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Sunday, March 30, 2014

A new litter of tracking teckels in Quebec

Our not-so-distant family of wirehaired dachshunds expanded two days ago as Bernard Demer's Foxy whelped a litter of four puppies: three males and one female. The dam of the litter is Foxy du Petit Bois de la Chapelle imported from France (bred by Philippe Rainaud). She is Fiona's sister (Fiona was bred to our Sky 7 weeks ago). The sire is Gunner von Moosbach-Zuzelek (FC Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek x FC Gilda von Moosbach-Zuzelek), who is our Keena's full-brother, and he is owned by Guy Marcoux-Filion. Foxy and Gunner are serious blood trackers in Quebec, and puppies are going to make excellent tracking prospects.

Two male puppies are available to serious tracking homes. Bernard can be reached at 418-657-0316. His wife speaks English, but if you have problems communicating with Bernard, contact John at

Foxy du Petit Bois de la Chapelle
Below pictures show some of many recoveries by Foxy

Gunner is five years old now, and he came from a very successful breeding of Billy to Gilda. The pictures posted below show Gunner.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Catching up with "von Moosbach-Zuzelek" teckels

 A winter issue of Hunting Illustrated Magazine has a really nice story about Justin Richins' Remi (Remy von Moosbach-Zuzelek) and his first 200-class mule deer. During the 2013 hunting season Remi recovered 10 mule deer for

This picture shows Tarah von Moosbach-Zuzelek owned by Woody Harmon from Huntsville, TX at a recent blood tracking workshop in Hamilton, TX. Woody entered Tarah in a UBT-II test, which she passed. Congratulations Woody, and thank you for all your hard work.

On January 18 Tarah participated in another, local blood tracking competition. It was a multi-breed event that included 9 dogs. The breeds present there were a Bavarian Mountain Hound, Treeing Walker, Blue Lacy, and so on. The track was around 700 yards, and went through varied cover that included a knee-high grass and crossing 40-yard wide Harmon Creek (dog owners were in canoes). All the dogs were turned loose (off lead) at the same time. The first part of the track included a back track. As it turned out Tarah was the only dog who got to the end of the track and she did it under 30 minutes. Woody was happy to collect the $350 prize! Good things come in small packages - Tarah is just 15 lbs!

Woody Harmon with Tarah and Bill Schultheis with Ellie (Utah von Moosbach-Zuzelek) at the blood tracking workshop in Hamilton, Texas. It is no nice to see our dogs being trained for their real job!

Just another day in the office for Ellie (Utah von Moosbach-Zuzelek). Thank you Bill for the great picture!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two more weeks before Tuesday's puppies arrive. Fiona is very pregnant as well.

Tuesday (FC Tuesday von Moosbach-Zuzelek SW) is due to whelp around April 10, and her belly has been growing rapidly. It looks to me like she carries quite a few puppies. So far her pregnancy has been progressing very well. She has a good appetite, and now we started to feed her more frequently, in smaller portions. We have been adding some extra venison and eggs to her dry food.

Even though very often puppies arrive without any problems, you never know in advance how things will go. There is always some anxiety involved. With a lot of puppies, there is an increased risk of uterine inertia, though thankfully females in her pedigree never experienced it in spite of huge litters. Even though Tuesday's dam Paika never had a lot of puppies (two litters of 5 and 4), Tuesday comes from very fertile lines, on both side of the pedigree, where 8-9 puppies/litter were quite common.

We also hear from Benoit Blanchard from Quebec that his Fiona du Petit Bois de la Chapelle is also full of puppies. She was bred to our Sky, and she is due around April 12.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A very tough winter for all of us in the Helderbergs

This is one of the toughest winters that I remember in the 15 years we have lived here. Snowfall is almost double of what we had last year. It has been cold, and today is an exception with temperature above freezing. It will dip much lower tomorrow again. Wildlife has been suffering.

The picture below shows "our" deer a month ago, and they looked in a really good shape. Actually this winter we have seen more deer on our property than ever before. They feed in large groups on the browse at the edge of the field. One morning we saw 20 deer there, and our neighbor reported seeing 30. They come to his bird feeders and try to to eat sunflower seeds.

February 12 - deer looked in a good shape.
Few days ago we had yet another winter storm, which left a glaze of ice everywhere. It stayed on for two days. This is when I took the three pictures posted below. It sure looked beautiful, especially in the sun, with trees sparkling as they were decorated with Christmas lights, but deer were not able to feed at all.

