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Monday, April 30, 2012

Elton, Elli's brother, was a hard-to-part-with puppy

Recently we heard from Jim J. whose eleven-year-old Elton is a litter mate to Elli. As you know Elli passed in January due to congestive heart failure.

"Hello John and Jolanta,

I just found out from looking at your web site that Elli passed away. Just wanted express how saddened and sorry we are for your loss. Reading the blog about Elli and seeing the pictures of both Ellie and Elton and Erik brings back a flood of good memories, and of course emotions.

Elton is doing well, he is slowing down now but he still wants to go out and do all the things he always has done. Interesting that you mentioned Elli as your "personal companion, constant presence". That certainly describes Elton, He doesn't want to take his eyes off me for fear  I might go somewhere without him, like the next room! He has always been this way, but is even more clingy now that he is older.  Here are some pictures of Elton 6-26-2011, he had been enjoying chasing Snowshoe Rabbits, and it was raining so his coat is a little wet."

Elton last year, when he was ten years old.

I remember Elton very well as a young puppy as I had a very hard time parting with him. Actually when Elton was six months old I asked my two friends who are also breeders for advice. The letters are edited to keep this post shorter than otherwise it would be.

Jolanta wrote:
I am writing this to you two because I know I can count on some good insights from you. You have bred enough to be able to relate to my dilemma and maybe you could give me your perspective.

Once in a while a special puppy comes along - the pup does not have to be the best looking or most promising pup at all. But you can feel this special bond, which is so rare. Do you go through something like this? At present I have a 6-month-old male, Elton, who is this "special puppy".  He is a confident and proud male, gentle with others, affectionate, with a very engaging personality. It is hard to articulate why, but he is very special to me. But...and there are many buts. He is a male and we have already four males and was not planning to keep another one. I know that we don't have much use for him in my breeding program - he will be on a big side, he is smooth etc etc. . We have already decided to keep Elton's sister Elli, whose conformation is very good. On the other side - he is a precocious hunter and will make a very good blood tracker. He started running rabbits and he opens up. He has a tremendous hunting drive.

Now my dilemma. A fabulous home came along where he would have a great life. His potential new owner wrote: "I have been bowhunting  for about twenty years. I have used dogs to find hard to trail Elk. Any dog I have is a house dog and part of the family. And we love the outdoors, hunting and fishing, we live in the country". Elton would be an only dog. He would have 4 fenced-in acres to get exercise. He would track and retrieve, he would be used for what he was bred for. He would get more attention that I could could give him.

Yet, I find it almost impossible to let him go. Do you go through this kind of dilemmas? How do you deal with it? One drawback of being a breeder is that one has to keep many dogs. I miss this special relationship with individual dogs. We are basically down to 12 dogs and I know we should not be keeping Elton. But I am afraid that I will have regrets for a long time to come if I let him go.

Do you have any insights?

Elton at six months
Friend #1 responded:
I understand your dilemma all too well! When it comes to my dogs, I far too often wear my heart on my sleeve! Yes, as breeders we must look to the dogs that will add to our breeding programs, and we must unfortunately always keep an eye to our numbers and what we can "do right by". However, I feel that ultimately these dogs are our companions, and when all the hunts have been hunted, and all the titles have been won, it is the special bond that we feel with those special dogs that is good for our soul. It isn't enough to have our dogs do well at the tasks we undertake, whether it is hunting, field trialing or other competitions, but rather to have that "ultimate pleasure" that we share with just a few dogs, although we respect and love them all.

Good homes are precious to come by. But so are those special dogs that you connect with on another level from the others - those dogs that are true companions with a reciprocal bond to you.

The home looking for a tracking dog will wait another few months for a puppy that you feel less of a connection with. Or another perfect home will come along when you have a dog that needs it. Sometimes I think we too often ignore our gut instincts and try to apply too much logic to our choices. Sometimes our heart knows the reason for choices our brain just can't put a finger on! Two of the dogs that I "couldn't live without" are neutered males who never contributed anything to my breeding program. I would rather give you my left arm than to part with either one of those two neutered males. They have given me a great deal of satisfaction in their field work, but beyond that they are PART of me. We understand each other, work well together, respect each other, and as emotional as it sounds, we nurture each other. It is a give and take relationship different than I have with most of my other dogs.

