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Monday, February 28, 2011

Life on the rocks bonds Man and Dog

Another great video of Remi from Justin Richins - if you are afraid of heights, don't watch it!

My heart just about stopped few times when I watched it, and some shots left me a bit dizzy. Not to mention a view of Remi almost tumbling down... Justin has been working hard on developing a close relationship and partnership with Remi, and it is very nice to see their progress. Remi's responsiveness is very impressive, even with live deer and elk around.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dachshund Club of America Field Trial Ranking for 2010

I posted the ranking of the top 20 field trial dachshunds in 2010, and to access it click here.  This is a long page so I did not include it in the regular posts but placed it as a stand-alone post.

Huge congratulations to Cheri Faust and her Danika who placed FIRST!

It takes a very talented dog and dedicated handler to get to the top 20. Congratulations to all the handlers and owners, and of course the dogs who made it there.

We don't mind claiming a small share of success that some dogs have achieved: Danika and Nix bred by Larry Gohlke are out of Fredrika v Moosbach-Zuzelek, Judy Gallamore's Ana Maria was sired by Czar v
Moosbach-Zuzelek, and both dogs owned by Sherry Ruggieri, Auggie and Dixie, have been bred by us.

Best wishes to all field trialers in 2011!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Report from the VDD-GNA 20-Hour Blood Tracking Test (VSwP) in Fayetteville, NC

by Andy Bensing

I was entered in two blood tracking tests this past weekend hosted by the Southeast Hunters chapter of VDD-GNA.  VDD-GNA is a German Drahthaar breed club, but they use VSwP (Verbandsschwei├čpr├╝fung) tests, which are open to any breed dog with an FCI pedigree.  The test was held near Fayetteville, North Carolina, in the Sandhills Game Lands.  The terrain was periodically burned off long leaf pine forest in varying stages of maturity.  The blood lines were laid Friday morning and were run Saturday and Sunday after aging.  All test lines were 1000 meters (.62 miles) long and had three 90-degree turns along the way.  The lines were prepared by using a stick with a small sponge on one end to dab blood on the ground every other step.  Eight ounces of blood were used over the 1000m.  Additionally, six one-inch cubes of lung and two simulated wound beds were distributed along the line as marking points for the dog to indicate.  The judging panel for both days consisted of JGHV judges Lynn Whitely ( UT), Forrest Moore (GA), and Hans Klein (NY).  Mike Fortner (TN) and Ana Barrios-Sosa (SC) served as apprentice judges both days as well.  Many thanks are in order for the judging panel and Jim Smith who served as test coordinator for the event.

Saturday, February 19th, 2011  The 20-Hour Test

On Saturday there were three dogs entered in the VSwP-20.  As the name implies, these test lines were a minimum of 20 hours old.  The first dog up was Barko vom Schlusstein, a 2 ½ year old male Drahthaar owned by Ron Ballard (NC).  Unfortunately, Barko had a difficult start and did not pass the test.

Barko and Ron Ballard

The second dog up was Sabre vom Moorehaus, a 2 ½ year old male Drahthaar owned by Dave Chatellier (NC).  Sabre had a great start and tracked very quickly and accurately right down the line.  Except for leaving the line one time about half way through, his tracking was perfect until the very end.  Unfortunately about 50m from the end of the line Sabre got distracted again and passed the pig laying at the end by 20m, passing on the up wind side.  With just a little better luck had Sabre been drawn to the downwind side of the pig he would very likely have winded the dead pig laying there and easily passed the test.  But luck was not with Sabre and he continued on the distraction 100m past the pig and was called back for a second time.  Dave chose to restart Sabre about 350m back the line at the last place he had marked the line.  Unfortunately Sabre did not re-engage the blood line, got distracted again and received a third call back after leaving the line in the wrong direction over 100m again.  In the VSwP test, as in most of the German style blood tracking tests, you can pass the test with two call backs but a third call back ends the test.

