Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Scarlet x Leuc Litter

They're three weeks old - can't believe how time is flying by!  Mom and Pups are thriving and even beginning to play a little.  You can check them out here:

Scarlet's Blog

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

An Open Letter to AKC and AKC Field Trialers

Should AKC just add a Walking Field Champion Category?

Some time back, the American Kennel Club wrote a small caveat into the rulebook for Pointing dog Field Trials.  Within this change was, as often is in writing a clarification, a fraught with Peril attempt to clarify a difference between walking handling and horseback handling.  The idea, at least to my understanding, was to clarify the acceptable range of a “Walking” Gun Dog vs. a “Horseback” Gun Dog. 

“*Walking Handler Gun Dog range – In walking Gun Dog Stakes, the dog’s range should be suitable for the walking handler.  Horseback Handler Gun Dog range – In Horseback Handling Gun Dog Stakes, the dog’s range should be suitable for a horseback mounted handler taking into consideration the cover and terrain.”

Ummmm…  Ok….  Then please explain me this:

6-V Horseback Handling. The premium list for any licensed or member field trial must specify whether or not handling from horseback will be permitted in any or all stakes. If handling from horseback is permitted in any stake, the club should attempt to provide horses. Mounted and foot handlers are not to be segregated in the drawing.

The Judges shall see to it that any mounted handler uses his horse only as a means of conveyance on the course and never as an active aid in handling. The handlers shall remain on the specified course in front of the Judges and in the Judges’ line of travel, except as necessary to handle a dog that is seen on point. The Judges shall control the pace, whether both handlers are on foot or both are mounted. If one handler is mounted and the other is on foot, the Judges shall set a reasonable pace to accommodate the foot handler. 

So if a walking handler is in a Horseback allowed stake, then does the judging criteria for that brace for a Gun Dog competition, which gives the winner Championship points that are not delineated between Walking and Horseback change to the range suitable for “Walking” Gun Dog? 

What about the Junior Levels?

 When caveats to rules are written, then they often become “inferred” to other areas where they specifically are not written.  Case in Point – the Junior level stakes, Puppy and Derby.
After having experienced judging in Junior level stakes over the past two years in Puppy and Derby at walking trials where the more independent, larger running dogs are overlooked and penalized for being high class bird dogs and the nod going to 30-40 yard dogs that are really more a hunt test or hunting club personal hunting dog range.   Given the past judging we've witnessed in these events and comments made about Juniors that "ran too big and took lines" I decided to ask before I entered the next trial.  I asked the Secretary exactly this in writing.

I know this will seem an odd question but I’ll ask it anyway.
 Are the judges for the junior stakes (puppy and derby) going to be advised to judge these stakes to a “walking” standard?
If so that’s fine -  I just want to know before I submit entries. 

The response was a one word reply.  “YES”.

Well, it’s really NOT fine, but I AM thankful the Secretary let me know and saved me a couple hundred bucks in entry fees, more spiked blood pressure and a waste of my time.

Did I miss something in the rules for judging a Puppy or Derby?  Let’s review the performance standard.

1-A Puppy Stakes. Puppies must show desire to hunt, boldness, and initiative in covering ground and in searching likely cover. They should indicate the presence of game if the opportunity is presented. Puppies should show reasonable obedience to their handlers’ commands, but should not be given additional credit for pointing staunchly. Each dog shall be judged on its actual performance as indicating its future as a high class bird dog. 

Hmmm… No – I don’t see anything there about should be a 30 yard dog or “suitable to a walking handler”, just that it should be demonstrative of desire to hunt, BOLD, have INITIATIVE IN COVERING GROUND and shall be judged on its potential to become a HIGH CLASS BIRD DOG.  Well, maybe it’s in the Derby rules.  Let’s look there.

1-B Derby Stakes. Derbies must show a keen desire to hunt, be bold and independent, have a fast, yet attractive, style of running, and demonstrate not only intelligence in seeking objectives but also the ability to find game.
Each dog is to be judged on its actual performance as indicating its future promise as a high class bird dog for Gun Dog or All-Age stakes. 

