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Archive for September, 2013

Now that Tooey’s puppies are in their new homes and she is getting back into her daily routine of being a superb companion animal, I thought that I would share a few images of Tooey from this last week.

Autumn weather came right on schedule to the Pacific Northwest. Not only does that mean rain, wind, sun, cooler temperatures, but it also means that bird hunting season is around the corner.

Basking in the cool showers in her back yard as only an IWS can enjoy.

Basking in the cool showers in her back yard as only an IWS can enjoy.

I have several hunting-related art projects underway that require having the right props to work from. Ms. Tooey is both helpful and critical of my endeavors.

Tooey confirms that this is indeed a rooster pheasant flying through the dining room

Tooey confirms that this is indeed a rooster pheasant flying through the dining room

Before I made delivery on a couple of retro-style metal signs with dog portraits (Boykins in this case), Tooey confirmed that these met her standards. I have ascertained that her look implies that my next series must include and Irish Water Spaniel.

"Say, that looks just like Scarlett" - Tooey has a good eye detail

“Say, that looks just like Scarlett” – Tooey has a good eye detail

Tooey has another weekend of AKC Obedience trial scheduled in a couple of weeks, and that coincides with the opening of the upland bird hunting season in Oregon. So as soon as she leaves the ring (with or without a title) we will be heading to the field for pheasants, chukar, and maybe quail.

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Well, actually, she has all four of her curly brown legs. But what she also has is the 2nd qualifying score in Novice Obedience, which she earned today. A dog needs three qualifying scores, given by at least two different judges, to earn the Companion Dog (CD) title, so now Tooey is 2/3 of the way there.

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Her strongest exercise is still the Recall — she stays in position until called, comes briskly when called, comes in squarely to my front, and then finishes with a sweet heel. And she also does a solid Stand for Exam — her feet stay put from the time I leave her, while the judge is touching her head, shoulders, and back, and stays there until I return to the heel position.

Her weakest exercises are still the ones involving heeling: On-leash Heeling, Figure 8, and Off-Leash Heeling. Her On-leash heeling was a bit better than acceptable. She was behind me most of the way, but the leash never got tight, so that means that she probably never got more than three or four feet behind me. She sat when I stopped every time, which was great.

The Off-leash heeling was scary, probably at the very bottom of the acceptable range. As the exercise progressed, she got farther and farther behind — I couldn’t see her, but I think she probably got as much as eight feet behind me. But she did follow me all throughout the pattern, even doing the about turn back where I had done it, even though I was many feet ahead of her by the time she did it.

And she stayed put for the Long Sit and Long Down. During the Long Sit, she kept a close eye on the doings in the adjacent ring, but she didn’t move. And at one point (halleluia!) during the Long Down, she even put her head down on her front paws and relaxed.

The Mt. Hood Keeshond Club Obedience Trial went two days — yesterday and today. I was very happy that I’d entered her only for today. Today we had a woman judge, whereas yesterday’s judge was a very large man. He was judging in the adjacent ring today, and when Tooey caught sight of him, she kind of backed up in a kind of a “Whoa!, what’s that?” kind of a posture. He was a perfectly nice guy as far as I could tell, but Tooey isn’t sure she likes large men. Thankfully, I learned this lesson in Puyallup last June. Until I can find more large men to practice around, I think we’re going to stick with women judges.

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Chris came down to see the puppies, planning to take home a Faethe x Joey puppy. She has Joey’s brother, so a Joey puppy would make a nice symmetry.

And while she liked the Joey puppy, she was just won over by Ms. Yellow, the last (but not least) Tooey x JJ puppy to go home. But the Joey family connection is still there, since Joey is Ms. Yellow’s grandsire (JJ’s sire).

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Fortunately, Chris is friends with the owner of another Tooey puppy, Pax (Mr. Red from Tooey’s first litter). So they will be able to share the joys and challenges of having an IWS from the same mom.

And it looks like Chris’ house comes with ready-made company, a mini-wire Dachshund, Mike. They’ll be about the same size for only a little while, and then watch out!