Sabre handled by Dave Chatellier
Training/Handling Note: When taking tests, just like in training I believe it is very important to mark your line very frequently. When I am taking a test I use single ply toilet paper that I have cut down to 1 1/3" wide rolls. Most toilet paper is wrapped too loosely for easy handling in the field so I re-roll it more tightly for ease of use when on the line. It is very easy to drape or entangle a foot or so long piece of toilet paper (TP) on a branch as you walk along behind your dog. I typically hang a piece of TP on average every 25 yards or so. I also carry some colored bio-degradable ribbon and use that to mark special things like wound beds or marking points so I am able to easily distinguish them if I need to go back.

If Dave had been marking his line more frequently, he would not have had to go so far (350m) back to restart. The rules say you will get a call back after leaving the line 80 to 100m. Allowing for distance judging error you can be pretty sure that if you restart 150m back from the point where you are called back, you should be at or near the line. Even if you want to go back farther like Dave did, a well marked test line will show a clear direction you should start your dog in at the restart. Dave would never had allowed his dog to go the wrong direction at his second restart if he had marked his line more frequently when he passed by that area the first time. In addition to marking the line when taking a test, I highly recommend using your GPS as well but of the two, the marks you physically put down in the field are most important.

Sabre's track

My dog Eibe and I were the third team up for the day. As soon as we started I could see we were going to have trouble. I will be writing more about it later in another article but in my training line practice in preparation for this trial I had discovered that Eibe had a big problem going back to artificial lines after a very prolific and successful real tracking season. Eibe was no longer focused on just blood when she tracked. Instead she appeared to be looking for a whole "scent picture" of a wounded deer. The problem had gotten better but was not fixed in the three prep lines I had time to do before this test so her bad start did not surprise me.

The first 175m of our line were just plain ugly! Eibe was looking for that wounded deer and practically ignoring the blood. When later I compared our path to the GPS map I got from the judges, I saw that it was even worse than it felt at the time. She ignored blood that she obviously smelled and I read the situation wrong a few times and corrected her while she was on the line thinking she was taking a path that could not possibly be correct. Basically Eibe only followed the test line for 30m at the start and then spent the next 59 minutes searching all around the first 175m of the line looking for a "real deer" scent. Luckily for me she would bump the line occasionally, often enough so as not to get a call back or we might have ended up with only a Prize III. During the 59 minutes I picked her up and restarted her four or five times from various spots and even took a short break and let her swim in the adjacent lake for a minute to cool off physically and mentally.

Eibe was having a lot of trouble on the first part of the line.
Speaking of lakes, during this struggle to find a "real" line, Eibe even reverted back to an old problem developed in her first real tracking season in 2009.  On Eibe's first real track ever in 2009 Eibe kicked up a live wounded deer, chased it and eventually found it drown in a pond with only its ear sticking up out of the water.  For two months after that she insisted on swimming out and checking anything that remotely looked like a deer's ear sticking out of the water whenever we passed a pond or lake while tracking.  I had not seen that behavior for over a year but in her frustration on this test she reverted back and tried it twice.  I am sure the judges likely thought she was fooling around but I knew exactly what it was.  After Eibe's searching back and forth with no success for almost an hour I told the judges I was going to cast Eibe out around the messy area we had been stuck in so long in hopes of picking up the line further out in a "clean" area.  As I cast her around the messy area Eibe hit the line and started working it with more intensity than before.  As luck would have it she found an oak leaf with a good smear of blood on it .  At that moment it all finally seemed to click and after 59 minutes of struggling it seemed to dawn on her that the blood was the only thing out there to follow. 
Eibe clearly stopped searching for the" real" thing and motored down the bloodline the next 525m in only 15 minutes while making two 90-degree turns with perfect accuracy.  Going as fast as she was Eibe lost some concentration on the line and unfortunately overshot the third turn by 40m.  It took her 20 minutes of searching to work out the check but as soon as she re-engaged the line she again zipped down the blood line with good accuracy the last 300m to the pig.  Total time for the 1000m line was a grueling 1 hour 45 minutes!  

Eibe's entire track
After conferring, the judges awarded Eibe and me a score of "Prize II- Good". They said and I agreed that even though she did not have any call backs, she could not be awarded a Prize I due to the lack of accuracy displayed in the difficult start and the long check at the third turn. Of course I would have liked a nice, smooth, and accurate Prize I performance better but this "ugly" run surely demonstrated to anyone watching that my dog has incredible desire, concentration, and perseverance to keep working on her own and for me no matter how long or hard it gets. When a dog hits a real difficult situation, that's when true character shows through.

