Gosh, I miss them. My girls at training camp…

Lexi at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Lexi at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018

I spend a LOT of time with my dogs–most of my time, really. I work from home, and so Lexi and Sky are my constant companions: A run in early am, in the office together all day, a walk in the PM, repeat.

But not this July and August. Both girls went to Wild Apple Kennel at the end of June for summer training, and they’ll be there through this month.

I’m counting down the days.

Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018

I don’t care about no stinkin’ ribbons. Until I think we might win one…

Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial, Stark, NH
Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial, Stark, NH

Only one thing sucks more than planted quail: cold, wet, planted quail.

In the best conditions, planted quail prefer running to flushing. When these birds are cold and wet, they’re as likely to fly as a frog or groundhog.

And cold, wet planted quail, plus a handful of well-trained bird dogs, is what Lexi and I faced off against at the Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial.

This trial ran from April 27-29. We were in Sunday’s Amateur Shooting Dog stake. It was a cold, cloudy day. Rain shifted back-and-forth from drizzling to pouring.

 

Lexi was in the third brace (there were only 4 in the entire stake). She had a great run, stayed in the pocket the whole time, handled perfectly, and, as you can see in the videos, the didn’t let those lousy quail throw her off her game (or make her break point). By the time we finished the course, I thought for sure we would be taking home a yellow ribbon.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. While I was disappointed, Lexi didn’t mind. She just had fun chasing birds.

A furious flush of wild quail…

A Hifive Kennels success story: Thornapple Cody, Runner-up CH 2017 ABHA North Country Walking Shooting Dog Championship
Hifive’s RU-CH Thornapple Cody

I love videos of pointing dogs and wild quail.

This is another from Hifive Kennels, and it features a setter named Ginny.

If you hang around the coverdog field trial circuit at all, you probably know Hifive. Located in Beulah, MI, they’ve been breeding, training, and trialing dogs for 20+ years, and they’ve produced a long list of great dogs.

Old Hemlock Setters: The Legacy of George Bird Evans

 

Speck, by George Bird Evans
Speck, by George Bird Evans

George Bird Evans is one the patron saints of upland hunter. A prolific artist and writer, George wrote a number of classic books about grouse hunting and, along with his wife Kay, created the famous Old Hemlock line of English Setters.

Today, George & Kay’s home and legacy is preserved by the Old Hemlock Foundation, creators of this video: Old Hemlock Setters: The Legacy of George Bird Evans

And check out this blog post to learn more about Evans and his famous Fox & Purdey shotguns.

Meet Shawn Kinkelaar. His bird dogs are better than yours.

 

Watch interview with Shawn Kinkelaar, Shooting Dog handler & trainer
Watch interview with Shawn Kinkelaar, Shooting Dog handler & trainer

Shawn Kinkelaar is one of the top bird-dog handlers & trainers in the U.S. He started field trialling in the 1980s, and today he’s one of just two people who have won 100+ Open Horseback Championships–the World Series + Superbowl + Stanley Cup of bird-dog competitions.

He has also won more National Dog of the Year Awards than any other trainer, as well as three English Setter National awards and three National Handler of the Year awards.

For the past 25 years, Shawn has spent his summers training in North Dakota. This year, a local news crew caught up with him and produced this video.

In the video below, you can get a taste for what it’s like training in ND in the summer: Horses, bird dogs, and the space to run both. I’m envious.

No ribbons, but still a great time…

New England Bird Dog Club, August, 2017, field trial
New England Bird Dog Club, August, 2017, field trial

Field Trials are great places to see other dogs and meet other dog folks. The New England Bird Dog Club held their August field trial a few weeks ago and plenty of both were there.

I ran Lexi and Sky, but we didn’t have any luck.

Lexi ran twice, but on her first try she broke on the flush. On her second run, she failed to honor. Those offenses got her disqualified.

Sky ran well and found a bunch of birds. Unfortunately, other dogs dig a better job overall than – so no ribbons for her.

Waiting their turn
Waiting their turn
As handsome as it gets
As handsome as it gets
Lexi, staked out on a chain gang
Lexi, staked out on a chain gang
My rig, waiting to go
My rig, waiting to go
Pointer power
Pointer power
Best part of the day
Best part of the day
Now that's noble
Now that’s noble
Resting after his run
Resting after his run
Cool-down station on the course
Cool-down station on the course
The view from the field trial area
The view from the field trial area
Out of the way!
Out of the way!

This could be big: Introducing Retrieving Pointers…

Shrunken head or slimey old tennis ball? I didn't pick it up to find out.
Shrunken head or slimy old tennis ball? I didn’t pick it up to find out.

You’ve heard of Pointing Labs. Well, I my dog Sky could be the foundation for a similar line of hunting dogs: Retrieving Pointers.

Sky’s nuts about anything round and mouth size: Tennis balls, lacrosse balls, slimy round things that may be shrunken heads. She finds these things on our daily walks and if I throw them, she brings them back–whether I want her to or not–over and over and over…and over.

I’ll be taking orders for pups soon. Like Pointing Labs, the prices will be stupid high. And yes, I’m kidding…

Here’s Sky’s growing collection of balls.

The Untold Story – Grouse Counting

Grouse counting is a game-management technique used on grouse moors across the UK. This beautiful video explains how it works. But the best part of seeing how the dogs point and work the field.

The Untold Story – Grouse Counting

The Untold Story - Grouse Counting
The Untold Story – Grouse Counting

My kick ass Diamond Deluxe dog box …

Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box

As I was downloading some pics over the weekend, and I came across these ones of the aluminum Diamond Deluxe dog box I picked up last October.

