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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A new addition to our dachshund family - Mischa z Kmetónyho dvora

You never know what's expecting you around next corner. Life serves surprises all the time.

Six weeks ago I was contacted by Monika F. from New Jersey by e-mail: "I am from Slovakia and I moved to NJ 8 years ago. I used to breed short hair dachshunds. My father still does breed wirehairs. He is moving here from Slovakia to live with us and he brought his 2 girls, mom and daughter. They got into fight and don’t get along anymore. We tried everything but is not working. We would love to find somebody who would take younger one. She is a beautiful dog with a very good personality. She loves to be around people, plays with my son all the time. She is very happy and easygoing dog."

This is how our and Mischa's journey began.

I asked Monika for Mischa's pedigree and pictures, and I liked very much what I saw.

Mischa in Slovakia

There was something very attractive about Mischa in these pictures. I liked her pedigree too. Her sire is Irox z Kmetónyho dvora and her dam is Hesja ab Hinc; basically she comes from a mixture of European bloodlines.

John and I decided to evaluate Mischa and help Monika find a good working or pet home... or keep her for ourselves, based on the outcome of our evaluation. I picked her up on August 19. Surprisingly she was very relaxed on our way back home. She slept on the passenger's seat most of the time, except when I had to slow down - the she would wake up and "talk" to me. I was a complete stranger to her, yet she connected with me right away and she was very much at ease. Once at our place she has turned out to be an excellent companion, and we both love her disposition. She is very good with our dogs, and especially with our six month old Paika.

We started to work Mischa on rabbits and deer blood, and for the first week we did not see any progress. She had never been hunted before, and in New Jersey she spent a lot of time in a large yard with invisible fence. Just when I was ready to give up on trying to work her, Mischa started to run rabbits and voice on them. She was getting better with every day... and then she came in heat. The timing was very inconvenient for us so I asked Monika to get her back and keep her for two weeks.

Finally ten days ago Mischa came back to us after a two week break. Last weekend I took her to dachshund field trials in New Jersey, and on the second day she placed 2nd in the stake of 24 open bitches. She worked hard, had some very good runs, and altogether showed a really good potential.

I know that it was not easy for Monika to part with Mischa, but she made a right decision. I have seen so many situations when two dogs in the same household (usually of the same gender) don't get along, have to be kept separated all the time, yet their owners cannot bring themselves to part with one. It can be a truly heartbreaking decision, but finding a new home for one of the dogs is the best decision for all involved.

As Mischa is sound asleep at my feet under the desk, I am very thankful for the unexpected and precious gift!

Mischa in Berne, NY

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cabelas jacket kept Mike warm but it was a tracking dog who found his deer

The picture is taken from the Cabelas online catalog. It was sent to me by Larry Gohlke whose tracking dog Nix was instrumental in recovery of this buck. I asked Larry to write more about how it had happened.

"Mike Sr hunts a piece of land where he sees lots of deer during bow season including the week before our Wisconsin deer rifle season. He then puts his son Mike Jr in what should be the very best spot for the nine day rifle season. The result has been that almost no deer show up for the kid. Last year his luck changed a lot. Unfortunately, when this large buck showed up just before closing time another 10 deer did too. Mike thought he made a good shot on the buck but when it took off there were tails going every direction.

I was called in to find the buck which was one of eleven deer in the area before the shot. There is no telling how many other deer showed up after dark and before we started tracking. There was no blood and Mike only knew that none of the deer had run toward him. I have had to look for a number of deer with similar starts. My two year old dog Nix and I work together pretty well in these situations.

We started at one side checking the possible escape routes and followed many trails without finding any blood. At one point we actually chased some deer across a wooden foot bridge. What a racket! After many trails that didn't have any blood on them we took a trail which one of the hunters had just inspected. We found one drop of blood that the hunter had missed. After a distance we came to a blown down tree and the next blood. The deer had stopped before the tree leaving a blood trail and then walked to the other side of the tree and died in the tree branches and tall marsh grass.

I am convinced that a lot of deer could be found with dogs, the deer that the hunter would never be able to confirm were hit. Mike is a believer!

Larry Gohlke"

Larry Gohlke with Nix

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Early fall in the Albany County Hilltowns - leaves are starting to change color

We live in Berne (NY), which is one of the four Albany County Hilltowns. The other three towns are Knox, Westerlo and Rensselaerville. Even though we are only 30 minutes from Albany, the capital of New York State, the Hilltowns area is quite rural. We love it here, and the views of changing colors in September and October are breath taking. Right now the predominant color is luscious green, but sumac is starting to show a lot of red. Our running grounds for dachshunds start to look spectacular. Our hunting season starts on October 17 so we still have a long way to go. In the meantime we will be going to dachshund field trials, and this upcoming weekend I'll be running our dogs in NJ.

Effie passes a Deer Search pre-certification test

We got this very nice e-mail from Kevin Armstrong from the Finger Lakes Chapter of Deer Search. Kevin tracks with Karma v Moosbach-Zuzelek, and his friend Ron Betts works with Effie, Karma's younger sister.

