Even though it means little, it’s still fun to see a puppy’s pointing instincts. Northwoods Louis Vuitton, male out of Northwoods Carly Simon by Nothwoods Grits, points a rag on a string at 8.5 weeks of age.
It’s amazing how quickly eight weeks can fly by. It seems like yesterday that Jerry and I were up in the middle of the night, keeping vigil while Northwoods Carly Simon, Northwoods Vixen and Northwoods Chablis whelped their litters.
The Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Carly Simon litter of eight puppies at 7.5 weeks of age.
At first, caring for puppies is a breeze because the dam does all the work. She feeds them, ensures elimination and keeps her puppies and her nest clean. All we do is make sure the dam is healthy and that all puppies nurse and gain weight. It becomes messier and more work when we start weaning the puppies off the dams beginning at about four weeks.
The CH Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen litter of nine puppies at 6.5 weeks of age.
This year, the trip from our winter home in Georgia back to Minnesota further complicated things but when the puppies were 5 – 6 weeks old and mostly weaned, it was safe for them to travel.
Now is the bittersweet time when puppies must go to their new homes. Many buyers come to the kennel to pick up their puppy. Some puppies arrive at their new homes by airplane when buyers live too far away.
The Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis litter of seven puppies at 6 weeks of age.
Even though we’re always sad when puppies leave our kennel, we know they are embarking on their new lives. Equally gratifying, though, is seeing broad smiles on the faces and hearing joy in the voices of their new owners.
Winners and others gather after the Moose Rive Grouse Dog Club Open Derby stake. From left: Tim Kaufman, Jerry with First Place Northwoods Rolls Royce, Judge Sig Degitz, Mr. Bjerke with Second Place Sadie, Judge Jason Gooding, Bill Frahm, Ben McKean and an unidentified youngster.
The final spring field trial held on ruffed grouse was hosted by the Moose River Grouse Dog Club (MRGDC) on April 25 and 26 in the Douglas County Forest of western Wisconsin. At 14 entries, the Open Derby was the largest derby stake of the 2014-2015 season and perhaps the most competitive. The field included several dogs that had placed in previous derbies, in addition to the eventual winner of the Minnesota /Wisconsin Derby of the Year award.
Northwoods Rolls Royce placed first, followed by Sadie in second and Coulee in third place. Sadie is also out of our breeding—CH Ridge Creek Cody x Northwoods Chardonnay in 2013.
Royce is owned by Bob Senkler; I handled him.
Royce ran a mature hunting race and had a grouse find on which he was steady to shot. This was Royce’s second placement in three starts. Last spring, he placed first in the Minnesota Grouse Dog Association (MGDA) Open Puppy where he staunchly pointed a woodcock.
Royce’s placements prove that he matured early in his hunting application and his ability to point wild birds. He had extensive exposure, too, which helps. As a puppy, Royce was worked on wild bobwhite quail in Georgia and last fall he was hunted hard on grouse and woodcock. I used Royce often on guided quail hunts this past winter in Georgia.
Royce is out of the outstanding nick of Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice (also owned by Bob Senkler) and joins a long list of siblings that have placed as puppies and derbies in grouse trials.
• Northwoods Creek (owned by Randy Ott) placed first and second in two MGDA open derby stakes this spring.
• Northwoods Troy McClure (owned by Dale and Jessica Robinson) placed third in the spring 2014 MGDA Open Puppy.
• Northwoods Carly Simon (owned by Betsy and me) placed third in the spring 2012 MRGDC Open Puppy when handled by young Paul Diggan.
• Northwoods Chardonnay (owned by Paul Hauge) placed second in the spring 2010 MGDA Open Derby when she was still a puppy. Chardonnay also placed in two spring derby stakes in 2011, enough to win the 2011 Minnesota/Wisconsin Cover Dog Derby of the Year award.
• Northwoods Chablis (owned by Bob Senkler) placed twice in spring derby stakes in 2011 and was second place (by just two points!) to litter sister Chardonnay for the 2011 Cover Dog Derby award.
• Northwoods Lager (owned by Jim Bires), a littermate to Chardonnay and Chablis, placed twice in derby stakes in 2011.
