Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away!

We are drowning here in NY, can't the science whizzes come up with a way to ship some of our precip to Colorado?? My gutters can't keep up with what's coming off the roof, and my pond is overflowing the bank like Niagara Falls. A local fire chief says this is the worst he has seen since hurricane Agnes, and she was a real bitch.

One of my clients left his Chessie pup with me to be boarded/trained while he is at camp for a week. This is a litter sister to one owned by another client, they are now 8 months old, and out of a well-known/respected kennel. Both owners have trained Chessies with me before and did a good job, and both got these pups at 8 weeks and began lessons immediately.

These pups are both proving to be extremely difficult to work with; they have drive to spare, but right out of the gate have refused to return to the owners after picking up a mark; this is not a fear/avoidance /possessiveness, they just want to race all over the real estate for the rest of the day after picking up a mark. Neither one takes pressure well, one turns into a puddle and the other channels Cujo. They have no focus on the handler, or on anything else except a mark. One of them has started water freaking and has to be retrieved out of the water via boat, and the other one still puppy swims out to the mark.

I have worked this one for 4 days now, and it has taken me this long to even begin to get a handle on her behavior. She is extremely distractible and has the attention span of a dyslexic gnat. It takes her forever to learn the simplest task, because she just does not pay attention long enough to get it, and chained behaviors are beyond her because she can't focus long enough to put the links in the chain together. I can see where the old opinion of Chessie learning comes from, i.e., you have to start over every time you take them out of the kennel, because this is true in her case; she just does not retain learning from one day to the next.

Now I have trained a lot of dogs, and have never seen anything quite like this. I have seen clients' dogs with some of these behaviors, but they are easily fixed and don't persist. I have owned dogs myself that did some of this stuff; one was a pup I got from another breeder, he would race all over on the way to a fall, but that was because he couldn't mark worth a damn and never did figure out how to use his nose to establish a hunt; one was Thunder's sister sent to me at 2 years old after she had been washed out by two pros because she would bolt in fear and they could not catch her ( I took her training 2 days after she arrived from Colorado, figuring I was probably going to lose her, she was out to the mark and straight back to me, who she didn't know from a hole in the ground, like a rocket. I have no idea what those "pros" did to her, but if you put a leash on her she would hit the dirt and pee all over in fear. I never had any problem with her other than that, and she was one of the most deadly markers I have ever seen). My current home-bred male had to show everybody within 200 yards his "prize" after he picked up a mark, but always untimately returned to me; he never did this hunting, and I fixed it in training in five minutes).

These guys want to hunt the pups this fall, and my toolbox is about empty. The one I am working with is going on a new training regimen; the other one may be ok, she is currently being collar conditioned and it looks like that, along with the force fetch, may do the trick; time will tell.

They say the tough ones have a lot to teach a trainer, but all this trainer has learned so far is that I don't care a bit for the direction this breed is headed. I have also been reminded, once again, of just how priceless my bloodline was. My home-bred boy has gotten lots of hugs in the past 4 days . . .

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's Really In Your Dog Food??

Salmonella? Aflatoxin? Pieces of plastic? Traces of Chinese antibiotics? Mold?
     All of the above - and more -  have prompted dog food/treat recalls recently.

But only economy brands are involved, right?
     Nooo, even the pricey brands have problems.

Well the food I use is manufactured in the US so it's safe, isn't it?
     Not necessarily. "Manufacturing" simply involves combining and packaging the ingredients; it says nothing about the source of those ingredients.

So where do the ingredients come from?
     All over the world, including third world nations where "sanitation" means dumping the chamber pot out the window before it overflows onto the floor.

     I am currently involved in a "discussion" with the producer of several well-known brands of food re: a recall, and I can't tell you how angry I am. I have to wonder about the impact of small companies being bought out by conglomerates on the quality of the product. I don't remember ever seeing this frequency of recalls in the past; have procedures for contamination detection greatly improved, or are we feeding our beloved dogs toxic crap?

      There is a site,, which not only does a good job of rating dog food, but also offers an email alert program to notify subscribers whenever there is a recall. I never would have known what was going on with the food I was using if I had not signed up for that (free) program. Check it out, it's a real eye-opener.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

About Me

I  bred, trained and exhibited Chesapeake Bay retrievers in hunt tests, obedience trials, and conformation shows for over thirty-four years, and have been teaching others to train their pets and competition dogs for over twenty years. I have learned a lot over that time, and hope to share some of that learning via this blog, and of course also hope to learn stuff from y'all out there in Cyberville. I have incorporated some of shat I have learned in my first little manual, Puppy Primer - What You Should Know Before You Buy a Dog. Check out my website at for more information on the manual, and on me and what I do.

Feel free to share comments re: content, be they positive or negative (I have a really thick skin after all those years of showing a breed with a bad rep!). Don't be shy about posting what you really think, you will find that I often tend to be ummm, straightforward myself. You also need to know that I am a true Luddite, and extremely cyber-challanged, therefore I definitely welcome technical suggestions to improve my blog. This is my first one, be kind.

Here are some pics of the dogs I have owned and bred over the years:

The first three generations of my breeding, all shown and titled: Back left is Thunder, he started it all and was sent to me by a breeder friend in Colorado. Back right is his daughter Storm, my foundation bitch. In front of them  are Storm's daughters from her first breeding, Autumn left and and Sara right..

Windy's water entry; she is Autumn's daughter

Cirrus, Windy's son, pheasant hunting

That's all for now, and again, comments welcome.