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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pictures from our backyard

I have not posted any pictures for a while so here we go.

These days you can see and smell wild phlox in a full bloom. I love these plants - they are so delicate and powerful at the same time.

This spring I have seen quite a few morning doves around our place. This one sat on a dog yard post for a long time and let me come really close.

Right now we have more rabbits than ever before, and they are multiplying. This picture was shot from our kitchen window with a long lens. Two bucks were chasing a doe, and I saw multiple, very short in duration matings. Funny, an hour later Billy and Mae mated on the same lawn. Crazy stuff.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Patience on the track

June 1, 2012
Update with pics:
Teddy wrote - The only photo I have of Lisa is attached. I've also sent a body shot of Lisa's dam, Tar. Lisa has the same body shape but with more hair. I'll try to get a better photo of Lisa when I get back from the western Pa. field trials.
Bane weighs eight pounds, Lisa weighs seven.




Teddy Moritz shared this story with us a week ago or so. Thank you Teddy!

Thought I'd write up this tracking event the dogs had today. I was patient and let the two dogs work at their own pace. I could have pushed them, called them in or gone on but I was curious as to what they were tracking:

I ran three miniature longhaired dachshunds at a beagle club grounds today. The weather was sunny, warm and windy. The grounds has many small sections of very thick cover, interspersed with mowed paths. I had Fitz, who is eight, with me, as well as Bane, who is 4 and Lisa, who is 14 months. Fitz and Bane are experienced hunters and well know how to track a rabbit. Lisa is all eagerness and tends to run over the scent line, but she has a good nose and will correct herself, even if it takes a few minutes. Today I saw a great deal of persistence as well as patience on her part.

Lisa found a fresh scent going into a very thick bit of briars, tall grass, vines, etc. She was very intent about the smell and jumped right in. Bane soon followed. Fitz took a sniff and stayed with me, which I found quite odd as she is by far the best rabbit tracker of the three. Fitz actually sat in the shade with me rather than joining the other two. I wondered if she didn't feel well. Lisa opened once or twice, Bane never did, then all was quiet. I waited as I usually do, letting the dogs work out the line. Lisa yipped once but then was quiet. I waited and waited, as did Fitz. The two dogs didn't come back and there was no barking, which I found odd. I walked around the square and saw the two of them working very diligently and very slowly, over a piece of ground that is mowed blackberry canes. The dogs seemed to have trouble with the line but Lisa kept moving ahead. Bane would join her, go back and check himself, then come up again. Lisa worked her way into another briar patch where there were locust trees. She came out about twenty feet further and seemed to hit a hot line. Her body language became animated and she seemed to have a good scent. Oddly, her tail wasn't wagging like most scent hounds' tails do when they are hot on a rabbit scent. Bane confirmed her line. Fitz joined for a few feet, then came back to me. I was beginning to worry the little dog was ill.

Lisa took the line across another path and into a brush pile in the woods. She worked ever so slowly, which, again, isn't like her. Bane and even Fitz checked the brush pile and the surrounding area but it was Lisa who took it back across a path and into a small copse of trees. I couldn't understand why it was taking them so long to get up on a rabbit. I thought perhaps it as a young rabbit with little smell, but we'd come several hundred yards, in a circle, and that seemed too great a distance for an immature rabbit. We were going in a circle, so I still presumed the dogs were working out a rabbit track. The brush is thick and high and rank so I wondered if the vegetation was hiding the smell. Most of the time I couldn't see Lisa or Bane because the cover is so high. I heard Lisa yip again and thought she'd found her rabbit. She came out of the trees and headed into another thickly vegetated square. She and Bane ever so slowly worked the line from there through a stand of milkweed and other weeds. They seemed to weave around a good bit, not quite being able to move the line. In my mind they acted as if they were working a feeding track, such as coon hounds do at night when a coon wanders all over the woods looking for food. And not only were they sniffing the ground, they occasionally scented up a plant stem as if their quarry's scent was higher up. Odd.

