Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014).
If Jerry and I could sum up the summer of 2014 in one word, it would be “puppies.” With the exception of the Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis puppy in early spring, never have our litters occurred so closely together and so late in the year.
As it turns out, though, summer is a wonderful season to raise a puppy. Besides the general relaxing of rules and moods, kids are out of school and have time on their hands. Parents take holidays from work and vacations are planned—many to cabins and other rustic venues where dogs are welcome.
It’s been fun for us to spend time with the new puppy owners, some of whom are old friends. We’re thankful for owners who spare no expense when a puppy flies off to its new home and we’re thankful, too, for families who drive hours—and from as far away as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Texas—to pick up their puppy.
Most of all, we’re grateful to all the families for their warmth and loyalty and for the good life they’ll give their new puppies.
I can’t believe I got one of your dogs.
~ Jeff, owner of Bates (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014)
We recently returned from a week-long vacation at a lake cabin, and Timber enjoyed all that the new environment had to offer. At one point there were a total of 7 dogs running around, and he wanted to play with every one of them! He learned to enjoy playing in the water with the other dogs…..he has shown a lot of enthusiasm for jumping into the water to retrieve sticks and his retrieving dummy.
~ Keith, owner of Timber (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Prancer, 2014)
The puppy is doing great. He handled the 2-day trip home like a veteran. He gets along well with the other dogs…..he and our other male are great pals.
~ Mike, owner of Charlie (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014)
So in love with our little Belle. She is the sweetest puppy we have ever met. Belle is so well behaved and a Miss Social butterfly. Thank you so much again for this darling puppy.
~ Robby, owner of Belle (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014)
We are very impressed with her natural abilities so far. We have thrown pretty much 2 dozen balls each day and she retrieves them to hand. When the older dog goes on point she naturally stops as well with a high tail. We are very pleased with our new hunting companion and look forward to many years of memories that we will share with you.
~ Rick, owner of Frisco (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014)
Elmer is doing very well. From the very beginning, he has been sleeping well in his crate and he never cries. We’re working on some basic commands and he learned to come right away. We walk our daughter to school every morning and Elmer has been enjoying that along with all of the activity at the school. All in all, he is absolutely fantastic and we all love our new family member.
~ Kjellrun, owner of Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014), pictured with Northwoods Roy Roy (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012)
Wanted to let you know that Hartley, Lacey and I are still having loads of fun together! I loved watching him try to climb steps for the first time as he was a little unsure of it. I helped him once or twice but each time I walked up the steps myself, and without encouragement, I let him figure out how to follow me. A half day later and he was going up and down no problem. He’s a fantastic dog and we can’t commend you both enough on your dogs and breeding program.
~ Nick, owner of Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle Choice, 2014)
The ride home went really well….spent the afternoon playing in the yard and getting used to the kennel / house. She is already running in and out of her doggie door in the outside kennel (very cool and unexpected). We brought her in the house for the night about 90 minutes ago… we put her in the (inside) kennel and she started to cry a little…..it was a solid 30 minutes of puppy screaming, but she wore herself out and now she’s sound asleep…..we are head-over-heels in love / happy.
~ Joe, owner of Roxy (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle Choice, 2014)
Our little puppy is getting big! 24 weeks and as of 2 days ago – 38 lbs. Everything is going very well! Right now focusing on WHOA command, birds, scent points instead of sight points, and continuing to slowly intro the gun. I have 40 young pheasants and 10 bobwhites that I’m working him through the rest of summer before we head to NE MT to chase sharptails. Then back in MN woods to hopefully rustle up some real grouse. Looking forward to having fun with him in the field and woods…and watching him develop this fall.
~ Todd, owner of Finn (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)
On the North Dakota prairie, Frank LaNasa flushes for brace mates True Confidence, on left, and Northwoods Grits on a divided find.
Any sportsman will tell you that two dogs find more birds than one dog.
~ Er M. Shelley, Bird Dog Training Today and Tomorrow, 1921
It seems that hunters and field trialers have commonly had two dogs on the ground at the same time for a long, long time. And for good reasons. Not only is the whole thing more productive but it truly is the epitome in working pointing dogs. Finding a bird dog on point while another backs is a beautiful sight.
