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Crittering in the Mud

Many people have a perception that it rains a lot in Portland. They are not wrong.

With rain comes saturated soils (mud). Mud makes for easy digging after underground rodents (critters).

Tooey and her excavation handywork

Tooey and her excavation handiwork

Ms Tooey

Ms Tooey

two critter hounds in the kichen

two critter hounds in the kitchen

Now where does all this caked-on mud go after it comes off the dog?

My carpet is the primary location.

One of the best appliances that I have ever purchased is a Bissel carpet cleaning machine. If you have an Irish Water Spaniel and if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you should do yourself a favor and get one. It works as advertised.

The dining room as gleaned by a carpet cleaning machine

The dining room as gleaned by a carpet cleaning machine

While Ms. Tooey and I were on our road trip to Kansas for our 2014 pheasant quest, I received an email from the waterfowl conservation group, Ducks Unlimited. They were looking for a representative photograph of an Irish Water Spaniel to illustrate an article on waterfowl retrievers.

Normally, I would have access to thousands of images of IWS retrieving waterfowl, but I was sitting in a Motel 6 in Utah with only my laptop and limited bandwidth.

However, I had been making some images during our hunting trip, and so I forwarded a few from earlier in the week when Tooey and I were chasing roosters in Kansas. The photo editor for the Ducks Unlimited magazine replied that he could use one for the November/December issue of their magazine.

November - December issue of Ducks Unlimited

November – December issue of Ducks Unlimited

The photo appears in a little time-line history of retrievers.

Tooey, as published on page 54

Tooey, as published on page 54

It was cropped from one of the photos of Tooey scanning the horizon of western Kansas, looking for more pheasants to flush and retrieve.

Ms. Tooey, my most accomplished bird dog

Ms. Tooey, my most accomplished bird dog

Tooey has retrieved her share of ducks, and she really excels at flushing, marking, and retrieving pheasants. It pleases me again that Tooey is such a versatile and all-round Irish Water Spaniel.

 

Note from Patrice:

There are folks out there who will argue that the photo Russ sent to Ducks Unlimited is not representative of Irish Water Spaniels because Tooey’s topknot, a characteristic of the breed, is clipped short. When you look at many breeders’ websites or even the AKC website, you’ll see IWS with long, luxurious topknots and ears.

Tooey with both duck and traditional topknot

But in my experience, long topknots are just burr, bramble, and debris collectors. In fact, on several hunting trips, both Cooper and Tooey came back from a retrieve with their ears velcroed to their topknots by burrs and other sticky, brambly plants. So while they were still being shown in the conformation ring, we tied their topknots back.

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Now we just clip them short.

Three dogs a-hunting

All the weather reports looked bad. Rain, rain, and more rain. Of all weathers to hunt in, pouring rain is my least favorite. I even asked Russ three times the night before if he wanted to cancel our hunting trip. Fortunately, he said no all three times.

It did rain from time to time in the fields on the Luckiamute Valley Pheasants hunting preserve, but mostly it was just cloudy, with even a few sun breaks. It wasn’t cold (by Northwest standards — in the low 40s F), and I even had to take off my jacket because I was getting too warm hiking back and forth along the rows of corn and milo, following the dogs while they hunted for pheasants.

We started the morning “airing” the dogs. After the 1-1/2 hour car ride, they were ready to stretch their legs and take a pee or two.

Trice, Carlin, Tooey and Cooper

Trice, Carlin (on leash), Tooey, and Cooper

After that, we put the two boys back into their crates in the car, and took Tooey out to the hunting field. Tooey is a very methodical hunter. Not flashy, not fast, not stylish. But she gets her job done, finding birds and flushing them up. In fact, she put up five birds in the space of only an hour or so. Too bad our shooting wasn’t as good as her flushing. We only brought down two of those five.

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Tooey all dressed up for hunting

Then we got out Cooper. He put up several birds, too. He’s flashier than Tooey, working more quickly. But his nose wasn’t working as well as Tooey’s was this morning. In fact, I saw a rooster hunkered down in the corn that Cooper had passed by without finding. We had to call Cooper back and handle him to the bird, so he could flush it up for us. But even so, Cooper put up three birds, of which we brought down only one. At this point, it was confirmed that the dogs were hunting better than the people were shooting.

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Cooper and all the day’s birds

Then we decided to see what Carlin would do, so we dressed him up in a blaze orange “skid plate” like Tooey’s, and took Carlin and Tooey out to cover the last three rows of corn.

Carlin, of course, had no idea what we were doing out there. To him, this was one great big field to run and jump around in. I was very glad that he stayed close to Tooey, pretty much following her in and out of the downed crops. Although, while Tooey was trotting in, through, and around the corn, Carlin was leaping and jumping — perhaps he was channeling his inner Springer Spaniel.

While we were out there, Tooey put up two more birds (and I think Carlin was in on flushing one of them). Of those, we got one, and I was thrilled that Carlin didn’t so much as blink when the gun went off.

Tooey ran out to retrieve the bird, Carlin following along. She got out to that bird first, grabbed it up, and turned to come back to Russ. Carlin thought that that bird was pretty interesting, so he raced Tooey back almost neck and neck, trying to get the bird from her. Tooey didn’t let him have it though (and even appeared to be a bit annoyed with the brat), and brought it to Russ.

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Carlin and Tooey admiring Tooey’s bird among the rows of downed milo

So after about 4 hours, we walked away with four birds and three happy, tired dogs. We even had time to stop off at the dog wash on the way home.

A taste of judging

Last Saturday, I played judge for a Rally match at my dog obedience training club. It was fun. I enjoyed choosing and setting up the courses, running the people and their dogs through them, watching for errors where I might take off points if I were a real judge at a real trial, all to help my fellow club members improve their and their dog’s performance.

