Sunday, May 22, 2011

a couple more updates

After almost a week with us, both our regal vizslas have realized that the little, long-tailed terror is here to stay -- and in that realization have decided to welcome him into the pack. Jozsi, in particular, was a little intimidated by the whirling white fireball but, with reassurance and encouragement from us, has embraced his role as big brother. For all his little quirks, Momo has always had both a strong sense of self and control -- and as such, has given Jake appropriate feedback since Day 1. But three-dog group-play in our living room is quite the sight to see. We're still structuring their days pretty heavily with solid spells of crate time in part because while accidents in the crate have been non-existent and accidents in the house have been minimal, we are still hyper-vigilant about Jake's puppy ADD taking over in an instant as the need to relieve himself suddenly crops up in his juvenile consciousness. Here is the little prince with his new favorite pacifier! What a handsome chappy!

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that Jake had never worn a collar till he came to us -- and now he wears one constantly. (You can see in the picture that while we had an old one of Jozsi's that would go tight enough, I had to make a zip-tie retaining loop so he couldn't chew it.) It struck me that this was something that he should get used to because his initial training cues will come through a collar, whether for yard work or field work. A friend told me that Delmar Smith had told him that when the pups were very little, he put tiny collars and cords on them, just long enough that if they didn't hold their heads up, they would trip themselves. In any case, we're working on having him wait to be told to come out of his crate, to stand and wait to be told to go through the front door, and to stay to the front when we're out walking off-leash. He's doing great. Jerry Kolter, incidentally, also starts his pups out young on a stake-out line also to acclimatize them to neck pressure -- preparing them for leash work. I also much prefer a stake-out chain to a minefield of individual stakes, and while I don't know if I'll have a legitimate chance to chain out our dogs before heading to Arizona, they will all spend a good chunk of each training day waiting their turn on the chain gang.

What I didn't mention about Jake was the primary reason we got this particular pointer at this particular time. After seeing some nice dogs at the 2009 Northeastern Open Shooting Dog Championship, seeing more at Bill's camp last summer (including Harold's beautiful bitch, Sage), I knew I wanted to own at least one pointer in my life. And unlike vizslas, there are no shortage of pointers -- which are arguably the Ford F-150s of the pointing dog world -- and so I wanted to wait for a special breeding. While Jake's mother, Hard Driving Rita, has yet to earn any major field trial wins, she contains the genetic code of two phenomenal grouse and woodcock dogs -- Joe McCarl's Hard Driving Bev and Frank Lanasa's Centrepiece -- who between them have accumulated at least 12 wild bird championships. I don't mind saying that I have been in love with Jake's daddy, White Powder Pete, since watching the 2008 National Bird Dog Championship DVD. And everything else I've learned about Pete, especially, tells me that he is something special -- an all-age dog who is also used as a quail plantation guiding dog, a pointer who would as happily as any vizsla sleep on your bed with you. Pete ran his seventh and final National Championship this past February shortly before his pups were born -- and William Smith, who scouted for Colvin Davis this time around, has written a nice tribute to Pete's trial career on Strideaway. (The pictures of Rita and Pete are both borrowed from Chris Mathan and The Sportsman's Cabinet.)

In other news, my official report for the Armstrong-Umbel Endurance Classic appeared in the May 7th issue of the American Field and which has also recently appeared in full on the Strideaway site.

And in a pleasant repeat, I heard the segment of NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" from September 25, 2010, and recorded on location in Oklahoma City that featured Delmar Smith as a celebrity guest. What a hoot that man is!

Monday, May 16, 2011

forgive the absence

So much has happened in the last six weeks and it's time to come clean.

While we were in Sweden, Jozsi was bred to Mike & Kim Barry's Rogue, also a super nice, hard-running dog who, like Mr. Enthusiasm, will hopefully blossom into a great trial dog. I kept quiet about it because it was the first litter for both of them -- and I wanted to be sure everything had gone right before announcing my grandfatherly pride in my boy. As of this evening, I believe all the puppies (which were born on April 25th) are spoken for. But here's a great picture of Rogue, taken by Jaida, nursing her three boys and three girls. At this early point, Blue Boy seems like the earliest iteration of his father both in terms of looks but also in terms of his fondness for taking Jaida's hands in his mouth.

We also had our CVVC Spring Field Trial ten days ago. Momo ran in AGD and did a fine job -- unfortunately his greatest display of manners also meant that his race, such as it is, was also cut shorter. He stood perfectly through his bracemate stealing point and then grabbing the bird, but in the absence of a bracemate, his run shortened and while he got round clean with another find and a stop-to-flush, I was pleased with him but knew he wouldn't get put up. Jozsi's run in AGD was short, but he got picked up for an honest mistake after relocating too close, so I was disappointed but not displeased. His run in ALGD later that day was, frankly, and I know he's my dog, virtually everything I could have asked of him. He flowed great, checked covers, and handled like a dream. I took him around his bracemate twice to avoid a possible honor situation -- the first time gave me an opportunity to run him down a line I'd always wanted to try with him and which few dogs ever attempt. And he did it beautifully. But sadly, he took himself out at minute 29 when his bracemate raced in, 'honored' touching him, then broke on the bird, and Jozsi went with him. It was another illustration that you need to proof your dog for as many scenarios as possible and that you can only pray that your bracemate is as well prepared.

The other detail I've been keeping fingers crossed about was our decision to bring a third dog into our house (and he will be a house dog). It has been in the works for at least a half-year, but we now have a pointer in our house. I may need to rename this blog, but I want to reassure my loyal readers that we will always be a red-dog house. But I like how pointers do their job, too, and I'd rather get one than try to make my vizslas be pointer-substitutes. And so, welcome to Jake! We're now into Day #2 and things seem to be going well -- although, much to the chagrin of our two, we're trying to make the transition easier by starting with a lot more structure which hopefully we can relax as they all find their place. But for now, lots of structured crate time, lots of structured play time, and LOTS of exercise.

Speaking of crates, but maybe I'm late to the party -- but after talking to several friends, we bought a MidWest Life Stages crate for Jake. After having one dog who cribbed on the wire, I have been wary of them and, heck, you can't fly with them, so where's the versatility? All I can say is that whether it's the internal divider, whether it's the fact that he was hauled up here in a crate from AL to PA, or the frequent exercise, but we've had no crate accidents so far. He even slept seven hours without waking me up to go to the bathroom last night. So, for now, at least, I'm loving the Life Stages crate.

Momo is being a really good older brother, putting Jake in his place in appropriate moments and with the appropriate amount of wrinkle-face. Jozsi is unsure what he's supposed to do just yet. Bearing in mind we still call him 'Big Puppy,' you would think he'd recognize puppy energy as non-threatening and just put him in his place. But in addition to fathering puppies, this will be another part of his maturation process. But Jake is enjoying his new brothers and feels quite comfortable jamming along with Momo on the trail --except when his puppy ADD takes over and he has to sniff flowers or ponder the meaning of life in a tree. Pardon the crappy cell-phone picture, but it's also been raining here for a gajillion years.

And the next detail that has been in the works for a little bit is my intent to go back out to Arizona to work with Bill Gibbons -- except this time, it will be for the entire duration of summer camp. I leave here June 4th, head down to the CVC Fun Day so that in addition to seeing a number of our Confederate friends, Momo can see his brother, Tavish, for the first time since they were littermates! And then not back to NY until mid-September.