Archive for September, 2015

We got Tooey’s biopsy results from the vet yesterday. That mass they removed from her teat last week? It’s a benign dermal hemangioma.

Benign. Not cancer.

I feel like we dodged a bullet.

Tooey wishes we would please take this stupid cone off now. I know this because she still, after a week of wearing the thing, bashes it into doorways, chairs, the bed, the outdoor furniture, the patio cover supports, etc. It seems like every day we come home to new repairs needed on the stupid cone.

Bug hey, that is small potatoes. The mass is benign. That’s what counts.



Read Full Post »

Yesterday afternoon, while walking leashed down the sidewalk, Carlin was attacked by an Alaskan Malamute. The Malamute, twice Carlin’s weight, charged down the adjacent driveway and jumped Carlin.

When Russ or I have walked the dogs around the neighborhood, we’ve seen this dog loose in his yard before, and always walked down the other side of the street. But yesterday, Carlin was being walked by our dog walker, who doesn’t live in this neighborhood, doesn’t often walk down that street, and had forgotten about that Malamute.

The dog walker brought Carlin right home, and reported the incident to us. At first, we didn’t see any damage beyond a broken nail. But by this morning, it was clear that something was wrong with Carlin’s left ear. Yesterday, he winced when it was touched, but this morning, he screamed. Closer inspection revealed some yucky fluid in the ear. So, off he went to the vet.

The vet sedated him, and went investigating. What they found was an infected 4mm puncture wound in his ear canal. He’s being treated with antibiotics, pain medication, and ear drops.

When Carlin got home from the vet, he walked loopily into the house, got his favorite nylabone, lay down, and went to sleep with the bone in his mouth.

Carlin sleeping off the sedative with a bone in his mouth

Tooey is recovering, too, from her mammary surgery on Tuesday, so the two of them are recovering together.

Tooey and Carlin_blog

Carlin and Tooey recovering together on the deck

What we’re going to do about the Malamute and his owner — we’re not sure. It complicates things that neither of us was there when the attack actually happened, so we’ll see.



Read Full Post »

Tooey is wondering WHY:

  • She can’t go training with Russ and Carlin
  • We won’t take off this stupid cone
  • We won’t allow her to lick her incision
  • She can’t take out those annoying stitches

Patience! It’ll all be better soon, Girlie Girl. You had that surgery only yesterday. It will be better soon. I’m sure of it.

Read Full Post »

Tooey is going in for surgery today.

I am always concerned about my dogs when some health issue comes up, but this one is worrying. Especially with Cooper just having died with cancer, I am really hoping and praying that the new mass on one of Tooey’s teats is benign.

You can see the translucent grey swelling on the affected teat in picture below. To compare this to a healthy teat, look at the second photo.

Teat with swollen mass

Normal teat (for comparison)

About a year ago, Tooey had a benign cyst removed from her back. So, she does have a history of benign masses. The difference is that this new mass grew so quickly — in just a month — whereas the cyst on her back took years to grow.

So, Tooey is going in today so they can remove the teat and the related mammary gland. The vet will then send the tissue off to be biopsied to see if they are benign. Or not.

Read Full Post »

I thought I’d create a post that lists Carlin’s scores for the four Junior Hunter Upland spaniel tests he took and passed, earning his JHU title. Each test is represented in a table, and each table includes the scores given by the two judges for each category.


Junior Hunter Upland test 1 – Northwest English Springer Spaniel Club – August 22, 2015

Ability Land Water Retrieve Average
Hunting 10 | 10 N/A 10
Bird finding 9 | 10 10 | 10 9.8
Flushing 9 | 9 N/A 9.0
Trained 8 | 8 10 | 9 9.3
Retrieving 9 | 9 9 | 9 9.0
Overall average 9.4


Junior Hunter Upland test 2 – Northwest English Springer Spaniel Club – August 23, 2015

Ability Land Water Retrieve Average
Hunting 9 | 9 N/A 9.0
Bird finding 9 | 9 10 | 10 9.5
Flushing 10 | 10 N/A 10.0
Trained 8 | 8 10 | 10 9.0
Retrieving 7 | 7 10 | 10 8.5
Overall average 9.2


Junior Hunter Upland test 3 – Mount Rainier Sporting Spaniel Association – September 4, 2015

Ability Land Water Retrieve Average
Hunting 9 | 9 N/A 9.0
Bird finding 8 | 9 9 | 9 8.75
Flushing 8 | 8 N/A 8.0
Trained 7 | 6 9 | 8 7.5
Retrieving 9 | 9 8 | 8 8.5
Overall average 8.4


