Peanuts

Linus to Charlie Brown:  You know what you and Snoopy should do? You should go to an obedience school.

Snoopy’s cartoon bubble:  Why should we go to obedience school? He already does everything I want him to.

~ StarTribune, March 14, 2011

   

For as much as I like to read I’ve never been a big follower of the comic pages in the newspaper. As a teenager I liked Brenda Starr Reporter and off and on over the years I’ve read Doonesbury.

But I never miss the Peanuts strip. Its creator, Charles M. Schulz, died in 2000 but newspapers continue to run old strips……and I continue to read them faithfully.

The characters are wonderful. Charlie Brown is the perennial loser who tangles with kite-eating trees and said, “I only dread one day at a time.” And who can resist loud-mouthed, selfish, crabby Lucy and her brother Linus, the sweet-natured, bespectacled kid who is never without his blanket and believes in the Great Pumpkin?

My favorite character is Snoopy. He’s great whether he’s dancing “The Beagle,” imitating a fierce vulture or playing the World War I flying ace. And how can you not love a dog that lost everything when his dog house burned….but then resolutely replaced his ruined Van Gogh with a Wyeth?  

While Charlie Brown can’t win on the baseball diamond or with the little red-haired girl, he has always been Snoopy’s devoted owner. Several strips featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang hang on the bulletin board of our kennel office.

— A simple one with no talking or cartoon bubbles features Charlie Brown holding an umbrella over Snoopy and his dog dish while Snoopy eats.

— Our friends and clients who are fond of pointers can snicker about this strip. The first frame pictures Snoopy barking at night.

Lucy:  Listen! Do you think Snoopy sees a burglar?

Charlie Brown:  No, that isn’t his “Burglar Bark.” That’s his “barking just for the sake of barking” bark.

— Another, longer Sunday strip is one that Jerry and I can definitely relate to. There have been countless times when Jerry will wake up in the middle of the night, worried about the dogs and cold temperatures. He’ll go down to the kennel and double check everything.

Charlie Brown:  It’s kind of cold tonight…it shouldn’t be so cold this time of year…I wonder if Snoopy is warm enough…I think I’ll take my sleeping bag out to him…

The final frame shows Snoopy tucked into an enormous sleeping that hangs off the roof of his dog house and onto the ground.

Charlie Brown:  I can sleep well myself now, knowing he’s warm.

Tracking a grouse dog with bells, beepers and satellites

When I began hunting with grouse dogs in the mid 1970s, the only way to keep track of my dog was by hanging a bell on its collar. I could follow the dog’s movements and actions and, when the dog stopped, so did the bell. But it could be difficult and time consuming to find it on point if the cover was dense (as is most good grouse cover) or my dog was far away (which it was occasionally!).

The next evolution came in the early 1980s when the first electronic beepers were produced. Now I could keep track of my dog while it was hunting and locate it on point. These beepers generally emitted a high-pitched sound in a certain cadence when the dog was moving and another sound and/or cadence when the dog stopped. I couldn’t determine what my dog was doing as well as with a bell but the capability to find it on point was revolutionary.

Since those early beepers, manufacturers have produced numerous units of various sizes, sounds and functions. Beepers have also been combined with ecollars and these units are quite sophisticated. From the ecollar transmitter, the beeper can be turned on and off and the tone or volume can be adjusted.

Then in 2007, another innovation was introduced by Garmin, a leading navigation and communication company. They launched a GPS-enabled dog tracking system called the Astro 220.  I now know exactly my dog’s whereabouts, if it is running or on point and the distance and directions to it.

National Championship

Start of afternoon course.

While training in Tennessee this winter, I took a day to ride a brace of the National Championship held on the Ames Plantation near Grand Junction, Tennessee.

 

This field trial was been run since 1896 making it one of the oldest in the US.  It is steeped in tradition and formalities.  Only dogs that have met stringent qualifying criteria can compete and they must re-qualify each year. The entries are dominated by pointers but one or two English setters also make the running. The dogs are handled from horseback. The professionalism and capability of the handlers and scouts to show their dogs in the best manner was impressive.

 

More than 100 riders gathered at the starting point to watch the dogs. The field trial chairman used a loudspeaker to announce the dogs, handlers, scouts and owners of the brace. Representatives from the trial sponsors such as Pro Plan, Eukanuba and Garmin were in attendance and were thanked for their contributions. Rules and conduct for the gallery were reviewed and, finally, the brace was off.

Point!

 

These dogs are amazing–

 

•    They are bigger dogs, generally in the 50-lb. range. They have long, powerful strides that carry them easily and efficiently cover the ground.

•    The handlers have put hours and hours into conditioning the dogs specifically for this trial and they are in superb condition.

•    In the course of the 3-hour heat, the dogs will average about 12 miles per hour and cover around 36 miles!

 

Most people think all-age venues are in big, wide-open terrain. At Ames, though, it’s quite different. There are some open spaces and long edges where a dog can reach but most of the cover is more dense and vast than I imagined. There are many places where a dog can get lost on point, or just plain lost.

 

I have followed the running of the Nationals for years and it was truly thrilling to finally see the trial for myself.  

Gallery following the trial.
Loblolly pines with lespedeza understory.

Northwoods Birds Dogs    53370 Duxbury Road, Sandstone, Minnesota 55072
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