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Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to train your experienced blood tracking dog: a training report from Darren

This is a report from Darren Doran describing his latest training line for Theo. Regular readers of the blog are very familiar with this tracking team from New Jersey. Darren used a new design of tracking shoes, which is produced by Ray Holohan. We will have a separate post about them soon, when Ray is ready to start selling his product.

The line is 1000 yds. long. This line was my first line using Ray Holohan's buck shock tracking shoes. 4 oz. of blood was used. Blood, feet, and articles were from the same deer. The line will be 36 hrs. old when ran and is set in an area the County burned this spring. The soil is very sandy here. The vegetation is sparse due to the burn and the woods are mostly oak and pine. Visibility is good here and the over story is somewhat open. There are numerous 90’S and one backtrack and one wound bed. Three articles were used on this line and were made from deer skin about 2 X 1 stapled to a 4 inch by 1 inch diameter dried piece of stick.

The goal of this exercise is to work on article identification, stopping and re-starting on the line and the backtrack. I will also start this line as a controlled search and see how Theo does.

It was 71 degrees, overcast and humid this morning. I started Theo in a controlled search about 80 yds. from the line and about 50 yds. into it from the hit site. I asked him to search and “find the blood”. He worked nicely in a left to right forward arc until we hit the line. He took the line back towards the hit site and through it and began searching. He looped back to the line and took it back to the hit site and was about to pass through it again when I alerted him on it. He stopped and smelled the hair and turned around. I gave him a piece of meat and we started tracking.

I thought this was going to be harder for Theo but his tracking speed told me differently. We did numerous stops on the line and I would reward him with a piece of meat and give him water. He restarted nicely. He found the articles and these were too big for him to swallow. Articles in the past were small pieces of skin and hair that he would pick up, swallow and continue tracking so fast I was not able to reward him for finding them. He took all the turns but one perfectly. The one he missed only took a minute or so to require the line. His tracking speed also caused him to miss the wound bed. The backtrack took seven minutes to work out. This line took 33 minutes to finish and does not include the controlled search.

Theo did real well on this line. What I thought was going to be difficult was very easy for him. He handled the controlled search excellent. There was no mistaking his reaction when he hit the line. Stopping and re-starting was good. The larger articles got him to stop and be rewarded for finding them. The backtrack still needs work but is getting better. Theo has a natural tendency to search forward and away from the last scent. When he circles back he doesn’t always make his circles large enough to cross back over the line. He does handle and when asked to “search here” he will respond. I’ll repeat this line and add 12 hrs. to the age and see how he does.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Helderbergs - summer in its glory

Even though I have not posted any nature pictures here for a while let me assure you that I still take them, almost every day. Most of the time I post them on Facebook just because it is easy to post one-two pics at a time without any special story or report to go with them.

We are overrun by rabbits. We did not expect it because the winter was pretty severe, but it seems that many of them have survived and reproduced. You can see them just about everywhere - in our enclosure, by the driveway, in the middle of our fields and even int he woods. This is good news.

It is also exceptional year for wild flowers. The picture below was taken in June. Now the fields have been mowed.

Not a great year for bees, but we saw quite a few of them when sumac was in a full bloom.

We see quite a few birds around our place, and this American Robin fledgling risked its life and tried to get to our dogs' yard. I prevented it from happening and hopefully it survived.

We see at least two different flocks of wild turkeys. These ones came out onto a mowed path to get dry after a severe thunderstorm and downpour.

A new generation of barn swallows was born in our barn, and the young birds have already left. However, just yesterday I noticed a new nest in a different part of the barn.

We see a regular guest to our pond - Great Blue Heron. This picture was taken at a swamp by Tabor Rd in Berne.

This is also where I took a picture of this family of Canada Geese. They were resting by the road and when they saw our car, they walked to the water and swam away.

As always summer sunsets are spectacular and they really make me appreciate all the beauty around us. There is no other place that I'd rather be...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Andy and Eibe are getting ready for Tracking Season 2014

By Andy Bensing

With tracking season coming sooner than you think, in addition to brushing up my dog’s tracking skills, I also want to make sure that she is physically and mentally conditioned for the long season.  The early season especially, with the higher temps, can be quite fatiguing. 

This 10 minute video shows a training exercise I did recently.  The main purpose of the exercise was to work on conditioning.  My additional goals were to work on line control and tightening up her check work on turns.  

My seven-year-old Eibe has quite a bit of experience by having taken almost 250 natural calls, and she has done upwards of 120 training lines in her five hunting seasons in the field. However, I still need to do some training with her occasionally to keep her in top form.  If I lay off training completely, she begins to revert to some of her natural tendencies that are not always the most efficient, specifically getting a little loose on her line control and inefficient in working checks.  Interestingly, with just a few exercises like I initially used when she was younger 
she straightens right back out and uses what she had learned in the past.