Junior Hunter Upland test 4 – Puget Sound English Springer Spaniel Association – September 5, 2015

Ability Land Water Retrieve Average
Hunting 8 | 8 N/A 8.0
Bird finding 9 | 8 10 | 7 8.5
Flushing 8 | 9 N/A 8.5
Trained 8.5 | 9 8.5 | 7 8.25
Retrieving 8.5 | 8 7 | 7 7.63
Overall average 8.2


Read Full Post »

This morning, the Greater Pacific Northwest Retriever Trial Club put on a lovely small hunt test. It was especially lovely because this, the last of the local hunt tests this year, was the test where Carlin and I passed his first retriever Junior hunt test.


Patrice and Carlin, 1st retriever Junior Hunter pass

Because Russ was gunning for the test, we got to St. Louis Ponds nice and early, while it was still cool. Carlin and I ran last (number 11), so while Russ was helping out, I “aired” the dogs and myself, drank some water, and waited while the judges, bird boys, and gunners got themselves organized.

As in all retriever Junior tests, there were four birds to be retrieved: two ducks on land and two on water. And as with many Junior tests, the judges of this test, who also judged the Senior-level dogs yesterday, used almost the same marked retrieves for the Juniors as they had for the Seniors. Almost, but not quite. The first difference was that the Seniors ran the marks as doubles, whereas the Junior ran them as singles. The second difference was that starting line for the Junior dogs’ land marks was actually moved back farther away from the areas of the fall by about 5 yards, making the Junior marks longer than the Seniors’ marks.

The first mark was about 65 yards away. The dog had to cross a shallow ditch, run through some taller cover, and find the bird in a patch of mint. I held on to Carlin’s collar and signaled for the bird. The bird flew, came down and landed, and then three v-e-r-y long beats later, the judge said “11.” Fortunately, Carlin had stayed sitting, so all I had to do was say, “Take It!” — our command for him to go out and retrieve the bird.

But did I say “Take It”? No. I said “Dog.” Sometimes, some judges don’t call the dog’s number, they just say “Dog.” I’ve listened to judges say this during Cooper’s and Tooey’s retriever tests for years, and “Dog” is just what came out of my mouth. And when I said, “Dog,” Carlin took off for the bird. Now, if this had been practice, I’d have stopped him for leaving on any command other than “Take It.” But this wasn’t training — it was a test. I let him go.

Carlin, like his uncle Cooper, is a very good marker. He saw exactly where that bird fell and ran straight out to it. His nose went down, so I know he found it. He poked it a couple of times. Finally, I came to my senses and whistled him to come in. Fortunately, he picked up the bird and came back to me with it.

The second land mark was about 75 yards away, with the live flyer falling into a patch of 8″ inch tall grasses. What made this mark tough for some of the dogs was that it was in an area of dappled shade in front of a stand of trees. Those dapples and dark trees confused some of the dogs, but not Carlin. He ran straight out to that one, too. He poked it a couple of times, and then looked up. Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! This time, I was marginally faster at whistling him in. He picked this one up, too, and delivered it to hand.

So, we were called on to the water.

The water marks were about 80 yards. The start line was up on a sloped five foot bank, and the dog was to run down the bank, swim diagonally across the pond, go up onto the opposing bank, and pick up the bird. The first water mark had the bird falling at the water’s edge, and the second falling into some 16″ cover about 10 feet up the bank.


Patrice and Carlin at the water line, calling for the first bird

As usual, Carlin put on a show with his water entry. Very enthusiastic. I could hear appreciative comments from the judges as I watched him swim diagonally across the pond toward his first water bird.



The bird had landed on the shore, but by the time Carlin got there, it had rolled into the water. Carlin was (reportedly) the only dog to swim directly to the bird, rather than searching the bank. He snatched it up and turned to swim back with it.


He didn’t swim quite straight back to me, though. For a few yards, he was seriously considering swimming out in a perpendicular line to the bank, instead of diagonally across the pond. This would have meant that he would then have had to run the bank back to me. But fortunately, at some whistling from me, he changed his mind and corrected his line to be more diagonal again. That meant that he had to drag his duck through a tree limb floating in the water, but he did it. When he got back to the bank, I could see that he had the duck by one wing. I told him to Hold it, but instead he dropped it, got a better grip, and then delivered that bird to hand.


By this time, he was amped and more than ready to go. I lowered my voice on my third command to “Sit,” and he finally sat. Once he sat, I could call for the bird. His last bird was launched and fell about 10 feet up the opposite bank into  a patch of 16″ tall cover of grasses and other little bushes.

