Photo by Chris Mathan
I knew when she was a pup that she was special. One of the best and nicest bird dogs I ever owned.
~ Paul Hauge
Even though Paul Hauge and Jerry conceived the idea together, Paul deserves all the credit. He bred Houston’s Belle’s Choice, daughter of his multiple grouse champion Houston’s Belle, to Blue Shaquille. Paul then hand-picked four—two males and two females—for us to buy, raise and train.
One of those puppies was a female we named Northwoods Chardonnay, call name Lucy.
Lucy was a tremendous bird finder whether in the grouse woods, the Georgia piney woods or on the prairies—but that wasn’t her greatest gift. Lucy’s gift was her style. She had unusual loftiness both in motion and on point. And her composure on point with nose pointed toward the sky made her look like she weighed 100 pounds. When I approached her points, she would always roll a sparkling eye at me that seemed to say, “Look at me and see what I found. Again. Pretty good, huh?”
Yeah, pretty damn good.
Photo by Chris Mathan
Jerry and I often commented that Lucy was the prettiest setter female we’ve ever owned.
She was tricolor with distinctive markings. The mask on her left side was a perfect oval encompassing head, cheek and ear and, of course, a brown molly spot was just above the eye. On the right side, her ear was black but the mask was reduced to a small circle of color around the eye.
But Lucy was more than a pretty face. Her 40-lb.-body was perfectly proportioned and she had a long neck and high tail set. Her gait was spectacular—strong, fluid and graceful—and her front legs reached far forward on each stride. Lucy always seemed to be having fun for she bounded about with energy and enthusiasm.
Lucy was bred to some of the best setter males in the country including CH Shadow Oak Bo, CH Houston’s Blackjack, CH Ridge Creek Cody, RU-CH Erin’s Hidden Shamrock and our own Northwoods Blue Ox. No matter the sire, outstanding dogs were produced.
Here’s a short list:
Northwoods Nirvana, owned by Frank and Jean LaNasa, Minnesota
Northwoods Fuzzy Navel, owned by Don Freeman, North Carolina
Houston’s Bold N Fresh, owned by Jim Depolo, Pennsylvania
Northwoods Charles, owned by Bill Owen, California
Ridge Creek Piper, owned by Chuck Brandes, Minnesota
Northwoods Nickel, owned by Jerry and me
Lucy was one of those rare dogs that could consistently, with little experience, pin ruffed grouse. When she was only one-and-a-half years old, I took her hunting in northern Wisconsin with another guide. It was late season and the grouse were hard to find and even harder to shoot. Right in front of us, Lucy worked a running grouse and made that bird stop and hide behind a big log in wide open pole timber. We walked right in, the grouse flushed at our feet and we both missed!
That was one of the best pieces of work on grouse I’ve ever seen.
Jerry and I kept Lucy until she was five years old when Paul bought her back.
Early in 2016, Paul repeated an earlier breeding to Erin’s Hidden Shamrock. When he got Lucy back from Illinois, home of Shamrock, something was clearly wrong. She was diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma. She was also pregnant.
Torn between concern for the dam and concern for the fetuses, Paul consulted with his vet and long-time friend Dr. Mark Nelson of Interstate Veterinary Hospital in Centauria, Wisconsin. They chose a course of action that focused on Lucy but with minimal harm to fetuses.
By late in her pregnancy, Lucy was gravely ill and Jerry and I desperately wanted to see her. We had planned to visit on a Sunday in early July. But on that Saturday, Lucy was failing and Paul brought her back to Mark.
Lucy must have given the entire strength of her weakened body to her puppies for as she died, three live puppies were delivered.
And today, Lucy’s litter of two females and one male is seven weeks old and thriving. Amanda and Joyce, two amazing women who work for Dr. Nelson, dedicated their days and nights to feeding and caring for the puppies. Due to their loving ministration, Lucy’s gifts will live on.
Lucy was a great bird dog on all species of game birds and produced outstanding pups in every litter. She was very sweet and lovable. She is missed.
