Sunday, June 24, 2012

Theo's first track. Experience and understanding are the basis for good dog handling.

Many thanks to Darren Doran for writing up and sharing a report describing Theo's first tracking exercise. Theo is 11 weeks old, and he has been with Darren for a week. I really value Darren's detailed report that includes his thought process and analysis. It shows how much dog handling experience matters. Theo is Darren's second blood tracking dog, but Darren also used to be a handler of the US Air Force aggression and drug detection dogs.


I did a line with Theo Saturday evening. It was about 85 yds with a left 90 and a right 90 turns. It was aged 4 1/2 hours. I set the line in the woods behind the house in an area close to where we take our nightly walks. There are always deer in here and there was fresh sign from the morning.

Theo hasn't had much leash work and no practice dragging a tracking leash so I ran him off leash. I've gotten a tracking collar I'll use for now and put that on him.

I've elected to start his training right away with tracking shoes and rubber boots. I blooded up the hit sight well and stomped the shoes in the blood. Not used to puppy work, I put a wad of hair at the hit sight. I blooded both hoofs repeatedly, and marched with very close steps and added blood along the line.

Right before I ran the line, I came back on the down wind side and added a pea sized piece of raw deer meat on a leaf under the flags. I put out 6 in all. I placed the tail and left a couple of pieces of meat on the top of the tail.

The goal of this exercise was to simply see how the dog would work and to try to identify a starting place for future training. I didn't think the line wasn't difficult but I wasn't sure how he would handle any distractions we would come upon or if he could maintain his focus long enough to finish. There were fresh deer droppings on the line and there was a picnic going on in the neighborhood across the power line with fairly loud music. The wind had been blowing strongly from the same direction all day but had quit by the time we started. We were in the woods and the line was fairly long. Anything could happen.

We started the line and the first thing Theo did was grab the wad of deer hair. I got it out of his mouth and he circled the site sniffing and took the line. He found the first piece of meat, but before the first turn he drifted off the line on the down wind side. I just watched him and he was advancing the line at an angle and his nose was down and I can't be 100% sure he wasn't picking up pieces of wind blown scent. I had stopped by a flag that had a piece of meat that he missed when he drifted off. When he lifted his head And looked around, I said'' where did it go'' ''search here'' and held my hand over the line. Theo came back and found the meat. He then tracked directly over the line to the turn and past, he corrected himself and came back to the turn and found the right direction. He passed over the deer droppings with nothing more than a quick sniff. Numerous times on the line Theo would have his whole nose buried in a hoof print on the track. These were spots that I had blooded the hoof and the fresh blood down inside the print was still wet. I let him linger there as long as he wanted. On the last 1/3 of the line 3 times after he found the meat he would advance the line about 10 feet and then come back to the exact leaf that had the meat was on and sniff. He would then turn around and resume tracking. The second turn was better than the first and when he found the tail he ate the meat and grabbed the tail. As I approached he started running off through the woods with the tail.

Here's where everything got messed up. Theo stopped with the tail to chew it and I was getting out the camera to snap a picture. All of a sudden Theo started to yelp in pain. He dropped the tail and backed away yelping. I ran over to him. I couldn't figure out what was going on. Then it hit me - Yellow Jackets. I was stung twice on the arm and I was sure Theo was stung as well. I grabbed the dog and the tail and got out of there. I stopped back on the trail to the house to regroup.

I had to turn this around and make this exercise end on a positive note. I couldn't let Theo think the tail or tracking would end in a painful experience. We just sat on the ground for awhile. I didn't make a big deal out of it or say much. My arm was burning and starting to swell. I could only imagine how a little puppy felt. I could tell by Theo actions when the experience was starting to fade. I had some meat left and I picked up the tail and started to wave it around. He was getting interested and I put it down with the rest of the meat on it. He came over to it, ate the meat and started to chew on the fleshy end. I got up to take a picture and that was all it took. Theo grabbed the tail and started to run for home. We were a couple of hundred yds from the house and he didn't stop running the whole way. I couldn't get a picture in the woods he was too fast. That tail was his and he wasn't going to let me catch him.

