7 November 2016
Dog show and challenge cup
This weekend the Danish Kennel Club held this year’s last show and as usual it took place in Herning. 2,600 dogs were entered on Saturday and 2,000 on Sunday.
I had a date with Helle at the show on Saturday. 60 tollers were entered and it is always nice to see Tollers in the ring.
But……… there are also a lot of stalls where it is possible to buy all kind of things. When I am in a place with lots of opportunities to buy stuff, needs that I didn’t know I had, arise. Many years of experience has taught me that I might as well surrender to these needs; they don’t disappear. Often I regret it if I see something I want and don’t buy it. So I just went on a shopping spree.
Among other things, I bought one more dog basket. The one I bought last year has been very popular so I wanted one more for the dogs. I also bought some very nice wetbeds for the living room. And some things for the upcoming litter. And then Helle and Kim gave me the most gorgeous blanket. I have been looking at these blankets for some time but I have been reluctant to give in to my desire to buy one. So I was so happy that Helle and Kim gave me one. I want to place the pups on the blanket during photoshoots. It will be sooo nice. We ended the day at Restaurant Bones where Kim and Leif met with us. A really nice day with a nice ending.
On Saturday, Helle also presented me with the “Superhunden’s Challenge Cup”. The reason was that Vixen will be Hunting Toller of the Year 2015 (we will be sharing the price with Annette and Cana).
You can read more about the story behind the challenge cup on Superhunden’s blog. In short, Helle offered the challenge cup in 2009 as she wanted to encourage people to participate in Toller hunting tests. She had written a set of rules how to win the challenge cup. However, the hunting committee at that time found that novice dogs benefitted from the rules more that experienced dogs (which was exactly what Helle wanted). So the Hunting Committee changed the rules. However, they never published them so only a few of the club members knew about the cup and how to win it. Helle then withdrew the challenge cup and since then, it has been on a shelf at her house. Meanwhile, the club has established a title and a trophy. But until this summer, only a few of the members of the club knew how to win it.
Well, Helle didn’t want to keep the cup, so she gave it to me due to Vixen’s results on the Toller hunting tests. I don’t think I have ever won any trophy or cup, so I was happy to receive it. However, a challenge cup should change owner every year. So with Helle’s approval I have decided that it should still be “alive” – but under another set of rules.
The rules will be, that the current “owner” of the cup decides who will be the next recipient of the cup. The decision should be based on participation in Toller hunting tests during the year. It is optional if you want to award it to the one with the most run ins, the worst tolling, or maybe to one who have struggled with something and succeeded etc. It is entirely up to the current owner. I have reached out to a handful of Toller people that I believe would find this to be a fun idea – and luckily they did find it a fun idea. So now I need to prepare a portfolio to go with the cup and then I need to keep my eyes and ears open during next year’s Toller hunting tests to find a worthy recipient. I am so looking forward to this
4 November 2016
A sad message
Malou (WT She's My Baby) has crossed the rainbow bridge this Wednesday. She has had a short period where she was not feeling well. She didn't want to eat, she threw up and was not as active as she usually were. Unfortunately, the vet diagnosed her with acute leukemia which was very aggressive - and she was put to sleep. Malou is after Daisy (Redreynard's Daisy Duck) and Oskar (Andelokkeren's Røde Oskar). She was a very loved member of Maria and Søren's family. Malou celebrated her 9th birthday in June of this year. She is the third of the eight puppies of this litter that we have had to send over the rainbow bridge.
29 September 2016
Happy birthday to the Star Wars litter
10 years ago the most adorable furry things were born at Kennel Wildmountain. It was our first litter and we were both excited and nervous. Four lovely pups were born - 3 boys and 1 girl. A nice size for a first litter; it was managable for both us and for mum Chili.
We had eight amazing weeks with these pups - and with the wonderful puppy buyers who were frequent visitors. It was hard to say goodbuy to the pups, but we knew we had found great homes for them and that helped.
Unfortunately, not long after they left for their new homes we started receiving mails from Sofus' (WT Han Solo) owners that he was not well. He was vomiting and became dehydrated. Of course, they took him to the vet who was not able to find out what was wrong with Sofus. The vet checked him for all kind of things and we contributed with the diseases of the breed that we knew about - but unsuccessfully. The pattern was the same every time: Sofus vomitted and became dehydrated, was then hydrated at the vet, became well and went home. A few days passed, and Sofus started vomiting again and was returned to the vet. This went on for a good month. Then on 2 January 2007 early in the morning, Sofus' owner called us to inform us that Sofus had died during the night. Again, he had started vomiting and was brought to the vet. He was checked and was hydrated. The vet checked on him late in the eventning and Sofus was so well that the vet thought of calling his owners to tell them to come and pick him up. However, he decided to wait till the morning. When he checked on Sofus the next morning, he found him dead. It was a huge shock for his owners - and for us. We paid for an autopsy as we wanted to know what was wrong with him. The autopsy didn't reveil anything. Some had mentioned that it could be a kidney disease so we had tissue samples from the kidneys sent to a lab in England. They were also not able to shed light on what had happened to Sofus. In the weeks after his death, I talked several time to the vet that had performed the autopsy. She was also puzzled about his death. Finally, we realized that we had to live with the fact that we would never know what happened with Sofus.
