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Monday, June 27, 2011

Contest for the best caption... and a winner is

Click to enlarge
I took this picture of Joeri and Keena the other day, and I have no idea what text to use for the caption. I am just not very creative in this department. But I thought that maybe we can have some fun with the picture and do a contest for the best caption. We held a contest before, and it was a lot of fun.

You can submit as many captions as you wish - put them in comments or e-mail them to me and I'll post them. The contest will be closed on July 17 at 12 PM EST, and John and I will be the judges. The winner is going to get the autographed hardcover edition of John's book, which is now out of print, or a check for $50. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spring 2011 Blood Tracking at the NATC - part 2

By Andy Bensing
Part 2


After the Friday tests were over it was my responsibility to put the blood down on the three lines for Saturday morning. Claire Mancha, an NATC member who had flown in from Oregon for the workshop, assisted me and it barely took three hours to complete. Because of all the rain the night before, the ground was soft and moist and the deer feet on the tracking shoes stayed moist and sank into the ground the whole time the lines were being walked. I was expecting the Saturday morning Test to have much better conditions than we had on Friday morning but I ended up being quite wrong.

At 1:00AM Saturday morning a torrential thunderstorm came through and it poured for an hour and continued to rain hard for another hour after that. By morning it was anybody's guess how well the lines might have held up but I was not too optimistic. Just to make matters a little more interesting, it continued to drizzle on and off the rest of the day.

The judges for Saturday's test were Mme Agnes de France, Teddy Moritz and myself. The first dog up was from Canada. Steve Durocher's male wirehair Whiskey was raring to go at the start and took great interest in the hit site but unfortunately could not do much with the line. The smell of fresh tracks shortly after the start kept luring Whiskey away from the very faint scent left on the test line after the previous night's rain. Whiskey was called back for lack of progress after 30 minutes and shown the line. After another 10 minutes of working hard but not being able to make progress on the line the judges ended the test.

Steve Durocher (Canada) and Whiskey
The second dog up was John Jeanneney and his wirehair Joeri. Joeri also had quite a bit of trouble trying to lock in on the line but was able to very slowly pick his way along the first 150m of the line until he drifted off to the left and lost contact with it and eventually received a call back for being out of contact with the line for too long a distance. John at that point decided to withdraw his dog from the test. John reported that his dog had never really been able to lock into the line properly and after 20 minutes of trying he thought it would be a waste of everyone's time to continue trying.

John Jeanneney (NY) and Joeri
The third dog up was Steve Durocher again but this time with his female wirehair Flair. Flair took off like a shot right from the start and motored right down the first 115m of the line with no trouble whatsoever. The start of this line was even a little tricky and she had no problems with it. The line started on a logging road and went right up a steep hill and in the middle of the hill the logging road turned off to the right but the line went straight up the hill. Most dogs would have been a little sucked to the right at least for a few yards as the road arced right but Flair kept her nose to the ground and followed the line perfectly straight with excellent accuracy. I was really impressed with the dog's start and it looked like she was going to just ace the line but unfortunately for Flair at about 115m into the test she encountered some distracting cross scent in an area of ferns that started to give her trouble. This seemed to break her concentration for the blood line and things started going downhill from there. Steve was very good at reading his dog and knowing when she was tracking and when she was working hotter scent. He brought her back to the blood line several times but the easy, hot scent kept drawing her away. Eventually Steve just went with his dog and ended up with his first call back. The other judges and I showed Steve where the line was at for a restart but Flair went off again on the hot line and got a second call back.

Training note: I discussed with Steve later after the test what I thought would have been a better way to handle the situation with the hot line. Steve could read his dog very well and clearly knew when she was tracking hot and not on the blood line but he never actually stepped in and let her know firmly that taking the hot line was wrong. I would have given her a very firm "no" and perhaps a pretty good leash jerk for tracking hot. Especially when she went right back in the hot line's direction on the restart after the first call back. I asked Steve if perhaps Flair was a softer dog and could not have handled the correction and he said she was quite tough and easily could handle discipline on the line. I can only guess but I believe his dog could have passed the test if Steve had taken assertive action early on when his dog started to investigate the hot line.

After the second restart Flair seemed to settle in a little better but her concentration was clearly diminished from chasing all the hot scent. She was able to pick her way along the next 140m but as she approached the first turn she wavered off the line and ended up catching a piece of the second leg and bringing it back to the corner. She worked the check at the corner for quite some time and Steve could tell his dog was struggling and did not have the line so he would not let her go too far off from where she last had it. They circled a bunch of times and eventually the judges decided that the dog and handler needed to make progress or the test would be terminated. The handler was informed that he needed to make progress for the test to continue. At that point Steve gave Flair her head and just went with her. There really was no other choice. Unfortunately, she went off in the wrong direction and Steve and Flair received a third call back and the test was over.