Even though the noun “brace” has many meanings—from clamp and support beam, to things medical, mathematical, musical and nautical—for us, the key definition is “a pair of like things.” Hunting two or more bird dogs together is a brace.
Whether handled by the same or a different person, there are several considerations when bracing dogs. Chief among them is that not just any two dogs will make a good brace.
In the thick grouse woods, it’s memorable to come upon a fine piece of bird work by brace mates Northwoods Blue Ox on point, backed by Northwoods Carly Simon.
Good brace mates.
• The dogs should hunt independently yet be cognizant of what the other is doing so both can get in on any bird work.
• It’s perfect if one dog ranges wider and one is closer so more ground is covered more thoroughly.
• Easy handling dogs are best. At a minimum, one should be an experienced, almost automatic dog.
• The dogs must back their brace mates on point.
Bad brace mates.
• Competitive dogs are difficult in a brace. Some dogs are even more competitive to a specific dog.
• Two young males braced together can become quite a kerfuffle.
• Some dogs pay more attention to the other dog than to their task.
• When the same dogs are hunted together frequently, one might depend on the other to find birds and is content to back.
Two dogs will not only cover more ground but they’ll usually do it at a faster pace than if run singly. They might tire more quickly—which then might require more dogs to hunt the same amount of time.
How to know what dogs brace well together? Try them!
CH Ridge Creek Cody (CH Can’t Go Wrong x CH Houston’s Belle, 2008)
Jerry and I received horrific, heart-breaking news from North Dakota. During the morning of Saturday, August 9, Ridge Creek Cody and several other dogs drowned while on a conditioning run from a four-wheeler. Cody was owned by Larry Brutger of St. Cloud, Minnesota, and trained and handled by Shawn Kinkelaar on the horseback shooting dog circuit.
Nine other dogs perished including 6X CH/7X RU-CH Hot Topic, 2X CH Royal Rocks Mr. Thumper and Handsome Harry Hardcash.
Ridge Creek Cody was whelped in 2008 out of two grouse champions, Can’t Go Wrong x Houston’s Belle. Paul Hauge, Belle’s owner, and Jerry were the brains behind the breeding. Jerry had competed against Can’t Go Wrong on the grouse trial circuit and was extremely impressed with his fluid gait and extraordinary ability to find and point ruffed grouse. Too, Jerry campaigned Belle to all of her championships and knew her strengths.
We both remember the day Larry picked up Cody as an eight-week-old puppy. As little Cody romped around the kennel office, Larry talked of his plans for training and competition. That first year, Jerry took Cody to our camp in North Dakota and worked him on the vast prairies. Matt Eder further developed Cody but it was Shawn Kinkelaar who took on Cody and fully realized the dog’s potential.
Cody was a 3X champion and one-time runner-up champion.
2014: Midwest Open Shooting Dog Championship
2012: National Amateur Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship
2011: Idaho Open Shooting Dog Championship
2011: All American Open Shooting Dog Championship (Runner-up)
In addition, Cody was the Bill Conlin Setter Shooting Dog Derby Award Winner (2009-2010) and placed third in the United States Quail Shooting Dog Futurity, a rare accomplishment for a setter.
Among trainers, handlers, judges and fellow competitors, all agreed that Cody had supreme athleticism—a skill level on par with Michael Jordan or LeBron James.
Cody had become an extremely popular sire and his progeny were just starting to be recognized. Jerry and I bred Northwoods Chardonnay (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2009) to Cody in 2013. We’ve stayed in contact with most of the puppy buyers and trained five, even though the clients are near and far. It was a stellar litter.
• Piper: owned by Larry’s friend Chuck Brandes, St. Cloud
• Willow: Gregg Knapp, Wisconsin
• Charlie: Bill Owen, California
• Zada: Tom Condon, Montana
• Stoeger : Drew Milles, Minnesota
• Mazie: Scott Harness, Minnesota
• Rae: David Larson, Minnesota
That Cody was a rare champion with desire and ability is obvious but when he stayed with Larry, he was a cool, calm house dog.
What a tragic loss—not only to the Brutger’s and not only to the field trial world where a valiant competitor is respected but to the English setter world at large.
Our sympathies to Larry and his family. RIP Cody.