I've played this game for a long time.  I don't know how that performance criteria is achieved at a “walking" handler ranger of 40 yards and still demonstrate independence, have a fast and attractive style of run when the dog must change direction in ten or fifteen strides.  How do you have a walking handler range of 40 yards and also have a potential All Age dog?
Do you read anything in there either about judging differently in a walking Derby vs a horseback derby?  I must have missed that part I guess, and still cannot find it. 

What are your thoughts?  

  • ·        Should a walking Gun Dog be able to reach out 200 yards and hold a bird until you get there in a trial, work the bird effectively and then run to front again without being penalized, or should a “walking” handler dog only go 40-50 yards in an easy going pace, find birds just to the front or side of you in a very dependent and mechanical fashion? 
  • ·        Should a Puppy that stays mostly to the front and reaches out, covers ground fast with a smooth animated gait and is obviously hunting be penalized in a walking trial because it’s more than shotgun range away in a puppy stake, instead giving favor to a dog that is very handler dependent, short in range, low to moderate prey drive which translates in areas of intensity and style because it is a “walking” Puppy stake?
  • ·        Should a Derby dog be penalized by bird planters in walking stakes only dropping birds on the horse track so that reaching dogs have no bird contact instead favoring the "minesweeper" 30 yard dog in a walking derby and entirely dismiss an all age or large running Gun Dog prospect?
  • Is this an issue in other parts of the country, or is it just a Northern California phenomenon.  I hope so, but it seems to be growing.
If your opinion is that’s all ok, then I think you are looking at happy days ahead.  If you think that’s a problem and is leading to a degradation of the title of Field Champion, then join me and speak up.  Tell your clubs that you aren’t supporting with entries and why.  Reach out to the AKC reps and help persuade AKC to do something to address it.  Personally, the best thing they could do is get rid of the walking differential.  A Pointing dog should be able to reach to country and objectives that contain game and hold the birds until the guns arrive.  It should be adaptive to cover and terrain to do so.  I want a dog to run out there and check it out so I don't have to unless there's game, and I walk some big Prairie country and wild birds with dogs that hunt it.  You'd be lucky to get much of anything in your gamebag with a "walking" gun dog that I've been seeing at trials put to the test of hunting that country.

As for me – an enthusiast that just finished my 21st year as an AKC judge and competitor for longer - I’m officially speaking up.

If the AKC decides there is more support for the walking stakes and want to judge to a lower standard, then they should also provide delineation between a Walking Field Champion and a Field Champion.  It's only a letter difference, but with the way the rules (and inference of the rules to other stakes)  that letter delineation would speak volumes about the caliber of dog.

Ken Kuivenhoven
AKC Performance Field judge #ZB354

Sunday, March 2, 2014

UC Davis Canine Breeder's Symposium

Yesterday Janet and I attended an all day Symposium for Canine Breeders at the University of California at Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  It was sponsored by the student theriogenology club.
Yes, that's a big word!  It was explained at the opening of the day and the best way I can describe it is the branch of veterinary medicine encompassing all aspects of reproduction.  It was exceptionally well attended, in fact they said it was the highest attended seminar ever at UCD.  We had 208 people in a room designed for somewhat less than that, and an additional 240+ attending via live webinar.
The topics were very, very interesting to those of us in the breeding world, beginning with Ovulation timing in the bitch and running the gamut of subjects throughout the full day.  Discussion on Male and Female reproductive anatomy, the "why" behind the "how", genetics, C-sections vs. Natural delivery, Artificial Insemination, Transcervical vs. Surgical.  It was a world class instructional team and a first rate symposium for a measly $65 including continental breakfast, lunch and a tour of the hospital.
I wish I could go again today, it was that good.  I would strongly recommend if you have the opportunity in the future, don't pass it up.  We had people around us that traveled 12 hours to attend, and likely some further that I never met.
I personally found it well worth the time and effort.  I only wish I had some of this information/knowledge a couple litters ago.  The neonatal resuscitation segment might just have given us the tools and knowledge to have saved two beautiful pups.
Now I need to order some stuff I found out about yesterday.  Let's see, where's that list in all these notes....  

