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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Still struggling with snow in the Hilltowns

Even though we got plowed out on Friday, the snow has continued to fall and accumulate. We have at least four feet of snow on the ground now, and it is creating problems everywhere.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Too much snow in Berne, NY. Hawking in Ohio with a mini dachshund

First - news from Berne, NY. We are snowed in! Here in the Helderbergs, on the top of our hill we got over 3 feet of snow, and it is a very heavy wet snow. In some places the snow it is up to the top of our four foot fence. Two dachshunds went over the fence this morning into the white yonder, but luckily we managed to get them back. A local man who usually does plowing for us will attempt to plow our driveway today but I have serious doubts whether he will be able to do it. It is a long (200 yards) and narrow driveway and there is just no place to push the snow to the side. Anyway, we were without power last night for eight hours. Hopefully we won't lose it today. Unfortunately, we expect here more snow, 4-8 inches. The snowshoes are the absolute necessity here in winter. We could not move around without them.
The view from our garage

Kennels are not accessible as the snow is up to the roof and blocks the doors.

Update: Friday 9:00PM
We are doing well thanks to Jay Becker, who plowed us out. It took him two hours to do our driveway, but he succeeded, and we were able to get to the post office. We were snow bound for two days, and book orders have built up. As it turned out we don't have a mailbox any more. A snow plow that worked Helderberg Trail must have taken it down and pulled it away. Jim O'Shea, our postmaster, said that there are quite a few people in Berne in the similar situation. By the way, old timers living in Berne say that they have not seen that much snow since 70s.


This came from Teddy Moritz (thank you!):

A falconer in Ohio, Mick Brown, got cabin fever when his area received three feet of snow. Mick has recently begun using a miniature longhaired dachshund for rabbits and is very pleased with her. The deep snow prevented him from running the dog so he went to Cabela's and got snowshoes.

Here are some photos of Mick's recent hawking success. He uses a male Harris Hawk over the dachshund, Tippy. He carries the dog, drops her under the snow covered Christmas trees and she runs the rabbits out. He also snowshoes to thick briar patches and puts Tippy in. The rabbits soon come out.
The hawk is in the white metal box.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Schweiss-UK: new blood tracking club in UK

Last week we got a nice e-mail from Steve Faulkner announcing formation of a new blood tracking club in UK. The club's name is Schweiss-UK and its website is located at

The club is set up as a non profit organization, and is aiming at offering training workshops priced at an afforadable rate. Apparently this effort met some resistance from professional handlers and their associations, which offer training courses at a much higher price.

We will follow the growth of the club with great interest. Good luck to leaders of this project, especially Mark Montgomery and Steve Faulkner.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The power of canine nose - running rabbits after the 18" snow fall

In the last 18 hours we got probably 18-20 inches of snow. It is a heavy and wet snow, and our fence in some areas is now much lower to the ground.

The snow is too deep for dachshunds!

In the morning dogs got fed and let out, but after a while we realized that our beagle Rip was missing. Rip is almost 11 years old but he still has a lot of hunt in him. He is  a large male, 15", but who would expect that in the weather like this he would go on a hunting expedition.
It was not difficult to follow his tracks in such a deep snow. He jumped over the fence, and the tracks led out to the brushy area by our driveway, where he can usually find rabbits easily. And then I heard him. I had my camera with me and started to tape. This is what the first video clip shows. I did not embed the videos on purpose as the second clip is quite loud.

As it turned out Rip was running rabbits in our enclosure. He must have jumped there over the lowered fence. I had to remove the snow around the gate to be able to follow him to the fenced in field. I was quite amazed that he managed to  open on the scent of rabbits moving under the snow. He was voicing a lot and covered quite a bit of ground! Finally he slowed down as he must have run out of energy, and this is when I managed to get to him. The second clip shows that. To see the videos click here.

I know that Rip does not lie and does not open when he does not have the scent. He must have a really powerful nose to be able to smell rabbits in these conditions!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not a good weather for dachshunds

Today I had to run errands in Albany, and was gone all day. As it turned out this was the day when we were hit by a major snow storm. We live at the elevation of around 1200 feet (365 meters), and the late evening drive in the blinding snow was not much fun. It took forever to climb 900 feet; the snow has been falling fast and even though I passed 15 (!) snow plows the going was tough. I have to say that our Mazda Tribute did a great job. 