In the front-Andy Bensing with Eibe who passed the test with the Prize II performance.
Training/Handling Note: It is a fine line between letting your dog work something out on her own and helping her. Although allowing Eibe to work on her own for almost an hour at the start worked out in the end, in retrospect I should have intervened sooner by taking her all the way back to the start sooner or casting her ahead sooner. Sometimes I get caught up in both training and real life tracking evaluating what a dog can do naturally as opposed to helping her to learn to do it more efficiently right away. As I said, it can be a fine line.
I also learned something else from this test. When Eibe was struggling at the start and again at the third turn she reverted back to some bad habits that I thought I had worked out. I mentioned earlier about deer ears sticking out of water but after reviewing my GPS maps after the test is became clear to me that she worked both difficult checks in an old inefficient pattern that she used when she was younger - click here to read more about it. In retrospect I can think of several times this past tracking season where this happened as well. I will re-focus my training this spring on this issue and be quicker  to cast her out and encourage a more efficient search pattern at the checks.

To be continued....Part 2, the 40 hour test

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our logo puppy as an old dog

Danny Horner with Steffi
Danny Horner sent us this picture showing our logo puppy as an old dog. It was Danny's picture of Steffi that we started to use as our logo around 12 years ago. Steffi's registered name is Wynona v Moosbach-Zuzelek, and she was born on April 5, 1998. Her parents were Upton von Moosbach-Zuzelek and FC Zuzelek's Gold-Digging Gita.

Danny is an avid bowhunter and antler sheds collector. Steffi helped him recovered some deer in the picture, but he has never used to find sheds. To read John's article about training dog to find antler sheds click here.

Thank you Danny for the great picture and taking a wonderful care of Steffi!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February in Berne, far

This winter has been tough because of the cold weather and high volume of snow. A thick crust formed on the top of snow but it is not thick enough to withstand our dogs' weight. They sink and have a really hard time moving around. But it all changed few days ago when all of sudden got warmer. I put my snowshoes on and went to the pond to see what is going on there.
This picture was taken on Feb. 2, the Groundhog Day, in Berne, NY. We got a lot of snow on that day and things did not look promising. We had to be plowed...again. 
On February 17 and 18 the temperature went up to above 60F (15C) and a big meltdown started. During these two days we lost a lot of snow, and this is how our pond looked like.

You could actually see reflections of trees in the water. It was a beautiful afternoon.

I found deer bones on the bank of our pond. It looks like coyotes had a feast there.
I did not notice coyote tracks but turkey tracks were everywhere.

It was warm and the snow was melting fast.
I even managed to take a picture of turkeys by the edge of the woods.
Our spring-like days were short lived. Yesterday it was back to  gusting winds and snow squalls. But a lot of snow is gone now, and if we have a couple of warm days, we might actually see bare ground. Can't wait!

After I had posted the above pictures I took dogs out to the fenced yard and noticed fresh tracks just on the outside of the fence. They look to me like coyote tracks. It seems that coyotes did not come to our field when the snow was very deep, but now when we have with much less snow we will probably see coyote tracks more often.
Coyote tracks just outside our dogs' yard
for comparison - my foot print is women's size 6.5

Friday, February 18, 2011

UBT at the 2011 Michigan Deer & Turkey Expo

The 2011 Michigan Deer & Turkey Expo is taking place this weekend at the Lansing Civic Center, Friday 2-9, Saturday 9-7, and Sunday 9-4. Stop by the United Blood Trackers booth, say hi and see the blood tracking dogs. John's talk "Using Tracking Dogs to Find Wounded Deer" is scheduled for tonight at 6:15 PM, tomorrow at 2:45 PM and on Sunday at 11:00 AM. For a schedule of seminars click here.

The UBT panel display prepared for the 2011 Expos. UBT will be have a booth in Michigan and Ohio.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good luck to Jim and his beagle Charlie

I have come across a heart-warming website at, and would like to wish the best of luck to Jim and his beagle Charlie from Greenville, South Carolina. The motto of the website is The Enjoyment of Paying Back by Helping Others.