~ Paul Hauge
Photo courtesy of Ben Sklar/For The Washington Post
Dog lovers know that dogs are far smarter than most give them credit for.
So it won’t surprise some to read about their newest skills. A recent feature in The Washington Post by Andrea Sachs details how dogs are being trained for security purposes at facilities in Texas, Pennsylvania and Alabama.
“The dog—all wet nose and whiskers—is the new face of security,” writes Sachs.
A primary purpose is for use by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
“’There is no better overall detector of explosives than a dog’s nose,’ TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said. ‘Dogs work an environment like no technology can. They are versatile, mobile and very accurate.’”
Besides offering detection, dogs can act as deterrents and “’…also calm the whole screening environment. Animals are inherently fascinating to watch,’” Neffenger said.
German shepherds and many retrievers have been used in the past. Now breeds such as Munsterlanders, Germain shorthaired pointers, Belgian Malinois, weimaraners and springer spaniels are being trained.
The ultimate attention–and what the dog wants most–is our physical touch.
Dogs constantly watch us. They’re trying to figure out what we’re doing. They watch us not because they adore us but to determine if something is about to happen that might benefit them. They even want to make that something happen.
But first, they need our attention.
How does a dog get our attention? One of the best examples is barking. Even though that attention may be a negative “Quiet,” it still got your attention. Other attention-seeking behaviors include nudging an arm or hand, mouthing, whining and sighing.
A key aspect to understand is that we control our attention. We can use our attention to communicate approval of what the dog is doing, or disapproval. A quick glance in the dog’s direction might be the approval it needs. A higher level is spoken words and the ultimate attention we can give a dog is physical touch.
Withholding attention is a high form of disapproval.
Giving attention for a behavior often leads to more of that behavior.
~ Turid Rugass, international dog trainer and author
To use your attention as a training tool, give the dog your attention for behavior you want to continue and withhold attention for behavior you don’t. Be patient and wait for the right behavior while ignoring others. And great timing produces quick, clear results. Bad timing could reward incorrect behavior.
Your attention is one of the best tools for training your dog. It’s always with you and doesn’t cost a thing. Even though using your attention properly will take some practice to master, it’s worth it.
This is the time to withhold attention!
Just wanted to say thank you again and let you know our puppy is doing great already. Attached is a photo of our little guy Jack with the puppy. She has been adjusting wonderfully, although we know this is just the beginning
~ Karrli and Caleb
In some ways, this litter out of Northwoods Vixen by Elhew G Force was unprecedented.
Just the night before, Vixen had slept in the house with no sign of being close to whelping. When she did begin whelping at about noon on May 21, she didn’t stop until 12 hours later when she had safely delivered 11 puppies, our largest litter ever. Most impressively, all puppies were healthy and vigorous and all survived.
The eight weeks the litter is with us fly by and soon it is time for them to go to their new homes.
Tim Moore, owner of G Force, chose a white-and-black male. Next Jerry and I decided on a liver male and an orange female. Then puppy buyers from as close as the Twin Cities and from as far away as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida and Oklahoma made their picks in order until all 11 were with their owners.
The puppy is great. We had absolutely no problems at the hotels or on the very long ride home. We decided on the name Coop. Thank you so much.
~ Tim, Massachusetts
She is doing great. No mistakes in the house. Coming to my mouth whistle. Went fishing with us tonight. Only problem is deciding on a name!!!
~ Brian, Pennsylvania
Huxley is doing great! He is so smart and loves to retrieve his soft new pheasant toy. I’m very impressed. He’s been a pretty good sleeper for the most part as well. A couple accidents, but we are trying to make sure he goes out often. Heidi keeps saying he couldn’t be more perfect. I agree.
~ Brandon, Minnesota
We just picked him up. He’s doing great and my two kids are spoiling him with hugs and a little bit of hot dog.
~ Tim, Florida
One evening, Jerry and I couldn’t resist tossing a dead pigeon around for our two puppies. What fun to see them grab the bird and proudly carry it around the yard.
Prancer was a Cadillac.