Recently, I read an article in the Danish Kennel Club's magazine "Hunden" about a person that had lost two pups. The description of these pup's illness was exactly the same as Sofus'. The pups vomited, was dehydrated. The vet was unable to figure out what was wrong and at the end the pups died. Subsequently, they found out that they had washed their floors with an undlited type of a desinfectant called Rodalon. The pups had licked the floors and had in this way consumed some of the poisonous substances in the desinfectant. Of course, I was wondering if this was what happened to Sofus. I thought about getting in contact with them. But it was so many years ago and it was very hard for them to loose Sofus. So I decided not to contact them. However, from now on I will add a copy of the article to the "puppy book" that all new puppy buyers receive from us.
One of the other pups, Simba (WT Luke Skywalker) was put to sleep in September 2010 as he unfortunately developed a bad temper and had bitten the neighbour. The owners had enlarged the familiy with a baby and they were understandably afraid that Simba would bite the child.
Luckily, the two remaining pups from the litter are still alive. Kettu (WT Obi Wan-Kenobi) has a wonderful life with John and Natasha in Copenhagen. John has been training with Kettu all these years - with varying success. However, the important thing is that they spend quality time together - even if they not always agree on how the training should be carried out.
Leia (WT Princess Leia) is also alive and doing well. She was adopted by a new family was her first family had to give her up due to a divorce. Luckily, she ended with Maibrit and her family where her life is good. We already knew Majbrit as she had had another Toller and we had trained with her. So when she asked us if we were OK with her adopting Leia, we were thrilled. Majbrit has been training Leia in DcH. I am not sure how active they are now. But I know that Leia is kept active in other ways.
A warm congratulations to the Star Wars litter that introduced us to the highlights and the low points of being a breeder.
5 September 2016
Vixen’s first hunt
About a year ago, I got to know Per Rasmussen via Facebook. I had been told that he was going to have a pup from Nova Bella vom Lech-Toller Nest and as Bella is Vixen’s mother I wanted to tell him that he picked a pup from the right bitch and the right breeder :-) Later, I met Per at a Toller Hunting Test where he had the opportunity to watch both Vixen and her daughter, Cookie, work.
As Per’s ”dog life” to a great extent is about using his dogs on hunts and retrieves he is very much interested in how the Toller is as a hunting dog. You don’t see a lot of Tollers on Danish hunts so Per invited me and Vixen on one of the many retrieves he attends during the hunting season. I was very happy about this offer but also a little hesitant. Vixen is quite hot and I was not sure if she wouldn’t have a major break down. Per promised me that there were neither demands nor expectations towards me and Vixen and at any time during the hunt, I could choose to put her back in the car to cool down. For a long time, I have been wanting to see how she would do on a hunt. Would she be able to keep her cool and maintain control, how would she react to warm game or wounded game. So I happily accepted the invitation to participate in a duck hunt on Sparresholm Estate on 2 September.
With a three hour drive to Sparresholm and a meeting time at 8 am, I had to let go of my duvet at 3.30 am! At 8 am I parked the car at the estate where Per was waiting for me. He had invited another Toller to join us – Anette Björgell from Kennel Vildanden in Sweden – and she had brought lovely Pixel.
We were hunting at five different ponds at the estate. I was a bit nervous when we drove to the first pond which was quite big with a lot of ducks. The shooters were placed around the lake and before long the ducks started falling from the sky. They fell on the water, on a narrow meadow between us and the lake and in the spruce behind us. I cast Vixen to retrieve some ducks on the meadow and she managed to retrieve some. I also cast her into the spruce. Here it was obvious that she is not used to search with other dogs. She was a bit intimidated by the many Labradors that ran around her. She was not as independent as she normally is and she didn’t search as big an area as she would normally do. However, she managed to retrieve a few ducks from the spruce.
We also searched along the water’s edge. Here she found a duck that was still very much alive. She was not really comfortable picking it up so I had to do it :-)
During it all, she remained calm. She was very eager and focused but she stayed obedient to my commands. I started having her on a leash when she was not working. However, I learned that she was more relaxed when I took the leash off of her. The world has gone mad!
Already at the next pond I could see a development in her. She became more confident when searching and she had managed to get an overview of what it was all about. And these semi-dead ducks were no longer as scary :-)
At the next pond she shone. Ducks were falling both in front of us and behind us. She stayed calm at my side and reacted as soon as I cast her. She had so much speed and used her nose so well. And she was totally cool with the other dogs searching around her. She managed to retrieve quite a few ducks at this pond.
We didn’t get as many ducks at the fourth pond, but the dogs had to work nevertheless. At one time, Per asked me to send Vixen to retrieve a duck that he thought had fallen in the meadow 20 meters from us. I cast her and she marked the place – but it was an “empty scent”. The duck might have been retrieved by another dog. She continued to search, however, and suddenly she caught the scent of something. She turned on a dime, jumped over a stone fence and raised a duck that had been hiding. Of course, it took flight but I was quite impressed by my little fox cub and her brilliant nose.
At the fifth and last pond her batteries were running dry. However, she still did a good job even if she only managed to retrieve a few ducks at this pond.
We were transported from pond to pond in a small carriage. There were not much room so both people and dogs had to sit close together. It was so nice to see that this didn’t cause any problems among the dogs. In the beginning, Vixen was a little uneasy to sit so close to dogs she didn’t know. But also here she grew during the day.