This exercise showed me a lot about Theo. I like the way he was working the line. He was thorough and not fast. He was able to correct himself and keep his focus and finish the line. He did get distracted but returned to the task. I like the way he returned to the exact leaf that held the tiny piece of meat. That tells me he can remember where he found a certain scent. I think this will show up later when he needs to restart himself and return to the point of loss. I like his nose buried in a hoof print as this will imprint deer print foot smell with the blood. Another benefit that will be important in real tracking later. I liked the way he worked the checks. I won't use any hair on the line for awhile. I'm going to keep the age of the line the same, but shorten it a little. I'm not concerned with how fast or slow he works just the quality and accuracy of the work. I don't think the yellow jackets will have an effect on him. I'm going to start doing more leash training.


Theo with "his" deer tail.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reports on T puppies at the age of 11 weeks

Thor and Theo left a week ago, and it does not look like Tuesday has been missing her brothers. Now it is easier for us to spend one-on-one time with her. She made the transition to being the only young puppy here easily. At night she sleeps in her crate, and she makes it through the night without any problems. We don't have to get up during the night to let her out. The last time she goes out is around 11 pm, and then in the morning she is let out at 7 am. She is not housebroken yet, and has some accidents in the house when we don't pay attention. During the day she spends some time in a pen on our front lawn, where she has plenty of toys. We don't want her to be too dependent on the rest of her canine family for all her social needs. She needs to bond strongly with us too so we take her for walks, we play with her and train her. She has been very easy with the leash training. It was too hot for blood tracking training, but we will resume it next week.

We have been getting good reports on the other three pups.

A couple of days ago Woody wrote about Tarah: Five hours ago we did a deer skin drag for Tarah, about a hundred yards. We went down a hill side across a little creek the water, which was about 12 inches deep and about 4 yards across. I used deer skin that I had poured blood on, 30 yards after crossing the creek I hid the deer skin under a big pile of brush. I put Tarah on the trail it took her 9min and 5sec my son and I were so proud of our little Tarah.

Darren Doran reports that things are going well with Theo: Theo is doing good. Karl and Theo have really bonded well. Karl has always liked other dogs and these two play all day together. I make sure Karl gets equal attention and they were both sleeping in my lap in the recliner last night. It's been hot here but its supposed to break Saturday, I might try a short line Sunday night. I have my vet appointment Wednesday.

Karl ( bottom) and Theo

Karl and Theo on a walk

Theo with a hoof

Bob Yax  had Thor on his first training line:

Just a note about our first training line tonight - Thor did great ! - I definitely have to challenge him more on the next one. We did a 40 yard liver drag with a 90 deg turn after 20 yards. It was aged for two and a half hours. We did it about 8:30 tonight. It took about a minute in total. He spent about 10 seconds sniffing and licking at the start point where I smeared a little liver blood, then he took off on the line at a good pace. At 1 point he circled back a few feet and then continued back on the line. When he got to the turn, he didn't even slow down, he made the turn and then went directly to the tail and small chunk of liver I left there. He couldn't have done better - he was never more than 2ft from the line.
Looks very promising - can't wait till the next line !
Nate Yax with Thor

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Saying good-bye to puppies

Yesterday before Thor and Theo left with their new owners, they had a nice play session. I snapped some pictures of the pups while they were having a lot of fun.

Thor and Theo were very evenly matched brothers. Very similar in size and energy level. Here Thor is on the top of Theo.

Theo and Thor are fetching a device that Darren put together to teach his dog retrieving from water.

Theo claimed a toy that Darren brought for him and refused to share it with Tuesday.

Theo defending the toy from Tuesday.

We'll miss you Theo!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thor and Theo leave for new homes

Today was a busy day as Thor and Theo left for their new homes. I will post more pictures of the three pups tomorrow but today will have just pics of the pups with their new owners.

Thor is going to live with Bob Yax and his family from Springwater, NY. Several months ago Bob lost Gusto, our Gilda's brother, to an accident. As a member of Deer Search Bob takes a lot of calls, and Thor will have a chance to live a great life of a working and companion dog.

Bob and Emily Yax with Thor

Theo is going to live in East Brunswick, New Jersey, with Darren Doran and his wife Phyllis. Darren is a good friend, and he is a coordinator for a special blood tracking program implemented in New Jersey. He is also a member of the United Blood Trackers and Deer Search.