~ Mark Fouts
With heavy hearts, Jerry and I share the almost unbearably sad new that Northwoods Prancer has died.
Prancer was whelped out of Fallset Fate, owned by Mark and Janie Fouts, by our male Dasher in 2008. In lieu of a stud fee, we wanted a female puppy and as Prancer was the only female in the litter, Mark honored the deal.
Prancer lived in the house with us when she was young. There is almost nothing more heartwarming than holding a sleeping puppy.
Prancer was a star in our kennel—whether in the woods guiding grouse hunters or as a dam. Prancer was also smart and a beautiful dog with a strong physique. We adored Prancer but when she turned six, we gave her back to Mark and Janie in a totally fitting, happy turn of events.
Mark wrote this moving tribute to Prancer.
“With all great dogs they have to start from somewhere. I was fortunate to have a female pointer named Fallset Fate. She was white and orange. She was everything you would want in a hunting dog. Worked to the front, pointed, backed and a strong retriever. She even retrieved from water. She was a joy to handle and had an easy loving personality. A very good family dog, or as I say, a “good citizen.”
“I was thinking if I was fortunate to have another dog like her I would be blessed. I had heard of Jerry and Betsy at Northwoods Bird Dogs and their breeding program. I was told about Dasher and thought this would be a good fit. We decided on the breeding and waited for the results. Fate had only four puppies, three males and one female. The little orange and white female looked like her mother. She was chosen to join the Northwoods kennel.
“When Jerry and Betsy retired Prancer from their breeding program Janie and I were fortunate and gifted to get her back to our family. When she arrived it was like looking at her mother Fate. The look in her eyes, same personality. I always wonder if dogs know that they used to be at a home or kennel in their earlier lives. She adjusted well. She was instantly part of our family. I can’t recall how many times I called her “Fate” while I was hunting with her.
“I have had other breeds of dogs and had some very good ones, but you know when a breed and style suits you. I like to put it in simple laymen terms. Everyone drives different vehicles. They all get you to the same location. But I have settled on driving a Cadillac. They are smooth, easy to look at, and with a little polish they hold their value. Prancer was a Cadillac.
After a day in the woods, Mark Fouts proudly shows off his trio of female pointers: Prancer, on left, with her daughters Jordy and Timber.
“In the field she was a truly honest dog. If she had a point there was a bird somewhere, trust her. Jerry and Betsy brought out the best in her and she was able to pass those traits on to her offspring. Right now I have two dogs from Prancer, Northwoods Fallset Timber and Northwoods Fallset Jordy. The fleet of Cadillacs is still going strong.
“When you lose a dog like Prancer I think you miss a little heartbeat. Sometimes it is hard to get your breath back when it happens. With wet eyes you have to remember the good times and the love that they give back unconditionally, no strings attached.
“Thank you to Northwoods Bird Dogs for letting your family be a part of ours.”
~ Mark Fouts
This caution is repetitive but it is not redundant.
Jerry and I know of bad things that have happened to puppies over the Fourth of July holiday. They have become so scared that they panic, run away and are lost. Some have been hit by a vehicle. Others have chewed out of crates, breaking teeth and scratching until their paws are bloody.
Even if your young dog has been exposed to gunfire, you still need to be careful. Here are two easy precautions.
• Put a crate in a protected, quiet place and put the puppy in it.
• Provide background noise such as TV or radio.
If your young dog will be exposed to fireworks, consider these actions.
• Go about things normally during the fireworks. Act as though nothing special is going on.
• Don’t comfort the dog or give it any attention. Don’t look at the dog; don’t talk to it; don’t touch it.
• If your dog wants to be close to you, let it; but again, don’t comfort it. Comfort will most likely reinforce the behavior and make things worse.
In fact, consider older dogs, too. Even though they’ve been shot over countless times, those have usually been in hunting situations. The circumstances of loud noises and fireworks are utterly different.
Perhaps a hunter can relate to this. If you’re at a gun range, blasts, shots and noises of all kinds are expected. But if you’re sitting on your deck reading a book when a gun is fired 20 behind you, the experience is totally different.
