Monday, July 28, 2008

a few updates

First off, here's a picture taken on my cellphone of a very happy Mominator on the front seat of the rental Prius after our day of training lasts weekend. He crashed out shortly thereafter. He loves to hunt -- and he loves to be center of attention. Aaah, life with a vizsla.


Second off, we went to Madison Square Garden for the first time last Friday to see some basketball. Meg has played some hoops in her time -- and while I never played, I saw a couple of Trailblazers games when I lived in Portland. Those were the Rasheed Wallace years -- when he seemed to spend as much time being ejected from games as he did scoring points. And seeing as the Knicks have stunk the past two years we've lived down here -- apparently owned and managed by nincompoops -- the best basketball show in town is, by far, the New York Liberty. And with all the (well-earned) hype surrounding Candace Parker, we decided we'd try to catch a Liberty vs. Sparks game. We had good seats and were treated to a great game that went down to the wire. I will say one thing: anyone that thinks the WNBA is somehow 'less' than the NBA... that was one physical game. No-one was giving anything away -- and a fan can't ask for more.


The Tour de France is over. For being the best edition of the Tour in a long time, I apologize for not writing more about it. Carlos Sastre rode out of his own shadow and claimed the yellow jersey on the legendary Alpe d'Huez propelled by one of the strongest teams the Tour has ever seen. Importantly, too, we saw zero-tolerance from teams if any of their members tested postive for controlled substances. Arguably the only significant shadow was the absence of Alberto Contador and Team Astana -- but the best part of this tour was the appearance of rising talent: Andy Schleck, Roman Kreuziger, Bernhard Kohl and Romain Feillu. In any event, here's a Roberto Bettini photograph of Carlos Sastre riding the time-trial of his life last Saturday.


On Sunday, we drove up to Northfield, MA, to celebrate Jaida's 3rd birthday. Jaida is Kim + Mike's little girl and the little princess of ForestKing Vizslas. It's always great to watch a little girl wade through her presents, mesmerized by each one, egged on by the crowd around her. It was also great to see a very pregnant Kyler... Kim has a new post on life with Miss Pregnant Pants. But the final picture is of me and Cedar on their back deck, laughing at our two boys hypnotized by Kim + Mike's chicken and quail coops. This was early in the afternoon before the torrential rain and wind arrived. We all had fun... till it came time to drive home and quickly realizing there were whole slew of trees down along I-91S.

Monday, July 21, 2008

training day

We had a spontaneous training day on Sunday up in Bernardston, MA, with Dennis, Jen, and the fabulous Sally. This was going to be Momo's reintroduction to birds after his mixed performance at his last hunt test -- and after we've been working on his 'whoa' and 'stay' to discourage him from creeping. My goal was to enforce his 'stay', get him steady-to-fall and to wait to be sent for a retrieve. And so I manned the checkcord while Dennis gunned for me (and I for him).

It was D+J+S's first trip to Fullflight -- and I think they were pretty psyched. But holy heck! it was hot and humid right around 85% degsF and 80% humidity. And no wind. Momo actually busted the first two birds put out for him in the dense ferns and foliage (which you can see in this first pic)... and you could see him mentally re-calibrating to get back on his game... nevertheless the nice part of those two bumps was that he stopped-to-flush.

One sad part was that as it got warmer the birds got less inclined to fly... and so to ensure that we could run through the entire sequence of point, flush, and retrieve, a fair number towards the end were hand-grabbed and launched. It was also hot enough that I think the two dogs drank a gallon of water between them. We stayed cognisant of the heat and ran each dog for roughly 20mins at a time. There's also a good article on canine heat exhaustion and hypoglycemia here.

One highlight of seeing Sally again was that she has been bred and is most likely pregnant. You'd never know from her intensity. She is just a great running dog -- and Dennis and Jen have done a great job with her. (Incidentally, Jen took all the pictures. Thank you.) Here she is plowing through the ferns with a present for her dad.

It was really great to see Momo hunt again. Generally, speaking once he's found his first bird, he notches up a gear and really starts to look confident. I actually heard him 'snap' a 90deg turn to point a chukar that had burrowed into the grass behind him. And while we still need more work to get him steady-to-fall and to wait to be sent for a retrieve, I'm trying to keep him honest by saying less and, in addition to slipping on a training collar, I'll start adding an e-collar tone so that we can maintain the same expectations once he's away from the training collar.

Next weekend we head up to the same area, but for a birthday party at ForestKing Vizslas! We'll see how two people and two vizslas fit in our rental Prius!

Friday, July 18, 2008

vacation conclusion

We just returned home... and it is HOT down here in the Baked Apple. Aaarrrgh. We were spoiled by that nice cooler mountain air.

