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  • May 27, 2011

    Good Dog Gear: The Roy Gonia Special and/or the Acme Thunderer

    By Chad Love

    You can (and many do) spend thousands of dollars on wingers, bumper launchers, e-collars, training programs, birds and every other training aid known to man, but the one training item you'll use more than anything else, the one you will never, ever be without, costs about five bucks.

    It's a whistle, of course, and for many of us it's our primary means of non-verbal communication with our dogs. It's also perhaps the most individualistic training item. Everyone has a favorite whistle, whether it's hand-carved from a bit of antler, an old heirloom brass athletic whistle or a modern plastic whistle specifically designed for dog work. They all work, but some are more popular than others.

  • May 26, 2011

    Letting Older Dogs Get Away With More

    By Chad Love

    I know this is a gundogs blog, so I'll warn you beforehand: this question is going to sound vaguely Cosmo-ish, but here goes, anyway: Does your relationship with your dogs change as you both get older? Once your dog starts that downward slide toward old age, for whatever reason, do you start letting them get away with certain things in certain situations, things you normally wouldn't?

    Let me explain why I'm asking: this is my old female, Tess. This fall will be Tess's eighth season. She's well-mannered, handles reasonably well, is a decent marker, knows how to run blinds, has a good nose and absolutely lives to hunt. Like most gundogs, she has above-average potential that's always been held back by average (at best) training. In short, she's a good dog of decent ability that anyone would be proud to share a duck blind with. She's been a fantastic hunting dog, infinitely patient and understanding of my legion training gaffes, as well as a beloved family pet.

  • May 23, 2011

    The Truth About the Quail-Hunting Coyote

    By Chad Love

    It's Monday, which means, of course, that we get to find out the truth about the alleged quail-hunting coyote of western Oklahoma

    Although a majority of the comments expressed either skepticism or outright disbelief, the poll numbers revealed an almost statistical dead heat, with 49 percent believers versus 50 percent non-believers, out of 160 (so far) votes cast. Interestingly, what seemed to sway many of the nay comments was the alleged rigidity of the coyote in the pose. Many of you thought it was either stuffed or Photoshopped.

    Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the skeptics (which is my natural inclination as well) but the story of Wylie the bird-hunting coyote is one hundred percent...TRUE. It was published in the Oklahoman on Feb. 15, 1998. From the story:

    Max Montgomery can't honestly say Wylie is his best bird dog, but that's partly because Wylie isn't a dog. Wylie is a coyote. Montgomery, a 50-year-old western Oklahoma rancher, adopted the coyote when it was only a pup soon after its mother was shot and killed by another man.

  • May 20, 2011

    Is This Coyote a Bird-Hunting Machine?

    By Chad Love

  • May 19, 2011

    You Owe It to Your Dog To Get Involved in Bird Conservation

    By Chad Love

    I long ago accepted the fact that I do not own gundogs strictly because I am primarily an upland and waterfowl hunter. Somewhere along the way - very early on - dogs for me transcended that limiting category of "hunting tool." Gundogs are not simply a means to an end, they are an end unto themselves. And as such, I believe that if all the birds disappeared tomorrow, many of us would still run our dogs through empty fields where the memory of birds lies fallow, because that is who and what they have made us.

  • May 16, 2011

    NV Landowner Kills Lost Field Trial Pointer. Was it Justified?

    By Chad Love

    Every now and then you come across a story that is going to engender some strong response on both sides of the issue. Such was the case recently as I was reading the latest post over at the "Living With Birddogs" blog about a field trial pointer who got lost and was eventually shot and killed by a local landowner.

    From the Living With Birddogs post:
    During the 13th brace of the National Am Chukar SD CH in Reno, IB Fenway was lost and subsequently shot and killed by an area landowner who is a practicing veterinarian...Although Fenway was wearing a Garmin tracking collar, Torben (the dog's handler) and Nard (the dog's owner) were never able to pick up a signal. In all likelihood, the Astro 220 had not been properly tuned to the specific collar that Fenway was wearing. According to Dr. Scott A. Thompson, Fenway attacked some of his free-range, egg-laying chickens, killing 7 of them, and then "charged" Dr. Thompson when he attempted to intervene. Dr. Thompson is a 1976 graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and owns and operates a 3-veterinarian specialty practice in Reno (Feline Medical Center) that is limited to cats.

  • May 11, 2011

    How and When to Introduce Your Dog to The Whoa Post

    By Chad Love

    Jenny, my little English setter pup, turned a year last month. This past season I took her along on bird-hunting trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and South Dakota. It was great fun for Jenny and me, and good experience for a pup, but now the real work begins. So this past week Jenny got introduced to the whoa post.

    The "whoa" command, most pro trainers will tell you, is the most important command in the pointing dog's repertoire, and the foundation for everything that comes after. It's perhaps a flawed analogy, but you could call it the pointing dog equivalent of force-fetch in retriever training.

    Simply put, "whoa" means stop. As in right now. There are any number of ways to teach whoa, as there are any number of theories as to when to teach it. I chose to wait and let my dog run wild and have fun for her puppy season before starting the real training and use the whoa post when I did start. Some may start earlier and teach whoa with a barrel, a table or a simple check cord. Whatever works for you.

  • May 9, 2011

    MBF Caption Contest Winner Announced

    By Chad Love

    Well, it came a little late, and - thanks to all the cool, interesting, funny, witty, strange, confusing and a few slightly disturbing caption entries - it took me a little longer than expected. But I have at last chosen a winner in the MBF caption contest  First, however, a few honorable mentions...

    Spentcartridge had a good one with "No, I wasn't climbing the fence. I was stepping over it when my legs shrank", and reader jbiz71 hit the nail on the head with his entry "maybe an underground fence isn’t such a bad idea."

    Reader 1grand6 took a cue from one of my favorite Bogart flicks (and better book by the enigmatic B. Traven) with "What gate, I don't need no stinking gate!" While bassman1 gave the photo his best TV pitchman effort with "Bird dog mail box now $39.99. No hardware needed just place paws over fence. Not responsible for mauled or missing mail."

    Regular blog reader MLH chose to highlight the alleged visual shortcoming of certain Teutonic continental breeds with "Just call me ugly one more time ... just one more time." And the contest even garnered a little limerick action from reader Cunninghamww

    Ole Hank didn't have much sense.
    He got hisself stuck on a fence.
    But don't be dismayed,
    His sweetie's been spayed,
    A fence-jumpers only defense.

  • May 4, 2011

    We Need a Gun Dog Music Video. You Can Help

    By Chad Love

    Do you have a favorite song about your dog? Is there some anthem that perfectly summarizes how you feel about your pooch(es)? I have to admit, I don't. I have no idea if it's a case of my weird and esoteric taste in music not being conducive to such a concept, simply not thinking about it or if there just aren't that many good dog songs out there, but I've never associated my dogs with a song. But I know someone who has, and he needs your help to make it official.

  • May 2, 2011

    Plan For the Worst and Get Your Lost Dog Back Faster

    By Chad Love

    Desperately looking for a lost dog is a situation no owner, ever, ever wants to be in. I've been there a few times, and that helpless feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize you may never see your dog again is beyond terrible. But when I got the following e-mail from my friend James Card about his dog Radar, that feeling came back in a rush.