach-Zuzelek). Chris is the one who is Gwen's new owner. It was a real treat to get to know him. Chris has read John's book numerous times, and he has read all the blog posts. He was better prepared than anybody else...ever. He could even name dogs in the pictures on the wall in our dining area.

Anyway, we had a blast with Chris and Joe. We know that Gwen is in excellent hands.

One of the topics we discussed yesterday was Gwen's coat, which is short. A dog with this type of coat does not carry a gene for wirehaired coat. The smooth coat like Gwen's is a recessive trait to the wirehair coat. So while a whirehaired dachshund can carry a gene for the smooth coat (and many do), a smooth dachshund with the coat like Gwen's does not carry a gene for the wirehaired coat. If Gwen was bred to another smooth dachshund, the offspring would be all smooth-coated.

Patti (now Lucy) has left for a new home in Wisconsin

On Thursday Patti has left for a new home in Janesville, WI. It was such a pleasure to meet and spend several hours with Patti's new owners - Dan and Mary Davis.

Patti is very talented, and she impressed us a lot on her last blood line. The line had two turns, was aged 30 minutes, and part of it went through our gravel/dirt driveway. A section like this is quite difficult to track through, but Patti had no problems. She was keen, focused and determined. She did very well on the turns, and she was extremely aggressive towards the hide. Actually, the last picture shows Patti hanging in the air and still not letting the hide go.

I said many times that I have not owned, handled or bred a perfect dog. Every dog has some weaknesses and strengths, and a good breeder, owner and handler has to be very objective and knowledgeable enough to be able evaluate pups and his dogs. Patti has come pretty close to perfection. Her conformation is very nice (excellent ground clearance), her coat is very good, and she is a very friendly, outgoing pup. She seems to have some issues though when it comes to other dogs. She was not keen on socializing with our mature dogs, but she was dominant and a bit of a bully when it came to her littermates. She was quite aggressive to some pups in the other litter. So when we were deciding which puppy is going to which family, we took her disposition into consideration and placed her in a home where she is the only dog. We advised Dan and Mary that they need to socialize her a lot with dogs, while she is still young.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Update on Poker (now Bentley)

We received this very nice and informative e-mail from Sarah, who owns Poker, a Theo/Keena pup. Poker's new name is Bentley.

Hi Jolanta & John,

Just thought I would give you a little update on Bentley (Poker) since he has been with me for the past few weeks.

He has fully adjusted to life here in Elba and seems to be very happy. We go on visits to my mom's house where he plays with Shadow and we visit family in Scottsville where he has lots of doggy friends.

Bentley is doing very well with his tracking so far. We haven't been together long, but there is definitely a partnership forming between us when we do practice trails. This past weekend we did a blood trail that moved through short grass, tall grass, gravel and bare ground. Before we were able to work the line it drizzled for about an hour. I was worried that the trail may be too hard for him, but he was able to follow the trail and find the prize at the end (a rabbit). At times he gets overly excited and moves too quickly, but he is learning and I have all the confidence in him that he will become an excellent tracker.

There is a herd of beef cows that live behind our house and he is very amused by their sounds and smells, but he never strays too close. He will watch from the edge of the fence and runs for the house when they start walking his way. My family owns several reindeer which we went to see the other day. I expected him to have a similar reaction to the reindeer as he does with the cows, but to my amazement he wanted to march right in their pen and show them who's boss!

I have found that he tends to be more accident prone when it is wet outside. I don't think he likes the wet grass on his belly! Other than that he is pretty good about doing his business outside.

He is now on K-9 advantix and he had his second vaccination two weeks ago. He has a good appetite and has started putting on more muscle weight. His little belly has slimmed down to a more appropriate size now and he is looking good. He has a nice shiny coat and he seems to be doing very well on the Canidae dry dog food.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blood tracking training session with 12 week old puppies - part 1

Recently the weather has not been cooperating with our puppy training schedule at all. For days it was very wet and impossible to do any blood tracking training. Then when we got short periods of sunshine, we had some other commitments and appointments. So last evening, even though the sky looked a bit threatening, we decided to do the training line for pups. The conditions were not ideal as it was very breezy. But we wanted to know about Pushkin, whether he was starting to show interest in deer blood or not. So far every attempt ended up with his score of 0.