Here are a couple of updates and some pictures. We actually decided to run Overlook Mountain the previous two mornings... which is about 1450' in about 2.5miles... steep enough that it's actually faster and easier on my joints to fast-walk it. And steep enough to really feel it in the quads when you run down. But the path is broad, and covered with relatively smooth gravel so it wasn't terrible.

On the way up on Thursday, though, I found another reptile friend. Sadly no pictures this time, but it was pretty obviously an eastern ribbon snake. How snakes move is just pretty incredible.

As a way of saying thank you to our to our boys for running up and down hills with us, we decided to try and find them a fun place to splash and maybe even teach them to swim. So we heard about a trail with some swimming spots on it and headed in. We followed the barks and then fouond ourselves surrounded by four Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Here's a pic of the six red dogs headed off to find a nice, deep, swimming spot.

Momo has always shown a fair amount of disdain for swimming, but I figured I would try to ease him into it. At the very least, I would try to give him the experience of being out of his depth so that if he ever found himself there by mistake he wouldn't be too freaked out. But this pic is of him getting used to floating and calmly paddling himself back onto shore. He always surprises me about when he gets spazzy and when he decides he's just going to be stoic and tough it out. He swam like a pro.

Jozsi doesn't seem to fear anything. And ever since his first Catskill's adventure, when he slipped off a rock aged something like 12wks old and just quietly chugged his way toards his dad, I figured he would be fine in water. This pic makes it clear that while he was quite safe, he's still in the learning-to-swim, beat the water phase.

But it was nice to let them try something new. Momo and I will be heading up to MA on Sunday for his first re-introduction to birds to try and remind him what 'staunch' means.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

vacation update

pheweeee... I may get tired of this working thing and just decide to stay on vacation, especially during the summer. We are up in Woodstock, NY, for a few days this week, just hanging out with the boys, taking hikes, runs, and naps.

We managed to swap out our little 4-dr Chevy Malibu rental car for something big enough to carry the boys' Taj Mahal. As it turned out, the only thing we could get our hands on was an F-350 cargo van. So we had plenty of space in the back. Can't wait to fill up this V10 monster. But we did get an offer from Toyota for the Team Vizslamobile... and yes, very generous. Not the $12K that a friend of a friend claimed to have received, but a lot more than the $4K we were planning to sell it for. Now the challenge seems to be actually finding a used Tacoma for sale at a dealer that's not either decrepit or still wicked expensive. In any case, so far Toyota is holding up its end of the bargain -- and assuming all goes well, we should have a check within two weeks.

We met this slippery dude on the Overlook Mountain trail yesterday. My knowledge of herpetology is pretty limited -- evidenced by me telling my wife, shortly before this 4' beauty started to act aggressive, that there are no poisonous snakes in New York -- and so my first guess was that this was a massasasauga. But between us being a little too far east, it being a little long, and the pupils on this gem being round (as opposed to slit-shaped ), I think it must be a northern water-snake. And I gather these wee monsters are prone to getting feisty.

If I had been thinking while I was being confronted by the quasi-killer reptile, I should have followed the directions on this sign posted by Luisa at Lassie Get Help.

And the first pic is of Meg and the boys at the fire tower on top of Overlook Mountain. After our first failed attempt back in March, it was nice to realise how close we had come back then and how well worth the hike it had been.

Monday, July 14, 2008

a life lived loved and loving

We heard this afternoon that Stephanie + Manny laid their oldest vizsla, Nike, to rest in the past couple of days. They adopted him 2.5 years ago when he was 10.5 years old -- and probably had either a stroke or brain tumor that took him quickly.

It takes a special family to adopt an older dog like that -- but keep in mind that Stephanie + Manny also own Hollywood's Piros Baron SH,VC, aka. Baron, a dog that won last year's CVVC Hunting Dog Excellent Stake at age 10! We met Nike at last year's VCCNE Pheasant Hunt where he got his first pheasant. This picture is of him with that first pheasant. (Apparently, he was so pleased with himself he wanted to bring the bird back in their truck with him.) However sad it is to see a good friend and companion leave us, it's still better to remember the full life we shared with them.

In the meantime, here's another older vizsla that needs a home. Riley looks a like a great dog for the right home.

So love the dogs you're with. Heaven knows, all they know is how to give it back.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


The Team Vizslamobile is no more. We took it to the dealer to get an oil-change and a tire rotation... and to get a frame inspection. The most interesting part of this whole story is that we found out about the 'not a recall' of 1995-2000 Toyota Tacomas not from Toyota, but from a guy we ran into at the gas station in Bernardston back in mid-April who'd just had his truck bought back.