I discovered that I naturally see certain things, like inefficient or incorrect footwork on the part of the person, or the dog’s sitting at an angle at the Halts, rather than sitting parallel to the person. I saw incorrectly done stations and missed stations. But I realized later that I  hadn’t really noticed out-of-position heeling — as long as the dog was not really lagging for forging, as going along pretty much next to the person, I didn’t really see if the dog’s neck was right next to the person’s pants seam or not. Interesting…

But what I did gain was a pronounced appreciation for real judges. For their ability to stay focused, observe closely, treat every body with respect and kindness, all while standing on hard floors, for hours.

Thank you, judges.

I didn’t judge the whole time. In each of the courses, I took a few moments to run one of my dogs: Cooper in Excellent, Tooey in Advanced, and Carlin in Novice (sort of).

Each dog had a different experience:

  • Cooper: “Hah! I already have my RAE title. I don’t have to do this anymore. Except the jumps. I like the jumps. Let’s do that jump again!”
  • Tooey: “You really want to do this? You do? Really? Oh… okay…. But there will be food in the ring, right?”
  • Carlin: “Wow! Look at all these dogs! Smell all those treats! What are all those cones and signs all over the floor? Oh, you want some heeling? Ok, I can give you three steps. 1, 2, … Oh! Look at that puppy over there! Let’s go say hi!”

We all came home tired and ready for a nap.

No news is good news

In talking with a fellow IWS owner this weekend (from overseas, even!), I realized that I hadn’t written about Cooper’s SLO lately. I guess that’s because nothing is happening.

And I mean that. Nothing is happening. No nails are breaking. No nails are splitting or bleeding. It’s been wonderful. Some of the nails are a bit misshapen, but we’ve even been able to grind all his nails every week, just like we do with the other two dogs. Nothing special.

Well, nothing except that he’s still getting a bunch of medications and supplements every day:

For the SLO:

  • fish oil capsules, 3-1200 mg in the morning and 4-1200 mg in the evening (for a total of 1260 mg EPA and 840 mg DHA omega-3 fatty acids per day)
  • vitamin E, 400 IU, 2x/day
  • niacinimide, 1-500 mg capsule in the morning, and 2-500 mg in the evening
  • doxycycline, 2-100 mg capsules in the morning

For the low thyroid:

  • Soloxine thyroid supplement, 4 mg, 1x/day

For his coat and general well-being:

  • Nature’s Farmacy Dogzymes: Ultimate multi-minerals and vitamins, 1.5 tsp, 2x/day
  • Nature’s Farmacy Dogzymes: Gro-Hair, a source of zinc methionine, .5 tsp, 2x/day
  • Glucosamine/chondroitin powder on his breakfast

About maybe 10 months ago, we decided to just stop with the doxycycline and niacinimide. I just thought — all those antibiotics all the time. That’s got to be hard on his system.

But then, about 5 months ago, we noticed that he was breaking and splitting a lot of nails. While there was no infection and Cooper was never disabled, his nails were ugly and seemed to make him uncomfortable. He spent increasing time licking his nails and chewing off the broken pieces.

So, we took him back to the veterinary dermatologist, who advised us to get him back on the regimen. So we did.

I imagine that he’ll be on all these medications for the rest of his life. We’ve tried different combinations of the various -cyclines, and we’ve tried Chinese medicine and acupuncture. We’ve tried quitting all the medicines and staying with just the supplements. But it looks like he’s not going to be one of those lucky dogs who go into remission with just fish oil for maintenance.

So it’s just better to stay on the program, so that nothing keeps happening.

 

Russ showed Carlin in his first two conformation shows this last weekend at the Vancouver Kennel Club shows. They’re both newbies, but they both did a great job. Carlin, especially, had a good time. And he’s did pretty well, letting the judge examine him and mostly not bouncing on his way around the ring.

See for yourself.

Here they are in the Best of Breed ring on Saturday:

And here they are on Sunday, first in the Puppy 6 to 9 month class:

And again in the Best of Breed ring:

Just for the record

The following list of the dates, clubs, and scores for Cooper’s successful RAE legs are also links to the blog posts that describe each trial. In each post, you’ll find course maps, photos, and commentary about how the trials went.

AKC Rally Regulations define the qualifications for an RAE this way:

Upon completion of the Rally Excellent title, qualifying scores may be accumulated from the Rally Advanced B class and the Rally Excellent B class to earn the Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE) title. To earn a Rally Advanced Excellent title, the dog must have received qualifying scores in both Advanced B and Excellent B at 10 separate licensed or member rally trials.

  1. December 7, 2013 – Sherwood Dog Training Club (83/89)
  2. January 31, 2014 – Mt Hood Doberman Pinscher Club (96/100&1st  — High Combined Rally and Rally High in Trial!)
  3. March 15, 2014 – Mt Hood Keeshond Club (93&4th/94)
  4. March 29, 2014 – Washington State Obedience Training Club (72/77)
  5. April 28, 2014 – Irish Water Spaniel Club of America (75/95)
  6. June 7, 2014 – Puyallup Valley Dog Fanciers (87/88)
  7. June 21, 2014 – Clackamas Kennel Club (91/95)
  8. June 22, 2014 – Clackamas Kennel Club (88/89 — 1st time he succeeded two days in a row!)
  9. October 25, 2014 – Vancouver Kennel Club (79/96)
  10. October 26, 2014 – Vancouver Kennel Club (89/93&4th — two days in a row again!)

We also had several unsuccessful runs. Sometimes we qualified on only one trial on a day, and sometimes we qualified on neither:

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