"Ron asked me to email you to let you know that Effie passes her pre-certification test yesterday on a measured 500 meter, 20+ hour old 1/2 cup blood trail with 2X90 degree turns. The weather was 72f, sunny and dry, hardly ideal conditions. Effie would have aced the trail in 10 minutes had a flock of turkey not roosted above the trail over night and flown down to scratch around below the roost a few hours earlier. The hot turkey scent put her off for a few minutes but the handler recognized the situation just as Effie was called back. Back on the trail she ran the remaining 100 yards to the reward in a minute or two. An absolutely outstanding job! Ron Betts is a mighty proud man today, as he should be! At 1.5 years old Effie is on her way to becoming another Billy/Gilda wonder dog!"

Congratulations to Ron and Effie!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tracking wounded moose in Quebec

In a couple of days John will be going to Quebec to track wounded moose, and he will be staying with Alain Ridel at Mont Carmel. Alain and his wife Marjolaine own a wirehaired dachshund Theo imported from France, whom we used for breeding last winter.

Alain recent e-mail brought a picture of the Theo's recent recovery nad this short description:

"Hello John,

This is to give you a foretaste for next week. Moose hunting began yesterday morning; I left for a moose call at 9:15 PM and finished at 10:45 PM. The search took place in a forest filled with black spruce and a very, very large number of moose. The length of the track was 776 meters. There wasn't a drop of blood, even at the hit site. The animal was shot with a cross bow.

Théo worked very hard, but you can see the results. Greetings as I wait to share with you the joys of tracking. "

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A start to Leroy's first blood tracking season.

Just recently I posted some correspondence about mixed breeds so A.J.'s e-mail that we received on Monday was very timely. The picture shows his young Leroy, which is a beagle/walker mix.

Mr. John

Shot this deer opening day of bow season (Sept. 12). The deer ran off 150 yds, I waited one hour went and got Leroy. I put him where the deer was walking before I shot him....the scent was so strong that after he found blood he went straight to the deer...he got nose on him. I forgot Leroy was a little unsure about the dead deer, it was new to him. Later that day I let Leroy out of the kennel to go to bathroom and he took off back down the road 1000 yds where he found the deer.


Monday, September 14, 2009

A Mountain Lion Shrinks

by John Jeanneney

Tim Nichols, over on the New York/Vermont border, has the best of tracking worlds. He is positioned to track in the early bear seasons in Vermont and northern New York, and he also gets to track deer and bear later in New York’s Southern Zone. Tim’s latest adventure in Vermont suggests that the “Green Mountain Boys” don’t always have their act together in early September. The sun still beats down hot on their heads, and they have been known to get over-excited.

The call came in to Tim from the Vermont Conservation Officers; they had a report of a wounded mountain lion, shot in the hind quarters with a 30-30. The hunters were afraid that the big cat, in his distress, might attack someone.. They were sure that he was big and at 30 or 40 yards they had clearly seen his long tail (mountain lions, unlike bobcats, have long tails).

Tim arrived with the Conservation Officers to learn that an attempt had already been made to track the cat with a Golden Retriever. There had been a little altercation with the cat in a big thicket, and it had been the Golden who fled and refused to track any more.

Tim and his Bavarian Mountain Bloodhound then tracked the cat out of the thicket to where the big predator was dispatched by the officers. Surprise! It wasn’t really that big (30-35 pounds) and the tail was actually very short; it was a bobcat! And the bobcat was out of season.

It will be interesting to see what the Vermont courts do with this case. Bobcat hunting season was not open, and in the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Code there is also an article forbidding the shooting of mountain lions, if there are any. At least the hunters did the right thing in reporting what they believed they had seen and what they believed they had done.

For Tim and Bruno it wasn’t a difficult tracking job even though the line was nearly a day old. What was impressive was the way young Bruno stood up to the live, snarling bob cat. Maybe it wasn’t a mountain lion, but it was capable of doing some nasty work on a dog.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Questions on the use of mutts and rescue dogs in blood tracking

The deer hunting/tracking season must be just around a corner as the volume of e-mails with questions on blood tracking has increased substantially. Two recent questions are dealing with mutts and rescue dogs. A.J. Niette from Georgia has a lot of experience with this kind of dogs - read about him here. His website is at

These are two questions we received recently.

Question 1:
I'm an avid bowhunter who adopted Muzzy from a rescue shelter. He's just over 7 months old. He's just a good ol' American mutt, the pound said lab, shepherd, boxer. He's been very active in the back yard chasing, and catching moles. I watch him run the drain tile where they appear to be living, nose to the ground. He also is helping in the squirrel control department. He is neutered. I am very interested in training him to track wounded deer (my buddy and his son lost a total of 4 last year) and would love to purchase your book, however, if it's going to be an exercise in futility, I'd rather expend my energy and create frustration somewhere else. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

John's answer:

Hi Jim,
You can’t go by breed labels or mixed breed labels. All dogs are not equal when it comes to tracking, of course, but sometimes you find dogs with decent abilities that come out of unusual backgrounds. Since you already have your rescue dog, you certainly should give him a try. Deer season is not far off. See how he takes to a deer liver drag, or an easy blood line to a thawed out deer skin. Let him track and easy deer that has already been found.