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That makes three Tooey puppies in Canada — Pax from the Tooey x Cork litter, and Ivy (Ms Lavender) and Ms Yellow from the Tooey x JJ litter. With the Sorcha (the first Ms Yellow) in Australia, that makes Tooey a real international producer.

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For the last two weekends, Cooper and his hunting partner Scarlett have been helping the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) with training new pheasant hunters. The ODFW has an Adult Pheasant Hunt for new hunters that is run near Portland at the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area. For a very modest fee, people interested in learning how to hunt pheasants over dogs can spend the day being trained how to handle and shoot a shotgun safely, practice with clay targets, and then have an afternoon chasing pheasants with the assistance of trained bird dogs and their handlers. Cooper and Scarlett (plus Norm and myself) helped new hunters understand the techniques of working with bird dogs and strategies of pheasant hunting. For a mere $42 one gets the opportunity to learn to shoot, have lunch, work with a spaniel, and possibly take home some fresh pheasant.

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Scarlett and Cooper waiting for the new hunters to get their orientation

The first success of this past Friday afternoon was when Scarlett put up a nice rooster pheasant, and one of the new hunters dropped it on his very first shot. (He is hooked now.) Scarlett moved out about 80 yards in the cover to locate the bird and brought it back to Norm.

Scarlett brings in the first rooster pheasant

Scarlett brings in the first rooster pheasant

All the crops you see in the above photos are to support wildlife habitat and will be left in the fields and flooded over the next month. Thousands of ducks and geese will eat themselves fat on their way to California. (This is where the money goes from hunting licenses.) But for the next few weeks, the cover is nice for upland birds such as early season pheasant. On Friday, it was a bit too hot for the dogs to work for long stretches, and they consumed lots of water while looking for birds. But it was a great practice session for the dogs before Norm and I head out after our own birds later this this Fall when the season opens and the weather turns cool.

Cooper did not locate any birds in the crops, but one rooster was spotted walking along a canal. So I sent Cooper in pursuit and he tracked it down in the cover and got a nice flush. The new hunter working behind Cooper waited until the low flying pheasant was high enough to safely shoot over Cooper’s head, but by that time, the bird was just a bit too far for the new hunter to successfully drop. Cooper was steady to the flush and shot, but sitting on the bank of a canal might have influenced his decision to not chase a bird.

Cooper and a novice hunter scour an oar field for the elusive pheasant

Cooper and a novice hunter scour an oat field for the elusive pheasant

Cooper and Scarlett were great ambassadors to a group of novice hunters. Even those who didn’t succeed in bringing home some fresh pheasant will have some good memories of working over an Irish Water Spaniel and a Boykin Spaniel.

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There are so many dogs in rescues and shelters who need homes, I’m told. Why, I am asked, didn’t I get one of those instead of buying a purebred dog?

Well, here’s one way to think about it:

Ask the same question to a car enthusiast: Why didn’t you just go down to your local used car dealership and get some car there? Why do you need a new car of a particular make and model?

Or, how about asking a guitarist: Why did you have to buy that particular guitar? Couldn’t you have gotten a used guitar from Craigslist?

To a woman who needs professional clothes for work: Why did you have to go out and buy new clothes? Can’t you go to Goodwill and get your clothes there?

Of course these folks can get a used car, a Craigslist guitar, or Goodwill clothes. And sometimes, those are excellent choices for a lot of reasons: getting used things is “green”, it recycles good stuff to new uses, and it keeps stuff out of the landfills. But most of all, sometimes you can get well-made, workable, second-hand items that fill the need you have.

But often, you can’t.

And even though dogs are living beings and not inanimate objects like cars, guitars, and clothes, the principle is the same.

I know because I’ve taken both paths.

Before I got my purebred Irish Water Spaniels, I had a Malamute-mix and a German Shepherd-mix. Both I bought from backyard breeders. I didn’t know any better about why I shouldn’t do that. But now I do, and I won’t do it again.

One of the dogs turned out to be a dearly loved, sweet companion, and the other turned out bad — really, frighteningly bad. It was all luck — we had no knowledge about the breeds, about the mixes, about the parents, how the mother was housed, fed, or cared for, about the environment the puppies had been initially raised in, about what they’d been fed or any training or socialization they might have been given (or not). And the people who bred them weren’t responsible breeders who cared about any of that or who could give us any ongoing information and support.