Darren Doran from New Jersey with his new puppy Theo

We wish Darren and Bob best of luck with their new puppies, which we believe should make fine blood tracking dogs. I am sure that we will be reporting about them in the future. It is nice for a change to have two pups living not that far, within a four-hour drive from Berne.

More pictures to come...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Update on Tarah from Huntsville, Texas

Woody sent as an e-mail saying " This morning early Tarah and I went for a walk in the woods while it was cool, there is a little stream that has about a foot of water in it that she saw for her first time, she sniffed it and then just jumped in then she would put her head all the way under water and was jumping like a bucking horse." BTW, I took Tuesday, Theo and Thor to the pond today and both boys went into the water. Thor decided to come out quickly and think about it more. Theo was swimming by himself very nicely. And Tuesday did not want to even wet her feet. As we always say, every pup is a different individual.

Also thanks to Woody's neighbor Sam Willett we received a bunch of really nice pictures of Tarah, with captions! Thank you!

Here's Tarah ripping into a big chunk of deer liver at the end of a 30yrd track.

Tarah is trying to pull Woody over.

A boy with his Teckel.
Miss Money Penny and I are very happy to have Tarah as a neighbor, Penny can't wait to meet Tarah as soon as the Vet says it's o.k. (This is a buck I made a miserable hit on with my longbow last October, Penny recovered it the next morning after a 300 yd track in thick woods) 
Few days later Sam and his wife visited the Harmons. Sam wrote: My wife and Tarah, Tarah had just licked Mary Ann's face.   
Tarah was very excited, she seemed to know she was meeting another Dachshund.
A very confident pup in her new home.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pups' experiences with walks to the pond and first rides in a car

We got a nice feedback from Woody regarding Tarah via Sam, his neighbor with a computer and Facebook. Thank you Sam!

John left for Quebec on Tuesday so I have been extra busy and have not had much time for posting. Puppies are doing really well. We took several trips to the pond. This year the pond is overgrown with algae and I do not want the pups to ingest the "stuff", which can be toxic so we keep the trips short. But it is a good exercise for them to follow me on the walks.

Today I mowed paths in our overgrown fenced-in field so tomorrow we will be able to walk there and lay some tracks. Pups also had their first trips in the car. Since there are only three of them they managed well on a blanket in the passenger seat. All went well, and it was funny that when I turned the radio on, they started to wag their tails.

Every day the pups spend a little bit of time in crates so they are used to them. Tuesday and Theo have never had a problem with being by themselves in a crate but Thor objected very strongly. So the last two days he has been crated with another puppy, and he liked that. In a couple of days I'll try to put him there solo again; hopefully by then he will be used to the setup.

All three pups have very good wirehaired coats, just like their brothers and sister from the first, S, litter.

In this picture puppies look much bigger than they actually are. Bernie is a saint and way too permissive. They need a good lesson in how to behave around other dogs.

Interestingly, Bella, even though she is just one year old, is not as patient with the pups as Bernie is.

Puppies on their walk to the pond.

Coming back home.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Three little musketeers

Tarah left, and we got a very good feedback about her trip to Texas. She is doing very well. She has gone to bathroom outside and has done well on a short deer liver drag. The remaining pups don't act like they noticed Tarah's absence. They have a lot of fun playing together. It will be a sad day for Tuesday when both boys leave for their new homes on June 16.

Puppies spend a portion of their day upstairs in the kitchen/dining area. This is our dogs' favorite spot.

Two boys, Thor and Theo

Thor in one of his pensive moods

Thor all happy and relaxed
Hi five from Thor
Both boys on their backs

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tarah leaves for a new home

Yesterday we said good-bye to Tarah, who is on her way to Huntsville, Texas. Woody Harmon, an avid bowhunter, flew here to pick her up, and we had a chance to spend a good part of the day with him. Tarah is in good hands. Normally we keep puppies with us until they are ten weeks old, but because of Woody's schedule we had to let her go early. We are going to miss the little girl, who is one of the most social dogs we have ever bred.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Puppies and their toys - pictures at eight weeks

Today puppies got new toys - a large green ball and an extra large plush toy. Both toys were a hit.

Thor and Tuesday with a new ball



Tarah is small and very agile