Question 2

I purchased your book last week, received it yesterday and finished reading it today. Very detailed!!! Thanks.

I am a life long hunter and love working with “working” dogs. In the past I worked a K-9 for my department (Arson) and had a great time doing so. What I picked up in the book was some dogs naturally have it and some don’t (Genetics) for this type of work. I live in Central Texas and in your book you like bigger dogs in this part of the county due to the snake population.

How do you feel about rescued (Young) dogs from the pound? We have a lot of them and they put a lot of them down weekly. I know a lot of police dogs (Drugs/Arson) that came from the pound. In your 3rd edition of the book it may be a good subject…

John's answer:

I tried not to have a breed bias evident in my book. Certainly breed selection should be influenced by the local conditions in which you will be tracking. For example I would not use a dachshund in South Texas, but on the Edward Plateau maybe.

Rescue dogs are a gamble and you have to have an experienced eye to pick out a good prospect. Many of these dogs have behavioral problems; that’s why they are in the pound. You can use some of these dogs for substance search and identification, but they may not have the line sense and the willingness to work as a team with a handler that is necessary for tracking under difficult conditions. Thanks for the suggestion to discuss this important issue in the 3rd edition. I have no direct experience with this, but I did take a seminar dealing with these dogs.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blood tracking with Fritz, a mini longhaired dachshund

My first contact with Cedar was when he asked me about a blood tracking harness for his blood tracking dog - a mini longhaired dachshund. Curious I asked for more information about the dog. This was Cedar's reply:

"Well, his name is Fritz, and he is 3 years old. When I got him first I had no intention to use him for hunting until I came home with a deer. He was only a few months old and I could not keep him away from it so I went online and found your website. I bought your book and the following deer season I had a blood tracking machine. He found 6 deer and a couple hogs that first year. This is his second year and we've already found 2 lost bucks this archery season. We've already built quite the reputation and have friends of friends calling for his help. Thanks for the harness tip and all the great info in the book. P.S. are your dachshunds as stubborn as mine? Lol"

Cedar, good luck to you and Fritz! You have a very talented dog.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dachshunds and field obedience

Yesterday we received a nice e-mail from Anne Bauersachs, who is a daughter of Rosemarie Bauersachs, a breeder of our Joeri vom Nonnenschlag. She said: "Our local DCN group sometimes organizes a hike with our teckels. At the August hike about 30 people and more than 20 dogs were hiking in the morning. The picture shows from the left: Jannis, Florie, Darja, Jette, Justus, Isidor, Corrie, Kleo; all “vom Nonnenschlag”; Jannis, Jette and Justus are Joeri's siblings."

In Germany a great deal of emphasis is placed on field obedience, and the picture shows dogs which have been trained to "stay". So often we see that American handlers of blood tracking dachshunds do not train their dogs to handle when they are off-leash. Since in many states blood tracking dogs can be worked only when they are leashed, their field training off-leash does not get enough attention. What a shame! Dachshunds can be used for so many hunting tasks, but they need to be properly trained to "come" when called. Read more about the dachshund as a forester's dog in this article John wrote in 2004:

A Forester's Dog

By John Jeanneney, 2004

Early in the last century the ideal image of the dachshund depicted “a forester’s dog”. To be sure foresters were not the actual breeder/developers of the early standard dachshund. And by the early 1900s most dachshunds in Germany were actually household companions of town and city dwellers. Yet the identity of the dachshund, its mystique, was tied to a vision of a loyal, responsive dog, who accompanied the local forester on his daily rounds of inspection of the forests and game under his jurisdiction. There were a few, supremely fortunate dachshunds who actually lived this life.

It was the role of the forester’s dachshund to extend his master’s awareness of what was going on in the forest. The nose and inquisitiveness of the dachshund, the vision and the intelligence of the man came together in a superior symbiosis, a mixed pack of two working together.

The dachshund ranged out, but not too far, 200 meters at most, and he checked back frequently with the forester. Voice and body language expressed what the dachshund had discovered: Perhaps the wild boars were back again, rooting out the young transplants in the pine plantation, or the old fox den was reoccupied, its entrance graced with the bones of a roe deer fawn. This was the idealized role of the dachshund: a devoted and responsive working partner.

A hundred years later we don’t see much of this in America. We have “obedience trials” where well-trained dachshunds follow the commands of their owners. And we have field trials where many dachshunds exhibit little obedience at all. There is little that brings obedience work and field work together into a “complete dachshund.” For example, one of the most talented field trial dachshunds of the 90s was an imported wire who also earned AKC Obedience tiles. He failed to win several field trials because he did not recall after his run and was unavailable with other brace mates. Somehow, there was a difference between “obedience within eye contact” and obedience and responsiveness in the wild, brushy yonder of the field trial grounds

This was not an isolated experience. All too often at field trials the dachshunds with the most “hunt” are the ones most difficult to control. They would not be very useful in actual hunting. The handler would spend more time hunting for his dog than hunting for game. Here, I write from personal experience.

On the whole the minis seem better than the standards when it comes to field obedience. Their smaller size reduces their range a bit and this helps. But more is involved.

