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  • January 22, 2013

    AKC Canine Health Foundation to Fight Bloat in Dogs

    By Chad Love

    If there's one thing that both mystifies and terrifies dog owners, it's the little-understood, often fatal condition known as bloat. This is when a dog's stomach fills up with an abnormal amount of air, fluids, and/or foam, causing it to swell and twist on itself. This can lead to low blood pressure, shock and damage to internal organs. Unless it is noticed and treated quickly with surgery, it's almost always fatal—often within hours. Any dog can develop bloat, but it is common in large-breed and deep-chested dogs like retrievers.

    I lost Lewey (pictured here)—my beloved dog-of-a-lifetime, a four-year-old male chess—to bloat. There isn't a worse, more horrible feeling in the world than finding a perfectly healthy dog dead in his kennel, knowing he died in that manner. So I was thrilled when the AKC Canine Health Foundation announced The Bloat Initiative, an effort to research and battle bloat, in a press release.

  • January 14, 2013

    Gun Dog Training: Bad Habits

    By Chad Love

    Porcupines are a fact of life for many of us, especially if we spend enough time in the field or have the bad fortune to own dogs with an unhealthy interest in them. Take my two setters, for example. My female loves porcupines. She's fascinated with the damn things and will point them with as much style and intensity as any bird. And as you may recall, I've had some porcupine troubles this year with her.

  • January 8, 2013

    When Hunters Trash Public Land

    By Chad Love

    To the alleged duck hunter(s) who visited the east side of Fort Supply Reservoir in Woodward County, Oklahoma on or around the weekend of December 29-30th: I'm sure you don't give a damn, but I picked up all the empty shell boxes, used wet wipes, plastic bags, candy wrappers, pop cans and other assorted garbage you left strewn across the parking area this past weekend. You're welcome. That was right classy of you.

  • January 2, 2013

    Taking Your Old Gun Dog for Granted

    By Chad Love

    Sometimes, through poor planning, you find yourself in the unenviable position of having two dogs vie for the majority of your attention, but for very different reasons. Such is the case with me. I have a young setter pup that desperately needs as much wild bird contact as he can possibly get in his inaugural hunting season. But I also have an old retriever for whom it's looking more and more likely that this will be her penultimate full-time hunting season.

    So do I concentrate on grooming the young prospect, or do I honor the old-timer by giving her as much time as possible in the sunset of her career?

  • December 21, 2012

    3 Reasons This Vintage Beer Commercial is Awesome

    By Chad Love

    If you're like me, you're probably a sucker for vintage advertising featuring hunting and fishing scenes, particularly ads and commercials with gundogs. I was recently perusing the Team Chesapeake website when I came across a thread about this awesome 1950s commercial for Carling Red Cap Ale.

  • December 20, 2012

    Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Gun Dog Owners

    By Chad Love

    With Christmas just a few days away, here are some last-minute gift ideas for the wingshooting, dog-owning person on your list. Or yourself.

    Some of them I may have previously mentioned and am mentioning again because, well, I like them; others I just haven't gotten around to writing about yet. But all of them are things I have personally used and can recommend.

    First up is L.L. Bean's technical upland pants. I tried them on a hunt in Montana and fell in love with them—hand-down my new favorite bird-hunting pants. They're light, fit well, tough where they're supposed to be tough, and stretchy where they're supposed to be stretchy. In the words of sexy Ned Flanders, "It's like I'm wearing nothing at all!" However, as comfortable as they were in the relatively thorn-free fields of Montana, I had my doubts they'd hold up to the vicious sandplum thickets back in Oklahoma. I was wrong. Halfway through our quail season and they still look great and perform flawlessly. At $109, they're not cheap, but good things rarely are.

  • December 17, 2012

    Super Sense: Dogs Trained to Sniff Out Ancient Bones

    By Chad Love

    We all know that our dogs' noses are pretty amazing. They can detect literally almost anything, from bombs, drugs and cadavers to detecting tumors and tracking whales across open ocean.

    Now here's the latest wrinkle: their sense of smell is so acute and so discriminatory that they can be trained to find not bodies, but bones, ancient bones hundreds of years old. They can, quite literally, smell the distant past.

    From this story on National Geographic:
    Australian dog trainer Gary Jackson of Multinational K9 has trained a black lab mix named Migaloo as the world's first "archaeology dog," able to locate bones that are hundreds of years old.

  • December 10, 2012

    Forgetting Extra Camera Batteries on a Hunt Can Mean Losing Memories

    By Chad Love

    Have you ever had a moment with your dog that you desperately wanted to capture on camera—a first point, first retrieve, some poignant milestone—and then utterly missed it, either through sheer operator incompetence or equipment failure? It happened to me yesterday morning on a duck hunt, and I'm still kicking myself for it.

    Like many other duck hunters in my area, my season has been hampered by a profound lack of huntable water. Almost all the areas I hunt are either bone-dry or so low as to be rendered effectively un-huntable. As a result, the dog's and my duck season has been pretty miserable to this point. Nevertheless, after seeing thousands and thousands of mallards on a recent South Dakota pheasant hunt (more on that in the next blog) and reading about them  I decided to put on my walking shoes (or waders) and go find a spot to hunt on my local reservoir, and low water be damned. A cold front was coming through and I had visions of shooting a few of those 750,000 mallards that were sure to be pouring into the state ahead of it.

  • December 5, 2012

    Gun Dog Tip: Give a Pup Time to Become Your Perfect Pointing Dog

    By Chad Love

    One of the most-discussed and contentious aspects of pointing dog development is range; specifically, how much will your dog end up with and is that going to be enough or too much?

    The issue of range and whether more or less is better is a fairly pointless (pun intended) argument, as we each have differing needs to suit our individual styles of hunting. But what's not often discussed is when, exactly, your dog "finds" his or her range. Some hunters may send a pup or young dog down the line because it "runs too big." Others may sell a dog because it doesn't run big enough. So when do you know, or think you know, your dog's range? It's an interesting question, and the more time I spend around pointing dogs, the more I become convinced that you don't really know what you've got until you give your dog enough opportunities to show you.

  • November 26, 2012

    Discussion Topic: Should You Shoot Bumped Birds Over Pointers?

    By Chad Love

    One challenge pointing dog owners face is deciding whether to shoot only pointed wild birds over their pups when they take them hunting, or go ahead and shoot birds their pups bump and/or flush.