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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post-Irene report from Berne, NY - damage in the Helderberg Hilltowns

When I posted last time on Sunday little I knew what was coming ahead. Here in Berne, NY, it started to rain around 6 PM on Saturday and continued to do so for 24 hours. In total we got ten and a half inches of rain. When rain stopped, the wind picked up, and finally the power and cable went off (they were restored last night).

On Monday morning we started to use our generator to keep our freezers and fridge cool. Our water pump, and appliances like microwave and coffee maker are hooked up to the generator as well, so we were in a good shape. We cooked on the grill, we could take a shower. Ironically since Monday morning the weather has been warm and sunny. The damage to our property was minimal - an inch of water downstairs (on the tile floor it is not such a big deal) and a washed out driveway. We lost a tree that we liked, and the yard was covered with branches. But this was absolutely nothing in comparison to the damage caused by Irene at the bottom of the hill. Yes, luckily we live on the top of a hill, and consequently suffered very little.

A the bottom of our hill, 200 yards from us, Fox Creek was turned into Niagara Falls and gushed through the town center. It took out a local Agway store, which collapsed. The pictures will tell a better story than my words. All Upstate New York suffered greatly because of the flood, and many counties were declared an emergency area. Roads are closed, bridges are gone or ruined, houses and crops disappeared. In a nearby town of Clarksville a woman was swept away by gushing water in her backyard.

It will be a long time before things will go to "normal".

This road (Helderberg Trail) is still closed.

The center of Berne, NY

Agway store in the center of town.


For more info click here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thanks Irene for photo opportunities!

Hurricane Irene started to make impact in the Helderbergs last night around 11 PM. Today, 12 hours later she is not done yet. So far we have one inch of water on the lower level of out house, and a septic tank is on the verge of backing up. This is nothing major! We have power, but there are still at least 6 hours of driving rain ahead of us.

I like this reflection of the door window in the standing water in our mud room.

The closeup of the reflection.

The view from the garage.

The view from our front porch.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Education and socialization of Bella, an eleven-week-old puppy

As you know, we have a new puppy Bella, who is now eleven weeks old. She has been with us for two weeks,  and we have been trying to provide a stimulating, enriched environment for her. These are some things that we have done.

Bella went on four trips with me to our woods and pond, and it was a good bonding experience. She does not range far at all, actually sticks pretty close to me, but I like it. When I call her name, she runs towards me at a full speed. We have a bumper crop of blackberries this year, so every trip results in several cups of this delicious fruit. I put them directly into her mouth, and in spite of their somewhat tart taste, she seems to like them, and is always ready for more.

Bella is not crazy about the water, but when she investigates the pond she is willing to get her feet wet. I know how much Mae, her mother, loves to swim, so I hope that Bella gradually learns to love the water as well. We'll be working on it.

Investigating a duck feather floating in the pond. Every time I go to the pond, I see seven ducks swimming there. They are a challenge to photograph, that's for sure.
Last weekend we took Bella to the town park, where there was a social gathering and music. The music was loud, but it had no effect on Bella. She loved meeting strangers and played really well with kids.

She shows no reaction to loud noise and sleeps with no problem in our mudroom, even when our washing machine located there is in use.

Other things that we have done - walks on the leash (she is leash broken now), two blood tracks, and playing retrieving games (she is an excellent retriever). She met our little puppies and was curious about them, and she continues to socialize with our dogs. Always happy, responsive, very talkative, has a great sense of humor and never takes herself too seriously. What more could we ask for?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ray Holohan's case for carrying a smartphone in the field

Ray Holohan from Illinois sent us an interesting e-mail:
Recently I have started using an iphone so I got an app from Cabela' s called Recon Hunt. It is really a neat program that is set up for tracking a wounded deer. You have satellite imagery and GPS ability, plus it gives you all kinds of data that can be printed out and kept. 
I have been using it all summer on all my practice tracks and walks with Rosco. I'm planning on using it this tracking season. So I have come up with a way to carry and use it in the field. I showed it to Joe Walters and Chris Barr and they think it is really neat,  and they are telling me I should put a patent on it. I'm not really interested in doing that, but thought I might offer it to club members (I think Ray means United Blood Trackers) who use a smart phone for the same purpose out there. I'm using an iphone with a protective case on it. The device that I have made is fabricated from .050 alum. and is very light. It offers more protection and pretty much keeps the phone waterproof. It it is carried around your neck with a binocular harness and whenever you want to mark blood or a wayward point you just flip it open and punch it in. The device is fairly easy to fabricate. If someone would want one, I would tell them to make a cardboard template of their phone - the exact side size, thickness and placement of any buttons they would need to use, and send it to me. I think I could make them for 40-50 dollars . They could get their own binocular harness. If you think this might have some interest would you mind posting this. There are five photos attached that pretty much show how it works.

