March 25, 2012

Mini Boom

Kenny and I call Willie mini Boom.  She reminds us so much of a dog we train named Boomer.  Willie happens to share the same sire as Boomer (NFC AFC Clubmead's Road Warrior).  We largely bought Willie based on Boomer, and other "Chopper" pups we know.

She's a handful, plain and simple.  Wild, intense and athletic.  Everything that Boomer is too.

I hope she is as talented as him too.

Willie in the beautiful Texas wildflowers.

Boomer at dusk.

I certainly see a resemblance.

Willie hams it up during the photo shoot.  I don't think I'd ever seen a dog roll their eyes before until I saw Boomer in this picture.  Even he thinks she's too much.

March 22, 2012

Ahti's Boo Boo

I think I'm breeding accident prone dogs.

Foundation stock all good and first generation trying to kill themselves.  The first year of Libby's life was full of many bodily injuries, and now Ahti.

Ahti somehow badly hurt her leg.  In her kennel we think.  We're not sure how she did it, but some imagination gives us some ideas.  Regardless, she came out of her kennel in the morning dead lame on a front leg.  We also considered that she may have hurt it training the day before and not shown any signs at the time.  We just don't know.  Regardless, she was non weight bearing and that is always a concern.

We sat on it for one day to see if she had a minor injury.  I palpated it and manipulated it and got no response, so I felt nothing was broken.  When she was no better the following morning, we took her in to the vet.  We got a referral to an ortho specialist the following morning after that.  We were told, by the first vet, that she possibly had a dislocated wrist (carpus) and might need surgery involving fusion of the joint and plates and pins put in her leg.

Ahti's career might have been over before it started.  I was a little devastated, but tried to keep positive.

We went to the ortho specialist this morning and received great news!  She basically has a badly sprained ankle.  Very badly sprained.  He put her in a cast and we hope we can remove it in two weeks and then spend some time rehabbing her back to training over a period of time.  She should be out two months-max, but not even that long.

He told me her saving grace was that I brought her in so soon.  I didn't think 72 hours after injury was very soon, but he assured me that I was much faster then most people whose dogs suffer these types of injuries.

What I loved about this vet is that he was an old-timer, who was obviously very knowledgable.  He was an orthopaedic professor at the Texas A & M vet school and was well versed in his subject obviously.  But what impressed me most was that he went straight to Ahti and spent a great deal of time assessing her and her injury without yet referring to her x-rays.  I always told my paramedic students to "treat the patient and not the machines" and loved seeing someone as knowledgeable as him not need machines to make a thorough and accurate evaluation.  After this, he then referred to her x-rays to confirm his thoughts.  I was awe-struck and somewhat smitten.

Here is Ahti with her cast this evening.  She thinks she's living large being back in the house and she'll be spoiled rotten.  While I'd love to have every dog in the kennel inside, it's just not possible, so she has now become one of the "chosen ones" that gets to come in every night.

And no, she is not possessed...I just used my iPhone to take the picture.

The moral to my story is two-fold...

1)  I have always believed, in both human and canine medicine, that one needs to find the "guy" when cases such as these arise.  Whoever the "guy" is...find him/her and heed his/her words.  General practitioners are wonderful and I respect their work immensely, but if I would have followed a general practitioner's advice with Ahti, then I would have had someone trying to reduce an ankle that wasn't dislocated to begin with.  Seek out the "guy"...and do whatever it takes to go see them.  15 years in Emergency Medical Services led me to this conclusive long before I found out it was the same in Veterinary Medicine.


2) If you have a first generation Elmingo dog...wrap it in bubble wrap.

March 14, 2012

Duck, Duck, Goose

This is Goose.  You've seen pictures of him before.

He's from the 2011 Arson x Miikka litter and he just turned 6 months old.

What a handsome little guy!!!

March 11, 2012

Kudos Crufts!!

I usually don't post my "opinion" on this blog.  I try to keep it about my dogs and their kids.  Poor Kenny is usually the brunt of all my "opinions", which are many if you know me.

But I have been reading with interest what is going on at the Crufts show in England.

I have been disheartened, since I got into the dog world, to see the ever widening gap between the show dogs and field dogs in the Sporting Group.  Some of them don't even look like the same breed.  The dog above did not compete at Crufts, as far as I know, but he's a representative of a show winning Labrador of recent years.  It's gross.

Some breeders are doing it right.  My friend Liz breeds Flat Coated Retrievers (Blazingstar) and I have always admired her dogs and the fact they win in the show ring AND do what they're bred to do.  Sadly, this is not the case for most Sporting breeds, nor CAN it be the case.  The PIGador shown above could not be expected to withstand a full day's hunt, and my own dogs would be laughed out of the show ring.

3x NFC AFC AND Ch Shed Of Arden

Dual Champion Cherokee Rocket

But looking at the above photos of Dual Champion (show and field champion) labradors from the 40s and 50s, shows that the breed has gone in the wrong direction in the show ring, as far as I'm concerned.  The over exaggerated head was not present 50 years ago, and the dogs had some leg.  I'd like to think that my dogs are closer to these old dual champion dogs then the dogs showing in AKC bench shows are today.