Don't miss the opportunity to let this special bond grow. While you may have other dogs now or in the future, they might just be dogs - but this one will be different than any of them if you have that "connection".
Friend #2:
Tough decision. It is so hard when your head fights with your heart. I have been there.

*If* the new home is fabulous, put him there, Jolanta. You may cry over it for three days. You may experience some regret for a long time. But in the long run, as a breeder, and multiple dog owner, you will be glad you let him go.

*If* they are worthy, (this may require more investigation?), let Elton's new people enjoy and love him for his confidence, pride, gentleness, affection, engaging personality, and hunting ability. You will delight in their delight. What a privilege!

Perhaps a few years from now, you will have another such very special young dog. And he will be of smaller size and have a wire coat. And there will be no dilemma about where he will spend the rest of his life.    :  )

Elton enjoying outdoors

In the end John and I decided to let Jim have Elton. It was very, very hard to do. I missed that dog terribly. But in the long run it was a right decision in this particular case. Elton's gift to bond deeply benefited Jim and his family. And Elton's new home was a right and indeed fabulous home for him. Few months after Elton had left us Jim wrote:

"Hello, thought I would let you know how things are going with Elton. He is doing very well, really a joy to have around. Elton is very obedient, as I told you before he is trained to come to two short whistle blasts. He comes even if he is hot on a trail, which is just about anytime he is allowed to run. As you know his nose is to the ground constantly. I've been training him once a week or two to blood trail. The last one today was great. The trail was 16 hrs old about half a mile. I am still having to use cow blood with small amount of deer urine in it, part of a thawed out Elk hide at the end. Elton is slowing down quite allot, giving me a chance to check the trail. I only used a small amount of blood, maybe 3 oz. Drop every 10 yards or so. He had no trouble finding the hide, even though there was a small skiff of snow on the ground (fell during the night). Elton gets about a cup of dried elk scraps at the hide and he loves to tear at the hide."

If we could only breed all our dachshunds to have talent and personality like Elton!

Elton with the elk he recovered

When I look at Elton's pictures I marvel how much he reminds me of our Bernie (FC Darin von Moosbach-Zuzelek), who is his nephew. Interestingly, with Bernie we made a completely opposite decision. He was returned to us when he was a year and a half old, and we decided to hold on to him. A right and fabulous new home for Bernie never materialized. There were some opportunities to let Bernie go, but it never felt right, and at the last moment I would always change my mind. Well, Bernie is here to stay. He was neutered early and was never used in breeding, but he has a significant role.  He is an uncle to puppies and young dogs, plays with them and disciplines them. His presence has a stabilizing effect on the pack, even though he certainly is not a top dog. His joy of swimming and his antics in the pond remind me to stop and smell the roses. His voice on rabbits gives me goosebumps, and his smile (yes, he can smile) brightens my mood. Our bond runs deep.

So two different but very similar dogs, two different decisions and two positive outcomes. In both cases the dogs' responsiveness and ability to bond deeply with people was responsible for the success. So often dachshunds are characterized as hardheaded, stubborn, following their own agenda. Well, not all of them are like that - some are like Elton, Elli, Bernie, Paika and Sky, to name just some. These are the dogs with soft eyes that are focused on you.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Steve Kremp and his two wirehaired blood trackers

A very nice note from Steve Kremp who owns two wirehaired dachshunds. Dita is a daughter of Alfi and Elli, and Ruby out of Gail Berger's breeding is a daughter of our Billy (Billy/Pepper).

Steve Kremp with Ruby and the buck she recovered.

Hi Jolanta,
Sorry that I haven't given you any updates on Ruby and Dita for some time. They are both doing very well and have gotten lots of tracking time in with many great recoveries. Ruby in particular has really excelled but Dita is still the family favorite. Its hard to even imagine what it was like before we had Dachshunds. They are a constant source of entertainment and bring joy to all of us every day. 

Last spring the two of them became extremely aggressive towards each other, including one nasty fight that I'm afraid could have ended very badly had I not been there to break it up (which was no small feat in itself!). They both suffered scrapes and minor punctures around the ears and neck, but fortunately there were no serious injuries. We decided that it would be best to have Ruby spayed and it seems to have solved the problem.