RU-CH Erin’s Hidden Shamrock (CH Ridge Creek Cody x Erin’s Sky Dancer)
Paul Hauge and Northwoods Bird Dogs have teamed up for another cool litter.
Paul has long been a partner with Betsy and me in our breeding program. His dog Houston became a foundation for our kennel and, over the years, we’ve bred many litters together.
Northwoods Chardonnay (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2009)
Photo by Chris Mathan, The Sportsman’s Cabinet
This winter we bred Paul’s Northwoods Chardonnay (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2009) to RU-CH Erin’s Hidden Shamrock (Jack), owned by Sean Derrig. Jack is out of Sean’s female Erin’s Sky Dancer and Larry Brutger’s CH Ridge Creek Cody, which is also cool because Cody is by Paul’s multiple grouse champion CH Houston’s Belle to CH Can’t Go Wrong.
For a couple years now, I’ve been watching young Jack during training sessions with Sean. Jack is impressive and has nice wins—especially against pointers—on the all age circuit where Sean competes. He was runner-up champion in the 2014 National Amateur Derby Championship held on the Dixie Plantation in northern Florida and placed third in the 2015 West Tennessee All Age.
From what I saw, not only does Jack possess qualities we look for in a sire but he inherited quite a few traits from the Houston line.
Chardonnay whelped four females and two males on April 15.
This is Chardonnay’s fifth litter. She has produced exceptional dogs no matter which sire we bred her to.
On April 15, Chardonnay whelped four females and two males at Paul’s kennel in Wisconsin. All the puppies are sold.
Lulu (CH Can’t Go Wrong x CH Houston’s Belle, 2008) is so good in the grouse woods that it is embarrassing as Lulu finds every bird and has done so for years. Lulu varies her range naturally with the cover and if I am not hunting she know it and just messes around like a fou fou dog. She is most adaptable and smart.
~ Bob, Wyoming
Finn (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2014) turned 1 year old last week. He made his first trip to Upper Red Lake in December. We were about 3 miles out and he had fun slipping and sliding around all day.
~ Todd, Minnesota
Izzie (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2011) and Pal getting ready for the breakaway this morning.
~ Jeff, Arizona
Spent New Year’s on Sanibel with my parents. Kally (CH Can’t Go Wrong x Cold Creek Pearl, 2011) is my dad’s constant companion/shadow and spends her days pointing geckos, ibis, pelicans, etc. She also goes fishing every time he heads out. She lays at Dad’s feet when the boat is in motion and otherwise is at the front looking for birds.
~ Chris, Wisconsin
It’s impossible to beat your pointers. Here’s Ginger (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013).
~ Wayne, Mississippi, hunting in south Texas
Allie (Northwoods Parmigiano x Northwoods Rum Rickey, 2014) is a very smart pup and very nicely mannered. We went through obedience class with my middle daughter and it was fun watching them interact.
~ Mark, Minnesota
The old guys, Abbie (Gusty Blue x Houston’s Belle, 2005) and Sonny (Blue Chief x Forest Ridge Jewel, 2003), get it done.
~ Wayne, Mississippi, hunting in south Texas
Scout (CH Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Highclass Kate, 2013), as an Easter Bunny, points a tweety.
~ Joel, Minnesota
This week the woodcock arrived back in Duluth and Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014) took things to the next level! In total for the week, Hartley pointed 28 birds, 6 or 7 grouse and the rest woodcock. It was so fun to watch. It seemed like he learned something new with each bird he pointed. The hands-off approach is simply the way to go. The wild birds are teaching him everything he needs to know and it’s easy to see there is no reason to interfere with that.
~ Nick, Minnesota
Northwoods Parmigiano (Northwoods Blue Ox x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2010) loves to “Fetch” his chew toy.
As a professional trainer, I’m always working with several dogs and want to make the most of my time with each. Whenever I interact with one—whether in the kennel, at feeding time, on the way to the truck or loading into the dog box—I try to teach the dog something.
These little snippets of time I call “training moments.” It’s amazing what can be accomplished.