All in all, a little more that 450 ducks were shot. I am not sure how many Vixen retrieved, but my guess would be between 20 and 30. But this is not so important. The important thing is that she totally took me for a ride. I had expected her to be very stressed without any focus and maybe even with a little sound. Instead I saw a dog that went from being a little overwhelmed by what happened to getting a good grasp of things – from being a little intimidated by the other dogs when searching to being confident and search wide, broad and for a long time – being cool, being very eager but still obedient and responsive and loving it. Actually, she whispered in my ear that she would love to go again. So would I, but as she will come into season in the near future which should result in a litter, it probably won’t be this year.
Pixel also worked really well all day and I am sure that the Tollers did well that da. I also hope, that Per realized that it won’t be a mistake to extend the pack of Labradors with a little, red Toller.
28. august 2016
Event in Kulsø
Last Sunday, Vixen and I had persuaded Helle and Cookie to paticipate in an event in Kulsø arranged by the Danish Retriever Club’s region Centrum. We participated in the C-test (unofficial test on cold game) and an unofficial show.
Participating in unofficial tests is such a good way to get comfortable with tests. Often, the judges are very interested in making you succeed and they often offer a lot of good advice if you have a training problem.
Both Cookie and Vixen were entered into the beginner’s class. We went to see the first dog of the class. It seemed like a nice test – but……..two of the exercises were a directional search with teal and a search with pheasants and partridges! Vixen has been a little hesitant retrieving teal and she has never seen – or smelled – a partridge. So I was a little worried. It turned out that there was no need to worry about this part of the test. However, there was a lot to worry about in regard to other parts of the test: The usual problem!
Cookie was dog no. 4 in the class. She did really well. However, she put a pigeon on the ground and she left some of the game. And so they received a 3. Prize. Helle has published more on Cookie's test on her blog, Clever Cookie's Corner.
Vixen was no. 22 so we had a lot of time. This meant that we had time to do the show part first. Not many dogs were entered to the show – and only two Tollers: Cookie and Vixen. For strategic reasons we had entered the dogs into two different classes: Cookie in the working class and Vixen in the open class. The judge was Jens Martin Hansen who actually is official judge for the Tollers. He awarded both girls an excellent (Vixen a smal exellent) and when he had to choose the best Toller, Cookie came out best. Even if it is great fun to win, it is actually even better to have your offspring judges higher than the mother. I guess that’s what it’s all about. Cookie became BIS 4 of the four Retriever breeds that participated.
Finally, it was our turn on the test. The first exercise was a short single mark with a pigeon that landed in some scrub. Vixen was very calm and steady and she was like a rocket when I cast her. She quickly retrieved the pigeon.
Then we had to walk to heel for quite a strech to the second exercise which was a single mark on water. Here we really didn’t do well. Vixen was so hot and she even left me a few times and as usual I shouted at her.
Well, with great difficulty we arrived at exercise 2 – the single mark on water. Again, Vixen was so calm and steady and stayed until I sent her. Again, she returned very quickly with the drowned pigeon.
Again some heelwok to exercise 3. Luckily, a short stretch but that didn’t prevent Vixen from leaving me again. Well, exercise 3 was a direction to a rabbit that the handler placed while the dog watched. Again, my little red devil didn’t do anything wrong.
Much to my delight, I was allowed to put a leash on the wild animal and go to exercise 4 – and the walk from exercise 3 to 4 was more or less OK.
Exercise 4 was a directional search with two teals of which the dog had to retrieve one. I cast Vixen, blew the whistle when she was near the teal and within no time she was on her way back with the teal. I had feared that she might hesitate to pick up so I was just so relieved when she just picked it up spontaneously.
Again a short walk to heel from exercise 4 to 5. Fortunately, it was only a very short walk and I more or less succeeded keeping the wild cat under control.
Exercise 5 was a search with three pheasants and three partridges. I was somewhat worried about the partridges as Vixen had never seen partridges before. So I kept my fingers crossed and cast Vixen. First she retrieved a pheasant, then another pheasant, then a partridge and finally another partridge. I thought she hesitated while picking up a partridge – and so did the judge because he went out into the search to have a look. However, he concluded that there were no partridge where she had been hesitating. However, he did see her leave a pheasant which she quickly returned to and retrieved. I didn’t see that. But when she returned with the first partridge, I had to shout at her and blow the whistle as she was about to switch the partridge for a pheasant.
The judge awarded us a 2nd prize. I believe that this was quite generous of him. On the other hand, the only faults we had was the heelwork and the fact that she left a pheasant even though she quickly returned and retrieved it. So the judging depends on how much the heelwork should reflect in the prize. But nevertheless ……. he was quite generous :-)
I am really getting tired of us failing due to the lousy heelwork. Vixen almost always works extremely well, but this is overshadowed by me not being able to control her. Of course, it is worse on tests when you have all the test set-up, the judge, the gunner and my nerves. But I have to be honest and admit that the heelwork is also not that great during training. I really have to do something now. So I have booked a lesson with Sanne Ammitzbøl. She has helped me previously with other things and she is just extremely good in discovering what is goin on and how to fix it.
Next test is the Toller hunting test on 17 September. I will be working hard on improving the heelwork before this test.
