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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Remi's return from disaster

The last three weeks were so busy that they feel more like three months. First, on May 12 John traveled to Quebec, where upon the invitation extended by the Quebec Blood Tracking Dog Handler Association he was helping develop a new certification test for handlers. When he came back, we almost immediately left for UBT Trackfest in Pocahontas, AR. We got back on the night of May 25, and not even two days later I traveled to Batavia, NY to attend  three field trials for dachshunds. I got back home late last night, and tomorrow morning John is leaving for Michigan to breed Paika. In the next week or so we will write about all these events and post pictures, but tonight I'd like to write about Remi and Justin.

If you search this blog for Remi, you will get a lot of info about this pup, who turned one year old on May 25. Two days before his birthday we received these two pictures from Justin Richins from Utah.

Remi was enjoying life. Then on May 26 e-mail from Justin brought devastating news and tears to my eyes: "I just ran over Remi. We were in the mtns identifying wildflowers, he was running 20-30 yards out as he usually does. I stopped to take a pic of a flower I wanted to identify. I then got back in and started driving forward when heard him yelp. It was then I realized what had just taken place. My truck is a big heavy 4 ton diesel. I'm at the emergency vet right now. He was going into shock by the time I got here vet. I'm an emotional wreck right now but I will keep u informed."

Few hours later another e-mail came: Initial X-ray showed fractures in the hip, ball out of socket and blood work showed elevated liver enzymes. They are not too worried about the liver as they think it could be from shock and say it will heal on its own. They are doing pain management before more X-rays to keep him from going further into shock. Also they think his spine and other organs are fine, We will be transferring him to 24 hr facility in a few hrs. I was just idling along slow with my foot on and off the break getting in and out of the truck to inspect and identify what wild flowers were on the property. I'm guessing this slow moving contributed to this accident because there was no increased engine noise signaling the truck was moving or about to move. I will go up latter today and go look at the tracks and pushdowns so I can figure out how this happened. 
Friday - Remi was stressed and in a lot of pain. He was refusing to drink.
Justin's frantic search for info how to fix Remi started right away. He wrote on Sunday: Ok, so I have been on the phone, internet and researching like crazy, and there are very few options for smaller dogs as parts just are not available.. However, I have found a few vets located in Colorado and one in the Ski resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho who have done hundreds of total hip replacements. I found their info through a manufacturer from Liverpool, England that produces Micro hip replacements! Anyway the vet's secretary in Idaho was kind enough to forward him my emails and x-rays and he called me back within 10 minutes even

though she said he was leaving for England and would not be back for several weeks. From my conversation he had much more knowledge than any other vet I have talked to and has done over 800 total hip replacement surgeries. Tomorrow morning I'm headed to Idaho as he is assembling a team of 4 doctors to work on Remi Monday because he leaves for Liverpool, England Tuesday morning . He believes one of the pelvic fractures must be fixed /plated before doing any work on the side with the broken hip & he will take all options into consideration. I feel good about this decision.

Yesterday, when I was still in Batavia, Justin called that the surgery was successful and Remi's prognosis is very good. John sent this letter to Justin: "Hi Justin, I just spoke with Jolanta as she started back from a field trial 250 miles away. She told me a little about the operation and your sense that the prognosis was good. I have a lot of respect for the way that you handled the whole thing. The tragedy was well publicized in the Borntotrack Group and you have a lot of admirers out here in the East. You set the standard for a man’s relationship with his tracking dog. I’m glad the pain has diminished for both of you."

Today Justin sent a picture taken on his way from Idaho. He said that Remi can walk and he even wags his tail. What a relief! We'll keep you posted about his progress.  

Remi with his new hip on his way home.
This was his message:
Thanks to everyone for the prayers and support. As you all know we traveled to Sun Valley, Idaho for Remi¹s surgery. The doctor Randy Aker there was phenomenal. He spent an extensive amount of time with us prior to the surgery explaining all of the different options and exactly what was involved with each. He was extremely knowledgeable and made sure we understood and felt comfortable before he began the surgery. He was going to try to salvage Remi¹s hip, but once they got in there they found the hip socket was broken, femur head was severed and the end of the femur bone was shattered making it impossible to reconstruct. They ended up doing a cemented total micro hip replacement.