One of the best examples of field cooperation is to be found in the multi species pack made up of Teddy Moritz, a Harris hawk and two or three longhaired miniature dachshunds. The key to their success is that they all work together almost daily. Each species knows its role, and they work together as efficiently as a small pack of wolves. When the hawking season is over, the Harris takes a vacation. The object of the hunt shifts from cottontails to groundhogs, and a greyhound crossbred known as a lurcher replaces the hawk. The cooperative pack work continues.

Some of the same psychological and social dynamics come into play when a handler works with his dog to find wounded game. The dog learns very quickly that he has a nose and line sense very superior to that of his handler. Handler and dog come together as a working team when the handler learns to trust and respect his dog, and to praise him for his accomplishments. This can evolve into an intuitive bond not unlike a good marriage.

One of the keenest pleasures of living with a dog comes with the enrichment of our own consciousness through the senses and perceptions of another, very different intelligent species. As well as we can we must bridge the gap between our dogs and ourselves without giving up our respective identities.

If we hunt game regularly with our dogs, working cooperation comes easily. We recreate the primitive circumstances that originally brought dogs and humans together. Of course, most dachshunds owners cannot to this. They will seldom or never have the opportunity to solve hunting problems together with a canine companion. Still it is possible to use the pack instinct, hard-wired into our dogs, as they cooperate with us in other activities. In the wolf pack the alpha male does not boss and micro-manage other pack members all the time as to what they should do. Often Alpha allows other members, with particular gifts and specialties, to take over. As human alphas we should not approach every joint venture with our dogs as a matter of “command” and “obey”. Sometimes alpha authority is required, but the best times transcend this. We can experience this in agility, and human tracking as well, as well as in hunting. There can be a carry-over to field obedience from activities that have nothing directly to do with hunting. Formal obedience training is one of these, but it is not enough.

We must recognize certain obstacles that stand in the way of developing a cooperative pack relationship with our dogs. One of these is immaturity. The “silly puppy” stage of early development is something that we must outwait. Little can be done but to offer affection and firm, gentle guidance. Then just as we emerge from the young puppy phase, we run into the stubborn rebelliousness of adolescence. Those who have parented teenagers are best prepared for this. Don’t expect your dog to emerge as a reliable partner in much of anything until he is a year old at least. A dog’s youth is the time to lay the foundations of trust for the future.

Another obstacle to establishing close relationships with dogs is having too many of them. Those of us who breed dogs seriously lament that there is never enough time to establish a working relationship with each one. The German forester, with his solitary canine partner, did not have this problem. Developing his dachshund was a natural extension of his daily work.

In the 21st century few of us can live and work with one or two dogs as a part of our profession. We have to make difficult compromises; sometimes we have to realize that a policy of equal time for every dog means that we will never have a “forester’s dog” relationship with any of them. For example if you have ten dogs, you may find it hard to focus “unfairly” on the most promising of the two to five year olds. Dogs do not enjoy seeing certain pack mates get more attention. Still this is not cruel as it would be for a human child. Dog society, like that of wolves, is hierarchical; dogs accept inequality as part of the natural order.

As mentioned earlier a practical starting step to a special cooperative relationship in the field is gentle obedience work, not just indoors or in the yard, but also during walks in the woods and countryside. Dachshunds can learn what “Come” means through the use of a 30 to 40 ft long of plastic clothesline. The challenge begins of course after the clothesline phase is over. When the dog is out at a distance of twenty clothesline lengths and out of eye contact, his sense of loyalty and cooperation may not kick in as we would hope. Space-minded as they are, dogs do often go through a stage of feeling that there is a “sphere of cooperation”, outside of which they are free to do anything they want.

NATC Field Obedience Test Sept 2006 - John with Billy healing off leash

By closing the distance with the dog, and by firm command, the dog can be brought back into cooperative control. This is not always easy, especially when you don’t even know where to find your dog. But it can be done; long distance recall training has been accomplished for many centuries. It requires patience and some running; a horse helps.

Two modern technological developments make it easier to establish control and co-operation, and they can be used without brutalizing your dog or destroying your relationship with him.

The first is the beeper collar, which was developed for pointing dogs. For older human ears it is easier to hear than a bell, but another great value is that it is less intrusive for the dog. When the dog is on the move the beep is issued only once every ten seconds instead of every second when the dog is stationary. I find that it is very useful to tell me where the dog is so that I can reestablish communication. At fifty feet, even out of sight in thick brush, a dog is more likely to listen to me than at long-range shouting distance.

The second item is the e-collar or electronic collar formerly referred to as the “shocking collar”. You don’t have to shock your dog, although the potential to do this certainly does exist. The e-collar, by that other name, has inspired visions of a torture tool or a slightly less than lethal electric chair. This is akin to being against motor vehicles because they have the potential to cause great pain and suffering. Modern e-collars have adjustable levels of “electrical stimulation”. In training you work at very low levels, somewhat milder but more sustained than the sensation of a static electrical charge when you have been walking a wool rug on a winter morning. In training I never use a “stimulation level” which I have not tried on myself first.

