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Archive for June, 2012

Trice is up in Seattle one more weekend to see the Tooey x Cork puppies as they head off to their new homes. Tooey was left back in Portland with just the boys – Me and the Coop.

They are not about to let me out of their sight, even if it is just a trip down the driveway to the trash cans. There was the off chance that I might have slipped out to go hunting without them. Not a chance.

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This blog’s Favorite Photographer got fan mail today. So appropriate since said FP’s favorite beers are usually the dark and hearty porters and stouts.

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Card by Bryn Parry

This card will definitely go into the collection. The sender got the card in the UK on a trip there recently. The artist is Bryn Parry. Although his studio has a website, I didn’t see this card listed. I guess we’re just very lucky to get one.

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Last month on May 27th, Cooper passed his 4th Junior Hunter Upland test. He went 4 for 4 — 4 passes in 4 Junior tests. So we knew he’d get his JHU title — it was just a matter of when the AKC would publish the fact.

I’ve been checking their website semi-regularly, and finally found the confirmation today:

Next task? Get Tooey ready for Junior spaniel hunt tests? Get Cooper ready for Senior spaniel hunt tests? Or maybe get Tooey ready for Junior retriever hunt tests, or maybe Obedience? So many choices, and all of them good.

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Pink and Red left this morning for their new homes in Canada. Both Pink and Red are opinionated dogs who like exploring and playing with toys. I’m sure they’re very eager for new adventures with their new families.

Pink confident on the wobble board

Red jumping through the ring

 

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Maybe you are someone who can relate to this:

When Russ and I chose our first dog, we chose the puppy who ran up to us, the one who came when we called, the one who seemed to want to be with us. That was our beloved Kayak, the Malamute-mix who was with us a very-too-short 14 years. We didn’t do performance activities with her, no Obedience, no Rally, no working tests. We just went for hikes, walks, and trips, stayed home, and hung out. We loved her. I’m sure she loved us.

Now I’ve found that puppy again: the one who runs up to me when I walk into the puppy room, the one who comes when I call, the one who wants to be with me.

And I can’t keep him. My heart has broken into tiny, sharp slivers that make it hard to breathe. I cry every time I think about him. We’ll have to find him a home with someone else. I’m pretty sure I will stand it somehow, I’m not sure exactly how.

Mr Orange at 45 days old

Mr Orange has stolen my heart. He will steal someone else’s heart, too, the right someone who can love and teach a wonderful puppy who will become a heartdog, companion, and friend.

I wonder: Who is that someone?

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Tooey’s home. We are all happy. Cooper is thrilled.

Tooey is not exactly excited that Cooper is thrilled, but she does know she’s home. When we got to within a mile of home, in my rearview mirror, I saw her head pop up and look around. Immediately as she walked in the front door, she ran to check that:

  • Her rug is in place
  • Her crate is where it’s supposed to be
  • Cooper’s crate (she sometimes “borrows” Cooper’s crate) is where it’s supposed to be
  • The dog food is in the same location as before
  • Her bone is where she left it
  • The freezer (which likely contains her frozen chicken wings) hasn’t been left open accidentally
  • The middle of the bed is still as comfy as it’s always been

Having determined that the universe has not shifted in her absence, Tooey then located Russ, and leaned on his knee.

The one flaw in this whole arrangement is the strange absence of Tooey food. This just isn’t right, she says — I can see it in her eyes. Such a pathetic pair of eyes. Poor starving girl.

Well, she probably does think she’s starving, and for good reason. We’re not giving her much, especially in comparison. For the past almost 7 weeks, she’s been eating enormous quantities of kibble, raw meat, raw liver, and yogurt, all to help her produce enough milk for 10 demanding puppies. But now, and for the next two or three days, she has to get by on 1 measly cup of food for breakfast and another for dinner, plus a little parsley and sage.

This is one of those cases that being able to explain things to her in English would make this much easier (at least on me). This semi-starvation, plus the herbs, is all to persuade Tooey’s body to dry up her milk.

She started the process on her own. The pups have been eating more and more puppy food for several weeks, so they haven’t needed quite as much milk. Plus, in the last couple of days, Tooey has been doing her best, with low growls and discreet shows of teeth, to dissuade the puppies from nursing. With fewer demands, her body produces less milk.

But even so, her teats are still long and flappy. So we have to help. Not feeding probably doesn’t feel helpful to her, I’m sure, but that plus the herbs and a little massage with cool cloths, is the best we can do. Soon we’ll get back to full rations and a frozen chicken wing for dessert.