The doctor called me after the surgery to let me know all had gone well. They kept him over night to monitor him. When I arrived to the clinic expecting a lethargic post-op puppy, especially since he had been struggling the previous days to even have any desire to move his head to acknowledge someone lying down near him, to my surprise, it was like the old Remi, full of life and energy. Wagging his tail vigorously and giving me a face full of kisses! They told me he had eaten breakfast that morning and had walked outside to use the bathroom. I could not believe he was walking again let alone 18hrs after his surgery. We have been home for a few hours now and it is clear to me my greatest task at hand will be trying to keep this active little guy down to allow his body to heal. I would never have believed that after being ran over by a 8,000+ lb truck that this little dog would be doing so well. He is truly a little miracle. Apparently he still has many more days of hunting to live out. I will continue to keep you all updated with his progress. Thanks again for your concern.

Remi X-Ray Before

Remi X-Ray After

Justin and Bionic-Remi

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back from the United Blood Trackers Trackfest in Pocahontas, AR

We were away for eight days and just got back from the United Blood Trackers Trackfest, which took place at Buck Hollow Ranch in Pocahontas, AR. There is much to report and hundreds of pictures to be posted, but for the next day or two this clip will have to do. It was a wonderful event!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A new tracking puppy for Samantha Allen

Today we received a very nice e-mail from Samantha Allen with pictures of her new puppy:

I thought I would share a few pictures with you of my puppy, after much research and reading your book “Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer” I was inspired to acquire my first tracking prospect. I have also joined United Blood Trackers and can not wait to begin with training! I have hunted for about 12 years and look forward to finding many trophies that I may have lost without the help of a dog. Thanks for all the great information, videos, pictures etc. on your website. I absolutely love to read and see all the new things you post!

My pups name is Huntin Heaven with Drakesleat Ollie – We call her Ollie! She is out of wirehaired parents but came out a smooth.

Thank you Samantha, and good luck with Ollie! I love his pictures.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Too focused on photography?

I am not a good multitasker. For example, I can't read several books at the same time. Usually I have to focus on just few activities, otherwise I am miserable as I feel pulled in many directions. Also just like everybody else I suffer from a constant information overload.

These days my focus is on photography, and whenever I can I grab my camera and go for walk, usually with a dog or two. It seems that when I take pictures my brain by concentrating exclusively on just one task can reset itself. It gets rid off any extra junk and negative emotions.

I don't have to drive anywhere. We live in a beautiful place, and I never get tired of taking pictures just within my walking distance. It really is a very good therapy. These are the pictures taken in the last month, just few out of many. You can click on the picture to see enlargement.

Friday, May 13, 2011

First groundhog

Teddy Moritz writes about her first woodchuck of the season taken with her longhaired minis. Thank you Teddy for sharing and congratulations on a precocious puppy!

Garmin (Navarre x Sandy) just turned ten months. I took her out with an experienced dachshund today and after they ran a rabbit Garmin found and bayed a groundhog. It dug away from her in buried rocks and very loose soil. I dug a few holes but couldn't find the varmint. Garmin eventually came out and checked the other holes but there wasn't any scent. Then she went about six feet away and marked a hole under the thick roots of a shrub. I opened the hole for her, she dropped in and began barking. I found the tunnel about three feet ahead of her and opened it and put Bane in. He grabbed the groundhog by the tail and it scooted back toward Garmin and buried itself. I let Bane dig and Garmin work for a bit. Then Bane dug enough to get to the groundhog and it charged Garmin, who yelped and backed up. I don't think she knew they bite. I took her out and Bane pushed the groundhog to the lurcher. Nice work by a ten month old pup. Even though the photo was taken with an open field behind me, I was actually working on hands and knees in a very thick hedgerow.