In the field when I call and am ignored, I transmit a signal to the e-collar, I may hear a surprised yelp, but no more than that. In any case I want to see the tail wagging again within thirty seconds. The tingle on the dog’s neck seems to impress him more than shouts of “come”. I don’t think that the dog is impressed by any pain; but he is aware that Alpha has “Big Magic”, establishing Alpha’s presence even though he is a 100 yards away.

The beeper and the e-collar are no substitute for the psychological base created through hours of cooperative work and gentle, close-in training. Correctly used these tools are extenders and facilitators because the obedience class approach, in itself, is not enough to turn a spirited hunting dog into a cooperative partner.

Even in Germany the old fashioned German forester is long gone, but developing a “working pack” relationship with your dachshund can be done in other ways. Use the methods of firm and structured discipline combined with lots of praise. Present, as much as possible, formal discipline in a broader emotional framework in which you and your dog do things and explore together. The sphere of cooperation will expand because the dog loves to please his pack mate. There is more to the human/dog relationship than command and obey.

NATC Field Obedience Test Sept 2006 - a long down; at the top Sherry Ruggieri's Auggie, at the bottom our Billy

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blood tracking tests: pros and cons

By John Jeanneney, Full Cry September 2009

In much of the tracking dog world, blood tracking tests are very important in people’s minds. They sometimes become more important than natural tracking of the real thing. In Germany, for example, I have talked to handlers of some of the best performing dachshunds at the National Blood Tracking Championships for dachshunds. They had not taken many game searches the previous season, generally only two or three. Part of this was no doubt due to the fact that there are not enough wounded animals in Germany to go around! Also there are political factors involved; you have to own certain breeds of dogs, tested of course, before you can be certified to get in on the best tracking situations. Dachshunds, believe it or not, are generally excluded from this privileged circle.

In Germany the National Blood Tracking Competition is a prestigious event. The picture shows a closing ceremony of Bundessiegersuche Chorin 2006.

Hunting in Germany is a privilege for which you must pay dearly unless you have connections. Many owners of “versatile” dogs like the Deutsch Drahthaar (original German version of the German wirehaired pointer) spend a good deal of time on training for a series of tests that establish the merits of their dog. If they have such a dog, hunting opportunities will come more easily and probably at a lower cost.

Fortunately, circumstances are not the same yet in the USA, but the “culture of tests” can be found here nonetheless. I have done a number of workshops with the Deutsch Drahthaar organization in the United States, and met dedicated people with a lot of dog savvy. However, when it came to the blood tracking test most of them are interested in passing it, primarily because this is a requirement for attaining the highest German rating for a versatile hunting dog. Certainly they are willing to take on a wounded deer situation, if it comes up, but they are primarily bird hunters.

There are some notable exceptions in the well organized Deutsch Drahthaar Group in the United States. These people are strongly dedicated to the idea of developing their dogs as natural blood trackers. Marty and Mikki Vlach of Nebraska are two of these, and Forrest Moore of Georgia is another. I have seen some superb Drahthaar trackers of the real thing, but a majority of the Drahthaars in the US are too high-headed and birdy to work well on old, cold lines. They need special training to lower their head and their velocity in order to pass the blood tracking test.

By this time you have realized that I have some reservations about artificial blood tracking tests, but certainly, all things considered, they are a very positive influence in the blood tracking world. Let’s consider some of the positive aspects: For one thing a test deadline creates a motivation to train your dog, and learn to read him, even though you have dozens of other things to do. It is tremendously important to learn your dog’s body language as he goes off on a hot line or regains the correct scent line after a tough check.

Tests bring together handlers who ordinarily would not meet. They can compare notes and observe the working styles of one another’s dogs. They end up understanding their own dogs better.

Blood tracking tests are sometimes the best means we have to separate competent handlers and trained dogs from these who simply want to shake down a hunter for a few bucks. A few years ago I made a sampling, by phone, of the trackers listed on the Georgia Outdoor News web site, which lists trackers in that state who are ready to help hunters find wounded deer. The majority of the handlers I spoke with were knowledgeable and experienced, but I encountered a few who had no clue about the service they planned to offer for a price.

Blood tracking tests are needed, but they do have certain limitations; they are not a guarantee, in themselves, that a dog is capable of finding wounded big game under difficult conditions. Nor do they accurately establish which dogs are going to be the best at natural tracking when times are tough. When tracking the real thing, problems arise that would not be encountered in an artificial test or in the training done for that test. Long stretches with no blood and dead spots where there is no scent make up part of these problems.

The best means I have to illustrate certain problems with artificial tests is to draw upon a few of my experiences with my own dogs. Sometimes taking a test was exhilarating and sometimes it was humiliating. My happiest test adventure was with Gerte vom Dornenfeld, a wirehaired dachshund that I imported from Germany as a puppy.

I entered Gerte in a German JGV blood tracking test which was administered in New York State by German judges. Most of the dogs entered were big Deutsch Drahthaars from all over the country. My little 18 pound dog looked ridiculous and out of place, but she managed to rack up a Prize I, 100 points and be recognized by the German judges as the best blood tracking dog at that event.