Fortunately, while the bird was in the air, he stayed sitting, and when the judge called “11,” I said “Take It,” and he was off. He swam straight toward the duck, dashed up the bank and found his bird in the cover.


Before he could stop and poke at it, I whistled him back in. He grabbed the bird, and did the nicest water entry he could do with a duck in his mouth.


This was another diagonal swim, which he did quickly. He came up the bank, and delivered the bird to hand, and we were done. As we left the line, one of the judges said, “Nice job,” and I knew we had passed.

Read Full Post »

After Tooey’s “most perfect failure” at a hunt test a few weeks back, I decided that it is futile and annoying to enter my favorite girl-dog into a venue where she doesn’t really shine. Over the four days of the Labor Day Spaniel hunt tests where Carlin was our star, Ms. Tooey just went along for a ride and quietly waited in the car while gun-shots, dogs, and birds where flying everywhere.

On Saturday, our friend Norm, and Tooey’s hunting partner, the Boykin Spaniel Scarlett, joined us to watch Carlin show his flash in the field. After the tests were done, Norm and I took Tooey and Scarlett for a walk through the fields, and we headed over to the area where the Master and Senior tests had been held. Our two brown dogs, who have often hunted in a brace together, started quartering the field and heavy cover in their distinctive styles. Tooey quietly searched the perimeter and heavy cover while Scarlett quartered through the tall grass, popping up occasionally to check her orientation to Norm.

Even though these fields had been traversed by a couple of dozen hunting dogs earlier in the day, there was still a chance of finding a bird that had successfully eluded the flushing dogs and gunners. Tooey began searching with her methodical, very thorough, and deliberate technique. This is the very style that bounced her from the last hunt test because it doesn’t conform to the written standard “hunting style” of an Irish Water Spaniel.

Unfortunately for the birds, Tooey’s non-standard style is incredibly effective. Within moments of starting out, she flushed a chukar that thought that by flying 50 yards and hiding in a bush, it was safe. Safe from the shotguns maybe, but not Tooey’s eyesight and nose. A bird in the bush is a bird in the hand for my hunting dog. Tooey tracked the flushed chukar into the bush, snatched it, and returned it alive to hand. No sooner than I put the chukar in my vest, Tooey stopped, stepped to the side, and picked up a pheasant that had been shot during the morning’s test but had been unretrieved by the Master or Senior dog that had put it in the air. One more bird for the vest.

As our dogs continued to search more cover, Tooey did a double-take on some dense grass, spun around, and up flew a pair of pheasants. If I had been carrying my shotgun instead of a camera, I could have had my daily limit in one flush. If I had been carrying a whistle, I would not have had to raise my voice and say “No Bird!” My steady girl watched two birds fly away, much to her chagrin.


As we headed back to the parking lot, Tooey and Scarlett disappeared behind a row of vintage apple trees in a former orchard on the grounds. The next time I saw Tooey was when she shot out from behind the trees, hot on the tail of another pheasant. This time, “No Bird!!!” fell on deaf ears as she headed over to the next field with a speed that kept up with the flying pheasant. I did an about face and followed Tooey to where she had disappeared in her pursuit. About halfway there, a pheasant (probably the same one) came rocketing back overhead, and with Tooey zooming along with intent to deliver. This time “no bird” worked just fine, and Tooey came to heel with a smile on her face and a thought bubble – “How is that for a hunting style?”

My dearest Tooey, sometimes judged a failure, brought me a chukar, a pheasant, and put four more pheasants in the air — all birds that had previously eluded Spaniels with the correct hunting styles.

The very best hunting IWS in North America (based on bird count during real hunting)

One of the very best hunting IWS in North America (based on bird count during real hunting)

Read Full Post »

Since Carlin now had the four passes he needed for a Junior Hunter Upland title, we moved him up to competing at the Senior level for the Sunday and Monday tests.

Sunday — Clumber Spaniel Club of America

I think Russ had gotten a little envious, watching me have all the fun running Carlin in Junior, so he asked to take over handling duties for the day.

Carlin’s first Senior-level land work took place on a wide course, sloped down from left to right. It had mixed cover, including grass ranging from 18 to 48 inches, small trees, conifers, and patches of fern and blackberry. The Senior dogs were hunting pheasants.

Most dogs prior to Carlin worked only the lower, right-hand side of the course, so Russ purposely got Carlin to work wide and cover the full width of the course, even a bit outside of the flags on both sides. He quickly got his first flush, just over the line on the left side of the course. It was a flyaway over the gallery of people watching, so the gunners couldn’t shoot it, so Russ called Carlin off with the whistle, and Carlin turned on a dime to come back. Good dog!