We did a bit better with our third dog. She was a sweet Chow-multi-mix rescue from our local shelter. The shelter workers helped us pick her out, and she was a calm, placid companion for us for several years. But she also had some issues and problems, and we had no one who had known her from puppyhood to help us figure out what was going on. And since she was a mixed breed, we couldn’t really research what might be typical for her breed.

Like the car enthusiast, guitarist, and professional, when it was time to get a new dog, we had specific requirements.

We decided we wanted a water dog. A puppy who would grow up to be a size down from our previous dogs. A dog who would go for walks and hikes, and who would love the water and go with us on our boat. We wanted an active dog who would play and retrieve a ball, and one who wouldn’t shed as much as our previous dogs. We didn’t want a protection dog or a lay-about dog or an ordinary dog.

Researching on the web, it quickly became apparent to me that there were three purebred breeds that would be right for us. At the same time, it became equally apparent that getting a mixed-breed would much less predictably get us what we wanted than getting a specific kind of purebred dog. And getting a dog that wasn’t right for us would be frustrating for us and sad for the dog.

I’ve told the story of how we got Cooper throughout this blog, so I won’t go into that again.

But I do think it’s important to stress how valuable and helpful it has been to stay in touch with the breeders of our Irish Water Spaniels. When the dogs have health or behavior puzzles, I have people to ask advice from, people who knew our dog from his first moments, who know our dogs’ parents, and can tell us how their parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents behaved. People who have such long experience with Irish Water Spaniels, that they can tell us what is typical and what isn’t, and what kinds of behaviors to expect. They can tell us what kinds of medications to avoid, what kinds of foods are best, and what health problems we might see.

Staying in touch with our dogs’ breeders has expanded our social universe in ways we’d never had predicted. Plus we get to have the fun of sharing pictures and stories with people who actually want to hear about our dogs as many times as we want to share them.

I had none of this with my three previous dogs, and I couldn’t have had, because none of those dogs were purebred dogs bred by responsible breeders.

I have now co-bred two litters of Irish Water Spaniels. I hope I can serve these same functions for the people to whom I have entrusted my puppies, people who specifically chose purebred Irish Water Spaniels, plus my co-breeder and me and our puppies in particular, because the breed and the puppies meet their new people’s own specific requirements.

(written in response to this article: http://caninechronicle.com/world-news/september-chairmans-report/)

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Ms. Lavender has been determined by her people Ron and Mary-Lynn to be, “Hands Down… the Best Pup!” They say that Ivy is a very sweet and affectionate dog, who works hard to please them.

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Even so,  she’s a puppy, going through a chewing stage, so she has some toys and a puppy Kong to satisfy that urge to chew (when she’s not sleeping, that is).

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Like several of the other puppies, it sounds like she’s doing a great job with her crate training. Except for the first night, they report that she hasn’t cried, and only wakes them up once during the night to be let outside.

Like Louie, Ivy now lives with people who have a shop, but it’ll be a few more weeks until they let her hang out there, until they think she’s ready to tolerate the noise and activity.

But maybe best of all, Ivy lives with a view of the water. If she’s anything like her mama, she will love the water.

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Louie (who was Mr. Teal when I last saw him) is now home with Donn and the other two dogs: Rio the IWS and Caesar the Standard Poodle.

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Rio getting acquainted with puppy Louie

Louie apparently learns really fast when it come to food (so-o-o much like his mom Tooey). Donn reports that when he first used the band saw to cut up frozen tripe, Louie took off. But now he comes running when he hears the saw — that means it’s time for something good to eat!

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Louie munching on a strip of tripe

Louie must be really comfortable around power tools now — right under the table saw seems like a good place to feel right at home and take a nap.

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Time for a nap

Louie also takes to his crate with no problems, and he’s learning to play and get along with the other two dogs. Sometime this week, he may even get a chance to get into a puppy pool, since it’s going to be hot where he lives.

Louie is going to be a happy dog in his new home. Donn says that Tooey did a good job. That she did.

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