Friday, February 28, 2014

Garmin DC40 discontinued - greed or just stupid?

The Garmin GPS Tracking collar. A wonderful invention for many of us in helping keep track of our dogs, and even ourselves. We have become very comfortable using these devices and AKC has been overall receptive to their use.
Up until three days ago, the two combinations possible from Garmin (the leader in the industry) was the "old" Astro 220 handheld receiver (discontinued) was compatible with the DC30 and DC40 transmitting collars.   The newest version transmitting collar - the DC-50 is not compatible with the Astro 220.
Below depicts the compatibility between units, and the availability of being able to purchase a unit that would work.

I struggled with why would a company that has a great selling, approved for use collar suddenly discontinue it without an approved replacement unit?  People still have functioning 220's and the DC40 is compatible with it.  Not everyone has the disposable income to buy a new 320/50 combo!  But, it seems that is the goal of Garmin.  Forced retirement of perfectly good, accepted for use gear.

By reviewing the graphic below, it's illustrated they want the market to move fully to the 320/50 either when the DC40 collar gives out or the 220, forcing a major purchase or finding a different solution.  

It would appear that there is only one option left if you need a new piece to the system.  You can't upgrade in any other way than to have the 320/50 combination.  Problem is - if you have to and compete, you currently have a problem.  That combo is not approved for use in performance events!

I can't think that they had no idea the collar was not approved for use - they must be smarter than that, right?  Maybe not, maybe so - we will probably never know.

I understand the constant need to improve and have a new product line coming out.  But this early termination of not very old technology that people have invested substantial sums of money already to use doesn't evoke a feeling of partnership between Garmin and it's customers.  Especially seemingly uncaring that the very staunch supporters of the system cannot use the new version in competition - on this note Garmin has tossed the proverbial baby out with the still hot bathwater.  It's like building a car and then two years later ensuring there is zero parts available to keep the car maintained and on the road.  Do that more than a couple times and folks might just look for a different brand of car.

I've been impressed with Garmin in the past, and know this is a small part of their overall portfolio, but the company has dropped more than a couple points in my eyes on this one.  They need to consider themselves partners with their customers and take a long term approach vs. just focus on increasing sales by discontinuing parts of a good expensive system that has several years of valued service still available.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ruff Tough Kennels: Are they really better? - Review

Ruff Tough Kennels are appearing in the back of more trucks – check out why with  this review, product info, pictures and more. 

 As you are reading this review, you likely heard something about Ruff Tough Kennels, or maybe the name just got you wondering more about them,  or better put

Is it a product that can live up to it’s name or just more hype? 

I’m a guy who’s hunted and trained for decades (and currently has 9 bird dogs his own - wife counting).  We’ve long had crates for taking the dogs places, or just to hang out safely at home.  Like me, many of you have also seen the crates get lighter and more cheaply made while at the same time more expensive.  Dogs chew out of them, they’re brittle, thin and break or bend when you put anything on them.  They don’t seem to be all that safe or reliable anymore to keep a dog in.  I get it.  So I’m reviewing them to see if these crates rise to their claim of being Ruff and Tough.

Ruff Tough Kennels are a single piece construction Heavy duty dog crate.  They use a composite door assembly that is fully removable for free access, or can be opened in a right hand or left hand configuration.  They are also prepped for hardware installation that can join together crates in a horizontal and/or vertical configuration. 
They’re manufactured In the USA  – Tea, South Dakota by Roto-Mold, LLC

Features include:
·        Five year Warranty
·        Durability (sensing a theme)
·        Double end doors available on Intermediate and Large,
·        Easy cleaning
·        Composite double swing or easy full removal doors
·        New Pebble Granite pattern
·        Tie downs (with optional tie down kit)
·        Stackable and connectable (with optional hardware kits)
·        Sizes Small, Medium, Intermediate and Large

How did it come to be…

In Ruff Tough’s words: 

Born out of the love of Dogs... Dog Safety was our #1 Priority!