So the first line was for Pushkin. This was not a liver drag, but 60 yards of blood line prepared with deer blood, with one left turn, and there was a deer hide at the end. The line was fresh, aged 30 minutes, but a strong breeze was blowing making for tough scenting conditions.

Pushkin showed good scent recognition, and was slow and accurate. He did not not need corrections or help. He made the turn (which was in the open field) very well, and was very aggressive towards the deer skin. John wrote in his notebook "Pushkin seems to have found himself". First five pictures show Pushkin in action.

Then we ran Paika (picture number 6) on the same line, as we often do with multiple pups and dogs. She was very eager but went too fast. She overshot turn by quite a bit and had to be called. She was very good on the skin.
In summary she was not as good on this line as Pushkin was. These two pups exemplify very well how difficult it is to evaluate puppies' potential for blood tracking.

1. First, not all dachshunds can be developed into the top notch blood tracking dogs, no matter how much training they get. Genetics matter! But genetics is very difficult to work with and control. I envy some breeders who sell all their pups as blood tracking prospects just because parents came from German hunting bloodlines. Not all dachshunds have it even though they come from a working stock. Usually we keep only 50% of imported dogs as suitable for breeding because the other 50% are not good enough. We know that not all pups we breed will have "it", and this is why we keep the pups until they are 10-12 weeks old.

2. Sometimes puppies are late bloomers, and sometimes the late bloomers will make superior tracking dogs. Sometimes early overachievers will get wilder and sloppy with age, so it is very, very hard... well, almost impossible to predict which puppy is going to be great as an adult. Yet, all puppy buyers would like to have a great tracking puppy (even when they are not going to put much training into it).

3. Puppies are inconsistent - one day they are brilliant, the other day they look pathetic. Pushkin and Paika are a good example. Paika was tracking when she was 6 weeks old, and now at 12 she certainly looked not as good as Pushkin.

4. Which pups we rate as "pets-only"? The ones who have no interest in the smell of deer blood even though we expose them to deer blood repeatedly. The ones who show no sustained focus, and get off a blood line frequently, and have no desire to get back to the line. The ones who are afraid of a deer hide even though they are encouraged to play with it. Oh, so many things can go wrong! Anyway, we will continue these observations and reflections in the next post.

By the way, the last picture shows Pushkin (left) and Paika (right).

Monday, June 22, 2009

A different kind of scent line for puppies...

It is about time to write more about what has been going on here for the last week or so. Having 12 dogs plus two litters of pups does not leave time for writing about them. The update is in order.

When we were in Germany ten years ago, we visited Manfred Siekmann who breeds wirehaired dachshunds for hunting under "von Rominten" kennel name. We spent probably a half day with him, and one of the things he showed us was his way of training pups and young dogs. Since pups usually like to lick blood off the grass, ground etc, he works them also on different kinds of scent lines. When we were there, he shot a pigeon and his daughter dragged the dead pigeon in the field. Then he worked his young dogs on the scent line.

Since our barn got invaded by pigeons, John shot two of them. We used them to lay scent lines for pups. This was done five days ago, when we had ten pups - five in each litter. The first five pics show Keena's pups, the other ones show the "G" litter". First we showed the dead pigeon to pups and we let them sniff it. Then we dragged the pigeon and then let the pups work the scent line. It was done in a group, off-leash. One pigeon per litter of pups. When pups followed the scent, found the dead pigeon, we let them go after it ...and we observed.

There were some surprises. It seems that Pushkin had a breakthrough and of the P-pups he was the most possessive of the pigeon. It is impossible to say whether the exercise with dragged pigeons really fired up Pushkin, but today we did some blood tracking with pups and Pushkin did really well. This was the first time he showed interest in following the deer blood (he is 12 weeks old), and he was very aggressive towards the deer hide at the end.

In the second group, there was no doubt that Gunther was the most possessive and he claimed the pigeon. No other pup was able to take it from him though they really tried.