John and Gerte are shown here after earning a Prize I in a German JGV blood tracking test. In the German tradition they are wearing Oak Leaves as the badge of success.

I never had another dog that did as well as Gerte in a blood tracking test. Did that mean that she was my best tracking dog ever? No! After a slow beginning she gave me several years of very good but not exceptional work. What she lacked was mental toughness. She quit on me one afternoon in a snow storm, and I retired her. She was far from being my best dog on real wounded deer.

Gerte’s daughter, Sabina von Moosbach-Zuzelek was very different, thanks to her sire who was a Czech import that we located in British Columbia. Sabina had a slow, meticulous style, but on old, difficult natural tracks without blood she would correct herself when she recognized that she was on the wrong deer. She would come back as much as 200 yards on her own until she was sure that she was on the right line again. When it came to staying on the track Sabina was as tough as they come. In a snowstorm she plowed though snow, following old scent on the ground beneath for a half mile before she found the deer dead under a drift.

As a puppy Sabina was a very good test dog. At six months of age she scored 92 and a year later she scored 90. Both of these were Prize I performances under the Deer Search test rules that are similar to the German ones. As Sabina got older and more experienced on natural tracks, her performance on artificial tests declined. She knew that these tests were fake, and she had little interest in them. At age five she got a Prize III, 50 points in Germany, barely passing, and she later failed a German test in the USA. On that last test the judge had me pick her up for lack of desire and progress. It would have been a mistake to evaluate Sabina as a natural tracking dog, solely on the basis of her test scores.

The most frequent pattern that I have observed in tracking dogs, as a handler and as a judge is as follows: A dog will do quite well in demos or in tests as a puppy before adolescence sets in. Once the dog has had a strong experience in natural tracking, there will be a decline in test performance since the dogs has learned that artificial blood lines are not as much fun as the real thing. Usually at maturity, around four, the dog will realize that tracking in any form is the greatest thing in the world. At this point he will track a natural scent line, a faked blood line or a line of marmalade. It doesn’t make much difference.

Fortunately or unfortunately, hard-headed Sabina did not follow this classic pattern. And it was the same thing at dachshund field trials running rabbits. At three she had the best winning record of any dachshund in the country. Two years later she decided that running rabbits at a field trial was nonsense. She would still run rabbits at home, but not at a trial where she knew some judge would say “pick ‘em up” as soon as she nicely got started.

What these tracking dog stories suggest is that you have to look at the big picture in making decisions. For example what can you learn about the parents of a tracking pup that you might buy. Check the test records, but ask also, “What is the story on natural tracks?” And watch out for the guy who says his dog always finds 90% of the deer. Probably many of these deer could have been found within 40 yards by his four year-old grandson.

Some tests are better than others. I would like to have more experience with the tracking shoe test. I have used tracking shoes in training, and I was impressed. In the German tracking shoe test the line is laid over 1000 meters, the same as in the regular blood tracking test. But much less blood is used, and the dog is basically tracking the interdigital scent carried between the cloves of the hoofs attached to the tracking shoes. This is more realistic, and in consequence many experienced dogs are more motivated to work well.

In Europe there are also natural tests conducted on actual wounded animals. These are the best in my opinion, but they are hard to set up logistically. It is not easy to get three qualified judges together to evaluate a dog in a situation, which by its nature cannot be planned ahead of time. Natural tests work best after big organized drives of a sort that we don’t have in North America.

Certainly the best way to judge the worth of a dog is to observe him yourself as he operates on the real thing. Don’t be in a hurry to buy a puppy, or an “experienced” dog (if you can find one). Ask lots of questions.

May 2006 - Andy Bensing is shown with Arno von Gronenwald (right) who scored 92 points and Prize I on the NATC overnight blood tracking test and Arno's grandsire FC Asko von der Drachenburg (left) who got a perfect score on a blood tracking part of the versatility (Vp) test. Andy handled both dogs.

Friday, September 4, 2009

NATC Fall Zuchtschau - October 3-4, 2009

On October 3, 2009 North American Teckel Club will hold Zuchtschau and related events. For more information contact Carrie Hamilton.

The Zuchtschau is a conformation show where each dog is evaluated according to the FCI dachshund breed standard #148. Each dog will receive a written evaluation from a German judge. This show will be judged by Herr Wilfried Petersen – DTK Federal Chairman for Conformation Judges.

The show is located at D-Bar-W Equestrian Center, 536 Orchard Rd. Reinholds, PA. Show will be held indoors. Spectators are welcome. Bring chairs. For entered dogs, full attendance is required on the day of judging. The dog’s papers, evaluations and certificates will not be released early.

The premium list and any event updates will be posted on the NATC website

When entered in the Zuchtschau, dachshunds, which are at least 9 months old, will get a written evaluation and an official rating. Puppies between 6-9 months are not given an official rating, only “little promise”, “promising”, and “very promising”.

If the rating is ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’, the dog is eligible for DTK breeding between 15 months and 8 years (bitch) or a recommended 10 years (dog), according to the DTK rules and regulations. If the rating is less (‘good’, ‘sufficient’, ‘not sufficient’), the dog cannot be used for breeding within the DTK.