Carlin flushed his second bird near the middle of the course. That bird flew down course and was dropped. Carlin raced to retrieve it and returned straightaway for delivery to hand. Judges mentioned that this big running dog was fun to watch. We actually got so many compliments on Carlin’s beautiful quartering, covering the full width of the field, searching out all the likely places where a bird would hide. It was so exciting to watch, I couldn’t take my eyes off him long enough to try to take pictures. So with this beautiful performance, Carlin was called back to run his very first hunt dead.

Out of the 5 minutes allotted for the hunt dead, where the handler directs a dog to find a bird that neither has seen fall, Carlin took only about 1-1/2 minutes to find the bird. The judges described generally where the bird was located, and Russ sent Carlin off slightly down-wind of that direction. Carlin quartered back toward the line a couple of times, but Russ kept sending him back. Finally, he winded the bird, picked it up, and brought it straight back to hand. So, on to the water work.

The water starting line was behind a small log, and a pheasant landed in the water about 40 yards out. Carlin was steady at the line until released, beelined it to the bird, grabbed it up and brought it back toward Russ slightly off line. He made this little detour so that he could lift his leg on a bush next to the line, but once that was done, he then came back to Russ at the start line and delivered the pheasant to hand. With that, he got some applause from the gallery and his first Senior pass. This pass qualified him for the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America’s Working Dog Excellent (WDX) certificate.


Monday — Cascade English Cocker Spaniel Fanciers

Carlin’s second Senior test took place on a narrow course of tall grass, small trees, and mounds of fern and blackberry that curved through a conifer forest, with birds flushing out of the cover into the trees.

This was a challenging course where a good IWS could excel. This was the same course that Cooper aced back in 2012. For this test, I took back the handling duties.


Carlin covered the course, quartering nicely. He searched several patches of fern, behind small trees, and into clumps of denser grass, but didn’t find a bird until he got around a clump of trees surrounded by blackberries. As I rushed forward to keep up with him, Carlin flushed the bird, it was shot and fell, and Carlin zoomed after it. By the time he got to the area of the fall, the lightly wounded bird had run off, so Carlin tracked and then trapped it. Upon a whistle, he turned and delivered the bird to hand. Visibility was so bad in the trees that the judge couldn’t initially tell if Carlin had retrieved the shot bird or trapped another running bird. Both the gunners and I said that the shot bird had run, and upon examination, the judge confirmed that the delivered bird had been shot, and not simply trapped.


Then Carlin was off for his 2nd bird.


He flushed that bird from out of a hillock. This one flew pretty much straight up, the gunner nailed it, and so did Carlin. Another delivery to hand, and we were done with the flushing work.

By this time, it was apparent that my headache, body aches, and stomach ache and other digestive upsets that had started early that morning were not merely nerves, but food poisoning instead. Fortunately, Russ was there to take things in hand, and the judges kindly allowed a handler swap with the requirement that Russ do both the hunt dead and water work.

I was in the car trying not to moan too loudly, so I didn’t see the hunt dead myself. But by all reports, the hunt dead was ugly. Carlin wanted to hunt and flush more birds, and was not particularly interested in running straight out to look for dead ones. He quartered throughout the meadow until he was convinced that there were no birds to flush. Finally, with only about 30 seconds to spare of the 5 minutes allowed, he finally followed Russ’s “Back” command, found the dead one, and delivered it to hand. Whew!

On to water work. Carlin was again steady at the line, executed another classic IWS leap into the pond, swam straight to the pheasant, and mostly straight back. Right before he got to Russ, he briefly paraded his mostly dry pheasant in front of the gallery, and then hooked back in to deliver it nicely to hand.

So with that, Carlin earned his second Senior Hunter Upland leg — halfway to a Senior Hunter Upland title.


Read Full Post »

This Labor Day weekend, four spaniel clubs each offered a spaniel hunt test, all on the Scatter Creek Wildlife area near Rochester, Washington. Even though Carlin already had two Junior passes (out of the four needed for a title), you never know what an Irish Water Spaniel might do, so we entered him in the Junior level all four days.

Friday — Mount Rainier Sporting Spaniel Association

The Junior level course was set under the power lines, in a field of low cover, grass about 12-18 inches tall interspersed with ferns. It was a very narrow course, perfect for the small English Cockers, Sussex, and Field Spaniels. Carlin, a fast-running, wider ranging Irish Water Spaniel, covered the width in no time, forcing me to call him in and whistle him into quartering right and then left in quick succession.

