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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking back at 2016 Part 1: Our dogs

We wish all our friends and readers a Very Happy New Year! We hope that the 2017 brings you many occasions to laugh and enjoy life.

Since we have posted very little in 2016, I'd like to take some time now to look back. We are going to skip dogs' registered names and their titles as this is not what this post is about.

At the end of December of 2016 we have ten dogs ranging greatly in age. Our oldest is BILLy, who in two months is going to turn 13. He has a heart murmur that is checked periodically but otherwise he is in a fine shape. He looks and behaves like a middle-aged dog. This fall he managed to get away from our enclosure and was gone running rabbits in the neighborhood for 5 hours. His old age has not diminished his hunting desire, that's for sure. And in spite of cloudy eyes, he can still catch a piece of cheese in the air!

The second oldest dog is Billy's daughter KEENA, who turned 11 on April 7. Keena is really our friend's dog. Dan Hardin had her for a couple of years, but when he got married and moved out from his parents' house, Keena came back to live with us. Dan visits us often and spends some time with her. This year Dan and Keena still tracked together and they found a number of deer. Keena is in a good shape though her stamina during tracking was not what it used to be.


Bernie turned 11 in October. Even though BERNIE is "just" our pet, he plays here a very important role. First, he always makes me smile as he is such a happy dog. His joie de vivre is truly infectious. And he has always been wonderful with puppies so he plays a role of a Big Uncle to all our pups and young dogs. They adore him and he is very patient with them.

JOERI (below) is going to turn 9 in February 2017. Readers of this blog probably remember that he had a back problem over 4 years ago. These days Joeri is feeling really well. He can gauge well what he can do physically. He was not allowed to climb the stairs and he obeyed the rule. But last summer, on his own initiative, he started to appear in the kitchen, which is on the second level. Now he scales the stairs regularly on his own. I guess he started to feel confident about his health and it is really good to see him enjoying life. He runs in our yard with other dogs and he can outrun some of them. Joeri is John's shadow and follows him everywhere.

Dan with Tommy after a successful track
TOMMY is going to be 9 in March 2017, and he has been our tracking star for a number of years now (basically since Joeri's surgery in 2012). This past tracking season was the first time ever when John was not able to track. But as it turned out Tommy was happy to track for anybody that was willing to take him out. He ended up being handled successfully by 5 different local handlers. So even though John has always attributed a "strong bond" as the key to a tracking team's success, Tommy showed much more flexibility on the issue :-) It just did not matter much to him who took him to track, and he was just very happy to go. I guess some dogs are a "one person" kind of dog, but he is not the type. He is ecstatic when he sees a harness and tracking lead, and since he is very experienced, easy going and not possessive of deer at all, we let him go. All his handlers have DEC tracking dog license and always say how much they learn by handling Tommy. At one point they will get their own dogs, but having handled Tommy has been very helpful to them. So Tommy ended up recovering 9 deer and having a lot of fun in the process. Tommy also sired our only litter of 2016 and Yukon is his son.

Tommy was handled by Nikki Salisbury for this recovery

TUESDAY is going to be 5 in April 2017, and at present she is our best field trial dog. Last fall I took her to 6 field trials and she placed in 4 of them with 1 Absolute win. Tuesday had a litter of 4 pups on July 3, but we will cover this in a separate post. She is in her prime now, this is her pack and she knows it. She has two "kids" here - Willow (sired by Kunox) and Yukon (sired by Tommy). I love everything about Tuesday - her conformation, temperament and her working ability. If we could breed consistently dogs like her, I would be really satisfied. As a puppy she was a pretty wild dog completely controlled by her hunting instinct. She would not recall. With very little training and a lot of attention she turned into a very responsive dog that is a pure pleasure to work with

Kunox is 3.5 now. Loaded with hunting desire, he loves to run rabbits at our place, and he is very good at it. Nothing beats hearing him voice freely while in pursuit of cottontails. Kunox is a dog with a lot of soul, and I love to have him by my side when I work on the computer in my office. One look at his giant brown liquid-center eyes and it seems like everything is all right with the world.

WILLOW will be two in March; she is a daughter of Kunox and Tuesday. She is a beautiful dog that inherited the best qualities of her parents. Her voice on rabbits is as good as Kunox's. She has been excellent on artificial training tracks. She is probably one of the best dogs we have ever bred, and we have bred quite a few of them. Last fall she finished her AKC Field Championship.

XENA is 18 months old, and she is a daughter of Dachs von Tierspur and FC Mielikki Raptor. This is a dog with a lot of energy and a ton of hunting drive. She is 22 lbs of pure muscle. There is still much unknown about Xena and we will be learning about her abilities in 2017. So far I have not heard her voicing on rabbits even though obviously she follows them. The picture below shows Xena with the rabbit she killed.

YUKON is a promising six-month-old son of Tommy and Tuesday. So far we like what we see in him, and the future will tell whether it was a right decision to hold on to him. He keeps us on our toes and he is highly entertaining. His conformation follows the FCI standard as he has good ground clearance and is long legged.

So at the end of 2016 we hope for all our dogs to stay healthy and well in 2017. They are our family and we care for them deeply. It is very rewarding to see that our breeding program (Willow is a great-great granddaughter of Billy) has produced dogs like Tuesday and Willow - under 20 lbs, with a great conformation, lovely temperaments and excellent aptitude for hunting and tracking. And it is even more rewarding to see what dogs out of our breeding can accomplish in the field for their owners and we will write about it in the next installment.

.... to be continued.

1 comment:

Jessi Lashakmitis said...

You wrote such a nice post about all of you beautiful dogs!!! Wishing you the best 2017. Full of health and more happy moments!!!:)