Entry fees
Advance entries: First adult dog $20.00, puppies $16.00, each additional dog/same owner $16.00
Gate entries (day of event): $26.00
All NATC club members receive a $3.00 discount off of their first Zuchtschau entry at this show.
Please make checks payable to North American Teckel Club.

Closing date: All entry forms with the appropriate fees including reservations for Saturday Dinner must be mailed and postmarked by SEPTEMBER 20, 2009 to: Carrie Hamilton, 9621 Bachelor Road, Kutztown, PA 19530.


Sat., Oct. 3 9 AM –10 AM Registration for the Zuchtschau
10 AM - Noon Zuchtschau
Noon - 1 PM Lunch
1 - 5 PM Zuchtschau
6 - 10 PM Club dinner at Weaver’s Market followed by Membership Meeting

Sun., Oct. 4 10 AM - Noon Companion Dog Test
Noon - 1 PM Lunch
1 - 3 PM Gunsteadiness and Water testing
3 - 5 PM Question & Answer session with Herr Petersen
6:00 – 8:00 PM Dinner at a local restaurant

All tests will be offered first to NATC members and pending members and then to other dachshund owners.

On Sunday, DTK/NATC Schussfestigkeit (gun steadiness), Wasser (water/bird retrieval) and Begleithunde (companion dog) tests will be offered. There are no entry restrictions for these tests. Advance entry is $5.00 for gun steadiness, $10.00 for the water test and $25.00/$10.00 for the companion dog test The first companion dog price is for the BHP-G (all three tests); the second price is for each separate BHP test (see description of test exercises later in the premium list). Gate Entries are $10.00, $20.00 and $50.00/$20.00, respectively. Advance entry forms with the appropriate fees (check payable to the NATC) must be postmarked by SEPTEMBER 20, 2009 and mailed to: Carrie Hamilton, 9621 Bachelor Road, Kutztown, PA 19530.

You need to pre-register for Saturday Dinner by sending your check (along with entry info) to Carrie Hamilton.

Recommendations for showing:

Breed standard: To select the dogs you want to enter, please read carefully the FCI breed standard (#148) at the website (
Dress code: There is no written rule on dress code, but it is very casual. Shorts and jeans are accepted (not the stained and ripped ones). Hunting outfits are seen often in Europe, but if you wish to dress up, you should feel free to do so.

Attendance: All exhibitors have to stay until the judging is over. This is not only polite for the judge and the last exhibitors, but this amount of time is needed to prepare the paperwork of your dog.

Weight of the dog: Most dogs at American shows are considered overweight for European standards. The general rule for weight in Europe should be emphasized: the ribs should not be visible, but clearly palpable. So a thin layer of tissue should cover the chest. Less weight usually induces a little more tuck up of the underline.

Stacking (table): The dog is stacked on the table, never on the floor or ground. Do not extend the hindquarters as far as it is done here in the US. The hock is positioned slightly behind the rear.

The judge will ask the age of your dog. Indicate the age in months before 2 years (e.g. 21 months) and after 2 years of age in years and half years (e.g. 3½ years). The dog’s tail will be checked thoroughly: vertebra by vertebra. Make sure your dog does not mind this examination procedure.

The teeth are very important according to the FCI breed standard (see the chart of tooth faults on the next page). The judge will check and count all of your dog’s teeth, including the back teeth (molars and premolars). Almost all judges prefer to check the teeth themselves, however, only if your dog does not feel comfortable with this at all, you could request to show your own dog’s teeth. Make sure all teeth are clearly visible for the judge. In most instances, your fingers block the view. It is advised that you allow the judge check the teeth, when you are not sure about how to show them yourself.

Stance (floor): A natural stance is required on the floor. When the judge asks you to have your dog stand in front of him, you are not allowed to touch your dog. It takes a little practice to make sure your dogs stands nicely on its own during a few minutes, while the judge is dictating his evaluation. Take your time when doing this. The judge will wait until you feel your dog is ready to be evaluated. If you do not like your dog’s stance, you may want to reset your dog by quickly looping around and come to a standstill in front of the judge again. Remember you cannot touch your dog while doing this.

Most FCI judges will test the temperament of the dog by making strange noises and/or movements, when the dog stands on the floor (not table). A dachshund is not supposed to be fearful or aggressive.

Gaiting: Some judges ask handlers to walk their dog on loose lead. You are not obligated to do this, unless upon the judge’s request. A dog being able to trot on a loose lead, even when this is not requested, will impress most judges.

The gait is the most important aspect of FCI showing. Most dogs have a tempo in which it moves most beautifully. During gaiting, handlers are supposed to use the full size of the ring. Do not loop around in a small circle unless the judge asks you to do so. Continue walking until the judge or ring steward tells you otherwise.

Grooming: At European shows, the grooming is done prior to the show. Only minor combing or brushing is done just before showing. Make sure you plan the grooming well in advance.

The European longhairs are not groomed as much as here. Most of the furnishings are left intact. The feet should be trimmed neatly (between the toes). The same counts for the wirehairs. Most European breeders strip their dogs 8-6 weeks prior to a show. German judges love the beard and eyebrows so do not over-trim. Never shave off whiskers and eyebrows on any dog. The nails should be kept relatively short. The dog should be able to stand properly with the nails lightly touching the ground.