We love Dogs. Who doesn't? Wanting the best for "Mans Best Friend" along with being owners of a plastics manufacturing company (rotational molding), we had an idea for a dog crate that would fit better in the back seat of a car and be user friendly.

By molding the body of the dog crate in one piece it would make the outside dimensions smaller and the dog crate stronger. We also thought that putting a door on each end (double door) would make the dog crate more user friendly and really handy for the back seat of a car. This really cool feature would allow access form either side of the car,  thus providing a dog crate to the industry that would take the place of two to three purchases of existing dog crates."

The folks at Ruff Tough Kennels then had inquiries about making modifications to their durable dog crate from Pro trainers and Outfitters.  They put on their thinking caps and the result is development of this line of products. 

Having watched the company for the past year or so, they aren’t done thinking.  I’ve seen options and sizes continue to come to market so it seems to me like they are a company that is responsive to their consumers. 

Review Comments

I received two Ruff Tough crates I ordered from  to test and see if they hold up as advertised.  My first impression was that they were indeed much heavier duty than the PetsMate kennels that we’ve been using, and by a lot.  I’m not overly flush, so I’m not going to drop 60# weights on them or toss them out of a moving vehicle like they do in the video, but after having hands on I don’t think the video is untruthful, and it is entertaining.

·        Sizing. They seem like they run a bit on the small side for the name, so I’m glad I tend to “go big” when I order things.  Folks will want to pay attention to dimensions, especially when planning on fitting a big dog into one, or fitting them into a smaller vehicle.  They are the dimensions they call out, so go more by dimension than name.

·        Comfort. The dogs seem happy and content, and I admit when I’m driving I have a sense of confidence that if some moron texting doesn’t see me, at least the dogs stand a whole lot better chance of survival, and not escaping in the event of an accident.  This isn’t a technical reporting, I understand, but peace of mind is worth mentioning.

·        Doors.  I really like the double opening door so it doesn’t matter which crate goes on which side of the vehicle, and that I can take it all the way off and put it straight back on easily.  I’m not sure I’m sold on the composite strength against a chewer though.  I’ve got dogs that have destroyed an indestructible Kong in an hour, the jury is still out on that aspect.  I tend to like Metal personally when it comes to a door, but so far – 20 days in and they’re working fine and holding up.


·        Cleaning.  They are pretty easy to clean, though the back of the inside can be a bit tough to reach into because the crates don’t break down into two pieces.  Of course, that’s why they’re stronger, so it’s a tradeoff of sorts.  Truthfully, I rarely break down the two piece crates for cleaning either – but I could if I wanted to.

Other Testimonials and Customer Reviews from around the web.

As I mentioned earlier, I feel more comfortable with the dogs in a heavy duty crate when traveling.  I’ve heard too many horror stories about a dog getting hurt in an accident, and even more about a dog surviving the accident, but then loose on the freeway and ending up with a tragic result, so I really liked reading this review.

I wanted to follow up and with a few comments on the Ruff Tough Kennels I purchased about 4 months ago.   

I have now been hit in the rear of my truck twice while traveling with my dogs.  The first time was about 10 years ago.  At that time I used a regular kennel,  the type where you have two halves that are held together using some type of screws .  During that incident, the kennel was slammed against the side of the bed and split in 3 different places.  It barely held together and thank goodness my dog was OK.  Of course the kennel had to be replaced.

Well the second time was this weekend.  I was hit in the rear of my truck by a car traveling 40 – 50 mph at impact.  I drive a Ford F-250 and it really took a hit.  I had both dogs in the back headed to a retriever training day with our club.  Thank goodness they were both in the large Ruff Tough Kennels. Both kennels were turned sideways and one of them landed up on the wheel well on its side.  The dog in this particular kennel ended up with a bloody nose but overall they both came out in good shape. The force of her hitting the door resulted in a crack that later separated, but other than that, there was no damage at all to the kennels themselves.  I think you have an excellent product that exceeds the standard by a long shot. 

 Both I and my dogs thank you.  

 Dickie Edmund “

I read this one with interest, as I am a bit concerned especially about the composite door assembly and a chewer. 