I've never seen the dogs work this thoroughly and diligently. It was as if the scent was spotty and not in a direct line like a fleeing rabbit would make. Again I waited and watched rather than calling the dogs to a different spot. They seemed intent but not hasty. Their nose work was great to watch. Bane threads his way here and there, making sure he has the line before he moves up. He often checks himself. Lisa, in her youthful enthusiasm, bustles around and jumps in the air now and then hoping to see her quarry. She works and re-works the line, but with more haste than Bane. By now about fifteen to twenty minutes had passed and I was really curious as to what they were tracking. Fitz still stayed with me, appearing uninterested. How could that be?

The two younger dogs soon worked their way to one more patch of weeds, this one with a multi-trunk cherry tree in the middle of it. Fitz and I stayed on a mowed path and watched and listened. I began thinking the dogs would never bump this rabbit, or whatever it was, despite their hard work. As I stood there, enjoying the scenery on a beautiful day, I happened to look up into the cherry tree. And there sat a groundhog, about twenty feet off the ground, settled in a crotch of branches. Pretty soon Bane and Lisa arrived at the tree. I could see them tracking around the base of the tree, where there was less cover. Lisa stood on her back legs and put her front feet on the tree. Bane did the same. So that was what they had been tracking! I would bet it was a feeding trail after all. The groundhog was probably foraging around the different small patches of brush, trees, etc. and was unaware of the dogs on his track. They hadn't opened and the brush is high so the rodent couldn't hear or see them coming. But when he did feel threatened somehow, he took the quickest route to safety, up a tree. Groundhogs easily climb trees and will use them to escape ground predators if no hole is available.

Fitz has worked groundhogs over the years but they are too large and aggressive for her. She only weighs six pounds and her head is too small to do any damage to a groundhog, but a groundhog can hurt her plenty if she closes with it. I don't encourage her to work them, and call her off if she finds one in a hole. Apparently today she agreed and let her kennel mates do the work. However, when I shot the groundhog out of the tree, Fitz was right there with Lisa and Bane, tugging at it.

I really enjoyed being able to watch those two hounds work out the complicated line of the feeding groundhog. They stuck with it, figured it out, and got their game.

Source of the picture:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Another batch of tracking dachshunds expected to be born in 9 weeks

This is a busy year for our Billy. We just heard from Brigitte Walkey that her Penny, who was bred 4.5 weeks ago is pregnant. Yesterday Billy had a rendezvous with Pepper (Pepper Berger von Arno Yergz), who is a daughter of Arno von Gronenwald SW (our Sabina's grandson) and Kadie Hanne Yergz. Everything went really well and Billy and Pepper had a long natural tie.

Pepper was bred by Michael Yergz, and is owned by Gail and Art Berger from Pennsylvania. She is a big dog, and in many ways she reminds us of our Sabina, especially when it comes to her slow methodical tracking style. Billy and Pepper's union produced two successful litters in the past, and this will be their third and final litter. To read about their offspring on this blog click here and here.

Gail and Art Berger with their two dachshunds - Bee (left) and Pepper (right)
Pepper is not fond of camera so getting a good picture of her is not easy.

Pepper is a big dog at 24-25 lbs.
The two below pictures show Bee, a pup that the Bergers kept from Pepper's last litter. Now Bee is a year and a half old, and she weighs only 13 lbs. Her built is also very different from Pepper's - she is small, very agile, long-legged. She was born very tiny, and when Gail described her to me I was not sure whether she would make it. I was not sure about her future when I saw her at eight weeks. So when I watched her yesterday plowing through tall grass at our field with a lot of energy and determination I was thrilled. This is a hunting maniac, who even though is not used to hunt rabbits knew right away what to do when we let her to our enclosure. Highly active and persistent, she also opened on a rabbit.

A 13-pound Bee, bred and owned by Gail and Art Berger, is Billy and Pepper's daughter.

To get more information about this litter contact Gail at

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday to Rilla and her siblings!