Every dog run has a wolf-size Nylabone Double Action Chew toy in its kennel run. When a dog likes to mouth or lick my hand, I pick up the chew toy and say “Fetch” as it grabs the toy or as I ease the toy into its mouth. I then lavish praise on the dog. Soon, when I come into their kennel run and say “Fetch,” the dog finds its chew toy and brings it to me. Several even anticipate my presence and pick up its chew toy whenever I’m close to its run. (Many dogs have actually learned “Fetch” this way.)
Don’t pull on leash
Day after day of many dogs pulling on the leash and jerking my arm led me to this idea. If a dog is straining against a lead, I stop and don’t move until it releases the pressure. This takes patience but it works.
Yoshi, an eager and energetic young English cocker, fully understands the training moment of “stay until released.”
Stay until released
It drives me crazy when I open a kennel door and a dog barges out. So I make the dog stay still until I say “All Right.” I open the door just a bit and when the dog makes a move, I shut it in their face. With a few repetitions, they remain until released.
“Kennel” command and treats
A dog of any age spends lots of time going into crates so why not make it a pleasant experience? Sure, you can shove it into the crate but it doesn’t learn anything. Rather, I entice the dog into the crate with treats. At first, I toss the treat into the crate, making sure the dog has smelled it and seen it. Then I lead it to the crate with a treat in my hand and only give the treat after it is in the crate. (Purina Pro Plan Sport Adult Training Treats in Chicken Breast flavor are perfect. They are easily ripped into smaller pieces, smell great and fit into a pocket.)
These training moments are easy, simple and don’t take much time. Be patient and consistent and you, too, will be amazed with the results.
Tom Beauchamp proudly displays the big red ribbon won by Northwoods Iron Maiden (Northwoods Grits x CH I’m Blue Gert, 2014) for her second place finish in the Grand National Grouse Futurity Puppy Classic.
Spring is a welcome season throughout snow-weary, northern parts of the country. It is true for all whether commuters, merchants or gardeners but perhaps it is even more so for sportsmen and women who own bird dogs and like to get them in the woods to match them against others during the spring field trial season.
Even though Jerry and I don’t compete as much, we anxiously await results of the various venues and are thrilled when others place—especially when the puppies, derbies and older dogs are out of our kennel. Equally exciting, though, is when winners are:
• owners who are new to field trials
• dogs that are older, experienced and much wiser
• dogs out of favorite pointer males
Tom Beauchamp of Fishers, Indiana, had never competed in a field trial but was keen to run his nine-month-old female setter puppy out of multiple grouse champion I’m Blue Gert by Northwoods Grits. As a practice run, Tom drove up to the Michigan Amateur Field Trial Club’s stakes held near Gladwin, Michigan, on April 3. It was well worth the effort for he earned an Honorable Mention.
After the conclusion of the 68th running of the Grand National Grouse Futurity Puppy Classic, judges and winning handlers pose with their puppies. From left: Judge Dick Brenneman, Dave Hughes with Springfield’s Side Kick, Tom Beauchamp with Northwoods Iron Maiden, Dave D’Hulster with Willwoods Squig, Mark Hughes with Springfield’s Dark Knight, judge Eric Locher.
That was merely a preamble, though, for the next weekend Tom headed to Marienville, Pennsylvania, where the 68th running of the Grand National Grouse Futurity Puppy Classic was held in the Allegheny National Forest. Eric Locher and top-notch veteran Dick Brenneman judged 28 puppies from which four placements were awarded.
How sensational for Tom and his puppy. He said, “What the hell. I just let her roll.”
2nd Grand National Grouse Futurity Puppy Classic
Northwoods Iron Maiden
(Northwoods Grits x CH I’m Blue Gert, 2014)
Owned and handled by Tom Beauchamp
Randy Ott is proud of Northwoods Creek (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2013) and his first place in the Open Derby at a Minnesota Grouse Dog Association spring trial. The rotating silver cup is filled with engraved names of past greats in the grouse woods.
The Minnesota Grouse Dog Association held the first of two weekend field trials beginning April 10. The stakes are always run in the Rum River State Forest near Mora. Several placements are especially noteworthy.
1st Open Derby
(Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2013)
Owned and handled by Randy Ott
1st Open Shooting Dog
Merimac’s Adda Girl
(CH Long Gone Nixon x Grouse River Princess, 2006. She’s 9!!)