It had been another tough day of conditions and the conditions had made it too difficult for any of the dogs to pass the test.

Part 3


And now for a funny story (depending on your perspective) and a little bragging. The NATC event was held at a Boy Scout camp in northern New Jersey. Most of the participants were staying in cabins right on the grounds. The night after the test, at 4 AM Sunday morning Eibe woke me up and kept standing on me. She wouldn't go back to sleep so I decided to let her out thinking she must have had to take a leak. Well as soon as I opened the cabin door all heck broke loose. She bolted out and around the door, and all I heard was a blood curdling scream that sounded like her guts were being ripped out. When I looked behind the door I saw something furry and two feet high fighting with my dog and the both of them disappearing off into the woods 10 yards away with my dog still screaming. I thought a coon or a coyote was dragging my dog off!

When I finally ran close and got my flashlight on all the commotion (bare foot and in my underwear no less) it turned out that it was a skunk! I don't know who had a hold of who at that point but I just reached in and grabbed Eibe by the back of the neck and when I picked her up the skunk came with. I gave the whole thing a shake and the skunk came loose and I ran for cover. Luckily I did not get a direct hit from the skunk but Eibe sure did! I tied her to a post while I surveyed all the damage. She continued to moan for another couple of minutes as I looked her over. Her chin and neck were solid yellow from the skunk spay and she had a bloody snout with a small hole in her nose but that was the only damage to her. I don't know how well the skunk faired but I did not go back to check. Luckily I had some Skunk Off in my first aid kit so we went right to the shower house and I washed her down. I thought it took pretty good care of the smell but when I got to breakfast that morning my friends thought differently!

Before the skunk incident Sunday morning I had planned to take Eibe out after breakfast to see if she could work one of the Tracking Shoe test lines at 40 hours that were not completed on Saturday at 20 hours. After her great performance on Friday under difficult conditions I thought she just might be able to do it and I knew it would be fun to try. After the skunk incident I thought at first the skunk in her face would prevent her from smelling anything but at the last minute I decided to give it a try anyway. I picked a line that had the last 600m, 2 wound beds and 2 marking points untouched and my plan was to get within 50 meters of the first wound bed using my GPS and then have Eibe do a search start to find it and begin the track from there.

Eibe's unofficial 40 hour line - click to enlarge
The search start was harder for Eibe than I expected but with a little guidance from me using the GPS she eventually found the wound bed I wanted to start from. During the search, we actually bumped the line two times and she indicated it but I wanted to be positive about the start so we kept searching for the wound bed. After finding the wound bed I started Eibe on the line. The first 120m were very difficult. The scent was so faint and there was so much other scent around that I think Eibe had a hard time figuring out which one she was supposed to follow. Eibe got off the line twice and I questioned her and she returned to searching and eventually got locked in on the line.

She went the next 240m slowly but with little trouble. As she tracked along out in front of me I could smell the skunk scent wafting off of her but it seemed not to give her any trouble. I had laid the line two days before so I thought I remembered exactly where it had been laid. At one point I thought she was off to the side 5 or 10m but right at that moment she stopped and stood solid and when I looked down she was standing over a marking point. Boy, was I proud of her!

We eventually got to a more open area where the canopy was not very dense. Part of the line was actually laid down a grassy logging trail and I knew for sure where it was but Eibe could not smell anything. I suspect the open canopy allowed the rain to hit the line harder in this area but for whatever reason this area was very difficult for Eibe. She spent a whole lot of time searching and trying to figure it out. I had to question her two times for taking heightened interest in cross trails, but I did not help her back to the line and just left her work. Hoping to blow through the difficult area I eventually I picked her up and restarted her back on part of the line where she clearly had it before but that did not work either. Finally I decided to cast her with a directed search wide around the difficult area. You can see from the GPS map how much trouble this area gave her. During the cast she picked up the line about 50m in front of the difficult area and she back tracked the line back to the edge of the difficult area and found the wound bed. When she reacquired the line after the search and found the wound bed I could tell she was smiling. I know I was!

Eibe over wound bed
At the wound bed I turned her around and pointed her in the right direction and she motored down the 50m she had just back tracked. The next 100m or so there was apparently not much scent and she slowly picked her way along. At one point she seemed to be stuck in a small 10 foot diameter area and just kept searching very hard and deep with her nose even under the leaves. I thought she was maybe after mice until I looked at my GPS and I realized that this was the area where there had been a marking point. The marking point was no longer there but it must have left a lot of scent or at least the critter that carried it away did. I encouraged her to continue on and the last 100m or so went pretty easy. All in all it took us 1 hour and 50 minutes to cover 600m of difficult 40-hour-old tracking shoe line. Eibe found and indicated the one wound bed and one of the two marking points and likely the second marking point as well.