Jim, the most successful blood tracking dog in Deer Search's history was Tim Nichols' beagle Mickey, who found 160 wounded deer. Some beagles are excellent trackers. We are looking forward to reading about your blood tracking adventures and Charlie's progress.

Jim and Charlie from

Can dachshunds climb trees?

In the previous post we saw Remi tracking though the rocky terrain, and this time we got a picture of a mini longhair dachshund climbing trees. This one came from Teddy Moritz, and it has this caption:

Gripper (Harris Hawk) and the dogs were pursuing a squirrel today and Bane took it upon himself to try to help Gripper. I couldn't get the camera out quick enough to catch him all the way out to the end of that trunk, I just got him coming back. Gripper did get the squirrel.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Remi rocks! A video of blood tracking dachshund puppy in training

Justin Richins, an outfitter from Utah, has been working intensively with Remi, who is a littermate to Rilla and Ranger from the two previous posts.  The track in the video was 19.5 hrs old. It was 35F when Justin laid it out and 25F when he ran it. 

This video blew me away! This was a very difficult track; it would have been a difficult track even for a much older and experienced dog. I think that Remi's work for his age of 8.5 moths is just exceptional and  in my opinion Justin pushed him a little too hard. I really like the way he implemented the idea of cooperation and partnership where Remi had to rely on Justin's help with  getting over some obstacles.

John's comment to Justin was: "Justin, I think this video demonstrates that a hunting dachshund is something more than the cute little "wiener dog" that so many people laugh at. Remi has the drive and heart and body to carry him over many tough miles on a real track. This doesn't mean that you have to push him this hard at his age.

I like the way that you are allowing him to correct his own mistakes when possible. However, when Remi is working a check I think that it is best not to say "good dog" until he actually has the line again. An enthusiastic
"good dog" should be his reward for solving the problem and recovering the scent line.  The video shows that you have a great working relationship with your dog. This is a case where "a picture is worth a thousand words"...or even a book."

This is an example of the tracking/hunting dachshund bred according to the FCI standard, and when I watch the video I get goose bumps. This is so much better than watching dachshunds with exaggerated conformation at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Many thanks to Justin!  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Opening Act! Rilla opens up on a rabbit for the first time.

February 12 was a good day for Stan Kite and Rilla. Rilla is a sister and littermate to Ranger, the pup we wrote about a couple of days ago. Below is a story that we received from Stan last night. Thank you Stan; we could feel your excitement and could not be happier for you and Rilla.

I took a friend of mine's tractor to Sherry and Phil Ruggieri's farm a few months ago. I had borrowed the tractor and used it, but my friend wasn't going to need it for a while, so I took it to Sherry and Phil's so they could use it while working on their farm and building their rabbit enclosure.

This morning, my buddy and I met Phil at the farm so we could take the tractor back home, and I took Rilla along for the ride. Trouble was, the tractor had been sitting for a while in the cold, and refused to start. We determined that the fuel line (diesel) was frozen. While waiting for another friend to deliver a heater, Phil suggested I let Rilla run in their newly fenced six-and-a-half-acre enclosure. I thought it would be a great opportunity for her to get some exercise, something she's been lacking lately due to the snow-covered ground and cold weather.

As I poked around in some of the thickets, a rabbit bounded out! Miss Rilla spotted him, picked up the scent trail, and promptly "opened"--the first solo of her young life! The name of the tune is "SPURLAUT". She sang a BEAUTIFUL tune that had me giving her a standing ovation, as I yelled to Phil and my friend Bruce, "She opened on it", "She OPENED on it!" I could hardly contain myself, I was so excited for the little pup! To make a long story a little shorter, the rabbit somehow slipped away through a small gap under a gate, but not until Rilla belted out a few lovely verses of SPURLAUT loud and clear for all to hear. I will admit, some of the chorus was actually "sichtlaut", because the bunny was running in the open, with teckel sprinting behind, but I'll tell you, this young girl is no Christina Aguilera--she knows ALL THE WORDS! LOL