Owned and handled by Ben McKean
1st Amateur Shooting Dog & 2nd Open Shooting Dog
Goodgoing Hannah Montana
(Dashaway x Goodgoing Elhew Moxie, 2007. She’s 8!!)
Co-owned and handled by Brett Edstrom
2nd Amateur Shooting Dog
Satin From Silk
(I’m Houston’s Image x Blue Silk, 2006. She’s 9, too!!)
Owned and handled by Greg Gress
3rd Open Puppy
(CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)
Owned and handled by Matt Forgit
Matt Forgit and his son happily pose with Miles (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014) after his third place finish in the Open Puppy at a Minnesota Grouse Dog Association spring trial.
Meanwhile, beginning April 11, the Minnesota Bird Hunters Association held their spring trial at Four Brooks Field Trials Grounds north of Milaca. Chuck Brandes entered his young female in two stakes and came away with two ribbons.
1st Open Gun Dog & 3rd Open Derby
Ridge Creek Pied Piper
(CH Ridge Creek Cody x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2013)
Owned and handled by Chuck Brandes
Puppy buyers often become fixated on their order of pick in a litter. Betsy and I know—first hand—that the last pick can be the best.
The first grouse champion we owned was bought sight unseen from Maine. Not only was our puppy the last pick but the breeder changed his mind during the process.
We were excited about that that litter—a repeat breeding of a top-notch female grouse dog, 5X CH Vanidestine’s Rail Lady, to a spectacular male, 2X CH/RU-CH Northern Dancer, trained and handled by fellow Minnesotan Jim Tande. Eddie Vanidestine first told us we were getting an orange-and-white female. We said, “Fine.” When he later called to tell us it would be a liver one, we again said, “Fine.”
Most of that litter went to grouse trialers and we never saw or heard anything about an orange-and-white female. But that liver puppy grew into our extraordinary 2X CH Dance Smartly and became the foundation of our pointer line, now four generations down.
It’s hard to believe how close we came to not having what would become our best setter ever. When we bred Blue Silk to Paul Hauge’s Houston in 2004, our first pick was based on looks—a gorgeous, tri-color male with a solid head. After two other males were chosen, one was left. He had a big, blocky head, a patch on one side of his head and a small spot over the other eye. We named our first choice Kobe and the leftover pup, Shaq.
The all-female litter out of Northwoods Prancer by CH Westfall’s Black Ice in 2011 left us with an evenly marked, black and white one with a spot at the base of her tail. Jeff Hintz, good friend, neighbor and training helper, took her. Jeff will tell you in a heartbeat that he will take last pick any day if it turns out to be as good as his precocious, smart, talented young champion, JTH Izzie.
In a previous post, How To Pick a Puppy, I wrote that the essential concepts are to: first, choose the right breeder and, second, choose the right litter. The pick order is the least important. It is impossible to definitely know what a puppy will become when it is eight weeks old.
Others agree. John Wick, breeder of hundreds of coonhounds, writes, “It is absolutely impossible at 8, 10, 12 weeks of age to pick out the best pup or pups, no matter who you are or what you know.”
Lucy (on left) is a young setter that recently swallowed a large quantity of TomCat rodent poison but is now recovering. Her kennel-mate in the background is four-year-old Beasley.
Jerry and I recently heard from Mike, a friend and client from Minnesota. Mike has bought two setters from us— Beasley in 2011 and last year, Lucy.
“Tuesday afternoon I was driving home, talking to my wife Cynthia who was at home. All of sudden Cynthia was telling Lucy to drop something. When she reached, Lucy swallowed the rest of the mouse poison.
“Within 10 minutes I was home and had the vet on the phone. Per the vet’s instructions I gave her hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Within 5 minutes Lucy did and there was a lot of poison in her.”
Inducing vomiting in a dog is an extremely valuable medical skill and, fortunately, it’s relatively easy to do.
1. Have these two supplies on hand:
• 3% hydrogen peroxide
• syringe (without needle) or turkey baster
2. Fill the syringe or baster with straight hydrogen peroxide at the dosage of 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs. of dog weight. (One teaspoon equals 5 cc or 5 ml.)