Training note: On my ride home from New Jersey I was contemplating the weekend's tracking activity and my dog's  performance (on both tracks). This was the fourth time in a year that Eibe was in a test where she was able to do quite well even under difficult conditions and all or most of the other dogs in the test either struggled or could not finish. I think the reason she does so well can be attributed to two main abilities that she has, and neither one has to do with her having a great nose. Actually, I am coming to believe that her ability to smell is really just average. I think Eibe's most valuable natural ability is her ability to concentrate and stay focused for long periods of time. That's what seems to get her through the tough times. Secondly, she is very trainable and easily absorbs the training exercises I set up for her to learn new skills or unlearn bad tendencies. I believe that the combination of these two abilities and a strong hunting drive has enabled her to accomplish as much as she has already at barely 4 years of age. I really look forward to the next 6 or 8.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spring 2011 Blood Tracking at the NATC - part 1

By Andy Bensing
Part 1

On June 9 through 12, 2011 the North American Teckel Club held its Spring Hunting Workshop and Conformation Show. As part of that event, John Jeanneney, Darren Doran and I were responsible for laying out and organizing the DTK sanctioned Blood Tracking Tests. This year the blood tracking tests were 20- hour-old Tracking Shoe Tests. Each blood line was 1000 to 1200 meters long and was laid by the tracklayer walking with tracking shoes on and putting a squirt of blood on the ground every 10 meters or so after the first 50 meters where there was only blood at the hit site. Three and a half ounces of blood total were used for each line.

Tracking shoes

There were two 90-degree arching turns in each line. Two simulated wound beds and four marking points were dispersed along the line as well. For this test we used 3" diameter slices of birch wood soaked in blood as the marking points. We laid 1" cubes of deer lung on them when the line was laid but as usual, the lung was long gone by morning but the scented wood was still there for the dogs to find.

Marking points
Here's a poor quality but funny photo of John sharing his leg cramp magnesium supplements with Darren at the end of the day. Darren had flagged out three 1000m test lines and then went back and walked them again wearing the tracking shoes for the test the next day.

Darren is grimacing in leg cramp pain as John smiles happy to be able to help.
Since DTK sanctioned Blood Tracking tests are very hard to find here in the USA, the NATC set these tests up as actually two separate tests, one was held on Friday and another was held on Saturday. John Jeanneney and I both wanted to enter a dog so I entered my dog for Friday while John set those lines up, and I set up Saturday's test so John could enter that day.

To be honest, I did not feel properly prepared for entering my dog in this test. I had had a very busy spring and did not get the training time in that I would have preferred leading up to this Tracking Shoe Test. As I havd written about before I spent quite a bit of training time getting my dog ready for a 20 and 40 hour VSwP in February and the Deer Search competition in April which were both blood only, no tracking shoes, events. After the Deer Search Competition in April where we came in a very disappointing 3rd, when I went to switch back to tracking shoes for the NATC event, I noticed a little problem with Eibe's work and I was only able to get three training lines in to work on it. It had gotten better but not really yet to my full satisfaction. I don't like to enter any event that I do not feel fully prepared for but there was a low entry for the NATC event so against my better judgment I entered anyway.


There were two dogs entered for Friday's test. Eibe and I were up first. I knew already on Thursday when the lines were laid that the test conditions would be difficult on Friday. The forest floor was very dry as it did not rain for quite some time. With a "blood only line" I would not have worried but when a line is laid with tracking shoes and minimal blood I have had difficulty in the past. When the ground is hard and dry I do not think very much scent is transferred from the tracking shoe to the ground when the line is laid. In training I sometimes see my dog in these conditions actually do more of a search from blood spot to blood spot than actual tracking the scent from the shoes. To top off the dry conditions when laid, Thursday evening it rained several times quite hard. Again, with a blood line it would not be a concern but it has also been my experience that tracking shoe lines do not hold up to rain as well as blood does. I knew Eibe would be able to find some scent but I also knew it would be very hard.

Well as soon as I started Eibe on the line my suspicions were confirmed. It was going to be difficult. It took Eibe 13 minutes just to get started and go the first 50 meters including her circling back to the hit site twice until she finally locked in on the track. Eibe found and cleanly indicated a marking point about 60m after she finally got locked in and went another 200m without much trouble. From that point forward the next 500m of the line was a series of short runs of 20 or 30m that she could track relatively easily and then dead spots were there was apparently little or no scent so she had to basically search through the dead spots to find the next piece. When I looked at the gps map of our track afterwards I could see that in addition to the normal small, few second long checks that a dog normally makes when tracking, Eibe had 8 large checks along the way that were 5 to 15 minutes long each. Two times she was just stuck in those big checks in the dead areas and I did a directed search with her and cast her out around the dead spots and she was able to re-acquire the line.