In any case, we took Team-V-Mobile to our dealer and lo! 'rust perforation'. We had planned to replace our 1996 195K Tacoma in the next two months anyways, so the fact that Toyota is apparently now going to buy back our truck for allegedly 150% of the Kelley Blue Book value at 'Excellent' Condition feels pretty good.

Now we have to find another one. As much as we would love get a better mileage vehicle, having the boys and Their Taj Mahal means that we're pretty much commited to a pick-up... and we do love our Tacoma.

And so while we wait the likely month for Toyota USA to come up with a $$$ number, we have a rental car free-of-charge. Having said that, Enterprise is still trying to find me a pick-up so we can go empty out the Team-V-Mobile and take the boys on some road-trips before hunting season.

In the meantime, here's some Vizslamobile pictures: (from the top): Andrew + Rich after a morning's skeet shooting; the V-Mobile sneaking into the background (also with Andrew + Rich, I think) at the CVVC 2007 Fall Hunt Test; and finally, the back of the truck blessed with Bob + Belle after a day sharing some hunting up in Newburgh.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

uneasy times

It is an uneasy time in Mongolia, or probably more accurately, the capital, Ulan Baatar. As this articles in today's IHT suggests, it would seem that a socially disenfranchised few took advantage of the disquiet raised by a politically disenfranchised few to loot and pillage in the midst of some serious concern over the legitimacy of the most recent general election.

Living five minutes from the site of the rioting, Annie put up a post during the 'state of emergency' while the very thorough Asian Gypsy has what appears to be most of the details. There are some very good pictures at, a Mongolian photodocumentary site. While I think most Mongolians are genuinely embarassed by the collateral damage, and even with a government still dominated by the former-Communists, there is a lot at stake in this post-Soviet country. As the leader of the Mongolian Democratic Party, Tsakhiagyn Elbegdorj, put it: "From the Sea of Japan to the eastern border of Europe, we are the only functioning democracy, and we have a duty to save it."

Rumor has it that a covert operative named 'Coffee Boy' may have been responsible.


The Tour de France has started. And by design, it is a little different this year. No prologue, no time bonuses. And a lot of previous favorites are out either due to being caught doping or were excluded by association.

Cadel Evans is the clear favorite, but folks wonder if he has the aggressive edge to actually 'take' the win... or will simply ride well enough to outlast the remainder of the field. Alejandro Valverde is on great form, but perhaps too good a little too early. Denis Menchov rode a good Giro d'Italia already this year, but as a result is perhaps still a little dulled from that gruelathon.

It's been a good Tour already. Valverde stomped on everyone to win the first stage, Thor 'The Bear from Grimstad' Hushovd won his sixth Tour de France stage in stage 2, and France scored a one-two-yellow yesterday with Samuel Dumoulin winning the stage and Roman Feillu taking second and the overall lead. (This pic of Roman Feillu in today's individual time trial is by Robert Bettini.)

It's already more exciting than previous years.


We got this pic from Dennis + Sally. This is Sally making her first duck retrieve at a NAHVDA clinic. (I gather they use live ducks, and bind one wing and the beak.) She rocks. Hopefully we're going to train with them in two weeks. We're very excited.


In somewhat disturbing news from the homeland, Pat the Terrierman reports that the Tayside Police has fallen foul of its Muslim constituents because it used a puppy on a poster to advertise its non-emergency number. (The folks at SmartDogs had posted a similar story of sorts -- about a student's service dog at St. Cloud State University in MN -- back in mid-May.) I would welcome comments from any of my Muslim readers, but my sense here is that dogs themselves are not actually haram (dirty or impure), but that they are regarded as animals (with specific tasks to do) and not as pets (that blur domestic boundaries). In which case, why an aspiring police dog would somehow be impure is still beyond me.

Bill at The BlackandTanBombshell reported a while back that there is a movement afoot to ban e-collars in Wales. With all due respect to Caroline Kisko of the Kennel Club who claimed e-collars were "a cruel, outdated and unsuitable method of training dogs," perhaps you should actually try one. Or read a current book like Dave Walker's that clearly outlines how and when to use them in a humane way.

(By contrast, and while he remains a dean of dog trainers, if you have only read Paul Long's Training Pointing Dogs, originally published in 1974, you might come to the conclusion that the e-collar is a clumsy, unpredictable tool. And that using a slingshot to steady a dog on point is a viable tool. Then again, these are both still a long way from the thrashings trainers used to advocate in the 1930s and 1940s.) What's next? Outlawing sticks? or leashes? or just harsh words?