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Just a few of the things I must remember when I am running double marked retrieves during a HRC Seasoned hunt test:

  • Take several calming breaths while waiting in the holding blind
  • Walk to the line with a (probably very excited) dog on a slip lead
  • Sit on the bucket and tell the dog (again) to heel
  • Breathe
  • Tell the dog to sit, hopefully no more than a couple of times
  • Take off the dog’s lead, and stuff it into a pocket (the lead, not the dog)
  • Pick up the shotgun and load it with two poppers, and then hold it pointing in a safe direction
  • If there will be a diversion bird on the second mark, make sure a third popper is handy
  • Tell the dog to heel and sit again, if necessary (and it probably is)
  • Blow the duck call, and wish the dog would not whine along with the duck call
  • Shoulder the shotgun, take off the safety, point the gun at the first bird, which is now flying through the air, and shoot when the bird is at the top of the arc
  • Let the gun muzzle follow the bird to the ground
  • Eject the popper and rack the second popper, reminding your dog to heel and sit
  • Breathe
  • Turn your upper body to point the shotgun at the second bird, which is flying through the air, follow its path to the top of the arc, and shoot
  • Tell your dog to sit
  • Follow the path of the bird with the gun all the way to the ground
  • Eject the shell and put on the safety
  • Tell the impatient dog to heel and sit
  • Send your dog for the first bird
  • Check that the gun’s breech is open and the safety is on, say “Open and safe,” and put the gun into the gun stand
  • Stand up and breathe
  • When the dog delivers the first bird, get him as pointed as possible toward the second bird, and send the dog
  • If there is going to be a diversion bird on the second mark, wait until the dog has picked up the second bird and then load the gun with your handy third popper
  • When the diversion bird is in the air, look at the diversion bird (not the dog), take off the safety, and shoot at the diversion bird (not the dog)
  • Eject the popper, put on the safety, and take the second bird from the dog
  • Send your impatient dog for the diversion bird
  • Say “Open and safe,” return the gun to the gun stand
  • When the dog returns, take the bird, put on the dog’s lead, and leave the line
  • Breathe

This all is just for the marks. Blinds and walk-ups are something else altogether.

For those running in an HRC Started hunt test, it’s easier. That test has two single marks and requires the handler to handle only the dog, not a gun, too. Someone else shoots the gun for you.

Which turned out very well for me this weekend. Today, the second day of the Lady Handler seminar (beautifully put on the the Whistling Wings HRC and led by Janet Kimbrough), I volunteered to be the Started handlers’ designated shooter. That got me a lot of practice with shotgun handling. Luckily for me — I need a lot of practice.

Gromit (Irish Water Spaniel), Colleen (handler), and Patrice (designated shooter) facing a bird falling about 65 yard away — ph0to by Martha Jordan

Colleen, Gromit (going after the bird), and Patrice (having shot already) — photo by Martha Jordan

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Puppies are getting stronger, more active, and some are getting more pushy. All of this stands them in good stead for their early forays into outdoor dining. Take a look at the video Russ put together from some of my snapshots and clips from this past weekend:

But they’re also sweet and very cuddly, as both Tooey and I can attest:

Patrice and Mr. Blue

Tooey and Ms. Rainbow

 

 

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When I first visited Tammy’s house, I was intrigued by a particular magnet stuck onto her refrigerator. It turned out that her dog Balloo, Cooper’s sire, had earned the distinction of being an AKC All-Around IWS. An All-Arounder is an Irish Water Spaniel that has earned a show championship (CH), an Obedience title (CD or better), and a retriever hunting test title (JH or better).

I was impressed. And later I realized that both of Cooper’s parents had earned that award. But at the time, it did not particularly occur to me that I would go for such a thing myself.

But now, about five years later, in today’s mail, I received a magnet of my own to show off Cooper’s achievement. It is displayed proudly on my refrigerator. It sits next to a variety of other magnets, like the Hunting IWS magnet given to us by Hank and Holly.

Such a good life we’ve created with our dogs, and the people we’ve met through having these dogs in our lives.

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Cooper is 5-1/2 years old, but he still loves to get his face wiped off with a towel. I think it all comes from the memory of being fed warm food and then getting cleaned up with a warm, wet washcloth.

I hope Tooey’s puppies come away with similar happy memories. Feeding and caring for them will certainly be one of mine.

Mixing puppy food for dinner, with Tooey supervising

Puppy dinner, pre-gluttonous free-for-all

Puppies start to eat

Puppies get food everywhere — faces, feet, bellies, floor

Human cleans while puppies eat

Mom cleans up the puppy food while puppies try for a second course from Mom.

After dinner, wiping puppy feet with a warm wet cloth

Wiping puppy face

Wiping puppy belly

Drying puppy off

Puppies fed, area cleaned, towels changed, and puppies napping. Moms agree: “Good job!”

Just a couple of hours later, it’s time to eat again

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Portaits of the puppies and Mom, compliments of Russ Dodd. This was his first chance to see the puppies, and so their first chance at being made (relatively) famous by a real photographer.

First, the producer of this little slideshow:

Tooey Mommy

Now for the 24-day old puppies. Still too wiggly to get a consistent pose. Besides, this way we get to see a bit of their individual personalities.

Mr. Blue

Mr. Red

Mr. Purple

Mr. Green

Ms. Pink

Mr. Orange

Ms. Yellow

Ms. Rainbow

Mr. Gold

Mr. White

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