Eibe found and solidly indicated both wound beds and 2 of the 4 marking points along the trail. Actually, the second marking point she found was a big help for her. She was working hard to find her way through one of the dead spots and the wind shifted a little and she caught wind of the marking point and went directly to it about 10m away from where she had been searching. She indicated it by standing over it rock solid and I think she was as proud of it as I was. From that marking point forward the last 150m of the line was a little easier and went relatively quickly compared to the rest. I found out later from the tracklayer that he had gone a little light on the blood on the first part of the track and had pretty much of the 3½ ounces left near the end so he put it down a little heavy to use it up by the end. That's probably why it got easier.

The whole line ended up taking us 1 hour and 58 minutes to complete. I was very grateful that the judges gave me that time, appreciated my dog's hard work and recognized her determined focus to keep working under the very difficult conditions. I was not really sure how much time I was going to be allowed to have to finish the track because the DTK rule as to time limit has changed several times back and forth over the years. The latest translation I had said a limit of 1½ hours but as with most things the judges always have some discretion. At 1 hour and 15 minutes into the test I knew I had at least 300m still to go so I asked the judges if I was under any time constraints. If I were then I would just push my dog along and hope for the best. When the judges said time was not a factor then I relaxed and let my dog continue on at her own pace.

When it was all over and the judges finished conferring, Eibe and I were awarded a score of 92 Prize I. The score is composed of 3 parts, Method, Accuracy, and Desire and my score reflected that the judges felt Eibe's method was excellent, accuracy was very good and her desire to track was excellent. I was very happy with the score and it was what I was expecting and what I thought my dog deserved after working so hard.

GPS map of Eibe's track - click to enlarge

Judges John Jeanneney (NY), Mme Agnes de France (France), and Teddy Moritz (NJ/DE) with Eibe and me after a successful 20 hour Tracking Shoe Test.
The second dog up on Friday was Patt Nance's young longhaired teckel, Viljo. I did not see this dog work so I can't report much about how things went. All I know is that he had some difficulty at the start and was not able to complete the line.

Patt Nance (OH) and Viljo

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Asko!

On June 20 we celebrated Asko's 12th Birthday. We hope that there are still many years together for us ahead to come. So far Asko hasn't been sick even for one day in his life, and his last checkup showed that his heart is strong and his teeth are in excellent shape.

FC Asko von der Drachenburg, V, Vp made a very significant impact on the gene pool of working wires in this country. We imported him when he was just a twelve-week-old puppy, and at the time there was a great need for an outcross of existing bloodlines. This small (under 20 lbs) extremely intelligent and biddable dog exemplifies what a versatile hunting/tracking dachshund should be. You can read more about Asko and how Andy handled him in a Vp test here.

Asko sired seven litters out of six different females, and produced eight field champions. Nine of his offspring (Elli, Gilda, Czar, Fredrika, Falko, Kirsche, Asta, Pagan Lily) were bred further, and consequently he is a grandsire of 19 litters. At present we have ten dachshunds and three of them have been imported (Asko, Joeri and Tommy). Asko is in the pedigree of the other seven dogs. He is a sire of Elli and Gilda, grandsire of Billy and Bernie, great-grandsire of Keena and great-great-grandsire of Paika and Quenotte. When you check the list of top twenty field trial dachshunds in this country, five of them have Asko in their pedigree.

Asko still has a lot of fire in his belly. He runs rabbits regularly at our place and he swims in the pond. He is a compulsive retriever and ball chaser. The below pictures were taken five days ago.

We love ya Asko! Many happy returns!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Poppy's protective instincts: the nature of nurture

When I opened a recent e-mail from Derek Harris and viewed the pictures, my jaw dropped and I was in awe. The pictures were so beautiful! They show Poppy, who is our Paika's sister. Poppy was a late bloomer and she stayed with us longer than other puppies. She lives with Derek (wildlife biologist/hunting guide) in Texas, and she is quite a dog. This is what Derek wrote:

Dear John and Jolanta,

I wanted to write to just say hi and give ya’ll some updates on Poppy. She is definitely my best friend and we don’t do many things apart from each other.

I have attached some photos of her with the a calf that lost its mom about a month ago due to the severe drought we are facing. When I brought the calf home I knew Poppy could tell it was in bad condition. She instantly started licking it and looking over it. She actually didn’t come in the house for over 72 hours. I had to bring food and water outside to her. Any time the other dogs would come close Poppy would get in between the dogs and the calf and show her teeth and even bite the other dogs if they got too close. A couple weeks later when that calf was doing quite well another calf was brought to me that was in terrible shape. Instantly, Poppy took to it as well and would not let the now healthy calf or dogs near it either. And now she is protecting Rhea eggs (large bird like an emu) the exact same way.