According to the forecast it is going to stop snowing  on Saturday so three more days of snow to go! This is the picture I took when I got home. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Joeri turns two years old

Two days ago Joeri (vom Nonnenschlag) turned two years old so it is a good occasion to reminisce.

Joeri was born in Rödental, which is located in northern Bavaria. His breeder Rosi Bauersachs sent us some very nice pictures of Joeri's siblings (it was a litter of 9 puppies) and his teckel family. I have included three pictures below.

Joeri with his German family

Joeri joined our family on May 24, 2008, when John flew to Germany to pick him and Tommy up. The below picture was taken when the boys settled in Berne, NY two days later. At the time Joeri was 14 weeks old, and Tommy was just 8 weeks. The pups started on the right foot, and have been getting along well since then. Joeri has always been dominant over Tommy, and Tommy seems to have accepted the situation.

Joeri (top) and Tommy at 14 and 8 weeks, respectively.

Joeri proved to be the most precocious puppy that we have worked with. Right away he started to show interest in the scent of rabbits and started to follow them. He opened when he turned four months old. He was also fascinated with our pond and within few weeks started to swim and retrieve. Actually his love of retrieving from the water is matched by very few dogs here.

Joeri passed the gun shyness test on Sept 25, 2008, when he was just 7 months old, and the following day he also passed the NATC Small Game Hunter test. German Judge A. Fichtl rated Joeri's conformation as "very promising".

The following spring Joeri finished his AKC field championship.

We introduced him to woodchucks and were impressed with his game aggressiveness.

Physically Joeri matured very nicely and in spring 2009 his conformation was rated "excellent" by French Judge Agnes de France and he went "Best in Show". This is how he looked like in fall 2009.

Emotionally, Joeri went through a difficult adolescence. He remained a happy friendly young dog but for five months he lost all interest in tracking. But in fall 2009 he proved to be a talented natural blood tracker and found 8 deer. There are many reports of his tracking adventures on this blog. We like his calm, focused working style on tough lines. On a difficult check he stays near his point of loss and does not gamble. He moves forward only when he is sure of the line.

In October 2009 Joeri was reunited with Anne Bauersachs, who stayed with us for two weeks. Anne is Rosi's daughter, and we enjoyed her visit very much. She went with me to the DCA National Field Trial in PA, and had a chance to handle Joeri herself. We had a lot of fun!

So far Joeri has been used for breeding twice. We bred him last year to Emma, and raised a litter of four puppies. This was our "O" litter and there are many pictures of the pups on our puppy blog. The picture shows Joeri with his son Ollie.

Laurel Whistance-Smith bred her FC Diamant Lily von Lowenherz J SE (our Asko's daughter) to Joeri and the two pictures show his offspring "Yoda" and "Lykke" at five months.

Yoda (above) and Lykke (below)

We believe that with Joeri, in spite of his precociousness, the best is still to come. We both are looking forward to working with this talented dog. His desire to please and readiness to bond make the training so much easier. Thank you Rosi for the great teckel!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hawking with Teddy Moritz - hunt hard, kill swiftly, waste nothing, offer no apologies

In the United States dachshunds come in two sizes (minis and standards) and three coat varieties (smooth, wirehaired and longhaired). Teddy Moritz from Rockaway, NJ whose bumper sticker says "hunt hard, kill swiftly, waste nothing, offer no apologies" is a falconer, and she uses her pack of minis to hunt rabbits. More info on Teddy is given in the article published by Outdoor Life. Here are some recent pictures taken by Brian Bradley - thank you Teddy!

Harris Hawk 'Gripper' watching dachshunds work.

Gripper and rabbit dachshunds flushed.