She is eight and a half months old, and today, February 12, 2011, will be a day I remember forever! After a somewhat disappointing deer tracking season due to an outbreak of EHD, this was just what the doctor ordered. We now look forward to the spring more than ever, so we can do lots more training with Phil and Sherry in their enclosure! Many thanks to them for this wonderful opportunity. I have never been so glad a piece of machinery wouldn't function as I was today! If that tractor would have started like I anticipated, we would have loaded it onto the trailer and promptly left, and my ears would never have heard the sweet song that rang out this morning. Today's event was one of those moments which took me back in time, to a distant, but very pleasant memory of my youth, at around 5 or 6 years old. It was my first-ever morning's hunt, with my grandfather and his beagle, Rip, in an overgrown asparagus field. In fact, today we were only a mile or so from the very spot where I first heard the hound's about coming full circle!

If things go right, you just may see a new couple of faces at a field trial or two! Hopefully one will be singing, and the other just smiling ear to ear.

For more info on spurlaut in dachshunds click here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not all puppies are destined to be blood trackers... and the lack of tracking ability might not be a reason

Ranger von Moosbach-Zuzelek aka Petey is an example of this kind of puppy. Ranger was born on May 25, 2010, and his parents were FC Joeri vom Nonnenschlag and FC Gilda v Moosbach-Zuzelek. This was a highly anticipated litter, and we had high hopes for the pups. Ranger was very handsome, and he had some striking features - strong, beautiful head and excellent harsh wiry coat.
Ranger at four weeks
Ranger at 12 weeks
We start to work with our puppies quite early and the below video shows how five-week-old pups reacted to the sound made by popping bubble wrap (the sound is similar to that of a cap pistol). Ranger did not like the sound at all and he tried to get away from it as far as possible. He is the one in the video who tries to hide under a crate and behind a dog bed.

Ranger used his nose well and his tracking ability was all right but his weakness was in his temperament. We could see that he was not a resilient, easy going pup that would take stress well so we decided that he would be better off in a pet home. He went to live with Gail and Vince Latella on Long Island, the couple who already have one dog from us - an eight-year-old Hannah. What a pair of good looking dachshunds they are!

Relaxed Ranger aka Petey in his new home
In the beginnig Hannah was not thrilled at all with the new puppy. In October we received a letter from Gail: Just a brief note to let you know how Ranger, now Petey, is doing. He is currently in puppy kindergarten where he is learning to play well with others. He is learning to be friendly and less snarly around puppies and little dogs that are over-active. He is becoming more secure and less skittish. Noises do not seem to bother him as much. He still has incidents of submissive peeing, buy we are getting that under control. I think he is getting the housebreaking because he has not had any accidents in about two weeks, so I am giving him more credit and me less.

He and Hannah are becoming companions, although he is still a big nuisance to her at times. He models her and she is very patient with him, although there are times when she will nip him. Usually, he dominates her when it comes to toys and chewies. Their play is quite wild and sounds very ferocious with a lot of wrestling and growling and snarling, but no one seems to be getting hurt. The yard provides a great place for chasing each other and squirrels. Petey has already caught a mole and a mouse and his nose is always to the ground. He is a very affectionate and funny little guy. They run in figure eights around our dining room table through the kitchen and into the living room. He has given Hannah a great opportunity to be in great shape for a dog who is eight years old. She is enjoying the fruits of her added activity because we do not worry so much when we give her extra treats and leftover protein from our dinner table. She looks trim and healthy.

Petey and Hannah
Hannah is a daughter of Drake v Moosbach-Zuzelek  "Jake" and FC Gela von Rauhenstein
In December we received the note:  Petey is as big as a Hannah.  He is a rip and as different from her as day and night.  He is a mischievous, funny puppy with loads of personality.  He is initially shy around new people, but warms quickly and soon becomes a bundle of wiggling happiness.  Hannah and he play together well, but she does request alone time with one of us when she has had enough of his antics.

Now six weeks later Gail wrote: Petey is quite the character. He is driving Hannah crazy because he is always trying to mount her, so there is lots of snarling and gnashing of teeth, but most of it is quite harmless. He is a good boy, but he is so different from Hannah. He is a big, big chewer. He is obsessed with balls of any size. He is crazed by squirrels, so this summer should be interesting. We will have to be careful. Thanks so much for allowing us to purchase two of your pups. They really are terrific dogs and they bring joy to our lives.