And few days ago we received from Teddy a picture showing her dogs exploring the lake shore.

Here are Cruiser and Garmin exploring the lake shore on a pretty May morning. Lurcher in the background is listening to a deer snorting at him. Took the pups and went the other way so they didn't chase the deer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Effective Handler

by John Jeanneney May 2011

The Handler and his Dog

“I was just a dope on a rope, There’s nothing to it.” I heard this from a new handler, who had just found his first deer. Fortunately that deer was easy to find. Most of the time the “rope” in a deer tracking adventure joins together two working partners, contributing to the task at hand.

On the handler’s end the most important factor is his human capability to “read” his dog’s body language. The tracking dog lets his handler know whether he has the right scent line or whether he is still searching for it. Has he been lured off the right scent line by the distraction of hot deer scent or a cloud of fresh turkey scent? Much of this is learned earlier through observing the dog’s reactions as he works marked training lines.

An experienced handler notices, without even thinking about it, whether the dog’s nose is high or working down low in the grass or leaves. Is the tail rhythm rapid or slow? Are the back muscles tense with concentration or relaxed? It’s not all that simple because every dog is different. You have to know the dog. Under the same conditions one dog will casually “drift” the line, mostly down wind. His head will be up and there will be little intensity in his body language. He almost looks like he was going for a stroll. Another dog will be neater, closer to the line, working with apparent focus and enthusiasm.

The handler has to know his dog, and this comes from living with him, training him and working with him under all kinds of conditions. Many would-be deer finders want to buy a “trained dog”, ready to go, just like a new ATV. The relationship of a tracking dog and his handler is different, very different from that of a man and his machine…or the relationship a man has with a dog that is supposed to work like a machine: “command and obey”. An experienced trainer who has prepared dogs for retriever trials often has real difficulty in adjusting to tracking situations where only the dog knows where to go.

The effective handler develops a relationship in which his dog trusts him and wishes to please him. In most cases this won’t happen simply by taking a dog out of his kennel for periodic training sessions. You and your dog learn to read and trust one another over long, relaxed time spent together. This is the occasion for the dog to learn when he must obey “Come!” and when he is free to investigate the world with his nose.

The need for trust works both ways… and this is the hardest part. Sometimes the handler has to trust his dog, even though he is pretty sure that the dog is wrong. The handler has to be flexible enough to realize that the dog’s nose and intelligence for interpreting scent is far better than his own. Willingness to trust your dog over your own judgment does not come easily. Every experienced tracker I know has had the experience of believing that he knew better than his dog. A young dog can be wrong, but the odds are strong that the mistake is on the handler’s side.

Young dogs, carried away by enthusiasm, do make mistakes. A good tactic for the handler is to first ask, “Is that right?” The responsive dog will recognize the questioning tone of voice, stop, reflect and often correct himself. The preparation for this responsiveness comes in training when you ask, “Is that right?” after the dog overshoots a turn on the training line and seems ready to keep on going. For this to work you have to sometimes ask the question even when the dog is right.

Often the handler is mislead by the hunter. The hunter saw his deer go one way. The tracking dog says “no”, but until he shows handler and hunter a drop of blood, it’s hard to say the dog was right and the human was wrong. It’s amazing how often it happens that the hunter saw another deer and drew all the wrong conclusions.

It seems that we have been carried away by all the TV talk about the dog owner asserting himself as the “alpha wolf” the leader of the pack. Wolf researchers have discovered that even in the natural pack the leadership and decision making is not inflexible and always made by the same wolf. Dogs have no difficulty understanding that their special expertise, in scenting matters, doesn’t qualify them to do what they please in other matters out in the woods. I find that my dogs recognize that I am much better than they are when it comes to determining the direction of an old, cold line. They don’t know how I interpret blood splatters and footprint direction, but they accept my judgment on this matter.