9 August 2016
Tollerspecialen 2016 (The Swedish Toller Specialty 2016)
Each year, the Swedish Toller Club arranges Tollerspecialen - a huge event placed in different parts of Sweden each year. There are hunt tests, working tests, obedience competitions, agility and a show. Only the hunt tests and the obedience competition are official. The number of participants is around 4-500 Tollers!
Vixen and I have been there twice already. The first time we did the working test and the show - both with limited succes. Last year we tried our luck with the hunt test. It started pretty good but ended not so good.
This year both Vixen and Cookie had been entered to the Tollerspecialen which this year was held in the area around Forsvik. We had entered both dogs to the hunting test - beginner's class and to the show. Cookie was competing for the title "Junior Toller Master 2016" - a title that only can be won by dogs born witin the previous two years before the Tollarspecialen.
Unfortunately, Cookie decided to go into season a week before the Tollerspecialen and had to stay home. Boo!
I was happy that Helle still wanted to go. However, we postponed the departure by one day. Helle and Cookie was supposed to start on Friday, while Viixen and I were starting on Saturday. So on Thursday morning we loaded the car and drove to Sweden. The trip to Forsvik was supposed to take approx. 7 hours - had we driven straight to Forsvik. However, we didn't. Partly because Vixen had to have pee breaks and partly because we decided to visit TEBA (huge store with dog training accessories). We controlled ourselves and bought only a few things.
Before arriving at the cabin we had rented at Stenkällegården in Tiveden National Park, we stopped by the secretariat to register Vixen. Just when we arrived at the cabin it started raining heavily and we had to unpack in record speed.
On Friday morning we drove to the test area. There were a number of dogs that we wanted to see work. However, it is pretty difficult to see all the dogs you want to see as the test area is huge and the beginner's class - for instance - is scattered into 3-4 different areas, and the open class and the winner class also have their own area. Nevertheless, we managed to see most of the dogs we wanted to see. We also took a look at route C, which was Vixen's and my route the next day, to try to prepare for the exercises.
Usually there are quite a lot of Danes participating in the Tollarspecialen. However, this year we were only three: Vixen and me in the beginners class and Hali and Maria and Hanne and Cia in the open class. Helle and I spent a lot of time with Maria as she had come to Sweden alone.
On Saturday morning we went to the test area again - this time with butterflies in my stomach. We went into the area to see the first dog in my class. I was starting as no. 4, so I went back to get Vixen and. And then suddenly, it was our turn.
First exercise was to sneak to the blind and the tolling. As usual, Vixen's heel work was not that great. However, it was better that most times. When we started to sneak, she went 1-1½ meters in front of me and I had to hiss her name out between my clenched teeth. Afterwards, Helle said that it had been a somewhat loud hiss :-)
Due to my new knee I sat on a low stool during the tolling. I had practiced this and Vixen did well. She was like a rocket when she was supposed to get the ball and completely calm and quiet the breaks.
Then we had two single marks on water. The ducks were thrown from a rowing boat. This was new for us, but Vixen couldn't care less. Both times she sat completely still untill I cast her. Both ducks were delivered to hand. Not the best deliveries as I was not comfortable asking her to sit.
Next exercise was the search. There were five ducks and they all had to be retrieved. The search area was very deep and relatively wide. It was densely vegetated and it was difficult for the dogs to move across the area. You had to send the dog along one of the three "paths" in the area. The judge told me that some of the ducks were placed in the water in an area of rush. Whoops - I had forgotten that this is usual in Sweden to have the search area strech into the water area. So we hadn't trained that. I cast Vixen along the edge of the lake as I could see one of the ribbons marking a duck. She didn't pick up the scent from the duck - or she didn't react. Then I got nervous. Would she ignore the ducks in the lake as a search in her mind was on dry land? Fortunately, she went into the water and retrieved both ducks. The three other ducks were also retrieved. She returned a few times empty. However, when I cast her again her focus, intensity and speed were intact.
The exercise now was the land mark. It was not that long and Vixen ran past it by approx. 1 meter. Then she picked up the scent, she turned in the air, picked up and returned with the duck.
Except from the heel work which could be better, the judge had only very positive comments about Vixen's work. His closing remark was that Vixen is "a hunting dog that works with efficiency". And that is not half bad! The judge didn't reveal the prize. We would have to wait till the award ceremony.
We chose to drive back to the cabin before the award ceremony. On our way back we stopped by the secretariat to measure Vixen's height. The Swedish Toller Club is researching the height of Tollers and asked people to stop by and have their Tollers measured. Vixen has never been properly measured, so I decided to measure her. She is 47 cm which is a little taller than I expected
At 17.30 we returned to the sports grounds surronding the secretariat to participate in the award ceremony. It was a very long evening as a lot of prizes had to be awarded. Vixen was tired so she lay down and fell asleep.
After having waited for several hours it was finally time to publish the results of the beginner's class on Saturday. There were 44 participants and they awarded ten 3rd prizes, four 2nd prizes, six 1st prizes and two 1st prizes with HP (merit award). They started with the ones that were awarded a 3rd prize. I was not among those - and I didn't expect to be. Then they came to the 2nd prizes. Depending on how the judge rated the heel work I might have gotten a 2nd prize. But then when they mentioned the first one who received a 1st prize, I was able to breathe again and I was so happy. Now I knew that I had gotten a 1st prize. Wonderful. By the way, one of the two that was awarded a HP was Vixen's breeder, Doris, with Vixen's halfsister, Katniss :-)
Maria and Hali got a 2nd prize in open class.