I am way behind with posting, but last weekend when I was attending dachshund field trials in Batavia, NY, I got really sick. This weekend I was scheduled to judge trials in Maryland but I was not up to it so I am staying home.  I am not the only one affected, some people's bronchitis is much worse, but in the last six days I have not done much.

Anyway, a lot of material waiting for posting is not time-sensitive but this post is. Yesterday, on May 25, it was a second birthday for our R-litter (Joeri by Gilda), and Stan Kite sent a really nice update on Rilla. The story is long, so this is a shorter version. Thank you Stan!

I'll start back on the last week of November, 2011. I had laid a blood trail the day before, weaving in and out of the hedgerows of my neighbor's alfalfa fields, and took Rilla out to run it in the morning. Right from the beginning, something was wrong--she had absolutely no interest in tracking. This was the first time I'd ever seen behavior like this from her. No matter what I tried, she just preferred to walk along right next to my legs or sit down!

I called Darren Doran to vent some frustration, and he asked me if she was in heat. I knew it was close to that time, but wasn't sure...lo and behold, a few days later, Dec 5, we found drops of blood on the tile floor. Her mind and body were not focused on tracking, and now I knew why.

We are now getting close to her next heat, but last weekend we had a great track in our swampy, briar-filled woods...(She did fine, but I got so tangled up in briars, I lost a tracking shoe and didn't even know it at first) LOL. We will see if her interest is again temporarily derailed at heat time!

After the heat ran its course, we did two 24 hr lines, one after a hard rain, and she did phenomenally. On one line, I dragged a rabbit carcass perpendicular to the line in 3 different spots just before we ran it. When she turned at those points to investigate the rabbit scent, I just calmly told her "no" and directed her back to the track. I plan to continue this every so often to remind her of the business at hand.

Next, about 60 days after the blood drops we discovered, came another false pregnancy episode. It was pretty intense. She stayed in her wire crate with one of Vonnie's slippers, only wanting to leave to eat and relieve herself. Her weight increased also, up to 22 lbs. She had been staying between 20 and 20.5. She wouldn't even leave the crate to come to bed with us, which she normally loves! I even put her in the bed one night, and she tried to jump off, so we let her stay in the crate. After about 2 weeks, it started to subside, so we took the slipper away, and over the next few days, all symptoms disappeared. She returned to her former self, and actually seemed to want to make up for lost time--she was extra playful and happy!

**This brings up a question--do bitches who experience false pregnancies tend to keep on doing that after every heat?** (Stan, the answer is yes)

I had cut her food back, and she actually got down to 19 lbs, and is now hovering between 19.5 and 20.

Now I want to comment on the vocalizations of Miss Rilla.  Long story short, she makes more types of sounds than I've ever heard from a dog. She has her mean growl, play growl, mean changing to happy growl, various purring type noises, sighs, squeels, etc. It's really funny and I am still learning them all. One really neat one is in the middle of the night, when I come back to bed after a bathroom trip. I always feel to see where she is, and she gives the strangest noise, a semi-tapering off purr, which seems to mean "I'm right here, and I'm content, so please don't lay on me"! LOL It's the only time I hear her make that particular noise, and it cracks me up.

Speaking of her sleeping habits, one we really get a kick out of is this. When I first put her in bed, she immediately burrows under the covers, going down to around our knees. The funny part is, a lot of times, near morning, she comes out just enough to put her head on Vonnie's pillow. When I roll over, I see this little innocent face looking at me, just like a small child laying there. It's so cute!!

One Sunday in March, Bunk (our older son) and I were in our woods re-posting our property line and checking the fence. Rilla was along, and she usually stays pretty close. Just in case though, I had her e-collar on, with bell attached. We were about half way finished, when Rilla started a steady, chopping, guttural bark that I've never heard before. It was very rhythmic, and not real loud. I said "She's barking "tree'd", like a coonhound". She was only about 10 yds away, but I couldn't see her through the brush. Sure enough, she was peering into a hollow stump, and inside was a raccoon. I quickly scooped her up, and away we went. She seemed to have lost interest, but then went right back there. I ran to her again to see her jump back quickly; the coon must have taken a swipe at her. I could not call her off, so I gave her a quick hit on the e-collar. She came right to me then. I do not want a 20 lb dog that thinks it can tangle with 15-20 lb raccoons; don't think that would be pretty.

