Dog names…or how we got Grits, Biscuit and Sweet Tea

It began with the first pointer litter out of our dam, Dancer, in 1997. Jerry and I kept a male and named him Dasher. Makes sense, right?

Of all the pro sports, the only one we have followed with any regularity or interest is the NBA. My allegiance to the LA Lakers began in the late 70s when Magic Johnson came into the league from Michigan State University, my alma mater. Johnson encountered his nemesis from collegiate games, Larry Bird, who had been drafted by the Boston Celtics. For the next decade or so, Johnson and Bird and their respective teams played the best basketball games I’ve ever seen.

In the spring of 2004, the LA Lakers were on a tear with a new generation of players, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Even though the Detroit Pistons eventually won the championship series, my loyalty to the Lakers remained strong. We kept two males out of Paul Hauge’s Houston x Blue Silk breeding; the big, strong one became Shaq and the good-looking, smaller male we named Kobe.

Other themed litters we’ve dreamed up:

•    Beer and Wine:  Porter, Lager, Chardonnay, Chablis

•    Cheese:  Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Parmigiano

•    Minnesota Legends:  Blue Ox, Babe

•    Minnesota Wildflowers:  Tiger Lily, Black-eyed Susan

•    Ancient Egypt/Rome:  Cleopatra, Tut, Zeus

•    Planets:  Mars, Venus

•    Rock Stars:  Kiss, Heart, Aerosmith, Led Zepellin

Of course, ensuing generations of pointers carried on the reindeer theme. Out of Dasher, we have Prancer and now her daughter, Vixen.

But, back to Grits, Biscuit and Sweet Tea, the title of this post.

One morning last winter when Jerry and I were staying in eastern Tennessee, we treated ourselves to breakfast out. We passed Perkins and IHOPs and chose instead a roadside diner. On the smudged, plastic-coated menus were offerings generally not found in Minnesota. Our excellent meal included traditional southern dishes like grits, biscuits and gravy and sweet tea.

Voila! Our two-month-old litter at home had their theme.

P.S. We sold Sweet Tea earlier this summer to the very nice Balfanz family from Stillwater. Biscuit was sold to good clients Ryan and Monica Gould, who had a special collar and name tag made for her.

Paul and Belle

Dennis Anderson, outdoor columnist for the StarTribune of the Twin Cities, recently wrote a piece, “Dog Gone.”

Four tales of hunting companions that were cherished and lost reveal a lingering truth—the love that binds best friends never ends.

~ Dennis Anderson

Since the vignettes are recounted in first person, Dennis did an exceptional job of posing the questions and/or extracting the information. Normally, stories like this are so sad but these are uplifting. They are tributes to great dogs.

Paul Hauge and his outstanding female English setter, Houston’s Belle, were featured. Paul’s opening words are so true. Jerry and I laughed out loud when we read them.

I own a log of dogs. It’s sort of an addiction. Every year I tell my wife I’ll cut back. But I don’t.

~Paul Hauge

 

Anyone familiar with the bloodlines of our English setters knows of Paul and Belle. She is the source of all our dams—whether as daughters or granddaughters.

 

Prairie 2011: training photo album

There is something about handling a bird dog from the back of a horse across seemingly endless grasslands that is very appealing. Here are photos Ben McKean shot this summer. Enjoy!

Nice way to end the day.
Point!
Our prairie camp.
Jerry, Prancer and trusty horse, Captain.
Young Northwoods Parmigiano learns from veteran Merimac’s Adda Girl.
Frank flushes for his pointer, Bob.
How sweet it is!

 

Transition to wild birds

In our gun dog foundation training, we use pigeons in launchers to teach dogs about birds and how to act around them. We need control of the bird to create the necessary training situations. That control gives us better timing and helps instill the desired behavior.

But since the goal is not to have the best pigeon dogs around, we eventually need to transition to wild birds.

While a dog may be finished on pigeons in two or three months, it will take at least that long and much more effort to finish it on wild birds. There are three reasons.

We lose the ability to control the bird.

This creates a whole new set of conditions for us. Since we don’t know when or how the bird will flush, we have to focus intently on everything going on to react and to properly correct the dog.

The level of distraction is much higher.

The locations and terrain are different. The dog is more excited and less focused on us. (Wild birds are much more stimulating to the dog.) The sessions are longer which may cause the dog to be hot and/or tired.

The number of bird contacts changes.

The dog can only progress when it finds a bird. As trainers, knowing where the birds are is critical. Consistent bird contact creates consistent opportunities for learning.

Key points to remember.

•    Progress in wild bird training depends on the foundation created during pigeon training. If your dog isn’t performing well in training situations, it’s not ready to move on.

•    Expect your dog to do things wrong on wild birds. Give it some freedom to learn from mistakes. Don’t correct too hard or too fast. Look for progress not perfection.

•    More birds are not always better.  Dogs learn by repetition and consistent bird contact over a longer period will provide those repetitions.

•    Some dogs can take a lot of pressure and the finishing will go quickly. Others must be handled more delicately. Read your dog.

•    Timing is everything. The dog must understand why it was corrected. If your timing is good, much progress can be made in a few encounters.

•    Dogs are place oriented. They learn to respond to certain stimulus in the training field, but it will take repetition to generalize that behavior on wild birds.

•    Dogs constantly read our body language. We, too, act differently in situations involving wild birds.

Finishing your dog on wild birds will take time. But the results of that effort will reward you with many years of satisfaction and pride.

Northwoods Birds Dogs    53370 Duxbury Road, Sandstone, Minnesota 55072
Jerry: 651-492-7312     |      Betsy: 651-769-3159     |           |      Directions
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