Teddy with Tar and Fitz after some hard hunting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New design of tracking (scent) shoes for blood tracking training

United Blood Trackers ( recently introduced a new, original design of tracking (scent) shoes for blood tracking training. If you are new to this blog and blood tracking, read about tracking shoes device at

In case of regular tracking shoes the main source of scent for the tracking dog comes from deer hooves attached to the soles of special boots or sandals (Färhtenschuhe) by cleverly devised clamps. As the track-layer walks the track, the deer hoofs press into the ground leaving a scent line. The primary origin of the scent is the interdigital glands, one of which is situated between each pair of cloven hoofs. In a sense the scent trail resembles the track of a wounded deer, which has stopped bleeding externally, as it continues on its way to its final resting place. In actual hunting situations, wounded animals leaving no visible blood trace, are usually very difficult to find unless a trained tracking dog is available.

The new tracking shoes were designed and built by UBT members. They hold the entire leg including the tarsal gland. The leg pivots on a pin attached to the bracket that fits on your shoe. This bracket is a one size fits all and it held in place by an adjustable strap. This allows for a more natural positioning of the foot when it make contact with the ground. They are freezer safe.

To order the shoes go to UBT store and scroll down.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Deer Search Blood Tracking Competition 2010

The Deer Search Annual Blood Tracking Competition is going to be hosted this year by the Founding Chapter of Deer Search on the weekend of April 17-18, 2010. It is going to be located at Casperkill Game Club, 116 Stone House Road, Rhinebeck, NY, 12572.

Only Deer Search members are eligible to participate. For rules go to

Application/entry fee: $25.00 per entry

Entries must arrive by midnight, April 3, 2010

For uncertified dogs, a successful pretest is required. The owner of the dog must be the handler.

This competition is limited to 10 dogs. If 5 or less dogs are entered, the competition will be held on Saturday, April 17, 2010 only. Drawing of the blood lines will take place at 8:00am each day. The competition will begin immediately thereafter. Each dog in the competition will be allotted a maximum of one hour to complete tracking of the assigned blood line.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Coyotes, dogs, rabbit hunting and blood tracking

Last night I went to bed late as I watched the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC. I lived in Canada for many years (1981-1994), and actually I am a Canadian citizen. I will always hold a very soft spot in my heart for Canadians and their beautiful and generous country.

Just when I tried to fall asleep, a coyote nearby started to vocalize. His yips, barks, and howl sounded so close.

Today in the morning I took pictures of the coyote's tracks. He came to our yard, and turned around just 15 yards from our kennel ( the kennel is empty at night as all our dogs sleep in the house with us). We are visited regularly by red foxes and coyotes, and I am not surprised any longer to find their tracks in the morning. Sometimes, when lucky, we can spot them. The other day a red fox was mousing in our field but fled before I could take a picture. Coyotes, being crepuscular, are hard to spot, but they can be heard almost very night. Sometimes I can pick up their eyes in the darkness with the flashlight when I let dogs out before we go to bed.

A coyote's tracks next to our house, barn and shed

My respect for coyotes' resourcefulness and resilience is overshadowed by the fact that they pose a real risk to our dogs. Over the years we have lost two dogs to coyotes. John lost Banner, a small Jack Russell terrier, when he was out in the woods with several dogs after dark. For a few minutes Banner lagged behind the pack, but that was long enough for coyotes to move closer and pick him up. We have never seen him again. Banner's death marked the end to John's coonhunting. Then, three years ago, Vamba was killed by a coyote in our fenced-in field when she was hunting rabbits. After having looked for her all day I found her body at 11 pm on a cold October night. Just recently I have come across the pictures of her remains, and my throat tightened as the vivid memories of that horrific night overcame me.

Probability of coyotes coming to our enclosure over the fence is quite low (though it can happen as Vamba's death proved), but every time we take dogs out to hunt rabbits outside the fenced-in area, in the fields and woods surrounding our property, we know that we take chances. We use Garmin Astro collars on our dogs but still when our beagle Rip is a 1/4 mile ahead running a rabbit, we would not be able to help him if he were attacked by a coyote. Our beagle club, where over 100 acres are fenced, was forced to put a hot wire on the top of the fence to prevent coyotes from coming over.

Three weeks ago we attended a short workshop on wild canids given at DEC Five Rivers Environmental Center in Delmar, NY. It was quite interesting, and we learned some new things about coyotes and foxes. We have known from another seminar and publications that the eastern coyote has infusion of wolf's DNA, and therefore is quite larger than the western coyote, which I encountered in Alberta. We were told that some coyotes in Maine had 90% of wolf's DNA. Hmmm... in this case wouldn't they be wolves with some addition of coyotes' DNA?