Back when I just had Puck and then Lexi, I kept my dog in a crate in the extended-cab part of my pickup. But when I added Sky, I needed to come up with a better way to do things.

This box has proven to be a safe, secure way to transport my two pointers. It has lockable top storage, cross ventilation in the back, insulated holes, and lockable doors. The holes are wide and deep, and both of my girls can fit in one with ease. So now I have room for two more dogs.

Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box

Pictures from fall, 2016 …

I was going through some pictures this weekend, and I came across these ones I took last fall. Hope you like them.

Lexi pointing a grouse, fall, 2016
Lexi pointing a grouse, fall, 2016
Enjoying the view, Fall, 2016
Enjoying the view, Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Wildflower in an Alder cover, fall, 2016
Wildflower in an Alder cover, fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
This tire has been there a while. Fall, 2016
This tire has been there a while. Fall, 2016

How my pointer Sky says ” Oh jeeze, I’m really sorry” …

My pointer, Sky, loves chewing up shoes and slippers. Since October, she has chewed, chomped, and torn her way through 4 pairs. Now when I catch her doing it, this is her reaction.

This shows she has a conscious and she knows that if she’s super cute, no one can get mad at her.

Gone to the dogs…

Sky and I headed up to northern NH on Saturday to say “hello” to Lexi and Craig Doherty. Craig runs Wild Apple Kennel, and this is the second season he has worked with Lexi.

Lexi left for training camp at the end of June, and this was the first time the Sky has seen her since then. After they had a moment to reacquaint, we put took some pigeons out for them and ran a couple other dogs Craig has in his kennel this summer. Overall, a great day.

IMG_2941
Lexi pointing a pigeon

Pointers aren’t supposed to do this….

You hear all sorts of “truths” about Pointers: They’re not personable; they make lousy house dogs; they don’t retrieve (not naturally, anyway). Sky is my third pointer, and just like my first two, she has shown me that all these “truths” are total BS. Watch this video to see her dispel the third.

Good Sat for Lexi at Setter Club Field Trial….

Lexi and I headed down to Cape Cod on Sat to check out the Setter Club of New England’s spring field trial. I entered Lexi in two stakes: the Amateur Derby and Gundog. She took 3rd in both. Here are some pics from the day.

Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 Field Trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 Field Trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Lexi took 3rd place, Amateur Derby, Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial
Lexi took 3rd place, Amateur Derby, Setter Club of New England Spring 2016 trial

A few good points about Pointers …

Pointing a Spring Woodcock
Puck pointing a spring woodcock, many years ago

I never set out to be a Pointer guy. Back before I got Puck (my first pointer), I had never even seen one, except for in books and magazines. Then one day I was flipping through an issue of the Pointing Dog Journal, and I noticed an add from a Pointer breeder near me.

This was Autumn Memory Kennels in Bolton, MA. Ten months after my first visit there, Puck was mine. Today, I can’t imagine owning any other breed of pointing dog.

In The pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs, you can read a bit more about what makes pointers such great dogs.

Lexi's perfect point. This was the woodcock I flushed.
Lexi’s pointing a woodcock the other day.

“Perhaps no other breed of bird dog has had more selective breeding based solely on their performance in the field than pointers. Even so, pointers are also excellent hunting companions and house pets.

In addition to our English setters, Jerry and I always have owned pointers. We’ve bred, trained, competed and lived with them for more than 20 years and are now producing our fifth generation.”

Read all of The pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs now.

Great dog work: Caladen’s DaVinci owns a covey of quail …

Running birds can really frazzle some bird dogs. But not this one. Caladen’s DaVinci handles this can’t-stay-still covey of quail like a real pro — not bad for a long hair.

It’s nice to see a handler that lets the dog work, too. There’s no screaming of commands, just confidence and total faith in his four-legged partner.

A great tribute to a great trainer: Tom Davis on Sherry Ebert…

Sherry Ebert, one the nation's top gundog trainers. From sherryebert.com
Sherry Ebert, one the nation’s top gundog trainers. From sherryebert.com

Back when I first bought Lexi,  there was one trainer the breeder recommended to me over and over again: Sherry Ebert.

Sherry is one of the top trainers in the country, and she turns out great bird dogs. Unfortunately, she’s booked up solid. I’ll find wild grouse in Manhattan before I ever get a training slot with her.

You can read more about Sherry Ebert in this great tribute Tom Davis wrote about her in Sporting Classics. And be sure to check out the video below, too. In it, Sherry gives some good tips and advice on training bird dogs.

Sherry Ebert: On Top of the Bird-Dog World for Decades, by Tom Davine, Sporting Classics 

In 1963 a 17-year-old New Jersey girl named Sherry married a 21-year-old Pennsylvania man named Harold. Horses she knew, dogs she didn’t, but her husband, a wiry redhead with dreams of making it big in the bird-dog world, was fixing to change that. He took Sherry to Georgia, where since 1959 he’d worked for Fred Bevan, a professional trainer with a considerable reputation and a kennel operation to match.

Soon she was working for Bevan, too—and no employer, ever, got a better two-for-the-price-of-one deal than Fred Bevan did when he hired Harold and Sherry Ray. They worked long hours for short pay, their list of duties and responsibilities was endless, but they were the kind of people who couldn’t bear to leave a job unfinished and knew only one way to do it: the right way…

Read all of: Sherry Ebert: On Top of the Bird-Dog World for Decades, by Tom Davine, Sporting Classics

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