Some of the best recoveries that both dogs have made have been on antlerless deer, but everyone likes a nice buck picture so here are a couple that Ruby found. The wide buck was the best the tracking experience that I have had to date, covering an unbelievable distance through extremely difficult terrain and cover. This took place 16 hours after the hit and there is no chance the deer would have been recovered without the dog. I am finally learning to have full trust in the dogs even after hundreds of yards of no visible blood. Too many times I would waste time by doubting them and pulling them off the line and taking them back to the last blood. Without fail the deer would end up being found a short distance from where I gave up.

I've been following the Born to Track group closely as well as the blog and as always the information there is extremely helpful. I will make an effort to keep in touch.

Enjoy the spring and the new puppies!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Tracking wounded turkey with a dog

We got an interesting e-mail from Dean Muthig, a United Blood Trackers member from Wisconsin.

Here's a turkey we recovered with Stella my GSP/GWP mix. Turkey went 300 yards after being shot with a bow. It was shot just under the anus, and arrow came out between the breastbone and wing in the breast (must have just missed the heart and lungs). The bird buried itself under a blowdown. Our first turkey track and recovery!

Wisconsin regulations allow for tracking of turkeys in the spring even though you can't hunt turkeys with dogs. Details are included below:


Monday, April 23, 2012

Deer Search Blood Tracking Competition

Ellington, NY, April 21-22, 2012

 It was a tough weekend for most of the eight tracking dogs entered in the annual Deer Search Blood Tracking Competition. Only one dog, Buddy, a German Short-haired Point owned by Kevin Ulrich succeeded in completing one of the 1000 yard blood lines that had been laid 20 + hours before. Buddy did an outstanding job on his Sunday track, which was on the second day of the competition. Buddy has an excellent nose and desire; he is by nature and breed a fast-moving dog, and this was an advantage as he completed the 1000 yard line in 40 minutes and traveled much faster than any of the other dogs in the competition.

The problem for four of the five dachshunds entered was that they could not complete their lines within the one hour of time allotted by the rules. Although they were making  progress and staying on the rained-out blood line, the judges  had to “clock them out” and eliminate them from the competition. Under the rather difficult scenting conditions the slower, closer-working dachshunds did not move fast enough.

The three judges were Craig Frank, Ron Hausfelder and John Jeanneney.  They awarded Buddy  a Prize I, 92 points, which made him the competition winner as well as the only qualifying dog.

It should be added that Gary Huber’s Bavarian Mountain Bloodhound  was doing an excellent job until she wind-scented another  deer skin 100 yards upwind of the line. It had been left there accidentally on the previous day. Once Beya had found “her” deer, she lost interest in working to find it all over again.

Kevin Ulrich with Buddy, the winner of the competition.
From left: John Jeanneney (Judge) with Buddy, Ron Hausfelder (Judge), Kevin Ulrich, Craig Frank (Judge).
 Submitted by John Jeanneney

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nature pictures on Earth Day

It has been raining since yesterday and it will continue  until tomorrow afternoon. We have been very dry so the rain is much needed. John has been away judging Deer Search Blood Tracking Competition, and we should have a post about this even this upcoming week. There are other posts waiting for the final formatting, but today to honor Earth Day I am posting some of the recent pictures. There is so much beauty around us! Make sure you don't miss it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

JJ Scarborough and his Lab Rosie, a super-achieving blood tracking team from Georgia

With this post we are going to introduce a new feature on our blog – interviews with experienced trackers/handlers of blood trailing dogs. The handlers such as JJ Scarborough have enormous experience, and we will be able to learn about various aspects of training and tracking from them.

We are going to start with JJ Scarborough, a United Blood Tracker member and forester from Macon, Georgia, where tracking with dogs off lead is completely legal and acceptable.  JJ and his tracking Lab Rosie’s accomplishments in the field are simply amazing, so let’s have some numbers now at the beginning of this interview.

JJ Scarborough and his tracking partner Rosie. The picture was taken at Trackfest 2011 at Pocahontas, AR.