The effective handler has to be observant. The tracking dog shows the way of the wounded animal, but the handler must be able to recognize and interpret any evidence that is visible along the way. This begins at the hit site with a careful search for blood, hair, tissue and bone fragments. What do these clues tell us about the nature of the wound? Is this wound likely to be fatal? The placement of blood smears on the scent line and the color of blood tell the handler more about the prospects. Once into the track for a distance, dogs themselves show that they have their own ways of figuring out if a deer is gettable. The final decision of whether to quit the track is often a collective one.

A sudden change in the behavior of the dog is often the best indication that he is close to the game, dead or alive. If the deer has taken off a thorough search should be made for the woundbed or the place the animal was standing. The handler should be able to interpret the blood or other materials found at this spot.

The Handler and the Hunter

Finding wounded game is more than an adventure for you and your dog. Working with the hunter is an essential part of being a good handler. Usually your first contact is by phone, and you can be dealing with a very upset individual. You have to decide whether there is a decent chance that you can find or catch up with his animal.

The information he gives you first won’t necessarily be the most useful in making your decision to take the call. He’ll tell you the animal went down, but he won’t tell you whether it went down instantaneously (high back shot?) or went down after taking the first jump (broken leg). The handler has to ask the right questions, In the case of a deer, “Exactly what was the color of the hair? Light grey with a darker tip or pure white?” Lots of times you won’t get such vital information unless you ask for it.

Once in the woods give the hunter something to do so that he will be useful. If the situation permits him to carry a firearm, direct him to move so that he has good visibility ahead, and so that you, the handler, will not be in the line of fire. Judge whether he can be trusted to have a round in the chamber, just in the magazine, or whether he should carry the arm unloaded. If a firearm is not to be used, put him to work spotting and announcing blood to be marked with biodegradable tape when this is useful. Keep him off his cell phone! His full attention is important.

Give the hunter a job so that he will feel useful and part of the search. The hunter does not want to feel waited upon like an incompetent fool. Your best chance of educating him for the future is to help him understand what went wrong, and what the consequence were for the animal.

Clary von Moosbach teaching John Jeanneney how to be a handler (1976).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mini Longhaired Dachshunds for Blood Tracking

by John Jeanneney for Full Cry June 2011

Mini-longhair dachshunds are making a name for themselves as tracking dogs, and as a “BIG” dachshund (20-23 lbs.) man, I have to admit that I’m surprised. I don’t think that they are going to entirely replace the standard dachshund, wire and smooth, as a tracking dog, but they certainly have some things going for them.

For one thing the mini dachshund has escaped the ravages of American show/pet breeding much better than the standard size, which in the North American show ring can range up to 35 pounds. The American show judges decided, in their wisdom, that if the original dachshund from Germany was a comparatively short-legged, long dog, then the ideal “improvement” would be to exaggerate these characteristics. Check out the big show winners in dog magazines to observe what passes for the most desirable show dachshund today. The exaggerations are most extreme in the smooth-coated dachshunds. Perhaps they are fine lawn cruisers, but with less than two inches of ground clearance, they would be in big trouble if they had to hoist their long heavy body over a 12 inch fallen long.

Fortunately these exaggerations do not occur very frequently in minis in any of the coat varieties. Of course some American mini breeders are working hard to make them a proportionately smaller version of the standards. In any case the lighter body weight of the mini (11 lbs or less) allows for greater agility. It’s somewhat like comparing a grey squirrel and a ground hog. They both have pretty short legs, but the squirrel jumps a whole lot better than the ground hog five times his weight.

Speaking in broad generalities the American minis have an agility advantage over the American standards, but this is just the beginning. For some reason that I can’t explain, the American minis have retained their hunting desire through 15 plus generations of show/pet breeding much more successfully than their American standard counterparts. In dachshund field trials across the country they are a small minority, but they are ranked much higher than their numbers would suggest.

Teddy Moritz, who writes the Working Dachshunds column in Full Cry, uses primarily American-bred, mini-longs in her falconry and ground hog work; they are excellent. She began with mini-wires but shifted to mini-longs because it is difficult to get decent percentage of good hard coats in the wires. A hard wire coat is excellent in briars, burrs and snow, but the soft, fluffy “wires”, which frequently occur, are a nightmare. A moderate longhair coat is a practical compromise.