We are lucky enough to live on a 40,000 acre ranch where she is exposed to several species of game every day. I have been feeding the deer alfalfa just on the other side of the fence to get her used to deer and realize that we don’t track all of them. At first she would run to the fence and bark obsessively, now she barely even lifts her head to look. I have worked hard to expose her to as many different environments and situations as I can. The thing I still struggle the most with is her social skills with people. She likes things to be “me and her” only and she is very protective of me, the house, etc. She is great at a social BBQ, but when it is time to “work” I can tell she still has a problem if there is a crowd. I think one of the down falls of us living on the ranch is the lack of company we have out here. My heeler has got a lot more aggressive/protective toward strangers since we have lived such a secluded life as well. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

This touching picture shows Poppy with the calf she was nurturing. I have a feeling that Poppy will have very strong maternal instincts.

Poppy has always loved to swim. This picture was taken at sunrise.
My response to Derek's question was: "Poppy needs to learn that other people are a source of pleasure and positive experience, and that they are not a threat. If she is food oriented, let them give her treats that she really likes. Don't force her to interact with people if she does not want to, but don't let her to be aggressive towards them either. Some dogs are just not very social (just like some people are not), but she needs to learn to tolerate starngers. If she is not aggressive, then don't make a big deal out of it. If she is distracted by other people's presence when she is working, ask them follow at a greater distance if it is possible. I think you might want to experiment a bit what is a good way to "manage her" around strangers but for this you need to have access to strangers, and this seems to be a challenge to do where you live in isolation. Let me think about it more."

John added: Jolanta wrote she needs more exposure to people. In your rare shopping trips to town take her along and walk her on a leash down busy streets. This will help. You don’t want her to be distracted by the presence of strange hunters to the point that she will not track.

Derek replied:
Thanks for your responses. Yes, tracking comes first and it’s something I am passionate about. I recently got back Zimbabwe where I was on a leopard hunt with dogs. I was very impressed with the houndsman and all the advice he gave me. I showed him pictures of Poppy and he had nothing but good things to say about the breed, and he was actually looking for a WHD himself. I can’t imagine how neat it would have been to hear the 2 of you swap stories.

I will continue to take Poppy to as many crowded places as I can and I hope to find her a lot of tracking work this upcoming season. I am going to Kansas with her again this year and am really looking forward to that.

Thanks for the feedback and I will keep you updated with her progress.

Derek M Harris

Do you have any suggestions how to help Poppy with her problem?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Importance of functional conformation in a working dachshund; NATC events - part 2

On Sunday, June 12, the North American Teckel Club held a Zuchtschau at Rockaway, NJ. A big thank you to Teddy and Carl Moritz who hosted the show at Winnebago Scout Reservation.

Zuchtschau is a conformation show where each dog is evaluated according to the FCI dachshund breed standard #148, and each dog receives a written evaluation from an FCI judge. This year the Zuchtachau was judged by  Mme Agnès de France, President of the French Teckel Club (Club des Ameteurs de Teckels). She judged for the NATC before, exactly two years ago.

What is the FCI and what is the FCI dachshund standard? The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) is an international federation of kennel clubs, and currently it has 86 members countries, with one member per country. You can see which countries follow the FCI rules by clicking here or here. Perhaps you will notice that the USA, Canada, UK and South Africa are not on the list...unfortunately. You can read more about the FCI on its website. The wikipedia states that "the aims of the F.C.I. are to encourage and promote breeding and use of purebred dogs whose functional health and physical features meet the standard set for each respective breed and which are capable of working and accomplishing functions in accordance with the specific characteristics of their breed; to protect the use, keeping and breeding of dogs in the member countries."

The North American Teckel Club is part of the DTK (Deutscher Teckelklub), which is in charge of the FCI standard of the dachshund breed as Germany is the country of the breed origin. The NATC holds two conformation shows per year and you can read about them on the NATC website.

Even though on paper the AKC and FCI standards of conformation are not that different, in reality as John says "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." To download the text of the FCI standard for dachshund and commentary providing additional information go here.

The bottom line is that a hunting dachshund should be athletic and his built should be "especially suited for hunting game below ground, for beating the bush in search of game, and for trailing". So when you are thinking about acquiring your first dachshund for blood tracking, don't think about just his nose, tracking desire, intelligence and other hunting qualities, but pay attention to the parents' conformation too.

When I started to breed wirehaired dachshunds my first litter was a cross between a French working teckel (FC Fausto de la Grande Futaie) and American show dachshund (FC Rivendells Ruby Tuesday). Even though Ruby had a lot of hunt, her conformation was not extreme, and all the following generations of breeding involved FCI working dachshunds only, it was very difficult to get rid off the large- sized, low-stationed, long-bodied, deep-chested American show phenotype. When it comes to breeding, this type seems to be dominant over the lighter and more agile type with  better ground clearance and shorter body.