My 1st prize means that I no longer am allowed to participate in the beginners' class on hunt tests in Sweden. In Denmark, however, it requires two 1st prizes in the beginners' class to advance to open class.
The next day it was time for the show which was unofficial. I had entered Vixen to the working class which had 40 entries. However, the judge had to judge 42 junior bitches in the same ring before it was our turn.
Vixen has become more compact after the puppies. However, her angulations have not improved. And…….she has so put on her summer clothes so there wasn’t much fur to show. She received a nice critique but didn’t proceed to the second round.
Again, Vixen was so relaxed about it all – maybe because she was so tired.
Then it was time to load the car and drive the 7 hours back to Middelfart. Cookie, Troja and Kim were so happy to see us (or maybe more to see Helle than me). After having transferred my things to my own car, I drove the remaining hour back to Vildbjerg.
It was a great trip to Sweden and I loved spending time with Helle. In spite of the many hours in the car and a lot of time together, I still don’t think that we are done talking
5 July 2016
A little training and a knee replacement
Training has been a Little slow the last couple of weeks. After the C-test on 12 June, we had a training session with Potepower. As usual a lovely evening with lot of challenging exercises. A good way to end our training before knee replacement no. 2.
I had my second knee rcement on 20 June. Vixen was not happy with me spending so much time on the couch after the operation. Leif took the dogs in the woods. However, for Vixen this is not a replacement for training. Luckily, Martin send a mail asking if we would be fit for some training on Saturday 2 July. Helle and Cookie was asking the same. I was a bit unsure what my knee would be able to endure. But I would be able to stop when my knee needed to realx.
I was fortunate to get my hands on some geese. I brought one for our training as neither Vixen nor Cookie had tried to retrieve a goose before. We also had a few duks, a rabbit, a pheasant and a pigeon.
We used the game for a search for Vixen and Cookie. Chinook is not ready for a search with game. However, she was introduced to the different types of game.
Before the search we wanted to see if Vixen would retrieve the goose. She would! And quite spontaneously! The goose was a small barnacle goose - a nice size for a debut. Cookie also retrieved it spontaneously. And then we were ready for the search.
Helle and Leif had placed the search up a slope with vegetation so dense that we were unable to see what the dogs were doing.
Vixen completed the search swift and without any problems. She picked up spontaneously and delivered to hand - also the goose. When it was Cookie's turn, Leif and Martin went out into the area to keep an eye on her. The feedback was that she worked really well. She picked up spontaneously and had worked really well in the search. When she had emptied the first row she spend a little time figuring out that she had to go deeper into the area. However, at no point did she stop working or ask for help.
After some well-deserved cake and a cup of tea, we went to the water where we did some "sending back". We often use this area, so we tried to send the dogs on a blind. Vixen did OK. I would have like her to be more confident, but with more training she will be. Cookie did not as well. However, when Leif had thrown a mark, she had no problem getting over the water. She only needs a little more routine and some faith in the project.
Martin had been training Chinook by the water before the coffea break. He was not a happy man when he came back as Chinook's deliveries were not satisfactorily. After the coffea break, I went with them to the water. The first water marks were delivered nicely to hand - noting to complain about. Then Leif threw a dummy straight out into the water which made Chinook plunge into the water. And then the deliveries started to become sloppy. To me there was no doubt that the sloppy deliveries were caused by Chinook getting water in her ears when she disappeared under the water because of the big plunge. This makes her drop the dummy to shake when she gets out of the water. We tried a few times with different throws - when they were skew she went into the water less turbulently and when they were straight she plunged into the water. So now the question is how to make her less turbently?
14 June 2016
Unofficial test on cold game
This Sunday, Vixen and I went to an unofficial test on cold game. The test was held in Ulfborg Kjærgaard, which is the same location as the official test a few weeks ago. However, the exercises were in a different area.
Our judge was Lars Guldhammer – a very nice man :-)
First exercise: Walk to heel 10-15 meters and then a short single mark with a pigeon. The heelwork was more or less OK. However, I had to snap my fingers a few times to keep her in the right place. Vixen ran straight out, picked up and came straight back.
Second exercise: A further 10 meters walking to heel – to the edge of a pond. This time, I struggled to handle Vixen’s excitement and the heelwork was a little less nice. She handled the mark really nicely. It was a small teal and she retrieved it without any problems. However, she put it on the ground before delivering it to me.
The walk to exercise no. 3 was with the leash on. Again a single mark with a pigeon (I believe). Again, no problems.
Exercise 4 was a “back” on a rabbit. We had to place the rabbit ourselves. We could choose between bringing the dog with us or have the dog sit and wait. I chose the latter. The distance was about 30 meters. Again, she did a very fine job.
Last exercise was the search, which was placed int he woods. As I cast Vixen, she gets a little too far to the right. On her way back, she catches the scent of the surplus game that is placed in an open box. I had to say a very strickt NO to keep her from picking up from the box. She then continues in the search and finds a pheasant. She hesitates in picking it up and looks at me. I assume this is because I had just said NO to her. So I encourage her to pick up and she does. The next piece of game is also a pheasant and again she hesitates a little. However, she picks it up without me having to encourage her. She retrieves the last three pieces of game without any hesitation. Overall, she retrieves to pheasants, two ducks and a pigeon.