Ray can be contacted at 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"A Summer Treat". Nuisance Bear Track in New Jersey

By Andy Bensing

On a recent hot, humid morning I received a phone call that really made my day.  It was the first week of August and deer season was still 1 ½ months away.  The last thing I expected that morning was a chance to go blood tracking.  But much to my surprise on the other end of the phone was the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife asking me to come and track a wounded bear.  Wow!  A pre-season track and for a bear no less.  Tracking a bear is a real treat for most blood trackers.  I had tracked a few in years past up in New York State but never with my current dog Eibe.  I had trained my dog on bear blood a few times and encountered them as cross trails in some training exercises but never actually tracked one.  I could not wait to get in the field that afternoon.  

Earlier that morning around 5:00 AM the 1 ½ year old young black bear had wondered into a primitive campsite in the Stokes State Forest  near Branchville NJ.  Early reports from the incident were that the bear had dragged 2 young campers from their tents.  As it turned out later the bear certainly had entered a few tents and scared the living daylights out of the young campers, but all the camper's minor injuries were a result of the campers scurrying for safety to get away from the bear, not any actual bite or claw marks.  Regardless, the bear needed to be destroyed.  The bear would not leave the campsite no matter how much noise the campers made.  The bear  actually hung around for over an hour until the Campers were able to contact the Park Police who arrived and shot the bear.  The bear was actually shot within 3 feet of the adirondack  shelter where the campers had taken refuge over an hour earlier.  That's how brazen this bear was.  Unfortunately the bear was only wounded in the neck and ran off.

The Park Police eye tracked the blood trail for about 385 meters and the blood petered out at the edge of a swampy thicket.  The NJDFW also brought out their bear harassment dog, a black mouth cur, in an attempt to locate the wounded bear but were unable to locate him.  The bear harassment dogs are not really trained to track but it was certainly worth a try.  The harassment dogs are normally used by being visually put on bears just like goose dogs keep geese off golf courses.

Until I finished my work for the day in Pennsylvania and drove the 105 miles to NJ it was 4:30 PM when I arrived.  The plan was to track the bear on leash with my wirehaired dachshund and have the handler of the bear harassment dog follow behind about 30 meters back.  From the description of the wound, it was not very likely the bear would be found dead.  Our goal was to hopefully get close enough to see the bear get up out of his bed and then release the cur dog who would be able to easily tree it.  Once treed, the bear's identity could be confirmed and then he could be dispatched.

I started Eibe at the spot the bear was initially shot and she easily took up the trail and led us  to the swampy thicket where the visual blood trail ended.  From her actions in the small thicket, I would say the bear likely spent some time there and  likely left the thicket when the eye trackers approached.   It took about 15 minutes for Eibe to figure out the bear's exit from the thicket but eventually she got it figured out.  The bear looped back  and worked his way up onto a ridge that the bear followed for about  1000 meters before dropping off the side into the next swampy thicket much like the one he had been tracked to in the first place.

 After the point of loss, myself nor any of the wildlife officials accompanying me saw any blood.  Eibe was working strictly by the individual scent of the wounded bear itself.  Because of the thick fur and fat cover a bear has, the blood trail left by a bear is usually minimal.  That's the bad news but the good news is that they are pretty smelly from a dog's point of view and are generally easy to trail even if they are no longer dropping blood.  As we tracked along at about 850 meters after the point of loss Eibe found and clearly indicated to me a small bear track.  I had seen her check out a few  larger tracks along the way but this was the first one she actually indicated.  About 200 meters later after dropping off the top of the ridge she indicated another identically sized track as well.   150 meters after that  while I was on my belly crawling through the second thicket she locked up solid in front of me and when I finally crawled up to her she was standing directly in the middle of the bear's wound bed.  I could tell she was extremely proud of herself for finding it.  I was very happy with her as well.  In training I teach her to stop and stand at significant points of sign along the track and she clearly knew this was important.  The only problem was that in my haste to run out the door to take this surprise out of season track I did not bring any treats along to reward her for finding sign.  When I gave her the okay to continue tracking she just stood there and kept looking for me to give her a treat.  All I could do was praise her like crazy  and after a few seconds she finally continued on.  I will stick a few biscuits in my tracking pack as emergency  spares so that does not happen again.