3. Squirt into the back of the dog’s mouth.
4. Wait 15 minutes. If the dog hasn’t vomited, the dosage can be repeated once.
Due to quick thinking and action by Mike and Cynthia, Lucy is recovering. Last week, they took her back to their vet for a re-check.
“She is good! We will be giving vitamin K for the next 30 days to help her blood clot. They do want us to keep her quiet for a month. That will be a challenge!!”
At two weeks of age, the eight puppies out of Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Carly Simon have more than doubled their weight since birth. They’ve grown from an average of .8 lbs. to an average of 1.8 lbs.
It’s been busy and exciting around our Georgia kennel lately. Within a timeframe of about 10 days, our three pregnant dams delivered a total of 24 puppies.
Jerry and I can usually predict when a dam is close to whelping. Her temperature will drop to around 98 degrees and she won’t eat.
So on Sunday evening, March 15, we knew Northwoods Carly Simon was close. Within about two hours, she had whelped eight puppies—five females and three males. All are tri-color. This litter is by Northwoods Grits.
Six days later, on Saturday, March 21, Northwoods Vixen didn’t eat her evening meal and her temperature was falling. We stayed up with her and within a couple of hours, her first puppy was born. By the time she was finished about eight hours later, she had delivered five females and four males. One male is liver and white; the rest are black and white. This litter is a frozen-semen breeding by CH Rock Acre Blackhawk.
Within hours of whelping, Northwoods Vixen had her nine puppies by CH Rock Acre Blackhawk clean and white.
Northwoods Chablis was next. On the evening of Monday, March 23, she didn’t eat and her temperature had dropped. Again we watched and finally, just after midnight, she began. After three hours, she had whelped seven puppies—three females and four males. This is Chablis’ fourth litter by Northwoods Blue Ox.
Northwoods Chablis protectively curls round her seven puppies–cleaning some and letting others nurse.
Even though 24 puppies sounds like a lot of puppies, right now there isn’t much work for Jerry and me. Jerry is doing the “super puppy” exercises with them. Otherwise the dams do it all.
Inherited talent and ample exposure to opportunity are crucial elements to a pointing dog’s bird-finding skills. (Northwoods Nickel, CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)
“That dog’ll hunt!” exclaimed Bobby, dog trainer on a large Georgia quail plantation, while we were out working puppies last week.
Bobby was referring to the bird-finding ability of his young pointer—a dog that was focused exclusively on finding quail. Bobby has been training bird dogs for more than 20 years and knows what’s essential.
“They’ll all point,” he said, “but give me the one that finds the most.”
Bobby is right. You can’t teach a dog to find birds. You can teach it to heel, come and whoa but if it doesn’t have the inherited talent to search for and to find birds, all you have is a well-trained dog. Those instincts, however, will never be maximized without opportunity—and plenty of it. Even then, some dogs given equal opportunity will be better at finding birds. No one really knows what produces that proficiency. Is it above-average scenting capability, intelligence, ability to focus? Or a combination? Or something else?
The degree of difficulty to finding birds depends on the birds. Non-wild birds such as put-out quail or game farm pheasants are generally easy to find. They usually have little idea of where they are or where to go and so, unknowingly, they become exposed.
Working puppies in groups is a fun, productive way to provide bird-finding opportunities because the puppies learn from each other. (Three females out of CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)
Wild birds are the most difficult to find. They know every square foot of their own territory—from exactly where they are to exactly where they’re going. They move a lot during the day—to find food, loaf, dust and avoid predators—and most of that movement is done by walking. Their scent is left on the ground by their feet, droppings and feathers and on plants by brushing against them.
Finding wild birds is easiest when the bird is stationary and the dog hunts by that exact spot. Most of the time, though, the dog smells leftover scent. It learns to follow that little wisp of scent until it becomes progressively stronger, ultimately leading to the location of the bird.
Another experienced plantation dog trainer, Phillip, would agree. A man wanted to sell him a young dog, pointing out conformation, markings and other physical qualities and boasting about all the champions in its pedigree. Phillip wasn’t impressed. Instead, he looked the man straight in the eye and asked, “Yeah, but can it find a bird?”
Desire is another inherited trait that will lead to ample bird finding. (Northwoods Nickel, CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)