We adopted a Brittany mix from the pound with a bad case of separation anxiety. After he chewed up our coffee table, window sill and bed. We decided our Brittany was mixed with a Tasmanian Devil and we needed to kennel him. We first started with a plastic kennel. That lasted about a week before he chewed threw the slates up top and got out and ruined the kennel. Our second kennel was the large metal cage type. Well he chipped his tooth the first day and on the second day he managed to break out of the metal kennel, this was due to the fact that they are collapsible and not that sturdy. After figuring I would probably need cinder blocks and steel for my next kennel, I was recommended the Rough Tough Kennel. I was pretty skeptic as it resembles any plastic type kennel. But to my surprise, the rough tough kennel has worked great, it has held up now for 6 months and my Tasmanian Devil of a Brittany has barely put a scratch on it. Now my kennel, dog and house are much safer.

Nicholas - Elko, MN

 My “All that glitters is not gold” segment. 

There are a few things people should take note of if looking at getting a Ruff Tough Kennel. 

·        Cleaning – as I mentioned, they are overall easy to clean as they are plastic, but the larger crates can be hard to reach to the back.  I use a longer handle scrub brush, but it’s a bit of a reach.

·        Sizing – Make sure you go by measurements vs. the name.  I think most folks will think the sizing runs about a size small by name.

·        Composite Door – It hasn’t been a problem, but there might be potential for one.  I’d like to see them come up with a composite covered metal door, best of both worlds.  For now it works, and they do offer replacement doors if needed.

·        Ship time – I had to WAIT for them.  I hate waiting, but sales are strong.  They did ship direct from the manufacturer, but expect 2-4 weeks from ordering.  On the plus side, shipping is free. 

Final comments

 From my chair, I’d buy another.  Nobody else has a 5 year guarantee, and it’s made in the USA which I like.  I’d make sure I get the connector and tie down kits if I need them and I really like that the shipping cost is included.  I personally think it’s a good value.  Though more expensive on the front end I think this Crate will last for a very long time and ultimately be less than buying several cheaper crates.  For those of us with several dogs - offers a discount on 3 or more which is a nice break.

All things taken into consideration,  I’d place this in the “Recommended Buy” column.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Nothing like a good Brandi

Today we received an e-mail from a couple who got a Pup from our last litter.  I thought it was wonderful and just wanted to share it... 

Hi Ken & Janet:
Just wanted to send a couple of photos from a Hastings Island hunt yesterday. Of the six birds Brandi was lead point on two, backing on the others, and retrieved two as well. I did not get any photos of her on point, with only two guns, and the propensity of pheasants not staying around long after being located, my focus was on a clean kill for her hard work. Will attempt to capture her on point before the season is over. Her points to date are very stylish, high head, stretched out, and a high tail. Very classy! She is a very aggressive (pursuit) on chasing shot birds, and made several very nice retrieves on our Kansas hunt. On the other side she has not been strong on the bird finding side until yesterday when she put the entire package together. She is still a pup and definitely has all of the tools to be a great hunting partner for years to come.

Brandi is a big runner on our daily outings at Dinosaur Point, and could definitely be hunted off of horse back.

When we switch to the hunting fields she hunts at a good range with no direction from me. I think she watches and mimics Missy, although she doesn't follow Missy, preferring to hunt her own area of the field, making for very good coverage of the areas hunted. If her litter mates are like her, then they require little if any input while in the field. Many hunts I never have to hit her whistle, and only had to use the e-collar, at a low level, once in KS. Her nose appears to be excellent with one of her points yesterday being on a bird that was at least 25' upwind from her. She held her point as I walked past her, and never moved until the bird flushed. We love her to say the least, and are glad that she is a member of our family.
Hope that all is well with both of you.
Take care,
Don & June

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 VCA National Field Trial - Course evaluation

Janet and I just finished attending the VCA National Field trial - a horseback event held this year in Eureka, Kansas on the Huntington Ranch and Christian Hills Camp.

This was the first time the VCA has held an event here, though years before the National Vizsla Association utilized these grounds for their National Field trial.  I was asked often during the event questions such as "how do I like the grounds?"  What do I think of the location, etc. 