Actually Jonathan Way, Ph.D., a wildlife biologist who started Eastern Coyote Research argues that eastern coyotes should be called coywolves as they are clearly hybrids between coyotes and wolves. I am going to order his book Suburban Howls to learn more about eastern coyotes as we all know they are here to stay. I have my doubts about the publication though as I detect anti-hunting attitude on the author's part. His advice on how to avoid interactions between coyotes and dogs sounds good on paper but is not very realistic:

"1. Do not let dogs (especially small breeds) outdoors loose without constant supervision. Fences should be at least 5 feet tall and there should not be any places where coyotes can crawl underneath. While a fence does not guarantee total protection, it is a good deterrent to coyotes or humans who would snatch or harm pets left outside alone.

2. Dogs taken outdoors by their owners should always be leashed unless in a fenced yard, where they should still be supervised and checked regularly.

3. Dogs should not be tied outdoors unfenced and unsupervised in coyote-prevalent areas. Accidents have happened.

4. Cats should be kept indoors unless trained to remain at home.

5. Dogs and cats should not be left outside for any period of time unsupervised, especially at night, even in a fenced enclosure.

6. Invisible fences do not protect your pets from predators. While they may keep your pet in your yard, they don’t keep predators or other animals out of your yard."

But what about hunting with dogs? It does not seem like hunting with dogs, off leash, loose in the woods following rabbits, is a viable option at all from his point of view. There must be a way...

A friend of ours from the beagle club has been hunting coyotes this winter with good results. So far he has taken 5 of them on the land adjacent to his property in Voorheesville, NY. This is a picture of a fifty-pound male.

Interestingly, the coyote had almost no teeth left. None in the front top or bottom and only a few in the back.

Trackers of wounded deer are reminded of coyotes' omnipresence often. In John's experience one third of wounded deer left in the woods overnight is lost to coyotes. Yet, a decision to track soon after the shot might not be a simple one. After the tracking season 2009 Kevin Armstrong wrote: "I have decided NOT to let the presence of coyotes force me to go after deer earlier. I've concluded that a deer that is not pushed, goes a few hundred yards and beds leaves a shorter trail for the coyotes to find than one that is pushed hard and tracking might have to be suspended overnight. The coyotes are here to stay. I think we just have to accept them like we accept wild rose scratches, wet feet, and nuisance deer permits."

The picture below shows what happened overnight to a wounded deer in Kansas.

Coyotes' impact on non-wounded deer is analyzed in the 2010 QDMA's Whitetail Report posted at It is a highly recommended reading!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What do working dachshunds do in winter besides blood tracking? Part 2

Hunt squirrels (Teddy Moritz's pack of mini longs)

Hunt wild boars in Spain

Powder their faces with snow (Andy Pedersen's Ruby)

Work like a snow plow and make trails for other dogs (Joe Walter's Doc)

Roughhouse (Chris Surtee's Koa and Beau)

Run in the snow for the pure joy of it (Jim Willard's Aspen)

Learn how to drive and redecorate the cab (Andy Bensing's Arno)

Survive Snowmageddon 1 and 2 (Sherry Ruggieri's Auggie and Dixie in NJ)

Get ready for the polar expedition (Henry Holt's Bear)

Learn how to model fancy outfits (Sally Marchmont's Petey)

Watch TV (Vamba)

Get familiar with wild boars (pic from Lenka Faraislova)

Play ball in the snow (Sherry Ruggieri's Dixie)

Find foxes underground (John's Ahab)

Sleep and read (Vamba)

Pretend "I'm cold" to make Mommy feel needed (Susanne Hamilton's Buster)

Establish rank in the neighborhood pack (Chris Barr's Gerti)

Hunt rabbits (Bernie)

Help to shovel snow (Sherry Ruggieri's Auggie)

Reduce the squirrel population in Florida (Curtis Beers' Juju)

Haul snowshoers in Quebec (Theo)

Pick teeth