JJ, how many calls did you take last year?
Last tracking season (2011-12) I had 175+ calls, of which I took 132  and recovered 74 animals (38 live). I take almost every call when I’m in town. Almost all of the calls I get and don’t take are when I go out of town to hunt. This year while in Kansas, I left a message referring calls to other trackers. I explain to hunters what I expect the odds of recovery to be, and take any call that they will cover my expenses (even ones that seem to be backwhacks or no blood possible misses). In 2010-11 she recovered 67 of 105 calls with 32 alive.

Rosie’s numbers lifetime are 275 recoveries of 568 calls taken. Only deer, hogs and bear are included in these numbers, and 117 animals were still alive when we found them.

Tell us more about Rosie, your extraordinary tracker.
Rosie will turn 8 this month. She came from a backyard breeder near Macon where we live. I never got to see papers for either the sire or dam, but I met them both. I was told the sire was from English lab bloodline and was whelped in Alaska. The dam was American/Field bloodline. Both parents were black.

How did you go about training Rosie?
Rosie is my first tracking dog. She was always with me and started tracking natural lines before I had really done any training specific to tracking. She was in training primarily to be a retriever and generally obedient working partner. I read John’s book before her first deer season when she was only about 6 months old. I decided to postpone tracking training until later just because I thought that the tracking lead would be confusing. Retriever training requires the use of a lead as a check cord. I got a harness and ran a few liver drags right before deer season and put her on about a dozen tracks the first year (all friends and hunting partners, no outside calls). She seemed to really enjoy tracking natural lines early on and was never really too excited over artificial blood lines.

I have spent much more time training Rosie for retrieving and obedience than tracking. She enjoys tracking much more because she is able to take charge and doesn’t have to be structured like during retriever training. She is a handling retriever. She runs multiples and blinds and swim-bys. She was force-fetched at 8 months. She lost most of her hearing at age 3 after ear infections from doing water work. I’ve seen her retrieve geese and ducks in the morning, doves in the afternoon, and a deer in the evening; all in the same day. She has also tracked wounded turkeys, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons and armadillos.

Do you let her off lead when you track?
For the firsts 4 ½ years she worked exclusively on lead. On lead she recovered the deer about 40% of the time and about 1/3 of the deer that were recovered were live recoveries. After that she has worked both on and off lead. The last two years have been almost exclusively off lead when highways and property lines will allow. Off lead she has recovered about 60% of the deer with about half of them live recoveries.

I have worked her on lead at the beginning of old tracks, but I prefer to let her work off lead any time conditions are difficult. I know she can work them out better without me and the lead.

When she bays, 10 or 11 yards is the distance she likes to stay away in fairly open woods with a standing deer. When the woods are thick or the deer is weak or lying down she will be closer. She will grab a swimming deer by the tail if she is able to catch it. I’ve seen her drown a weak buck. She has grabbed and killed some does, weak bucks, and hogs on land when she could tell they were really weak. She runs silent on track, squeals in high pitch when she sees fleeing game, and chop barks when animals turn to face her. She will eat from the tail end of the deer any time she is left alone with a find for very long.

Have you had any bad experiences with her tracking off lead?
This year was the first year she was injured while baying. A big boar cut her just before deer season this year. Three different deer got her with antlers this year. The first two got her with two tines each that were flesh wounds in the right ham and butt area. The last one went between her ribs on the right side and punctured her lung. The lung didn’t collapse. It really bothered me and the vets but didn’t slow her down at all. She even swam in 2 ponds and caught the deer about ¾ of mile after it hit her. I know that she has been run over many times by deer and hogs without getting hurt. They don’t usually catch her unless it’s real thick.

Her oldest continuous track with recovery is 47 hours and 472 yrds. She has had 2 deer hit by automobiles while we were tracking them. The longest track ending in recovery is 4.25 miles. She tracked one over 6 miles on lead that got away. She recovered 6 in one day on 2010. I have dispatched deer that she bayed that had only one front hoof shot and hanging from below the dew claw. We lost her for almost 14 hrs. when she pulled away from another handler on lead. She got the lead hung up while baying over half a mile away. I owe Ken Parker and A.J. Niette who tag teamed to re-track the deer and find her. She was sitting on top of the deer with water running on both sides when we found her.