Knowing that I am only one perspective on a ragingly open writhing can of worms, I'm going to opine on this while it is still fresh on my mind.  (Sidenote - I wrote this right after the Nationals, but held onto it as it didn't seem to be of much consequence at the time.  Now that it appears the 2014 National is returning to Eureka - instead of opting into the facebook mire of insults, I am choosing this venue to offer my opinion.)

First, the grounds.  Personally, I like them.  Though there are a some tricky points of riding as it is the Flint Hills, thus loose flint rock, I thought they offered a good opportunity to showcase a dog that can handle varying terrain.  There were open expanses of low grass to see the dogs roll out, treelines they could work to demonstrate ability to take a line, objectives to reach to, rolling prairie with terrain changes and cover that varied from moderate to heavy, draws and undulations that a dog that can work open prairie would understand and demonstrate their ability to do so.  The event is, after all, held on the Prairie with the self-proclaimed Prairie Chicken Capital of the world only 35 miles away.
I heard several comments while riding braces and around camp that the cover was too tall.  This was from primarily the trialers who typically run on mowed grounds and treelines.  Interesting, virtually every dog in the second series was from those locales, and all dogs that I witnessed run in the second series never really got off the treeline, except to go to the next treeline.  This is where my personal opinion on the running of the trial begins.

I did not witness a single piece of birdwork anywhere but a treeline or a specific objective such as a tree with deadfall - with the exception of a rogue chuckar found by Laura Miller's awesome dog "Bull" that was not planted as it was first series.  My thought through this, and just having come off two months running dogs on wild birds in Open Prairie,

If we are going to have a trial on the Prairie, 35 miles from the Prairie chicken Capital of the world, it seems to me that there should be consideration in the running of the trial for dogs to run and hunt the Prairie.

 I had two dogs personally that had finds along treelines, and got through clean - but when they got to the Prairie section which is about a third of the course, and they worked it properly using wind, reading the topography change and knowing where birds would likely be in a Prairie environment, they were entirely overlooked and there was not a single find for a dog that could properly work Prairie.  Bird planting was not done to my knowledge on the Prairie section and it seemed apparent that judging was not taking into consideration dogs who worked the Prairie sections.

I use Tucker's run as a litmus test.  I was thoroughly impressed with Tucker's performance on his run.  Unfortunately - the only people who witnessed it was my judge, my scout and myself.  The rest of the gallery got hung back.  Tucker reached large at the beginning through the low and open field, beating his bracemate by half in run and reach for the first 6-7 minutes, when the two dogs separated with his bracemate getting hung up in the trees.  Tuck worked the treeline forward magnificently and was rewarded with a forward find.  The cover tightened and he did as well, managing and adapting his range to the changes in cover from treeline to tight cover hunting.  Through a top gate the course opened up to a large section of Prairie with a treeline on the low right side.  He took the larger course and began the open Prairie running.  When on the Prairie section he reached out to Prairie objectives, which are things like high side slopes of cover where wild Sharptail or Chickens would typically be found and always to the front.  The Prairie Objectives are changes in cover density and topography - not a deadfall. I don't know if the judges did not understand how dogs work Prairie, but from my perspective it appears it was not a consideration, nor was an adaptive run to differing covers.  Certainly it was not a consideration from a birds planted perspective.  Tuck's bracemate had I believe 2 or three finds - on the treeline and one on the horse track while coming up from behind.  She made second series.  Tuck did not.

Now I know that reads as though I'm unhappy with the results regarding Tuck and admittedly who that is competitive wouldn't be  - BUT - I know it's field trialing and that is the same whether at a weekend trial or a National.  I am merely using that personal experience to demonstrate what I saw.  I also use it to offer the 2014 run a chance to improve to use the whole course. 

It seems a shame to me that there are great grounds that can showcase dogs that can run a myriad of covers and terrains on one course, but only one type of cover seemingly evaluated and utilized.  I am hopeful that next year, if it is on the same grounds, there is consideration for the dogs that can run and find birds in open Prairie.  I hope the bird planting also takes that into consideration.  Otherwise why have it in the Prairie?