Quite independently of the dachshund field trialers, falconers and groundhog diggers, a number of wounded deer trackers have arrived at similar conclusions about the value of mini-dachshunds as tracking dogs. I’ve met or corresponded with a number of them around the country over the past several years.

A representative example of this is Dave Seeley in Campbell, NY. Dave and his wife Veronica, put me up at their house last month when I judged the Deer Search Blood Tracking Competition described below. They had both been active competitive coon hunters, a very good background for trackers, but then they had eased out of this as the hills warped more steeply upward as the years passed. Dave kept up his deer hunting, and when he couldn’t find a nice 12 pointer he called his good friend Chester Swierk who had some sort of a tracking dog. Chester showed up with Moby, a mini-longhair dachshund, who calmly and methodically found his deer. Dave was hooked. When I arrived at the Seeley place there were three little mini trackers to greet me.

Most of the mini-trackers I’ve met didn’t seem to know one another. At this point there doesn’t seem to be an information network such as my wife Jolanta has established for standard wires. People like Charlette Curtis in New York and Rob Miller in Michigan simply had the eye to recognize the natural tracking desire in these little dogs. The rest came naturally.

Today I worked with a color-blind bowhunter who, at my advice, just bought a mini-long hair for his own personal use and to help out a few friends. He lives in the City of Albany and a small dog make a lot of sense for him. We started the puppy on a 50 foot blood line with piece of deer skin and bit of deer liver at the end. Puppy Shyla said, “I like this.”

For someone who wants a dog as a family companion and for personal tracking use, the mini is a good choice. If you are tracking almost every day, as I do in season, the mini will obviously wear out faster than the European standard wires that I use.

In wet, cold conditions, as in a freezing beaver swamp, the reduced body mass of the mini will chill faster. Sometimes, we track a line under four or five inches of wet snow and that’s not good either. These conditions don’t occur every day. For the moderate, normal hunter/tracker, who is not a fanatic, a mini-longhair makes a lot of sense.

Charlette Curtis and her mini Jenna

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today we said good bye to our beagle Rip

This was a very sad day for both of us as we had to say good bye to our beagle Rip. This morning he was not able to move. His rear was paralyzed, and he seemed to have some neurological damage affecting his whole right side. John took him to our vet in Cobleskill, and he agreed that the only thing to do was to put him down.

Rip (Stone Apple Rip) was born on June 2, 1999. He was bred by Brian Tallman, and he was out of FC John's Buck VII and Cedar Ridge Diamond Ring. We will write more about him soon. A very smart, affectionate dog, a gentle soul, he will be missed a lot by us and our dachshunds.

Good bye Rip, sleep tight.

This is one of my favorite picture of Rip - it was taken on the New Year's Eve 2010.
Rip's last picture - April 4, 2011.
Rip and Paika are having a taste of ice and snow - April 4, 2011.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Just pictures of dachshunds

Today we are sharing some dachshund pictures, which were taken or received recently.

Joeri enjoying sun and fresh grass.

Susanne Hamilton from Maine with her puppy, one-year-old Meggie, who finished her field championship last weekend in Maryland. Meggie is a daughter of Buster and Quilla.

Sherry Ruggieri with her seven month-old puppy Mieka, who last weekend was Absolute Winner of a field trial in Illinois.

March 2011 at the Ohio Deer and Turkey Expo: David Bell from Ohio with Quella, a sister to our Quenotte.

March 2011 at the Ohio Deer and Turkey Expo: Half-siblings out of our Joeri. To the left Radar (Oak v Moosbach-Zuzelek), to the right Quella von Moosbach-Zuzelek.

Easter card from a friend from the Czech Republic Lenka Fairaislová

Justin Richins' Remi with a male sagebrush lizard.

Eli Clement's new mini longhaired puppy Shyla enjoying her first contact with a deer hide.

Bernie is having way too much fun in our pond.