Two puppies have left for blood tracking homes in Quebec

We spent a Saturday afternoon with Lincoln Anderson from Boucherville, Québec, Canada. Lincoln came here to pick up his puppy, which he will be training for blood tracking. Petrus is the pup that we selected for him, and you can see in the pictures the instant rapport the pup and the new owner have had :-)

While he was here Lincoln also picked up Gunner who is going to another tracking home in Québec. Guy Marcoux-Filion from Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, Québec, is an experienced blood tracker, and we are thrilled that he will be using one of our dogs.

Lincoln and Guy - good luck with your puppies. Stay in touch!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Update on Ollie - "O" pups at 5 months

Today Joeri and Emma's puppies are five months old. We received this e-mail from Ollie's owner - Tom Swofford from Michigan.

Just a note and a couple of pictures. Ollie is growing fast. He loves to ride in the truck, and loves to go tracking. Some days he amazes me in the woods. On one occasion, I laid a blood trail and aged it about 2 hours. Ollie had no problem with it. Almost as soon as we were done, it started to rain. It rained all night and into the next day. When it stopped, I took him out for a walk, and thought I would take him over to the trail to see if he would do anything. I couldn't believe it, he went right down the trail to the spot I had a deer tail the day before. This was almost 20 hours later! And after all that rain. I don't know if he just remembered it, but he did have his nose to the ground.

Today, though, I don't think he could find his own food bowl. I guess that's how it works. Actually, this was the first track in a long time he had trouble with, so I can't really complain.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It took only five minutes for puppies to create this mess

If you like to have a clean house, never get a puppy or try to raise a litter. It took only five minutes for Keena's pups to get into newspapers and create this mess. Fortunately, the cleanup was quick and easy.

Remi on vacation

Matt and Peg wrote:

We continue to enjoy our new addition to the family. Remi in now fully house trained and hasn't had an accident in weeks. She enjoyed her first camping trip last week and loved all the new adventures, sights, and sounds. She even slept soundly in the vestibule of the tent with Freedom through a major thunder storm.

She spent much of her time roaming the sand bars and sleeping on Peg's lap in the canoe. She caught fish with the boys, and loved the water.

Remi and Freedom have become great friends. Yesterday, Freedom was chewing on a deer femur bone, and Remi went up and took it right out of her mouth, Freedom just watched her walk away to go bury it somewhere. Oh yes, that's another thing we're not used to seeing with our dogs. Remi loves to bury her favorite possessions.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another puppy leaves for a new home

On Saturday Grizzly left for a new home. Steve Hardee flew here all the way from Fuquay Varina, North Carolina. Grizzly's engaging and easy going personality made him a good match for Steve's family that includes two kids.

Good luck Steve and keep us posted!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Saying good-bye to Parker and Ginie

Today we said good-bye to Ginie, a Billy/Gilda daughter. She is going to track for Wayne Varnadore from Alma, GA. The picture shows David (Wayne's Dad) and Wayne holding Ginie. David and Wayne - it was such a pleasure to meet you both!

Jim Knapp from Jonesville, MI drove for 12 hours to come here to pick up Parker. He brought a note from his son Curtis who wrote "Dear Puppy. Sorry that you can't hear out of one ear. I'm sure that you are going to be cute. Love, Curtis." Thank you Curtis - Parker is really cute, that's for sure.
Many happy trails to Jim and Parker!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gilda's pups go for a long walk

Gilda's pups went for a long walk today. They are not the same puppies as they were two weeks ago. Now they are quite independent and not that concerned whether I am around or not. They investigated and disappeared in the long grass. It took me a while to round them up and coach them to follow.
Yesterday I weighed the pups and the weights are:
Gwen 8.75 lbs
Ginie 7.5 lbs
Grannie 7 lbs
Grizzly 10 lbs
Gunner 8 lbs
Grock 7.5 lbs
Gunther 7 lbs

I also weighed (yesterday) Keena's pups who are 6 days older:
Parker 10.5 lbs
Poker 10 lbs
Pushkin 9 lbs
Petrus 9 lbs
Paika 9.5 lbs
Poppy 8.5 lbs
Patti 8.5
On average "P" pups are quite a bit larger than "G" pups, which I find odd. Gilda and Billy are larger in size than Theo and Keena, and in her previous litter Keena produced some really small pups (the smallest one is Warren Stricland's Mikki, who is just 11 lbs).