 It took a little time to work our way out of the thicket.  Just like the first thicket the bear had entered, it appeared the bear had moved around in the thicket before bedding down.  Shortly after finding our way out of the thicket and Eibe indicating another foot print, the Park Police accompanying me received a call that a bear matching the description of the bear we were tracking had been seen by some other officials straight out ahead of us over a mile away.  At that point the track was called off.  We had tracked the bear over a mile from where it was shot and pushed it from its bed but the bear was in too good of shape to get close enough to it to use the cur dog to tree it.  The NJDFW official did not want to push the bear any further away.  They suspected the bear would stick around if not pushed and might be caught in one of the snares they had set.  And it turned out they were exactly right.  Two days later the bear was caught within 100 meters of the camping area where the whole thing started.

Click on the map to enlarge.

It would have great if we had actually been able to get the bear that day but just like 50% of the time when a leashed tracking dog is brought in to find a wounded deer, the end result was that we were able to confirm that the quarry was not mortally wounded.  That in itself is a success from a dog handler's point of view.  And after all, I could not have thought of a better way to spend that Wednesday afternoon.

Not the NJ Bear but here's a small bear we found in NY State a few years ago.  Six hunters had previously spent a whole day grid searching for him in a swap.  My old dog Arno and I found him dead 600 meters from the point of loss 48 hours after he had been shot.  That was a pretty fun day too.

The bear found by Andy and Arno few years ago.

Media coverage of the bear that Andy tracked few days ago:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tommy's second recovery of wounded deer

The 2011 hunting/tracking season is coming up in less than two months, but we have never caught up with pictures and video we took last season. The below clip shows Tommy finding the second of his three deer last year. It’s a nice 10 pointer. The deer had been shot by the bowhunter at 8 AM. The line was only 6 ½ hours old, but it was a warm, dry day and there was no blood for the last 200 yards. You will notice that Tommy acts a bit worried when he gets to the deer. The reason is that coyotes had just been driven off the kill, and they left their scent behind! Fortunately the coyotes did not do much damage. Our New York coyotes, pumped up with wolf genes, don’t wait for dark anymore.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Virginia legalizes the use of tracking dogs

Virginia recently legalized the use of tracking dogs. Recent legislation allows: 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.


A big thank you to everybody who supported the change and congratulations to Virginia hunters!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Introducing our new puppy - Bella von Tierspur

On the weekend Bella was introduced to her new canine family, and she has done very well with them. He behavior is very appropriate - she is somewhat cautious and waits for the invitation to play. She submits to our dogs very easily. She is not "in their face" the way Tommy was (and still is). They like her a lot and accepted her without hesitation.

What is pretty amazing about her that at 9 weeks she sleeps through the night in a crate. She does not need to go out during the night, and she does not object to being in the crate. Beth and Genti have done a tremendous job raising her.

Is she a perfect puppy? No, she is not. She has some conformation weaknesses, which we hope will improve with age. I am a perfectionist by nature, but I think it was Voltaire who said that  “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” On Saturday night I took Bella to Suzanne Clothier, and we analyzed a "large picture" so to speak. The short visit helped me put things in perspective and arrive at the final decision.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy pictures of her. As always click on the image to view a larger version.

Bella meets Keena and submits to her right away.

Keena is inviting Bella to play.

Bella nose to nose with Billy.

Bella is inviting Gilda to play.

A nine-year-old Gilda and a nine-week-old Bella are related. Gilda is Sabina's daughter while Bella is Sabina's great granddaughter.

Gilda is putting Tommy in his place while Bella is reassuring her that she is a good girl.

Bella and her dad Tommy

All is well - everybody is relaxed.
I think that Tommy is going to be Bella's playmate.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tommy and Mae's nine-week-old puppies show a lot of promise

As I mentioned in the previous post Genti and Beth Shero spent last Friday with us in Berne, and we had a chance to meet and work with Tommy and Mae's puppies. Right now they are nine weeks old. We administered a regular Puppy Aptitude Test and worked the pups individually on a short blood line.