Brunches were covered with ice, and deer stayed hungry.
Deer lost a lot of weight. Some of them (not the one in the picture) look really thin.

Craig Dougherty, our friend and outdoor writer, wrote this article for the Outdoor Life blog two days ago. "As I write this, western New York is cleaning up from yet another winter storm. My whitetails may be in trouble. I’m not sure they can take another hit this late in the season. We began to sound winter deer alerts more than a month ago as the winter weather continued to intensify and spring seemed but a distant fantasy. Sadly, not much has changed since then. Most mature does entered winter with a 90-day supply of fat reserves, but those reserves are running dangerously low. It may be the middle of March, but the thermometer is still saying winter. Most Northern areas are well into what the Winter Severity Index (WSI) refers to as “severe” to “very severe” winter conditions."

We see a lot of wildlife activity on our driveway. I wonder how many different tracks you can see here.
John gets some outdoor exercise every afternoon when he goes for a walk with a dog. His walk are limited to local roads that are plowed. The picture shows Tommy.
Let's hope that the second half of March will bring some warmth and snow melting!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring training in the snow

by Andy Bensing

I have two 13-month-old pups, Addi and Axel, and I am hoping to take to the Deer Search Competition in April.  I would prefer to train on open ground but the weather has not been cooperating so I am practicing in the snow.  I do like training in the snow as it is a great way to practice line control.  Here is the set up I laid out today to run the pups on tomorrow.  I laid out 2 lines like this today.  I will run each dog tomorrow at 24 hours on their own individual training line and then swap lines and run the pups again at 48 hours on opposite lines.

Blood and hair at the hit site

That looks like a lot of blood doesn’t it?  Training in the snow lets you see how much blood you are really putting down with a VERY small squirt.  What you see in this pic is one small squirt.  When I squirt this amount every other step, about every 5 to 6 feet, it meters out the blood to 8 ounces over 1000 meters, which is the concentration of blood put down for most blood tracking tests around the world.  

Less than 10 meters after the start I try to trick the dog by putting some blood both ways at the first “Y”.  It is only natural for a dog to just continue straight going the easiest path on the right but the blood line actually bears to the left through the rougher snow.  The prevailing wind tomorrow will likely be coming left to right so that may help the dog a bit.  Regardless, right after the start the dog will have a potential issue to deal with.  This kind of set up discourages overexcited fast starts which can get a dog in trouble.

I am approaching another “Y”.  I am walking in the left hand tire track and dripping blood in the right hand tire track.   The wind is from left to right and will certainly be in that direction tomorrow.  By running the blood line up over the rough snow  into the far left tire track it will set up a great misdirection exercise for the dog tomorrow.  The dog will almost certainly get sucked to the right for several reasons.  First of all before the “Y” the blood is already in the right track and the wind will continue to drift scent down that  track quite a distance even after the blood line goes to the left.  The dog will also naturally be sucked down the easy path of least resistance to the right as well.  At some point the dog will realize he has lost the line and will begin to search.  With the wind likely coming from the left at that point, hopefully the dog will work the check into the wind, and have to cross some deep snow and 2 empty tire tracks to re-acquire the line.  Watching your dog do that work and knowing EXACTLY to the inch where the line is allows you to learn a lot about your dog and teach the dog a lot as well if need be.

You can see how I just simply drove around the field a few times setting up crisscrossing tire tracks.

 Another kind of misdirection not at an intersection.  I just switch over to another tire track right on a straight section.  Wind from left to right makes this more difficult.

Here is a tricky turn with a short backtrack.  I took the bloodline to the left in the left tire track past the intersection about 10 meters then brought it back in the right tire track to the intersection and went to the right.  I will enjoy watching the dog work this one out.

Here I am going from the right tire track, over the rough snow into the far left tire track.  Notice all the natural deer tracks.  By tomorrow afternoon there will be even more and likely right in the tire tracks themselves. This should be interesting.