Through the years, I've been envious of people who always seemed to take their dogs everywhere with them. I just never had the right dog to do that, but guess what? I DO NOW! She goes everywhere we can possibly take her safely. She is my constant companion, whether working in the yard, driving in the truck, on our Polaris, golf cart, whatever--we take her anywhere we can; she's very well-behaved in other people's environments, and she gets along with most other dogs. Even when all the "people" in my family are somewhere else, I'm never alone any more! Rilla and I are a team! We have a tremendous bond. I'm constantly amazed at how she reacts to my tone of voice, and little things I say to her. She KNOWS me! If I say "this way" she knows to turn and go the way I'm going. If I tell her "over here" she knows I want her to come to me and look there, whether for scent or rabbits.

Speaking of rabbits--we avoid saying that word in the house, because she perks up, starts looking, and expects to be turned loose for the chase! She has been running rabbits almost every evening for a month or so behind our house. We seem to have a good crop, although I couldn't trap even ONE for Sherry's farm back in Feb (my total was NINE squirrels, a groundhog and a opossum). She really has a passion for running them, and opens freely on sight and hot scent, and you know I love to hear her song! Sometimes she amazes me with her accuracy, and sometimes, if she can't find the track, she runs it backwards to the start...she hasn't done that in a few weeks though. When she sees a rabbit or squirrel when she's looking out the window, she goes nuts. Funny thing is, we have turkeys in the yard a lot also, and they just don't excite her. She just looks at them with no reaction. This morning there were 13 or 14 out there; she saw them, but didn't make a sound. Funny! Last evening we were outside, and there were 4 turkeys less than 50 yds from us...she didn't even move toward them. Squirrel, rabbit or groundhog--forget it--she's off like a shot! She tracks blood with a much more business-like approach, but pulls hard when the line seems straight and easy.

Another thing we find hilarious: For some reason, it took me a long time to teach her to "roll over" for a treat. Other commands were no problem, but with that one I always had to help her roll, then treat. One day a few months ago, I was just starting to tell her to roll over, and before I could say the words, she rolled over so fast it shocked me. I laughed out loud as she sat right up for her treat. Well, since then, no words need to be spoken. If I just hold out the treat, she rolls over; sometimes so fast only her butt is touching the floor! When I don't have a treat, she sits, lays down, etc with no problem, but when she sees the treat held out, over she goes! Even though she is not technically obeying a command, it's too cute to correct! I take her to the barber with me, and the barber gives her treats--when I told her to just hold the treat out and watch, see got laughing so hard, she wanted Rilla to do it over and over. I think it made her day!

When Vonnie goes on her break at work, she usually gives me a quick call....just a habit to check in and say "I love you"...we just do that sort of thing. Anyway, she told me she also feels like giving Rilla a call to tell her she loves her, too! How priceless is that? LOL

At the end of deer season, we made about 50 lbs of raw food from deer meat scraps, and we also put livers and hearts in the mix, probably about 15% or so. It was very satisfying to me to make her food, she loves it and seems to do well on it. We still feed a mix of raw and dry twice a day.

To say she's captured our hearts seems like a cliche, but it's sooo true. Vonnie and I are extremely close to her, and it couldn't have come at a better time as our boys don't spend much time with us old farts these days! She does still growl sometimes, but much less. If we give her a type of rawhide chew that lasts a while, she gets very possessive with it. She gets very edgy around Lee sometimes too, don't know if it's a pack mentality, jealousy, or what, but it's most noticeable with him. Other times she licks all over him, wagging her tail. He's not here much compared to Vonnie and I, so that may be part of it also.