This picture shows Hansi (Teuffel von Moosbach-Zuzelek), who was Ruby and Fausto's grandson and was born in June 1995. He grew up to be 35 lbs, and he had extremely exaggerated conformation. Of course, we did not use him for breeding. This is not the conformation type you want in a working dachshund...or any dachshund. However, this is the type that you see very often an American show ring.

Hansi is an example of "wrong" conformation for a working dachshund. He was too large, too long and too low to the ground.
There is a reason why I am addressing this issue in my post. Recently I have realized that a number of American show wires have been imported to Europe, and to my surprise, in spite of the long and low stationed conformation, they have done very well in a show ring there. Some of them have done well in blood tracking tests too. Now American show breeders are starting to sell their pups to blood tracking homes. All I can say - do you research first and be an educated puppy buyer. Let's hope that the conformation of these dogs is going to withstand physical demands of blood tracking.

After this long introduction to conformation let's turn to the NATC Zuchtschau. The pictures are telling a story how a dachshund is evaluated according to the FCI standard.

Patt Nance with Viljo, who was rated "excellent".
First a dachshund is put on a scale and his weight is recorded. According to the FCI standard dachshunds come in three sizes. Standard Dachshund has circumference of chest 35 cm or more and its ideal upper weight limit is about 9 kg. Miniature Dachshund has circumference of chest from 30 to 35 cm measured when at least 15 months old. Rabbit Dachshund has chest circumference up to 30 cm measured when at least 15 months. Dachshunds weighing in at more than 10 kilos may not be awarded the “Excellent”.
Stephanie Marcoux is handling Whiskey, who received the "excellent" rating.
Mme Agnès de France is measuring this wirehaired dachshund's chest. As it turned out even though he was out of mini parents, his chest measurement above 35 cm determined that he is of a standard size.
Dog's bite is checked thoroughly.
And all his teeth are counted.
Mme Agnès de France showed us these drawing illustrating dachshund's teeth and jaw. The FCI standard considers absence of one or more canines and absence of one or more incisors as eliminating faults.The same goes for the lack of other premolars or molars with exceptions : the two PM1, one PM2 without consideration of M3.
A tail is checked for kinks. This was embarrassing, but as it turned out Quenotte has a kink at the very base of her tail. I have never noticed it as I was checking the tail further down. A kinky tail is an eliminating fault.

Once a dog is checked on the table, a judge observes how the dog moves.

Movement should be ground covering, flowing and energetic, with far reaching front strides without much lift, and strong rear drive movement should produce slightly springy transmission to top line. Tail should be carried in harmonious continuation of top line, slightly sloping. Front and hind legs have parallel movement.

Teddy Moritz with her longhaired mini Garmin who received "excellent" rating.
A dog's temperament is tested by observing his reaction to the loud noise.
All dogs are rated, and possible ratings are: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Sufficient, Disqualified and Without Evaluation. At the end of the show the best dog in each coat is selected, and the show closes with the selection of the best dog in show.

MmeAgnès de France Alexandra whose red mini longhaired Jesse James von Reblick was "Best in Show". CONGRATULATIONS to Alexandra and Jessie James!

For pictures from the NATC Zuchtschau click here

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Joeri's love to swim and retrieve provides a good opportunity for hot shots!

Before we post about the NATC Zuchtschau, I am going to include justt few pictures of Joeri swimming and retrieving in our pond. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

North American Teckel Club events - part 1

North American Teckel Club held its Zuchtschau and other events (blood tracking tests, obedience tests, training sessions etc) on May 9-12 at Rockaway, NJ. For us the results were disappointing.

On Thursday the lines were laid for the first test in 95 degree heat. Then it rained hard, and the next day only Andy Bensing's Eibe was able to work this line. She took two hours to painstaking track what was left of deer foot and blood scent. Her focused attention never wavered. John was one of the three judges who gave her a prize I (92 points), and he thinks that Eibe is an extraordinary dog. Huge congratulations to Andy and Eibe!

On Friday there was another tracking shoe test for three more dogs, Steve Durocher's two teckels from Canada and our Joeri. None of these dogs could do anything with the line, which had been rained out by another torrential downpour. All three dogs failed. John withdrew Joeri after 20 minutes and about 250 meters in order to avoid wasting the judges' time.

The tracking shoe test, with its natural deer scent from the interdigital glands of the hoofs, seems to motivate dogs better than straight blood. However, the drawback is that the tracking shoe test line holds up less well
under heavy rain.