We are very happy to hear that Petey and Hannah play together well, and that Gail and Vincent are happy with them. Our responsibility as breeders is to do what's in the best interest of a puppy. Sometimes in spite of a long list of people waiting for a tracking puppy, the best home for a puppy with some weaknesses is a pet home. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not a football fan

Chris Barr wrote - Gerti doesn’t share the family’s interest in football. This is her during the Super Bowl.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Puppy blood tracking training in the snow

Andy Bensing submitted this very interesting report from a recent training session with his two pups, Atlee and Buddy. Both pups were sired by our dogs - Atlee's dad is Joeri and Buddy's dad is Billy. Thanks Andy for sharing your experience with all of us!

With tracking season over it's time to start working on my young wire haired dachshunds Atlee, 4.5 months old, and Buddy, 3.5 months old.

Atlee has had minimal early conditioning. He had 2 liver drags before I got him at 11 weeks and I have done 3 short ones since bringing him home. I normally would have done more but I bought him during tracking season which of course takes most of my time. He also had some health issues that needed to be worked out that took potential time away from early training. With the worst of his health issues behind him and me getting the itch to start training, off we went.

I bought Buddy at 9 weeks of age during the tracking season as well. I bought buddy from a local breeder so I have been visiting him and doing some early conditioning work with him and the rest of the litter from the start. The breeder started blood tracking conditioning at 5 weeks of age with the whole litter. 2 or 3 times a week the breeder put Buddy on 6 or 8 foot "liver drags" on cardboard indoors. At around 6 weeks I started taking the pups outside twice a week to do 20 or 30 yard liver drags outside.

The GPS map below shows the layout of the lines I ran with both dogs. The terrain was a snow covered field that I had crisscrossed with tire tracks. I dripped blood in the tracks and made left and right turns where the tracks intersected so as to force the dogs to focus on the blood scent and not be able to just follow the tire tracks visually. The videos tell the rest of the story.

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another winter training line for Remi

Here’s another very instructive video illustrating the education of a talented young dog handled by Justin Richins, a big game outfitter in Utah. Justin himself is still in his first year of tracking, but like Remi he has a passion for tracking and natural talent for  working with his partner.
Justin’s approach in winter training is innovative. There is a wintering area for mule deer where he lives, and a major highway, roads and a railroad run through it. The toll of road-killed deer is  heavy. Justin finds a recently killed deer, removes the hind hoofs and  attaches them to his tracking shoes. For this training session he hiked down the road about a mile and then laid a track with the deer’s interdigital scent (from those hoofs), and with deer blood back to the deer carcass. This is a long track for a puppy’s training exercise, but Remi never loses his enthusiasm.
For Remi the toughest aspect of this training exercise is the abundance of healthy deer in plain  sight. When Remi sees or smells the deer, his natural instinct is to go for them. He is still in the process of learning that a healthy deer is of no more interest than a cow. Justin does an excellent  job of refocusing Remi on the old, cold training line without harsh reprimands. This is the most important single aspect of training.
Training for natural tracking is not a matter of command and obey, as in retriever training. When Remi gets off the scent line, note that Justin asks him, with a questioning tone of voice, “Is that right?” Remi reflects and responds. The tracking dog must feel free to use his own judgment. In natural tracking the dog will usually be the only one who knows where the scent line is.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Information on upcoming blood tracking workshops

I am not sure whether blog readers have noticed, but we have started to post information about upcoming events that include training and testing in blood tracking. The info is placed in a new spot as links to respective stand-alone pages in the right column, at the top, just below our logo.

Below is a slide show composed of the pictures taken at the East Coast Lacy Fun Day in 2010. The 2011 event is coming up soon on March 26, in Georgia. Thank you to Rebecca Ferrell for the information and pictures!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Info for blood trackers in North Carolina

News from the 2011 session of  the North Carolina General Assembly:

On February 2, 2011, a new bill (H29) was introduced that would allow hunters to use a flashlight and single dog on a leash to find a legally wounded deer and then kill the animal, even after hunting hours. Sponsor: Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.

For the full text of bill click here; to track it click here.