Well, I'm sure that's MORE than enough Rilla info for now, but I haven't wrote you about her for a while, so I figured I'd give you a BUNCH today! Believe me, we have been doing a lot, just not taking the time to write about it. Hope you and John, along with your pups, are doing great. I enjoy your pix and updates on the blog and Facebook. One pic in attachment is her scanning the yard for rabbits, other one is her looking none-too-happy about wearing a goofy birthday hat!

Happy Memorial Weekend!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is the use of blood tracking dogs going to be legal in Pennsylvania soon?

Andy Bensing reports: After finally getting out of the Game and Fisheries committee where it languished for the last year our Tracking bill traveled quickly, for legislation in PA, through the House of Representatives over the last few weeks and was passed today by a vote of 197-0. Now it's on to the Senate. There is a reasonable chance we may be tracking in PA yet this year.

From Rep. Jeff  Pyle's link:

HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives today voted overwhelmingly to approve House Bill 881, legislation authored by Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong) that would help reduce the instances of hunters losing wounded game animals.

The measure simply permits hunters to use a leashed tracking dog to locate a wounded large game animal (whitetail deer or black bear) if needed in order to conserve Pennsylvania’s wild resources and to ensure the animal does not suffer needlessly.

“The idea for this legislation came from my constituent, Susan Edwards of Buffalo Township, who was concerned about the wasted resources resulting from game animals that are wounded but never found by the hunter,” Pyle said. “It also helps make certain our game is harvested humanely.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Two new products for deer hunters and trackers: Shot Simulator and Blaze Orange Toilet Paper

A couple of months ago Ray Holohan (thank you Ray!) shared his thoughts about Shot Simulator, a program for PC and an app for mobile devices. We have not tried it, but this is what Ray said:

Just thought I would pass some info on to you about a new app that is out for deer hunting, It is called Shot Simulator from Deer and Deer Hunting magazine. It cost $4.99 and is pretty cool. You can postion the deer exactly the way it looked from your treestand and pick the spot you think you hit on the deer. Then it shows the trajectory of the arrow as it passes through the deer. Then you can peel away the skin then the bones and see what organs were hit on the way through. I can't help but think how useful it might be to a tracker to explain to a hunter why we may or may not find his deer.Then it gives you tips and strategy on how you should proceed. Take a look, I think you will find it interesting.
Later Ray, Rosco and Razen

The video about Shot Simulator is available at

I can see that this app for Android based phones has pretty poor reviews so do your research..

Another product that you might find really useful is blaze orange toilet paper released under Rutt Wipe brand. The promotional video is not my cup of tea, but I think that the product has a great potential for marking blood trail in the woods. It is light, biogradable and has more than one application!

Monday, May 14, 2012

While puppies play we observe and learn about them

Today it has been raining, sometimes heavily, but we managed to put puppies out for a couple of hours. It's a challenge to keep puppies occupied and their brains challenged. To provide enriched environment for the pups and learn something about them, today we attached several small balloons to their pen and watched their response. Some played with the balloons, some were not interested. Some were persistent, others were not. Some learned something during the play and adjusted their strategies.

I learned quite a bit about individual pups while watching them for just few minutes.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The second part of the CARAT Workshop with Suzanne Clothier

In January 2011 I attended first part of CARAT 1 Workshop with Suzanne Clothier, an author of the bestseller  Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with the Dogs. This was followed by an online course, which was quite time-consuming but also very educational.

This weekend I am attending the second part of the CARAT I workshop. Some participants came from far away places such as British Columbia, Montana and Colorado.  Luckily for me we live only an hour from Suzanne Clothier and John Rice's place.

For more details about CARAT (The Clothier Animal Response Assessment Tool) go to Suzanne's website. More info is also available here. As Suzanne writes:

"CARAT looks at behavior traits and their interactions: sociability (people & dogs), persistence, patience, biddability, social tolerance (people & dogs), awareness (visual, kinesthetic, olfactory, auditory), reactivity (speed & effect, VAKO), arousal, resilience, energy, social use of space (people & dogs), exploratory, confidence (several categories), reliability, self modulation, and impulse control.