This particular training line was 1100 meters long in a hardwood forest and aged 72 hours. I used tracking shoes with minimal blood along the way with stretches of upwards of 250 meters with no blood at all.  There were ten 90-degree turns and eight mountain bike/deer cross trails along the way.  The line configuration was actually designed for Eibe’s granddaughter, Addi, who ran the same line at 24 hours two days before. 

Initially I was going to run this line at 96 hours to make it very difficult for Eibe, but when we had a big thunderstorm that dropped almost an inch of rain on the line on the third night I ran it at 72 hours instead.  Sometimes tracking shoe lines do not hold up too well in the rain.  I thought there might be a possibility that the line would be gone but as you will see in the video, conditions were quite difficult but doable. Actually, they were perfect for what I was trying to do.  The point of the difficulty was to make Eibe struggle both physically and especially mentally.   A line of this length (1100 meters) would typically take my dog about 45 minutes or so to run but the minimal scent available created the desired effect and Eibe had to work very hard.  It took her over double the normal time, 110 minutes.

As you watch the video you will see that I put two ribbons on turns and on each turn there is either a wound bed or at the very least I put a pretty good squirt  of blood right under the double flag.  I often do my turns like this in training.  For my young dog it encourages close check work on the turns (which I wanted to refresh Eibe on). If the line were too difficult for Eibe and I needed to help her advance to keep the exercise going, I would absolutely know where I could find a good spot of scent to restart her.  Luckily that did not occur and Eibe required very little handling along the way.  In that same regard I also knew that within 2 or 3 yards of every bike trail/deer trail crossing there was also a little extra blood squirted on the ground.  That extra blood was for Addi to encourage her to cross directly over to the other side of cross trails/roads/paths and check for the line before checking left or right along the cross trail. 

As you watch the video I hope you enjoy Eibe’s careful hard work in the difficult conditions and perhaps gain some insight into how to set up training lines to maximize the learning opportunities for you and your dog when in the field.

The video can be accessed at 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

To buyers of European dachshunds: Dual register your dogs with the AKC

By Jolanta Jeanneney

If you bought a dachshund from Europe, it was probably registered with one of the FCI kennel clubs such as the Deutscher Teckelklub. You bought your European puppy because you admired the hunting desire and the conformation standard that was developed to ensure stamina and agility. Now you wonder whether you should register your puppy with the American Kennel Club. You probably heard how breeders associated with this club breed mainly for the show ring and exaggerated conformation, with disregard for performance and health. And why would you want to register your teckel puppy with the AKC that has a different breed standard and provides no quality control when it comes to selection of breeding stock?  The reasons are practical rather than ideological.

If you live in the United States, you need to register your foreign-born dachshund puppy with an American-based registry. The American Kennel is your best option.

By the way, it should be mentioned that the terms like dachshund, teckel and dackel refer to the same breed. The word “dachshund” is actually of German origin, and it means “badger dog”, as in German “dachs” means badger and “hund” means dog. These days the Americans who work with dachshunds bred out of European lines often refer to them as “teckels”. But make no mistake about it – teckels are dachshunds!

The North American Teckel Club (NATC), which John and I co-founded, is affiliated with the FCI and DTK. It is a small club, which handles 9 teckel breeds that are differentiated according to the size and coat type (standard, mini and kaninchen x wirehaired, longhaired and smooth). In the AKC system dachshunds are registered just as “dachshunds” (one breed). It is obvious that the United States is very different from the European countries. The distances in our homeland are vast by European standards. Field and show events for FCI registered dogs are very infrequent and widely scattered. The NATC holds events once or twice a year.

This post is not intended to criticize NATC, DTK or FCI, but to show what a breeder loses by not registering an imported dachshund with the AKC.

If there is a possibility that you want to breed your foreign-born "Teckel" in the USA according to the FCI regulations, your dog must be approved as suitable for breeding by an FCI judge at a "Zuchtschau" and this may involve driving a thousand miles or more. After the breeding takes place the subsequent litter must be evaluated by a North American Teckel Club breed warden, and there are few of these in the USA. A procedure that makes a lot of sense in densely populated Europe is not very suitable for the USA. Quality control and genetic awareness in breeding are very important, but we must encourage them here through education, not through  the application of rigid regulations that may require traveling long distances.

Teckel breeders in the USA must think ahead. At present, it is possible, if not convenient, to operate within the FCI system, thanks to the presence of the North American Teckel Club. However, it is not certain that the NATC will survive over the long term. The NATC membership of less than 150 has remained static for a decade, and it has not been very successful in recruiting those who use dachshunds for finding wounded big game and hunting. If NATC fails, those who have not registered their FCI dogs with the AKC will have nowhere to go in the United States unless they want to turn to such organizations as the privately owned United Kennel Club, which is  run more for profit than for quality. Most breeders will have to leave the country to qualify their dogs for registration.