And then, the test was over!
The judge gave us a very nice critique and he really liked Vixen. He was so satisfied that he gave us a first prize. In the overall impression he wrote, that we are a nice couple that works for each other, that Vixen is well handled and that he is impressed with the amount of energy in such a small dog :-)
All in all, a nice day in Ulfborg Kjærgaard – and as usual a first prize resulted in a cheeseburger from McDonalds.
31 May 2016
Official test on cold game in Central Jutland
On Saturday the 28 May Vixen and I went to our very first official test on cold game arranged by the Danish Retriever Club. The test was held in Ulfborg Kjærgård – a very nice area where we have trained several times.
In the weeks running up to the test I have been training deliveries from water. She has adopted an anoying habit of putting the game on the ground and shake the first time she come out of the water. After the first one we have no problems and she can easily run 50-60 meters to deliver to hand. So……this is a little hard to train. When she come out of water the first time we can’t train it anymore :-)
So I really didn’t feel comfortably when the test started. I wanted to have her in the water before our test, but it would be too stressful (for me) to find a small pond that was not being used and get back to the test in time. So I just had to hope for a miracle :-)
The judge, Jan Laursen, started by telling me that he had never judged a Toller. Well, now I also had the whole reputation of the breed on my shoulders :-)
First exercise was a land mark with a pigeon in an area bordering a small lake. Vixen was totally calm and waited for me to cast her. She retrieved the pigeon and delivered to hand. Nothing to complain about. But…..when I had given the pigeon to the judge and was looking for the leash in my pocket, she ran the few meters to the lake. So I had to raise my voice :-)
She had to walk in leash to the next exercise which was also a single mark on land. The waling in line could be better – surprise, surprise :-) Again, no problems: Calm, straigt out and home and delivery to hand.
Again we had to walk in leash to the next exercise which was a “directional search” on a rabbit. Before we reached the area, a shot was fired into the area. I lined Vixen up. It wasn’t that easy as she had seen the lake bordering the area and the person ready to throw the next mark. However, I succeeded to direct her focus to the search area and she didn’t have any trouble finding the rabit.
Then walk at heel to the water mark. I guess, Vixen thought we were walking too slowly because she ran in front of me. Again, I had to “slam the brakes” and raise my voice. However, we arrived at the spot at the same time. A pigeon was thrown at the water and I cast Vixen. When she returned she could have chosen to go ashore where the thrower was – it would have been a shorter swim. But she chose to swim all the way back and to my great surprise she delivered to hand! I was stunned!
Then I had to put the leash on again and go the the last exercise of the day – the search. I was quite relaxed about the search as Vixen has really improved as to stamina and the wind conditions were perfect. The area was relatively open with lots of broom. She did really well in the beginning and the first four birds were retrieved within a short time. However, at one of the return runs she stopped by a bird. Fortunately, I had the whistle in my mouth and managed to whistle her back. The judge said to me that I handled that well :-)
After the fourth bird it started to get a little hard for the lady. She searched and searched and when she didn’t succeed in finding anything, she started “asking” for my help. I ignored her and she continued the seach. One time she came back to me and I had to cast her again. Unfortunately, she hadn’t succeeded in getting to the far end of the search when the judge stopped us.
The missing bird from the far end of the search and the disobedience cost us to prizes and we ended up with a 3rd prize. Bummer! However, my mood improved when the judge said that he really liked her and the way she works. In the overall impression he writes that she is a stylish dog that works with a lot of speed and stile. I am really happy that he could see that.
The bad habit of leaving me when I fumble with the leash, the poor heelwork and walking on the leash are all things that we are working on. The fact, that she didn’t succeed in getting to the far end of the search are just one of those things that can happen. She is usually really good in the search and searches deep and wide. So I don’t know what happened.
Next test is an unofficial test in Mid-June in the same location. It remains to be seen if I will be better at controlling Miss Vixen.
16 May 2016
Toller Hunting Test
On Sunday, Vixen and I participated in the Toller Hunting Test at Mossø in the northern part of Jutland. It was almost as a family reunion as Cookie and Scottie from Vixen's Ben & Jerry litter.
First dog in action was Scottie. He had been entered into the working test (with dummies) as Karin primarely works with dummies. In Germany, where Scottie lives, you can only participate in hunting tests if you have a hunting license which Karin doesn't have - yet :-) It is only during the last week that Karin has trained tolling, as this is not part of the retriever tests in Germany (they don't have official tolling tests). In her training she has focused on steadiness and no sound and a whole lot of "run ins" - which is essential what tolling is - is not something that she has considered introducting Scotttie to. We had a puppy meeting on Saturday and we used the opportunity to train the tolling. Scottie was a bit confused as he is used to get a command. And - sure enough - the tolling did not go well during the test. He was very unfocused and Karin had to leave the blind several times to get him. All in all, the whole test was characterized by Scottie being very unfocused. They didn't get a prize and Karin was of course a bit disappointed. However, she must remember, that she has an amazing dog that can work and that she trains in the best possible way. I am sure that when they participate in the Dummy A test in Germany in a few weeks, they will do well
Next Wildmountain dog in action was Cookie with Helle on the end of the leash. I didn't see their test as I had to prepare as I was next in line. But apart from a run in (or two), Cookie did very well. I am sure that Helle can find things that needs to be fixed. But the test leader who is a labrador owner was very impressed by her work. Due the to run in, Helle and Cookie got a 2nd prize.