In other events, such as the Companion Dog Test (Begleithundpruefung) Joeri did very well. He was the only dog who did the exercises off-lead. The water retrieval tests with a dummy and a dead duck fascinated him. After passing these tests himself, he delighted in retrieving the dummy and duck for the other less enthusiastic dogs who left the retrieval object out in the water. This was all very fine, but we would have preferred to have a good score on the blood tracking test.

Since we don't have any pictures from the performance events, I have included pictures from today's John and Joeri's obedience training session. It included healing off-leash, down and stay, and retrieve.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Christina and Mischa - a new team to beat at field trials

We wrote about Mischa before. We liked Mischa a lot, but for a variety of reasons we decided last fall not to use her in our breeding program. We did not actively look for a new home for her, but in the middle of November an interesting e-mail came Christina Wahl from Ithaca, NY. Christina was looking for a wirehaired dachshund puppy out of European bloodlines. She and her husband used to own smooth dachshunds and were familiar with the breed. She also met some nice wires in Germany and decided that this is the breed and type she would like to own. While we did not have a puppy for Christina, we wrote to her about Mischa. A week later Christina and her husband Ellis picked Mischa up. It was a good match!

I was really happy to see Christina and Mischa at field trials in Batavia on May 28-30. Mischa went to a number of field trials while she lived with us, and she needed just few points to finish her field championship. This was a first trial for Christina, and she seemed to enjoy the whole experience. Conditions were tough as part of the grounds were flooded and we had to go multiple times through some thick mud and pretty deep water.

On Saturday Mischa placed 1st in an open stake of 18 females, and this way she became a Field Champion. Next day she was entered for the first time a a field champion stake. And on Monday she won the stake of 31 field champions, and then went to win the Absolute run too. What a great weekend it was for Mischa and her handler/owner Christina!

Saturday results - Mischa was 1st in the OAAB stake, and she was also Best of Open stakes.

At the Batavia trials - Christina Wahl with Mischa

Mischa was unstoppable on Monday.

Mischa won the FC stake on May 30 and she was also the Absolute Winner of the trial.

Christina and Mischa collected their ribbons at the end of the trial. Laurel Whistance-Smith and Sherry Ruggieri were the judges of the brace for the Absolute win.
On Tuesday we got a nice e-mail from Christina: "I cannot thank you enough for the fun you have given me by letting me take Mischa home. Not only is she affectionate and easygoing, but look how well she did at those trials, even with me as handler!! Wow. I enjoyed tromping around outside with a bunch of strangers (except for the mud and swamp, I wasn't prepared for that part)."

But there was more to come. Now I should say that Christina Wahl is an Associate Professor of Biology at Wells College and the field trials gave her some food for thought. Christina, thank you for sharing them with us!

"Hi Jolanta,
As you know, I went to the St. Lawrence this weekend to tend my garden and my bees. Turns out, I caught a swarm in my "bait hive" and because it was so big I had to immediately hive it, so not much gardening happened, since I had to prepare hive bodies and frames for the new bees...

But on another topic, you might enjoy this story. My Mom and I were in the garden chatting, where I had let Mischa off-leash for a bit of fun, since there is a small wood near us where she enjoys running around looking for critturs. I was bragging about Mischa's amazing field trial day, when she yipped and we knew she'd found a rabbit. Sure enough, the rabbit came barreling out of the woods, right past us, with Mischa in hot pursuit. The rabbit made a sudden left check...Mischa was about 15 feet behind it...the rabbit was in plain view when it turned...and Mischa KEPT GOING straight ahead for another 20 yards, totally missing that rabbit!! We laughed and laughed. So much for keen nose and disciplined dog!
Now my Ph.D. is in sensory physiology, and I have been doing a lot of thinking since the field trials. I was so impressed with the way the dogs are able to scent rabbits based on the faintest of molecular trails, even to the extent of knowing which direction the animal was moving in. Mischa did one spectacular run on Monday where she raced at top speed and made a flawless check without even a pause, exactly where that rabbit had turned. How is that possible? The dog has to breathe in and out, and it is only on the intake that it can sense olfactory cues.
That means if it is breathing out as it passes a check on a dead run, it will miss it. Mischa got lucky there...she must have breathed in at exactly the right second.
Linda Buck and Richard Axel won the Nobel Prize a few years ago for figuring out that for every odorant there is just one olfactory neuron. That's great work towards understanding the sensory aspects of olfaction, but it doesn't tell us how olfactory PERCEPTION works.
Every animal has a set of sensory modalities, these senses allow the brain to perceive the environment. We know a few things about perception:
1. For a given sense, perception is usually better than predicted given the known parameters of the sensory system;
2. Most animals use more than one sense at a time to locate objects in their surroundings;
3. Input from one sense can distract/overwhelm input from another sense to the extent that the animal fails to utilize that information (and then makes mistakes).
4. Alertness and focus make a big difference to perception and thus, performance. Drive (motivation) is also important.

