Archive for December, 2014

“Main man” has been one of Cooper’s many nicknames over the years. I’m not sure where it came from… I’m thinking it’s from some movie or TV show.

And even with today’s events, he will still be my main man, my pretty boy, my belly-rub boy, and all those other masculine, boy-type things.

What happened today? Cooper was neutered.

I have long resisted this surgery. I have always believed that a dog or bitch needs their reproductive organs from a health perspective, and with Cooper especially, because of his SLO (an auto-immune disorder), I wanted all his hormones in place to support his immune system.

But with Tooey’s being spayed, I began to see that such surgery can be a good thing. She had increasingly suffered from false pregnancies and mood swings, and since we wanted no more puppies from her, spaying seemed the kindest thing to do.

Because of Cooper’s SLO, his elbow dysplasia, and his cataracts, we’ve always known that we would never use Cooper to sire any puppies. So that was not our issue. And throughout his puppyhood and adolescence, Cooper had all of his hormones to help his body and mind develop properly. So that wasn’t the issue either. The issue now is that with a new boy in the house, we could see tensions between them escalating beyond what we could handle with discipline and training.

We tried other things first, including talking to Carlin’s and Cooper’s breeders and the owners of their sires; consulting a behaviorist; employing various discipline and training tactics; and simply keeping the two dogs separated. All of this helped, but nothing seemed to really de-escalate the tension. And also, their conflicts made me very stressed and unhappy, and I’m sure my stress added to theirs to make everything worse.

Nothing was working, and all the breeders and experts were recommending that we neuter Cooper. Still, I resisted.

It’s only when we began to seriously consider finding Carlin a new home that the idea of neutering Cooper began to seem the only thing left to try.

So we made the appointment, and today Cooper was neutered. I hope neutering helps enough to make it worth it.

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I blame the heavy rains. Or maybe it’s Santa Claus’s fault.

In any case, Tooey has got her Christmas wish: a mouse in the basement. (Or at least, I HOPE it’s a mouse, and not a multitude of mousies.)

She’s been busy down in the basement, following her nose and her ears, tracing the path of said mouse along the baseboards, up the insides of the walls, and behind the furnace and washing machine.


Last night, I came in the back door (which shares a hallway with the stairs down into the basement), to find a dead mouse. I assume it was thoughtfully delivered there as a memento, a prize, a trophy for me to find when I came back from my errands outside.

Unfortunately, I did not appreciate it in quite the style a hard-working Irish Rodent Spaniel might wish. No, instead of saying “thank you,” I just screamed.

But I should have thanked Tooey better than that. After all, I have previously praised her for her rat hunting prowess at Barn Hunts. The least I could do is tell her what a good little hunter she is.

So: Good hunting, Tooey. Good girl. If you catch any more, give them to Russ. He’ll be delighted, I’m sure.

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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

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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.


Now we just clip them short.

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