That’s how the dog feels.
Let me amend the caution:
Fireworks and dogs don’t mix.
Photo at top by fortbragg.com.
Warm summer days in Minnesota sure make for fine puppy-rearing weather. And now that Northwoods Vixen’s litter by CH Elhew G Force are four weeks old, they take full advantage of the long June days. With their basketful of soft toys, the 11 puppies love to play.
If not playing, they’re eating or sleeping.
In some ways, our pointer puppies are different from our English setter puppies. Pointers use their paws to, well, paw at each other, paw at me and sometimes just paw at the air. They are extremely coordinated at such a young age, easily scampering up and down their brick steps by the dog door. One female even leaps down from the top brick.
Too, judging by many wrinkles of fur, their bodies and skin seem to grow at different rates…..and they definitely have a lot of growing to do.
Vixen is a wonderful dam—gentle, tolerant, caring, and perhaps best of all, even-tempered and calm.
Left to right, Rod Lein with his dog, Joe Byers with Roxy (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014), Dave Moore with Bette (Northwoods Grits x CH I’m Blue Gert, 2014).
The goal of the breeding program at Northwoods Bird Dogs is to produce grouse dogs that have it all—personality, conformation and hunting ability. Of prime importance to Betsy and me is that our puppies and started and trained dogs go to buyers who will give them ample hunting opportunities.
But, too, since we come from a field trial background, it is both gratifying and valuable to know when given a chance, many of our dogs have the fire, style, focus and tenacity to compete and place in field trials.
On behalf of very proud owners, we want to recognize puppies, derbies and shooting dogs that have placed in grouse, walking and horseback field trials held by clubs around the country.
In 2014 we bred Northwoods Grits (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2011), an outstanding grouse dog owned by Bob Senkler, to two proven females.
Center, Ellie (Northwoods Grits x CH I’m Blue Gert, 2014) owned by Tom Beauchamp and handled by Rich Hollister.
CH I’m Blue Gert, owned by Dave and Rochel Moore of Minnesota, to Grits produced three females and all became winners. Ellie, owned by Tom Beauchamp of Indiana, placed second in the 2015 Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic. She followed that with several derby placements on grouse and woodcock in Michigan.
Dave and Rochel own the other two females, Skye and Bette, and both dogs placed in grouse trials. Skye won the Moose River Grouse Dog Club (MRGDC) derby last fall while this spring Bette won a derby stake held by the Minnesota Grouse Dog Association (MGDA).
On left, Dave Moore and Jim Tande with Skye (Northwoods Grits x CH I’m Blue Gert, 2014) and, on right, Jeff Hintz with Cooper (CH Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen, 2015).
Grits’ other 2014 breeding was to Houston’s Belle’s Choice. The lone female of the litter went to Joe Byers of Illinois. Not only did Roxy place second in a 2016 MGDA derby stake (beaten by her half-sister Bette) but she received her certification for use in woodcock banding at less than two years of age.
Northwoods Vixen’s 2015 litter was produced using frozen semen of multiple champion and Hall of Fame pointer Rock Acre Blackhawk. Impressive attributes of Vixen puppies is their innate intelligence and a willingness to please. Whether the offspring are hunted on grouse, woodcock, bobwhite and other quail, pheasants or chukar and no matter what state, all adapted to birds, terrain and handler.
Robby Graham (on left) with Maddie (CH Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen, 2015).
Three earned placements in derby stakes while still puppies. In Maine, Robby Graham’s Maddie placed in two derby stakes and Arizonan Jeff Hintz’s Cooper placed in a grouse trial derby stake last fall. Bill Owen of California handled his male puppy Sage to several derby placements and first place in a puppy classic.
On left, Bill Owen and Sage (CH Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen, 2015).
Betsy and I were so pleased with a 2013 litter of Vixen by CH Elhew G Force that we bred her dam, Northwoods Prancer, to him in 2015. Mark Fouts of Wisconsin got a female he hunted extensively on grouse and woodcock. Jordy’s experience showed this spring when on a nasty, rainy, sloppy, 38-degree day, she placed in the MRGDC derby stake.