Then it was Frisky Vixen with me at the helm. We started with the tolling - 4 x 5 tollings wih very long breaks (from 35 to 54 seconds). Vixen tolled really well but she was somewhat unsteady with a little noise during the first break. It got better during the second break, and during the third and fourth break she was totally relaxed. I am teaching her that when my arms are crossed in front of me, nothing happens and she might just as well have no expectations. It seems as if she understands it.
Then the first watermark. Nice steadiness and no run in. When she gets the duck and is on her way back, I can see that she is shaking her head. This means that she has water in her ears which again means that she will put the duck down to shake. And that was exactly what she did. Urrgh!
Next exercise was 10-15 meters heelwork and then a landmark and a watermark from the same spot. She did both very well and this watermark was delivered to hand.
Then heelwork to the next exercise which was a blind. The heelwork has improved. However, we still have a lot of work in front of us which the judge also remarked :-). There was a little noise during the heelwork.
The blind was short and quite easy. Nevertheless, it was not spot on. Vixen went too much to the left and I had to stop her and direct her the right way. Then she ran across the duck, and I had to stop her again and call her back. I then gave her the search whistle and she found the duck and retrieved it.
Last exercise was the search. I was retty relaxed as she has a very good nose, good speed and she doesn't switch or continue searching with game in her mouth. Well, I was wrong. On the way back with duck no. 2, she f...ing switched it! That caught me by surprise and I was not ready with the whistle. Shit!
All these faults meant that we got a 3rd prize this time.
Helle videotaped some of the test with her mobile - until it ran out of power.
All in all, 13 dogs were entered in this test - on different levels. One 1st prize, two 2nd prizes and two 3rd prizes were given. With that in mind, a 3rd prize was quite decent :-)
14 May 2016
On Saturday we held a puppy meet for all three litters. Unfortunately, not that many had signed up. Probably because we had invited with short notice. This spring has been packed with all kind of arrangements and this summer I will be on sick leave for six weeks due to a knee replacement and rebahilitation. So when we discovered that we had a Saturday without any arrangement, we took the chance to invite the pups and their owners.
Those that participate were Kettu (with Natasha and John) from the Starwars litter, Mangus (with Lene) and Silla (with Jette and Kim) from the B.B. King litter and Vigger (with Vibeke), Scottie (with Karin, Henrik, Kiara and Till) and Cody (with Camilla, Brian and Vitus (Toller)) from the Ben & Jerry litter.
We met in Haunstrup and we had a really nice day. We went for a walk in the area and had something to eat. We also found the time to train a little with Scottie and Karin who was going to participate in a Toller working test the next day.
24 April 2016
This year's first tolling test
This year's first tolling test was held yesterday in Sorø. This was also the first test since the new test regulations have become effective. This meant that a World premiere on the new qualification test.
The Danish Toller Club has decided to remove the previous entry test to the test system. Instead they have introduced a qualification test cold game made up of tolling, water and land mark, search and healwork. If you pass the gualification test you are allowed to compete in the tolling tests with cold game. If you want to participate in he working tests (with dummies) you don't need to pass the qualification test.
The judge was Kresten Henriksen and hanne Sønderbroe was trainee.
Helle had entered Cookie to the qualification test as the only one. Lately, Cookie has refused to pick up cold game when she met it the first time. As soon as it had been in her mouth once, no problem picking it up again. Helle has been working hard to fix this. However, we were not sure how she would react during the test. But when she spontanously picked up the duck in the land mark, I felt sure that she would pass the test. And she did! They did so well. The judges agreed and passed them. Later they awarded Cookie best dog of the day. So for the moment, Cookie is the first dog that has passed the Danish Toller Qualification Test! For those of you interested, you can watch Cookies test on ther block:
The weather had been great all morning: Beautiful sunshine and realtively warm. As I was waiting at the waiting line it started to snow! I wonder if this was an omen of what to come?
Helle videotaped our test.
We started with the tolling, water mark and direction work: Vixen was a Little unsteady during the tolling breaks. Unfortunately, I accidently threw the tolling all into the water and Vixen had to pick it up. This didn't help her to become more calm and steady that she was wet and cold and a bit excited. However,we survived the tolling part and got to the water mark. She did that very well. A short swim and delivery to hand.
Then came the new element of the test - a blind of max. 25 meters. This one was approx. 15-20 meters. The object was a duck at the foot of a small Birch and a hot was fired to help the dog. I thought that this would be a piece of cake. Vixen is used to very long blinds. She reached the dog - and refused to pick it up. What She marked it but chose to walk away from it. I had to direct her and after some time she picked it up and delivered to hand. I am not quite sure what happened but all dogs in this class except one refused to pick it up.
The next part was another water mark and land mark. She sits stady and waits, enters the water calmly and retrieves nicely. The judge said that it was wel done as it wasn't an easy water mark due to how it was thrown. But.......she leaves the duck on the ground when she came out of the water and shakes. She picks it up again and leaves it agin. I then go to pick it up. The land mark - on the other hand - she does very well.