What are Rosie’s strengths and what are her weaknesses?
Rosie’s strengths: she enjoys tracking; she’s hard headed and won’t give up easily; speed and stamina off lead on land and in water; she is very trainable and intelligent and has learned from her many tracking experiences.

Rosie’s weaknesses/limitations: she is too big and strong (pulls too hard) to run continuously on lead; she was very slow to develop the ability to follow old cold tracks (mostly my fault); she has a tendency to overrun her nose (poorly attached to the line); she had to train her novice handler; she had to make believers out of my hunting public so that they would call us and give us opportunities (now the opportunities are increasing every year).

Have you tracked with other retrievers?
I have worked with about ten retrievers and have tried each of them on simple tracking lines. Most of them lacked the concentration and/or interest needed to follow even simple lines early on. My six-year-old black Lab Codie is a high-drive retriever. Obedience and retrieving desire come naturally for him. It was obvious early on that tracking was not his forte. One other male yellow lab that I have met and all six Drahthaars seem to have all the natural skills to be good trackers.

Does Rosie live in the house or kennel?
Most of the time Rosie, Codie, and Jazzie (my young female DD) are inside dogs. Rosie is equally comfortable in the kennel, the yard, the truck box, the crate, or the motel room.

How long is your tracking season - when does it start and when does it end?
Archery season in GA starts in mid September and stays in for four weeks. There is a one week muzzleloader season following archery. Youth hunters may shoot centerfire rifles during muzzleloader week. Firearms season starts after muzzleloader season in mid to late Oct. and goes through early to mid Jan. Our season lasts 18 continuous weeks start to finish. The limit is 12 deer per season 2 bucks 10 does. We have opportunities to track hogs all year.

We started tracking this deer about 8 pm on lead.  We pushed him just over 3 miles in a big circle.  About midnight I cut her off lead. The first time she jumped him after that she caught and bayed him.  My 7 year old hunter took pics at the taxidermy shop where a neighbor told us he had multiple game cam pics of him since June.  A few days later he checked his cam on video mode and saw the final video.  Evidently Rosie went by the cam while it was timed out.  We dispatched the deer just after midnight. 

How do people learn about your tracking services?
Georgia Outdoor News Magazine has played an important role in getting me started tracking. They maintain a list of tracking dog handlers by county on their website. Every year they dedicate a page in the September issue to promote the handlers and the web list. Now the majority of our calls come from personal referrals, but early on G.O.N. was a big help.

How far would you drive to take a call?
Early this year I drove over 4 hours one way to track a bear after attempts to refer the track to the local guys failed. My average distance is about 30 miles one way to track. During peak weeks it doesn’t make sense to travel far because I will miss a call near home. I would be willing to travel as far as work or other circumstances will allow, as long as my expenses are covered.

What would you say is percentage of your calls from hunters using bow vs firearms?
A little more than 1/3 of my calls are archery calls. I get three or four muzzleloader calls a year. The rest are rifle hunters with a high percentage of youth and female hunters. More than 90 percent of them are bucks, which leads me to believe that many of the does that could be found go unrecovered. As a bowhunter some of the most memorable calls have been live recoveries during archery season. I have been fortunate enough to witness bowhunters who were able to make finishing shots on standing P&Y Class bucks on three different occasions. All of these were over 10 hours after the first shot and 2 were the next day. One of the bucks was near 170 inches and all three were daytime recoveries.

It was definitely worth the almost 3 hour drive to help Amanda Wilson find this outstanding Georgia buck in early Dec 2011.  The entire hunt including the recovery was caught on video by Logan McNulty of Greenback Tactical Hunters. The track was about 1000 yards and 20 hours old with no visible blood. The video is still being processed, but you can read the entire story at click here.

Do you have a special system for keeping records?
Every year I keep a weekly monthly appointment notebook with all the details from work and tracking. Its all hand written and summarized monthly. The last thing I ask of my hunters when we don’t recover the deer is that they report back to me if they ever hear from the deer again. This way I can go back and update things if the deer is killed later or found or shows up on game camera. 