True, I admit, that many current Field Trial dogs are as far removed from these great dogs of yester-year as the show labs are: snipey heads, curl tails and slim frames.  In breeding for the elusive Field Trial blue ribbons, many of the field breeders are forgetting the labrador's breed type as well.  We're also guilty for breeding some manic, frothing at the mouth dogs that would be an absolute NIGHTMARE to have on a day's hunt, or just living in our house with us.

And it's not just in labradors that the gap is widening.  I'm proud to say that I was once owned by a very self important English Springer Spaniel.  She was 100% of the show variety.  She had zero, zip, zilch desire to retrieve birds.  I know this, because I tried.  And her long, down to the ground coat was tangled in more burrs than you could count after a walk in the field.  I had to tie her ears up when she ate so as not to get in the way, and groom her incessantly.  Of course, this very pretty dog was a show Champion.  But so far removed from the job which she was bred to do that I was discouraged from buying anything "show" bred again.

The field bred English Springers looked absolutely nothing like her.  Not even of the same breed.

Isn't there a way to meet in the middle?  

I'll admit that I'm far from perfect, but I've always kept the Labrador type in mind when doing a breeding.  Mostly, my quest for performance overrides that of beauty and form, but form follows function as they say.  I've bred a couple dogs that I think are close to the ideal specimen of a labrador retriever in my mind, both in form AND function, but I've also bred dogs I judge with a critical eye in that they are too tall, too small, too snipey or poor coated.  But my critical eye also has to look out for performance shortcomings, such as dogs I've bred that are too wild, have questionable desire or intelligence and everything in between.  A critical eye to performance is something show breeders are mostly not concerned about at all.  I will keep trying to produce the perfect dog, but an outcross to a show bred lab to thicken my dogs' tails or broaden their heads is NOT in my future, I can promise you.

But I digress.  Crufts disqualified several of the breed winners for failing a post-win health check.  The Clumber Spaniel, specifically, for having ectropic eyes.  Certainly NOT something somebody wants in a gun dog. The Kennel Club over there may be trying to garner publicity for this "stunt", but they are also trying to preserve the health of 15 breeds they deem to be in danger, including the Clumber Spaniel.

I applaude them and hope it's a wake up call for all of us.

Should this dog be removed from the gene pool as she has many wonderful qualities?  No.  But should she win one of the biggest dog shows of the year as the IDEAL example of her breed.  I say no to that too.

More on what is happening at Crufts on my new favourite blog:

March 6, 2012

On a happy note

Gordie has a new home.

He is from the Arson x Miikka breeding and is very special to us as Arson passed away just a couple months ago.  We are all still reeling from his loss.  We were not going to let Gordie go far, and he looks like a very promising puppy.

Gordie is now owned by Brad & Diane Clow, who also owned Arson.

I couldn't think of a more fitting home.

And I took a picture of the Clow's other dog.  His name is Riot, and he's a riot.  Riot got third in the Qualifying this past week-end at the Red River trial!  He's also a handsome dude.

And Willie T!  She's growing up!

She loves to stick her tongue out.

The Bluebonnets are starting to come out in Texas.  The fields will be flush with them in the coming weeks.  Such a beautiful time of the year.

March 5, 2012

Red River

Just a little vent from me today.

Why is it so difficult for some judges to give out Green ribbons??  Why?

Please, judges, don't think you're withholding the ribbons from the pros, you're withholding them from the Amateurs that own those dogs.  If you say "it's no big deal", then you're wrong.  A green ribbon IS a big deal to some matter the stake.

I'm not suggesting calling back bad work so that everyone feels warm and fuzzy.  I'm suggesting that dogs that finish a trial without a disqualifying fault or collection of faults is worthy enough of recognition of a ribbon that awards no points and qualifies no one for any Nationals.

Just because a judge lays an egg doesn't mean the contestants have to pay for it.

Phew...there it is.  That's my rant.

Anywho, the Red River trial happened this week-end in Bonham, Texas.

I could not be more pleased with how my sweet Darbi ran.  She ran a very nice first and second series.  Ran a better than most water blind and then had a very respectable fourth series with a hunt on the long retired.  I think you all know what I have to show for it.  And 12 other people feel the same as me today I suspect.

Libby was Loosey Goosey in the Qualifying.  She has a problem with check down birds right now and she is ALL punch these days.  We're working on it.  We're always working on something with these athletes.  There was a nice short bird thrown onto an island in a large channel of water and a longer bird behind it.  Libby went through the island bird...twice.  And that was that.  Short bird.  And short bird thrown in front of more water...definitely not Libby's strong points right now.  Give me a long retired at 400 yards and I'll show you a dog.  Give me a short bird thrown in front of water at 100 yards and I'll show you a dog that looks like a 14 year old girl who just got told Justin Bieber is down the street.

And don't even get me started on the Derby.

Sigh...I'm glad this week-end is over.

I'll be in a better mood next time you hear from me.  Promise.