The pups have really nice temperaments, and Beth and Genti have done an outstanding job socializing them. We really liked what we saw. Bernie is the best looking of the bunch and he is just plain gorgeous. If we were looking for another male, we would be asking for Bernie in lieu of stud fee. But we don't need another male, especially because he is a son of the dog that we already have. At this point our breeding program is in need of young females. Elli is 10, Gilda is 9 and they are retired from breeding. Keena is 6 and probably we will beed her one more time. So Paika is our only young female as she is two and a half years old.

Mae, the dam of this litter, goes back to our line on the maternal side. She is daughter of Jessie v Moosbach-Zuzelek, granddaughter of Sabina v Moosbach-Zuzelek and great granddaughter of Ulrika v Moosbach-Zuzelek. We have always like Mae as she is a very talented, confident dog who is at ease with the world. I was glad when Beth and Genti chose to breed her to Tommy.

Bernie (on the top) is playing with his sister Bella

Bella is the one that is looking into my camera

Benrie is a very handsome puppy

Bella, Bernie and Bart at the end of liver drag
Bernie is enjoying a piece of deer liver
Bella spent a weekend with us, and we have been very impressed with her. She will be staying here. She has already met all our dogs, and she got accepted right away as a new member of the pack... as if she were raised here. I wonder whether there is such a thing as a familial scent because certainly she smelled OK to all our dogs. I was wondering about Paika because she has her own young litter. But this was not a big deal at all. It's like Paika was saying...oh, we have a new puppy...OK.

Bella and Paika meet for the first time.
Today was a great day for picture taking, and I got some really nice shots of Bella with her new family. I will be posting them tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses

We both love bluegrass music so last night we took a break and attended a local concert at Tawasentha Park in Guilderland. We enjoyed the concert given by Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys very much.

Today we spent almost all day with Genti and Beth Shero from Tracking Dog Supply. They brought their three nine-week-old puppies, which were sired by our Tommy. One of the pups, Bella, is going to spend this weekend here so we will be learning more about her. More about it tomorrow.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Being cute or pretty is not good enough!

I have been on Facebook probably for two weeks now. I resisted it for many years fearing too much time to be spent on the computer, but finally succumbed to the pressure to join. I am glad I did, and I'd like to report some of the things I have learned about the current situation with European standard wirehaired dachshunds. But this post will require some thinking and more time to write, so tonight I am going to post just one picture of a very cute puppy. He is one week old today, and, of course, he is Paika's son.

Being cute is not good enough!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Support Pennsylvania House Bill 881

Reposted from

Pennsylvania House Bill 881 was introduced in March. This bill would provide deer hunters with a remarkable tool to aid in the recovery of their deer. HB 881 would allow the use of leashed tracking dogs for the recovery of wounded deer in Pennsylvania.

These dogs have been featured in many hunting magazines and outdoor TV shows. Studies show them to be highly effective at recovery of mortally wounded deer the hunter was unable to find himself. This method of finding a down deer is legal in 33 states.

Some outfitters in those states will use a tracking dog on every shot, to provide an efficient way to find a deer that is not observed to go down. This is very important to disabled or color blind hunters. This protects their herd from waste, is less disruptive to other hunters, and provides valuable information as to whether the animal is mortally hit.

State Rep. Mark Keller sits on the House Game and Fisheries Committee in Harrisburg. Deer hunters in his district should contact his office to ask why this method -- surveyed to be 97 percent favorable among deer hunters across the state, and supported by the NWTF, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Game Commission -- was not on the agenda for the June committee meeting.

We can use trained dogs to aid and recover various small game in Pennsylvania. Is that wildlife any more important than whitetail deer?

Susan Edwards
Susan Edwards with her beagle at Trackfest 2008 in Pennsylvania

Sunday, August 7, 2011

One lucky dog

Teddy sent us an update about Fitz, who three weeks ago was injured by Teddy's lurcher.
Here's Fitz after two and a half weeks post-wreck. The staples came out a few days ago and the wound is staying shut. The area itches because of the shaved hair growing back and the leftover adhesive. Fitz moves just fine, although when she runs it seems like the wound pulls at her gait. She gets a stitch in her side as they say. ;-) Other than that she's herself again. I haven't encouraged her into the brush because I don't want the wound to catch on briars or sticks and open.

Fitz, post-wreck. One lucky dog.