Because you spent time with Mischa, she had developed an interest in following rabbit trails, and her natural drive (instinct) to hunt kicked in. Then, for some reason, during the field trials her motivation was elevated and she became highly alert and focused. That situation, plus luck (breathing in at the right moment) allowed her to excel.

So, in addition to the drive you trained her for (she thanks you!) she had to be motivated, alert, and focused. Since we don't really understand how the senses work together, we have to try to keep the dogs from being distracted so that they optimize their mental ability to use the inputs from several senses at once. I suppose in the wild they are able to do that because their survival depends on it...surely that is THE great motivator! Living with humans, there will always be another meal, so they need to get their motivation from another source. I think Mischa wanted to beat the other dogs and that gave her an edge. What gave her that desire to beat them, I don't know."

I am sure that we will be writing more about Christina and Mischa's adventures in the field. I am looking very much forward to seeing them at field trials this fall.

Virginia hunters need to act now!

Virgina residents have a chance to change the current law and legalize the use of tracking dogs to track injured deer. Read the article in the Roanoke Times written by Mark Taylor.

As the article says:

Last winter, the General Assembly passed legislation that allows the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to lift the prohibition on using leashed tracking dogs to assist in the recovery of big game.

At a meeting in Richmond last week, the DGIF board took the next step, approving for public comment the change. The public comment period opened Friday and runs through June 24. The board will vote on the proposal at its next meeting, on July 12.

Written comments can be emailed to or mailed to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn. Policy Analyst and Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23230.

Another option -- the one most residents take when commenting on proposed regulations changes -- is to use the DGIF's proposal comment online forum.

4 VAC 15-90-260

Game: Deer: Hunting with dogs prohibited in certain counties or areas


The proposal is to make it lawful to use leashed tracking dogs to find wounded or dead deer during the deer archery season(s), muzzleloading deer season(s), and the general firearms deer season(s) in certain counties or areas of Virginia.

Proposed language of amendment:

4 VAC 15-90-260. Hunting with dogs prohibited in certain counties and areas.

A. Generally. It shall be unlawful to hunt deer with dogs in the counties of Amherst (west of U.S. Route 29), Bedford, Campbell (west of Norfolk Southern Railroad, and in the City of Lynchburg), Fairfax, Franklin, Henry, Loudoun, Nelson (west of Route 151), Northampton, Patrick and Pittsylvania (west of Norfolk Southern Railroad); and on the Amelia, Chester F. Phelps, G. Richard Thompson and Pettigrew Wildlife Management Areas, except that tracking dogs as defined in §29.1-516.1 may be used.

B. Special provision for Greene and Madison counties. It shall be unlawful to hunt deer with dogs during the first 12 hunting days in the counties of Greene and Madison, except that deer tracking dogs as defined in §29.1-516.1 may be used.


During the 2011 General Assembly session, a bill was passed (HB 1889) making it legal to use tracking dogs that are maintained and controlled on a lead to find and retrieve wounded or dead bear and deer in Virginia. This legislation allows for such retrieval anywhere in Virginia during the archery, muzzleloader, and firearms hunting season for these species provided that those who are involved in the retrieval effort have permission to hunt on or to access the land being searched and do not have any weapons in their possession. This proposal will bring the Department’s current regulation prohibiting the use of dogs while hunting deer in line with the Code of Virginia.


An Act to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 29.1-516.1, relating to tracking dogs.

[H 1889]

Approved March 24, 2011

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 29.1-516.1 as follows:

§ 29.1-516.1. Using tracking dogs to retrieve bears or deer.

Tracking dogs maintained and controlled on a lead may be used to find a wounded or dead bear or deer statewide during any archery, muzzleloader, or firearm bear or deer hunting season, or within 24 hours of the end of such season, provided that those who are involved in the retrieval effort have permission to hunt on or to access the land being searched and do not have any weapons in their possession.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Joeri visits a farm with free roaming livestock

This week the blog will be catching up with all the overdue posts. There is so much to write about - field trials, Trackfest and NATC events, which took place on June 9-12. Actually, on the way home from the NATC events in New Jersey, John and Joeri stopped off to visit his son Paul near Liberty, New York. Paul and his partner Marilyn have an “educational” farm for city folks, who come to the Catskills in summer. The farm is stocked with all kinds of free roaming livestock from horses to cattle to sheep to turkeys. Joeri took all this in stride, and did not get upset when a kid goat sniffed his backside as a dog might do. As you can see from these photos, he was keeping close watch on John for guidance in case the crazy farm menagerie turned hostile.

Beaverwood Farm is a dream come true for a photographer. This picture was taken a year and a half ago around Thanksgiving.