Monday, June 22, 2015

In every litter...

It seems like in every litter, there is one pup that just has a "spark" that catches your attention.  It is usually the pup that will get in the most trouble, have the most fun, be the most frustrating, the most difficult to train and give you the most stories to tell...
In Scarlet's litter, I think the prize goes to "Yellow Girl", who we also call "Wild Child".  She is absolutely entertaining, extremely athletic (as evidenced in the video of her at 7 weeks jumping and scaling "the wall" that none of her larger siblings seem to get over.)

Here she is, in a rough video.

We are looking for a very experienced home for this girl. If interested, drop us a line at

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Training with Bird Launchers

It is a well known fact that good flying birds, and lots of them, make up a big part of training a good bird dog.  After all - half the name, and the top billing first half at that is "Bird".

We make the trek to South Dakota every year for that very reason.  Working wild birds in natural habitat is a fantastic way to get young dogs started, but the reality is - we can't always do that even ourselves and the average Joe or Judy out training their pup on weekends has even less chance.  So what to do?

We have worked with remote release launchers for literally decades.  Thousands of birds have been put through these mechanisms and with that experience we have noticed a few things.

1.  Proper introduction.  It is a clunky, noisy hunk of metal.  Be careful the first few times you use them with a new dog especially, and every time after.  A dog jumping in on a launcher just as it springs open can hit the dog and cause all kinds of issues, generally associated with birds and that is not what we want.

2.  Timing is everything.  We start with checkcording and move to a dragging cord when working launchers.  We always want to have a "failsafe" if the launcher doesn't fire the bird, and it does happen!

3.  Simulate a wild bird.  When pup is on point and decides to move just a liiiiittttle bit closer, launch the bird.  Nobody likes the points of a dog with his nose straight down hovering over a bird.  By launching at the first step, you get a dog that starts working like little Ruby in the video.  No whoa training, no heavy hands, just birds and a little direction.  And more birds.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Long overdue update

It seems there is little time for blogging about life, when one is so busy running through it!

So whatcha been up to, you ask?

Janet and I were pleased to be able to be mentors again at the Vizsla Club of Northern California Fun Field day again this year.  It is an event we always look forward to doing.  There is little in life that is better than watching a pups instincts come alive and watching the joy in an owners face as they share in the moment!

We took that concept and decided we wanted to do that more than once a year, so have had a great time putting on beginner Field events Seminars.  We truly love that aspect of what we do, and the ability to share it with folks and their pups is amazing.  To see dogs afield and bring people in to the sport is a true privilege!

Speaking of privileges, we weren't looking for another addition, but....  we have a new pup we co-own with Tim Heydorff and Karen Bravender.  "Khaleesi" is her call name.  For those who follow game of thrones you know from where the name comes.
She's been a lot of fun this first Puppy/season, pulling in at least half a dozen placements.  She is spending some time for the next couple months with Tim and Karen in SoCal.  She'll be coming back in time to go to South Dakota for Summer camp when we leave California at the end of July and return beginning of November.

We're offering a split or full camp this year as folks have requested, and are also planning on attending a few trials in and around the Dakota's, as well as the VCA National Field Trial in neighboring Wyoming.  If you'd like info on our Summer camp, dates etc.  check it out here.

We've been busy breeding pups as well, and currently have two litters of pups on the ground, a couple weeks apart.  We didn't plan for them to be at the same time, but nature is nature!  Nellie has one beautiful male pup available to a great home that will hunt and/or compete with him who we call "chief" or Little Big Man.  This is a repeat breeding of Nellie x Scar that produced "Sugar" the #1 Puppy/Derby for three months in 2014.

Scarlet also had a repeat litter with Leuc that has a few pups available at the time of this writing.  They'll be ready to go to their new homes the beginning of July.

For the blog on these litters, and for future as well, we use as a new permanent place to post updates, videos, etc. specific to the litters.

Breeze and Rudolph are in steadiness training and should be running in competition this fall as broke dogs after Summer Camp.  Ty is home with Charles for  6 weeks of R&R and will be back to go to Summer Camp in preparation for trial season.

Janet is enjoying not having to go to an office anymore, much prefers her new place of employment, which really does go to show that pay isn't everything!

We're making some strides on improvements to the Davis property, we have shade sails up over the play yards now and are working to fully convert the attached garage to a true "dog room".  That's all for another day and another post!

Thanks for being part of our world!
Janet & Ken

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.