Here is a video of my male, Axel, doing the exercise the next day at 24 hours.  I had not checked the weather forecast closely and as it turned out it rained pretty hard overnight.  That rarely causes a problem with artificial trails laid on bare ground but it did seem to make a pretty big difference with the blood line laid in the snow.  Axel had very successfully work blood lines laid in snow tire tracks twice before and had virtually no trouble.  As you watch this video you will see that scenting was much more difficult on this rained on line. Additionally, because of the rain I had a hard time knowing exactly where the line was at.  The rain had washed most of the visual blood away.  Normally when you lay lines in the snow the next day you can see faint brownish smears where the blood is but the rain had washed that all deep into the snow.  The snow was pretty frozen when I worked the line.  Perhaps that prevented much of the scent from percolating up out of the snow or maybe it was just gone similar to the effect rain has on artificial lines laid on bare ground when it rains on that artificial track before the blood dries on the ground and leaves.

The video is long, 10 minutes, and you don’t have to watch the whole thing to get the idea, but if you do watch it all take notice of how I work the dog to balance helping him to be successful and allowing him to make his own mistakes to learn on his own.  You will see how by handling the dog properly Axel eventually figures out how to work the much more difficult scenting conditions than he is used to.  By the end of the track he is nailing it.

When I ran my other dog Addi on her line it was even harder and she took almost to the end to get it figured out.  For whatever reason, the visual blood on the snow was completely gone.  There was only one or two places on the line where I could see a slight discolor in the snow and I believe the available scent was even less than on Axel’s line as well.  Because of the poor scenting conditions I did not run the opposite  lines the next day at 48 hours as planned.  That looked like a disaster waiting to happen. 

As you might have read in a previous post, I had laid a tracking shoe only / no blood  line down in the snow the same day as these lines for my Eibe.  Interestingly, the rain on the tracking shoe line gave my Eibe no trouble at all.  Whether that was because she is an experienced dog and knows how to adjust quickly to different scenting conditions or tracking shoe scent on snow holds up better to rain I can’t say.  But it certainly gives raise to some interesting questions.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It's a waiting game - pregnant or not?

Too soon to say whether Tuesday (FC Tuesday von Moosbach-Zuzelek) is pregnant as she was bred exactly 4 weeks ago, but I think her sides are a little rounder. We should know for sure in a week. At 17 lbs she is the smallest dachshund we have because even Kunox is now bigger. A sire of Tuesday's upcoming puppies is FC Tom vom Linteler-Forst, V, SchwHk. If Tuesday has puppies, it would be our "V" litter, which means that puppies' names would be starting with "V".

Monday, March 3, 2014

Congratulations to Randy Vick on his outstanding tracking season!

Randy Vick is a veteran tracker from Pavo, GA. During the 2013/14 hunting/tracking season he recovered 66 deer out of 113 calls he took. His tracking partners are Annie, a Mountain Cur, and Pepper, a young Drahthaar. Most of his tracking is done off-leash.

There is much to be learned from Annie's work. Few would expect that a Mountain Cur, bred to tree squirrels and coons, would be a "natural" for tracking old, cold ground scent of a wounded deer. This shows that we can't go by breed labels when we select a tracking dog. Ability is where your find it! Your chances of getting a good one may be better with some breeds than with others, but in tracking there is no "rule" or generalization that doesn't have its exceptions.

Of course Annie's handler, Randy Vick, is exceptional too. Both Randy and Annie have the ability, the passion and the endurance that we all admire.

Below pictures are just a small sample of Randy's tracking accomplishments.




Sunday, March 2, 2014

Evaluating Eibe's nose - part 2

by Andy Bensing

Below is a video of the first part of the evaluation trackdiscussed in the previous post.  Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out before the most challenging part of the exercise, the star and the deer feeder crossing.  You will just have to take my word for it that I was totally surprised how easily she worked through the hard parts, especially the deer feeder area.  Here are some photos from a trail cam I happened to have on the feeder.  Not as good as a video but you get the idea.
Breaking down the snow with my tractor.
Laying the tracking shoe trail in alongside the feeder.
Deer at the feeder overnight in the rain.
Eibe and I tracking past the feeder the next afternoon.
As you can see from the video  I can be pretty sure Eibe’s nose has recovered its ability to smell and differentiate hoof print scent between individual deer.  

Thank you to my sports medicine vet Dr. Robert Gillette    from the Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove IL  and my longtime friend and local vet Dr. Sherilyn Allen from Ironstone Veterinary Hospital   in Boyertown PA.  Dr. Gillette was able to diagnose that a low thyroid level was the source of the problem and Dr. Allen helped me successfully treat it.  I can’t wait till next September and get my Eibe back in the field at full capacity.