We are very fortunate that the DTK/FCI allows their registered dachshunds to be dual registered with the AKC. In this respect it differs from the Verein Deutsch Drahthaar, which  does not allow their registered dogs in North America to have anything to do with the AKC.

The AKC offers a registration system, which provides pedigrees and DNA testing for parentage verification. But it offers more than that. For people who are interested in versatile dachshunds, the AKC offers performance events such as field trials, earth dog tests, human tracking, agility etc.

Last year, seven dogs in the top ten AKC field trial dachshunds in this country were either direct imports from Europe or American-bred descendants from European lines. The all-time best field trial dachshund FC Danika vom Nordlicht was bred in the United States, but her pedigree goes back to dachshunds imported from Europe. Her conformation was judged by an FCI judge as Excellent (Vorzuglich).  Besides her AKC Field Championship Danika has other AKC titles: TD, ME and EE2, which are earned in tracking and earth dog tests. She is a tracker of wounded game as well. This year, so far the number one spot in field trials has gone to Sherry Ruggieri’s Tüsöksori-Ugrasztó Husniya, who was imported from Hungary.

FC Danika vom Nordlicht,V, TD, ME, EE2 was bred in the United States by Larry Gohlke and she is co-owned by Cheri Faust and Larry Gohlke. Danika's ancestors are of European breeding. She is the most successful field trial dachshunds in the history of AKC dachshund field trials. She also tracks wounded deer, and is all-around very versatile dachshund.
Sherry Ruggieri's Niya (FC Tüsöksori-Ugrasztó Husniya, V) was directly imported from Hungary. Even though she is only 2.5 years old she has done extremely well at AKC field trials. The picture shows Niya at a 2013 NATC Zuchtschau, where Niya was Best of Wires and got Excellent rating.
Over the years we have imported more than 10 dachshunds from Germany, France and the Czech Republic, all FCI countries, where dachshunds are bred according to the FCI standard #148. All these dogs were subsequently registered with the AKC and they participated in all kinds of events and tests in the States and Canada: United Blood Trackers and Deer Search blood tracking tests (not associated with any registry), NATC shows and tests, and AKC field trials. The offspring of these dogs are also registered with the AKC so puppy owners can participate in the AKC events and breed their dogs within the American-based registry.

FC Tom vom Linteler-Forst, V, SchwhK, Deer Search certif. was bred in Germany by Dieter Engel. His conformation was rated at an NATC show as Excellent. So far Tommy has sired five litters registered with the AKC and CKC (Canadian Kennel Club). His son FC Vimy Ridge von Lowenherz was #11 at AKC field trials last year. 

If you choose not to register your foreign-born dachshund with the AKC, the puppies you are going to breed will not be eligible for registration with the AKC and offspring of your dog will not be able to participate in AKC events.

So for practical reasons it makes good sense to dual register your imported dachshunds with the AKC. This does not require you to give up the advantages offered by such FCI organizations as DTK, but it does give you maximum flexibility.  You will always have  the possibility of participating in AKC events like field trials, breeding to either FCI or AKC dogs, and finally the assurance that your puppies will have the status of being registered.

Ask yourself a question – what am I going to lose by registering my European dachshund with the AKC (nothing) and what am I going to gain (a lot)?

To register your foreign-born dachshund, you need to send a copy of an FCI export pedigree, two pictures of the dog and fill out the AKC application form The fee is $100. More detailed instructions are listed on page 3 of the form.

John Jeanneney (left) is holding FC Gerte vom Dornenfeld, SwI/1a, who was imported from Germany. Gerte tracked wounded deer and hunted rabbits, and she is one of the foundation bitches of our breeding program. Late Jim Pitcher is holding FC Zuzelek's Gold-digging Gita, who excelled on rabbits.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Advanced blood tracking training with Darren and Theo

Darren Doran is continuing advanced training with Theo. A week ago he did a training line, which was 24 hours old, 1000 yards with 2 oz of blood and tracking shoes. The track had numerous 90 degree turns and 1 back track.

Besides working on the back track, Darren was also training for article identification, stopping and re-starting on the line and the "easy" command. 

He says:

"I saw a deer get out ahead of us and I really like the way Theo ignored the hot scent and stayed with the line.

The line crossed a gas line and the brush was so thick in order to get back into the woods, I angled the line down to a walking path and went about 25 yardss to a hard right turn. Theo crossed the gas line and hit the path. He went right across the path and back along the edge of the gas line and woods.He went about 15 yards, came back to the path, went right down it and aced the turn.

At the back track he worked about 12 minutes before he reacquired the line. He's getting better at the back tracks, but we need more work there.  

Theo took 45 minutes to do this training line and we're getting ready for bow season. The picture shows Theo cooling off in the Ireland Brook after the track.