Do not apply any artificial fragrances and oils to your dachshunds. Keep in mind that dachshunds are supposed to be hunting dogs. Do not bathe your dog shortly prior to the show. It will negatively affect your dog's coat, especially in the case of longhaired and wirehaired dachshunds.

See pictures from the spring Zuchtschau here. Pictures from previous NATC events are at:

Usefullness of small and narrow dachshunds in varmint control

Even though this blog's emphasis is on blood tracking occasionally we cover other types of hunting and activities that involve dachshunds. This e-mail came from Teddy Moritz, a longtime good friend of ours. She has been breeding and using her miniature dachshunds mainly for woodchuck and rabbit hunting. This is her account of recent events.

Here's a photo of Tar with a 14.2 lb. groundhog she located and bayed under a shed. She bolted the rabbit to the lurcher, also out from under a shed. Tar weighs about 7 lbs and is very narrow and up on the leg. I do varmint control on a fairgrounds and find that the groundhogs live under sheds exclusively, there are no dens except tunnels under cement barriers. Most of the groundhogs harbor under garden sheds of various sizes, as do rabbits, skunks, and possum. It's interesting that so many animals live amongst the buildings and lawns and gardens of this fairgrounds. Perhaps the variety of plants and the absence of bigger predators, fox and coyote, make the grounds seem like a safe haven. There are events at the grounds almost every weekend so the varmints eat at night or at dawn and dusk, especially during the week when the place is slightly quieter.

In order to work the dogs on these varmints, who regularly eat or destroy the flower gardens maintained by the grounds crew, I need a very narrow, small dog. A big-shouldered dog simply can't get under the sheds far enough to do any real work. Bigger dogs can get just so far under the shed but the groundhog or other varmint can run back and forth under and over the supporting two by fours. And a dog who cannot maneuver will soon get chewed up if the varmint comes their way. Sometimes the sheds are on cement slabs, which makes it even more difficult for any but the smallest, narrowest dogs to move about. And sometimes the sheds are on stone dust and the groundhogs make barriers of dirt so the smaller dogs have to follow the animal as best they can, digging through to their quarry.

Yet the narrowest, smallest dog doesn't have the biting power to harm an aggressive opponent. So the job of locating and baying is given to the little dog and I back her or him up with a .22 rifle as well as a lurcher. If the quarry bolts the lurcher is there to catch it as there are seldom any other refuges for the varmint to flee to. If our quarry won't bolt I lay on my side and slide the .22 under the shed and quickly dispatch the animal, having first called the dachshund out of course, or sometimes simply shooting beside the dog. My dogs learn 'get back' means I'm going to shoot and when they hear the gun go off they pile onto the quarry. Unfortunately sometimes the shot isn't lethal and the little dog finds out the quarry isn't as dead as they thought. Another shot soon follows and the dachshund pulls the quarry out.

I occasionally have terrier people come with me and their dogs invariably are too big to be of use under the sheds. Even my biggest dog, a mini long of ten pounds, is too big to be of much use in moving a varmint under a shed, so a terrier is at a disadvantage as well. The terriers have bigger heads than my dogs and can bite harder, but they seldom can get up to the quarry to put pressure on it. Therefore, small and narrow gets the job done. Each varmint control job calls for certain canine and human abilities and on these fairgrounds and under these sheds, a small, narrow dachshund works best. Fortunately when I added European blood to my lines I got some nice tall, narrow dogs and they have been an asset in most hunting situations. The hunting desire is well set in the American lines I've been using but I needed more leg and less shoulders. I continue to try to breed this type of hunting dachshund as they can move quickly and efficiently above ground as well as below.

FC Tar and Feathers von Moritz ml WC, 16 months old

PS. Walked 14 year old Gavia on a string out the camp road yesterday at 2 in the afternoon. She doesn't hear well or perhaps at all so I keep her on a line when I walk her here. She hit a line off the camp road and started sniffing at the base of a tree. I figured she smelled a squirrel so I let her loose. She knew she was loose and took off down an animal trail at a good pace. I followed for a bit and sent the lurcher with her. She picked up speed and disappeared in a bed of ferns. I ran to catch up and saw her running further on. I realized she was not on a squirrel so I hoofed it faster. I caught her sniffing a fresh bear scat and only caught her because she couldn't hear me coming. She saw me and tried to dodge but I got her. She likes that bear scent. And a further PS, she is Tar's grandmother on one side and great-grandmother on the other.

PS2. Carl came back into camp around 9:30 this morning and said he just saw a sow and three cubs cross where Gavia had run the track yesterday. A friend has been camping here for two days with his Kemmer Curs. He dropped his three dogs, and my lurcher, on the track and they treed a sow wearing an ear tag. We held the dogs back and let her jump and then they ran her up another tree. Cool way to start the day. Thank goodness no dachshunds were with the lurcher because at one point the sow fought the dogs on the ground. So Gavia was correct about the bear line yesterday.