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!