CARAT is unique in its recognition that a response to any given stimulus can either inhibit or activate the animal, attract the animal or create avoidant behavior, and that the distinction between the two is critical in understanding the individual. For example, a dog who reacts quickly and avoidantly to a sudden noise is demonstrating a different response than a dog who reacts quickly and towards the same noise.

The CARAT profile defines what lifestyle, job or demands might be most suitable for a specific dog, and what situations or handlers or expectations might be unfair, distressing or unproductive for this individual animal. Additionally, CARAT can aid in the selection of dogs for a specific purpose, handler or environment. CARAT profiles also will prove helpful for breeders seeking a phenotypical assessment for breeding stock."

Today we reviewed CARAT traits, and then sharpened our observational skills. Since CARAT is a universal assessment system today we observed cattle and donkeys.Suzanne and John live on a working farm and they raise the Highland Scottish cattle. We observed two calves, Poppy and Willow, in a novel situation when they were exposed to unfamiliar objects. As it turned out Poppy, even though younger than Willow, showed more more adaptive and functional behaviors.

Suzanne Clothier watches Poppy, who investigates a bucket that she has never seen before.

Poppy explores a white sheet of plastic.
Aren't they majestic?
Suzanne Clothier with one of the donkeys.
John Rice is an author of Following Ghosts and accomplished Search & Rescue Handler.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Scott Meyer and his teckel Bear - a tracking team from Michigan

At recent trials in Michigan I met Scott Meyer and his dachshund Bear. Scott lives in Three Rivers, where he is a deer processor. Bear is one year old, and he is our Sky's half-brother (they have the same sire, FC Nurmi von Moosbach-Zuzelek "Moose"). He is a talented blood tracker, and he passed his UBT I evaluation with ease. Congratulations to Scott and Bear!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sky's first field trials on wild rabbits in Michigan

There is a lot to write about my trip to field trials in Michigan, and I have a ton of pictures too. It will have to be done in small chunks though. So this post is just about our nine-month-old puppy Sky von Moosbach-Zuzelek SW who debuted in the field on Saturday and Sunday.
On the first day he was third in a stake of 20 open dogs, on the second day he got first place with 14 dogs entered. He was called back High in the second series on both days, and according to the Judge Patt Nance on Saturday "in his 1st series run, he looked like one of our most competitive Field Champions."

But he was not perfect, and his immaturity and young age showed. Maybe because when we left Berne two young females Bella and Summer were in heat Sky was in sexual overdrive. When he ran on Sunday for the Best of Open he tried to mount his female bracemate. This is a big no-no. At nine months his testosterone is peaking, so even though he is a really talented tracker he needs to mature before he goes back to compete in field trials.

Patsy Leonberger (left) and Mary Powell (right) were judging Sky on Sunday.

Everybody agreed that Sky is "adorable". Well...he is.

The dachshund trial format is similar to a brace beagle trial and the rules are posted at the AKC website.

"Deer Detectives" article in Dog World

July issue of Dog World is going to have an article by Darren Warner on blood tracking dogs titled "Deer Detectives". Make sure you get your own copy!

Leashed blood trailing dogs approved by Utah

GREAT NEWS from Justin Richins from Utah, who wrote:

Utah just passed a leased tracking dog law. It was proposed at our RAC meetings and approved on Tuesday.

The wording is:
R657-5-15. Party Hunting and Use of Dogs
... (1) A person may not take big game for another person, except as provided in Section 23-19-1
and Rule R657-12.
(2) A person may not use the aid of a dog to take, chase, harm or harass big game. The use
of one blood-trailing dog controlled by leash during lawful hunting hours and within 72 hours of
shooting a big game animal is allowed to track wounded animals and aid in recovery.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Taking a short break

After a twelve-hour-drive I arrived in Addison, Michigan for four days of field trials. Tomorrow Billy is running in the Buckeye Dachshund Club Invitational Trial, and then there will be three days of "regular" trials. I will run Sky in the OAAD stake and Billy and Tommy in the Field Champion stake. I hope the weather cooperates!