But even with that challenge, Carlin found his chukars in just a few minutes. He trapped one and delivered it to hand, flushed another that flew away unshot, and then flushed and delivered yet another that was brought down by the gunners. I was very pleased that, even with chasing the flyaway bird, Carlin came back quickly to my side when called.



At the water, Carlin watched the chukar as it was thrown about 30 yards out into the pond, executed a classic Irish Water Spaniel leap into the water, swam straight to the bird, swam straight back with it, and dropped it neatly into my hand.




This finished our third Junior Hunter Upland pass.


Saturday — Puget Sound English Springer Spaniel Association

Saturday’s Junior course was also narrow, with taller grass cover than Friday’s course. Again, we were hunting chukar. Carlin was wilder than Friday, wanting to run and much less willing to be called and whistled into quartering. He got farther out from me than I liked, forcing me to keep up with him. Even so, he got three flushes, two delivery to hand and one flyaway in pretty short order. Again, he impressed the judges with his verve and style, and his willingness to be called off a flyaway bird.




One bird forced the judges to confer — it had been flushed and shot at, and then fell out of sight behind a mound dead ferns. Carlin ran to pick it up, but brought back an unwounded live bird. So, the question was, did he retrieve the shot bird or did he refuse the shot bird and trap a live bird that was also in the area of the fall? Since the judges couldn’t tell, they gave Carlin the benefit of the doubt. So we passed the land work, and were called back to the water.

Carlin did a beautiful enthusiastic water entry, grabbed the chukar, brought it most of the way back and then dropped it on the top of the bank. About gave me heart failure. Here we were, at the last bird needed for the title pass, and he dropped it. In Junior work, delivery to hand isn’t required, so I could have grabbed it, and I would have if I hadn’t been so stunned.

But before I could grab it, it rolled back down about three feet down the bank and back into the water. I turned to the judges and asked, “So are we screwed now?” She laughed and said, no, just get him to bring it closer. So I told him to Take It, which he did by the tip of one wing. I crouched down and reached out my arm, and Carlin took two steps toward me to drop that soggy, skanky, almost naked chukar into my hand.

As we left the line, Carlin made it clear he wanted that chukar back, so in my relief and happiness at getting his 4th Junior Hunter Upland pass, and therefore his Junior Hunter Upland title, I gave it back to him for just a few minutes.



With this 4th pass qualifying Carlin for his Junior Hunter Upland title, we moved Carlin up to the Senior level for the next two tests. See the next post for a report on these.

Read Full Post »

Well, I’ve heard about it happening, but I’d never witnessed it before, until yesterday.

At lunch, one of my co-workers called me over to a table he shared with Guy, and said, “You know about dogs. Guy here wants to get a dog. Where would you get one?”

Always happy to talk about dogs, I asked, “What do you want to do with a dog?”

He said, “Just hang out, go for car rides. Couch potato stuff.” And then before I could say anything else, he added, “And I don’t want to get one from a breeder.”

That stopped me in my tracks. That, plus the disgusted look on his face when he said the work, “breeder.”

“Um… What makes you say that?”

“Yeah, you know,” Guy said, “they put out all these puppies just for the money. You know. Bad conditions, not treating the dogs right.”

“Yeah,” the first co-workder added. “Not a good connotation there.”

“Well…, I’m a breeder,” I said. “Breeders like me make a distinction between responsible breeders and puppy mills. Responsible breeders get medical care for the mom and pups, do health testing, take the puppies out to experience the world, and we’re always there to help our puppy people whenever needed. You’d get a good puppy from a responsible breeder.”

Guy looked conflicted. I know he didn’t want to insult me, a co-worker. But he also didn’t really believe me. And then he added, “And you know, breeders want $2000.00 plus for just a dog!”

Wow. Just a dog.

So, I went back to, “So, you want to just hang out with a dog? I got a great dog like that once, from my local Humane Society. They do a pretty good job of matching people with dogs. You might try there.”

As I turned away, I hoped I would be forgiven for claiming I’m a breeder. It’s true I am a co-breeder, but Colleen did most of the work: she provided the food, shelter, medical care, and socialization. She’s the one who found people for the puppies. I just drove up every weekend to contribute as much as I could.

But I do stand by Tooey’s puppies, and if any of those puppy people ever need me or need to return a dog, or if they ever need a question answered, an issue discussed, or an achievement shared, I am there for them.

A day later, I’m still thinking — Wow. “Just” a dog. Best money I ever spent was on a dog from a responsible breeder.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: