Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Paying down the deficit...as it relates to gundog training

I provide wild game and work very hard to do that, but it's a simple fact that chicken is cheap and only a 5 min drive. Hunting is a choice I make about my time, and by definition a "choice" means there is something that doesn't get chosen.  Those things that don't get chosen create a deficit that needs to be paid down to a reasonable level in some way before the next hunting season.

ad infinitum.

When the season is in full swing I guarantee that the leaves will fall at EXACTLY the time I would like to get into the woods-these will get raked by the boy down the street who I willingly pay. I would do so even if I didn't hunt-I hate raking leaves that much. But there are things that I really want to do myself and the 'off-season' is when I get that chance.


When we moved in our kitchen was in desperate need of attention. Unfortunately I can't find a picture facing the opposite direction, but this is pretty representative of the state of things (except I think this picture shows we've painted the baseboards)

Not just outdated-downright disturbingly unhealthy: 
-Tile that was poorly laid; causing it to break and completely missing in spots.
-The counter that is a solid-surface homage to the beauty of beige. Easy to clean with the exception of the cracks which fought our best efforts. How does one crack 1" solid surface counter?  I suspect the original installer cracked them when installing and just left it. There are enough other 'repairs' on the house to make me suspect as much.
-The cabinets had more of an oil surface than an oil-finish.

It's a work in progress, and is still not complete, but we've mad great strides.

First was replace the floor (complete with a proper underlayment. FYI-no, you cannot just lay tile directly on top of linoleum and expect it to last you idiot that I wish I could get my hands on)

Also paint cabinets. Glass faced doors still in the works.

Now lighter and airier: 
Trip to IKEA. Procure butcher block counter stock. Note at the loading dock that it doesn't fit in car so strap to roof.  Did best impression of Jed Clampet meets Fred Sanford while driving down the highway with 500# of oak strapped to roof. (Wish I had a picture of that)

Refinish butcher block (Waterlox-a tung oil)

New sink

Subway tile back-splash


Free up counter space by creating space for mircowave below counter; rewire for outlet

Currently further along than this; grouting is done, and under-counter completed section trimmed and completed.  I Still need to do back-splash on the opposite wall and add some trim.

While the dog has been on training hiatus/rehab it's been a good time to pay down the debt and I think I'm making progress.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shooting over a FTCH cocker

This cocker would probably be characterized as a boot polisher on this side of the pond-especially in cover this open; but this is the real deal, and there's no denying the level of quality being displayed here. 
Have you ever dreamed of shooting over a Field Trial spaniel ? Well during this film you will get a first person point of view as we join Andrew Robinson of Whaupley Gundogs (www.whaupleygundogs.co.uk) as he puts FTCH. Meadowsedge Shooting Star "Dizzy" through her paces. Filmed high up on the North Yorkshire Dales in the UK you will be able to enjoy and appreciate the drive, pace and style of this Champion cocker Spaniel. Subscribe to our channel for more great working gundog videos.
Filmed with a Go Pro Hero 3 camera @ 1080 - 60fps. Edited by Nick Ridley Photography

Thursday, May 23, 2013


It wasn't an aimless meandering. No, not exactly aimless.

I don't have a Parker-Hale type jag but am convinced cleaning rituals will be exponentially enhanced by merely owning one. (I honestly don't know why but they are as rare as 2" 12GA shells)

An innocent enough goal for lunch trip: procure jag. 

Just like the grocery store who puts the milk in the furthest point from the door-the cleaning equipment was similarly. Would/could I be blamed for taking a moment to see what had come in? Maybe that new Browning O/U since it doesn't look like there will be a test model delivered to my door. 


Nothing as reasonable as that.   

Benelli Ultralight 28GA

4.9 #

Seriously: 4.9#

Nothing followed me home (nothing but the bitter-sweet memory of the graceful,  gossamer like wand-o-death that pointed exactly where I looked because someone had even inserted the shims to adjust stock for cast-on). 

I was mostly cured of being a 'weight weenie' years ago when a friend, a professional cyclist, told me the easiest way to loose weight off my bike was to cut it from the blubber I was hauling around. (Not excusing rotational weight, where it is EASY to feel a real difference! Making one upgrade to a bike? Put it in the wheelset).

If that wasn't enough there was the conversation overheard in a bike shop:

Patron enters and asks 'is there is anything that I can put on my bike that will make me faster?'

The answer from the shop after she left - "yeah, miles". 

So it's not just about the weight-although that certainly is a plus; no denying it. 

And there is a very good list of the reasons I DON'T need one: starting with-I hunt behind a spaniel.  

That's it. That's enough. There doesn't need to be any other reason. 

Shots behind spaniels aren't exactly pokes, but I'm not the one doing the flushing so when a bird gets up it's already a 16 to 27-yard trap shot. I need to throw 1 to 1 1/8 oz to maintain a pattern. 

My list of one reason should be enough to shutter the ides and I would have no need to ponder the matter further if I hadn't seen the bricks B&P are stuffing in their 28GA shells:

Yes, Virginia. That's 1 1/16oz....

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dog And Human Genomes Evolved Together

Dog And Human Genomes Evolved Together

Evolution shaped genes in humans and dogs that correspond to diet, behavior, and disease, according to a new study.

 The study authors suggest that dogs were domesticated 32,000 years ago; that's much earlier than current estimates, which place domestication at around 15,000 to 16,000 years ago.

Monday, May 6, 2013

How it should work (pt 2)

I am not breed-blind.

I love dogs.  I love working with dogs. I love seeing a dog do what it was inherently bred to do.

I am not species blind either. I've known from childhood that I enjoy horses just as much; but I also know what it takes to maintain one and so never had one of my own. 

I have entertained the thought that eventually my daughter (much like every young girl I've ever known) will want a horse. While we'll cross that bridge when we come to it,  when I do allow myself to think about it I imagine riding cross-country equestrian with my daughter beside me; and that being one of the ultimate experiences for us to share together. I don't know that she'll be a Georgia Pelligrini, and the odds are that she won't-so I don't want to force my vision onto her.

Damn autonomy of 21st century social norms in western society!

Nevertheless-back to the point: I am not breed blind.  In fact I am probably going to have to open my sights up a great deal when I look for my next addition to the kennel.  I carry enough titanium in my ankle to build at least a good part of a tour-de-france bike; subsequently I have come to be judicious about the amount of walking I do without the aid of NSAIDs.  If there is one thing you have to do with springers, it's walk.  One benefit of the farther ranging pointing breeds-they do a lot of the walking for you.

I found this vid on Dogs and Doubles:

This is a Berg Brothers dog.

I know about the Berg brothers and consider them a top choice for my next dog, particularly if I decide to go with a setter. One that would suit me would not run quite as rangy as the pointer shown above because the tracts I have access too are not nearly as wide open and I don't have a horse to follow them on (see above).  In the foot-hunting world 60-100 acres is more reasonable; and 15-20 more likely for some of the smaller tracts. Even the 600 acres I lease isn't really enough space for a pointer who might range as far as 1/2 mile before making a turn.

Dogs are usually shot during deer season around here. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How should it work?

Spaniels can be fast. There is a reason it matters- seeing the alphabetic trace in their lineage: AFC, FC, NFC, etc...

Most don't have the first inkling how a spaniel is supposed to work in the field, but a well-bred, well trained, field-bred springer or cocker is a thing to behold.  I'll be the first to say it's not for everyone.

To wit, a conversation at our last hunt test:
'those field bred spingers are just so...fast! I don't think I'd enjoy hunting behind one of them'.
Which is probably one of the more true statements I heard that day! That person happened to be running their bench-bred dog in the test, and honestly they were doing just fine. It was evident that they had spent time with the dog, and the dog went on to pass that leg of the test.   For them, there was a preference for calm, but methodical searching patterns; not 'plodding' but no one was ever going to break a sweat keeping up.  Hunting behind a pocket-rocket really would just be an exercise in frustration.

A geneticist friend liked to say:
Nature is the loaded gun but nurture pulls the trigger.
After the breeding there's nothing to be done about the genetics. The difference-maker is nurture: the experiences and stimuli the pup receives-especially when they're "not" being trained.  

The speed and agility of this spaniel is quite comparable to how Emmie runs. I wish I could honestly say that the level of control I exhibit was comparable to this handler but it's not. It's good and getting better, but it's nowhere near this level. 

So- given a dog that runs this powerfully it's all the more important to channel that energy; to focus it through nurture. If the dog is a loaded gun then drive, desire and heart; these are projectiles.  Where will these be directed? (because they will manifest themselves in one way or another)  Will they be on target, off target wildly and dangerously?  The dog bred with a heart seeking the horizon is going to find it.  My role is to provide enough situations, enough stimuli that the energy is harnessed without leading to anguish on either's part.

It's a fun ride.

At this point I can't imaging hunting behind something that doesn't run like their very soul depended on it.