Thank you so much JJ for sharing your experience with all of us. Would you like to add any comments?
The fact that I read John’s book gave me a huge advantage as a novice handler. The foundation was there to read and build upon. That resource helped to speed up my development as a handler and take me to higher levels. The experience that Rosie and I have gained together will give Jazzie and future tracking dogs that I handle the same foundation. There were so many things that I could have done differently to help Rosie’s development and take it to higher levels through training. The biggest advantage that Jazzie and others will have that Rosie did not is that she will be given over 170 opportunities per year to gain experience on natural tracks.

I hope I didn’t ramble too much and answered most of you questions. Tracking is one of my passions and I could go on about Rosie and tracking all day.

Rosie, a tracking super-achiever, all relaxed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moby, a mini longhaired dachshund extraordinaire

A year ago a longhaired miniature dachshund Moby won Deer Search Blood Tracking Competition, but today we are reporting on one of his recoveries that made a real impact.

Chester, Moby's owner and handler, shared with us this e-mail he had received from Caryn Prouty, a young deer huntress, on November 5, 2011. To read Caryn's story you have to go to the link provided at the end of her e-mail. It is a very interesting read.

"Hi Chester,
I want to take a minute to sincerely thank you for what you do and what you did for me on November 4th. I can't stop thinking about yesterday and I don't think I will stop for a long while and it was all thanks to you and your extraordinary dog Moby. I hope I am spelling that right? The service that you and Deer Search provide to the community is amazing. The fact that you volunteer your time to come help strangers find their deer amazes me. You must truly have a love of the sport that runs deep in order to do this. Watching Moby work was a treat. I had no idea that dachshunds had such a great nose and it was awesome to see how happy he is doing his job!

In the end, Moby's kisses warmed my heart and the joy I felt seeing my buck for the first time are irreplaceable. We couldn't have done it without you!

I have attached some pictures. I do a little bit of photography on the side and have a photography blog. You and Moby are featured on it at this link - click here!

Thank you again, I truly appreciate what you do!"

Caryn Prouty and Chester Swierk with Moby

Moby, a mini longhaired dachshund, is an excellent blood tracker.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Max, where did you find these antler sheds?

I understand why Max's owner is reluctant to reveal where these sheds were found. Wouldn't you? Max is a five-year-old son of Buster and Keena.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Little future blood trackers are here!

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! It is only appropriate to post our new puppy pictures on this day. Sorry that we have not posted for a week, as we had to deal with life "events".

Paika started to whelp on Thursday night but we ran into complications. On Friday morning she had to have a C-section as her uterus got twisted and flipped. We did not lose any puppies, and now Paika is doing really well, but Thursday night and Friday morning were intense.

Anyway, we have four puppies, two males and two females.

We have not named them yet, but they were born in this sequence:
Pink girl weighed 10.4 oz, now she is 12.8
Blue boy was at birth 11.8, now he is 14.2
Red boy was 12.8, now he is 15.0
Yellow girl was 7.8 and now she 9.4 oz.

To read more about what happened go to our puppy journal, where we post regular updates. The below pictures were taken this morning and they are showing pups, which are two days old.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Our dachshunds love to work and play

Yesterday John ran Tommy and Joeri in Deer Search's 1000-yard certification test in Corning, NY. Tommy (FC Tom vom Linteler-Forst) got Prize I, 90 points (the highest score of the day), while Joeri (FC Joeri vom Nonnenschlag) scored Prize II, 74 points. Even though Joeri was John's primary tracking dog last season with very good success, he has never been very motivated to do artificial lines. It looks like Tommy is a better "test dog".

On Friday I snapped some pictures of four-year-old Tommy playing with Mielikki. He is extremely patient with her, and they are really good buddies.

Mielikki is clamping on Tommy's ear. Ouch!!!

Mielikki is pouncing on Tommy, who does not mind the pup's foolishness.

Tommy and Mielikki are having fun!
The below pictures show Mielikki with our eight-month-old Sky. You can see that their relationship is a little different, and he asserts himself with her much more than Tommy does.

Mielikki got a pine cone and is trying to get away from Sky. Note hackles on her back... she is serious.

Sky is intent on getting the cone from her, and he is older and bigger.

Finally Mielikki is forced to give up the cone. It looks like she is being strangled by Sky. Of course all ended well.