On right, Mark Fouts with Jordy (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Prancer, 2015).
Finally, Ian MacTavish of Minnesota won all three placements in a stake at Minnesota’s St. Croix Valley Brittany Club’s trial this spring. Ian had the foresight to buy two females from a litter we co-bred with Paul Hauge out of our Blue Shaquille to his multiple champion Houston’s Belle. One Ian named Pearl became not only a consistent winner in AKC field trials but also quite a producer.
Ian MacTavish with left to right: Kevin (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Cold Creek Pearl), Pearl (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle), Maggie (CH Can’t Go Wrong x Cold Creek Pearl).
Placing first in the stake was Pearl’s son out of CH Shadow Oak Bo; second was Pearl; and third place went to a CH Can’t Go Wrong x Pearl daughter.
Congratulations to all dogs and their owners!
In the final days of her pregnancy, Jerry and I knew that Vixen was very big but had no idea what we all were in store for.
Beginning at about noon on Saturday, May 21, and finally finishing up about 12 hours later, Vixen whelped 11 puppies. Even thought the count was high and the time was long, Vixen never seemed to struggle or tire.
The breakdown is eight males—four black & white, two liver & white, two orange & white—and three females—one of each color. Nature has a way, perhaps, of evening the score. Vixen’s first two litters were heavily weighted in favor of females—14—to only six males.
This is Vixen’s second litter by CH Elhew G Force. Jerry and I kept four of our own from that litter to raise and train—and kept in touch with or trained the other five. We knew we had an exceptional cross and decided to repeat it.
We are happy and fortunate to report that Vixen and all her puppies are healthy and vigorous.
Two male puppies are available for sale.
Ben is primarily a grouse and woodcock hunter so he and Franny spent their memorable days in aspen cuts and alder thickets.
Franny taught me more about dogs than I care to admit. She was a thinker. She was different. This is what made her special.
~ Ben McKean
It’s always heartbreaking when a treasured dog dies. But especially awful is when a bird dog dies terribly in the prime of her life.
On what started out as another beautiful Saturday morning in Georgia, I left the house early and headed to the kennel to do my morning chores. Immediately, I noticed Franny, a normally lively five-year-old setter female, in an odd hunched position in her run. Her body was bloated, too, and fearing a twisted stomach, Betsy and I rushed her to our vet. Despite an heroic, two-hour emergency surgery, Franny died.
Franny was owned by Ben and Maureen McKean, long-time clients and friends, of Minnesota. Franny was whelped in March 2010, the last litter from Paul Hauge’s multiple grouse champion Houston’s Belle by Northwoods Blue Ox. Franny was a big, powerful female like her blue-ribbon dam; she inherited the grit and endurance of Ox.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember when a robust bird dog was a cuddly puppy…but not Maureen.
Ben and Maureen entrusted Franny to us for her training and Franny, in turn, excelled. She achieved the highest level of training for a pointing dog—steady to wing, shot and fall. Franny also spent every winter with us, gaining invaluable experience with hours on bobwhite quail. She became the star on our Georgia quail guiding string. The weather didn’t deter and it didn’t matter whether we hunted from foot, jeep or horseback or if we were out one or three hours, Franny loved to hunt and always found birds. And when she pointed, the birds were precisely where she indicated.
The shadows were long when I found Franny on point—strong, staunch and stylish on a large covey of quail—at the end of what was to be her last hunt.
Ben hunted Franny extensively on grouse and woodcock and her last fall had been her best.
“Last year, Franny and I had better numbers together than any of my other dogs. She handled at a more manageable range in the thick cover and provided better opportunities than the others. I know she had her strongest talent in the south on quail. I am glad that she was able to put grins on the faces people that she was able to hunt with, including mine. She was an entertainer, a true bird dog and a great friend. She will be missed.”
~ Ben McKean
Betsy and I agree. Franny was a special dog and we were very proud of her. And yes, she put a smile on my face, too, every time I hunted her.