The last part of the test was the search aAccorking to the regulations the search must be 40 x 40 meters with six pieces of game. 4-5 of these must be retrieved.
As always, Vixen has a lot of speed in the search. She uses her nose really well and searches the whole area. Before long she has retrieved the ducks, that the judge demnds.
The only thing missing now is the heelwork. She has to walk at heel from the search area to the area where we did the land mark.
The judge's critique:
Tolling: Nice tolling
Vand work: Enters the water willingly.
Markering ability: All three are marked and retrieved. Second water mark is put on the ground.
Search: Very nice search, picks up scentvery well, searces the whole area.
Diriction land: Must be encouraged to pick up.
Game handling: generally nice. However, a Little more spontaneity would be nice.
Steadiness by shots: OK
Heelwork: Ok considering the level of the class.
Overall impression: Nice and solid work, good contact with the handler, solves the required tasks. However, the Water mark and the blind impacts the overall impression.
My own view on Vixen's and my efforts: I am sure that the duck in the blind was smelling bad or that there was something in the area as Vixen was not the only dog refusing to pick up. So I can live with that. The fact that she puts the duck on the ground after the second water mark is also OK. it is early in the season and I haven't been able to train on water as Vixen has been in season. So we started training this three days bbefore the test and we trained it twice. I am really satisfied with the land mark and the search. Lots of speed, she picks up spontaneously and uses her nose really well. And I am also very pleased that I can stop her and handle her from a distrance. It not, I wouldn't have been able to make her retrieve the duck of the blind. The judges may not have been that impressed, but I was happy that I got her to pick it up.
However, I am not that happy about the lack of steadiness during the breaks of the tolling. And then she has started again to not stay at my side when an exercise has been solved. And then the eternal headache: Heelwork. It was definitely to our advantage that this part of the test was the last part and that the shooter didn't walk in front of us. But then again, it's ok to be Lucky.
The judge was very nice and awarded us a 2nd prize. Five dogs competed in the beiginner's class. Two was awarded a 2nd prize, the rest didn't get a prize.
17 April 2016
Training and Vixen in season
My arms have been raised above my head since the hunting test in the beginning of March. I really feel that training with Vixen is moving in the right direction.
We still train once a week with Pernille Lillevang (Potepower). Her training is amazing. We are a small group and Pernille is superb in making sure that the individual dog is given the exercises that fit its level. Helle and Cookie are part of “our” training goup and it is so amazing to be able to follow Cookie’s development. They have issues that need to be worked with. As her mother, Cookie is a bit impatient and if she gets stressed it might cause a little bit of whining. However, it is very limited. And Helle is an amazing handler who is thinking about things and who has a plan. However, it is a plan that can be adjusted if necessary.
Besides the weekly training, Pernille also offers “theme training”. We have participated twice in "Walk up - the healthy way". With a dog that is a little hot you can never train this too much. Pernille’s “walk-up - the healthy way” is all about teaching the dog to be calm in this set-up. Therefore, there are hardly any markings. Instead, we send them on memories and blinds. Even this can be hard to handle being Vixen.
Having been so successful at the hunting test, I entered Vixen to another hunting test – this time an official – on 2 April (Vixen’s birthday!). However, a few days prior to the test she went into season (two weeks earlier than expected). So I had to tell the test organizer that we had to withdraw.
On Friday, we participated in another theme training with Pernille – ”Search”. She used the astonishing terrain she used the last time we participated in a search course. Again, Vixen worked so well. She used her nose really well, picked up spontaneously and she returned to me with a lot of speed. I had no problems getting her to search the whole area and crossing the shifts in terrain. Again, I had persuaded Leif to take some photos of us. The result can be seen here. He had some trouble as the light was fading. We started at 8 p.m. and – as you can see – we were in the woods.
Helle and Cookie also participated in the search course. Cookie was somewhat hesitant when picking up and Helle had to encourage her quite a bit. So Helle’s mood was not the best when she drove home. However,….we know that she can be spontaneous. She is still a young dog and maybe she needs to start retrieving game under more controlled circumstances before she is released into a search. Subsequently, Helle has been training that and Cookie does well.
The fact that Vixen has come into season two weeks before she was supposed to is also a positive thing. This means that we can participate in this year’s first Toller Hunting test on 23 April. Helle and Cookie will be trying out the qualification test. It will be so exciting. Kresten Henriksen will be the judge. At the last test in 2015 I promised him that our heelwork would be better. I am not sure that I am going to be able to honour my promise. However, I hope that he can spot some improvement.
On 9 and 10 March, the Swedish Toller Club held their first tests this year. I would have loved to join. But due to Vixen being in season, I wasn’t able to.
Talking about coming into season: If Vixen sticks to this rhythm, next season will be in September. In regard to us participating in tests, this is not so good. The plan is to mate her during her next season. However, there are still a lot of “ifs” in this regard: 1) I need to know the x-ray results of the two pups exported to Germandy, 2) I would like to see the x-rays of the pups after her sister in Norway and her brother in Sweden and – most importantly – 3) I need to find the right male for her. I have some in mind but I need to check them out more thoroughly.
29 March 2016
A wonderful Easter holiday
Now that a wonderful Easter Holiday has come to a end it is time for an update
Training with Pernille Lillevang / Potepower continues. We have started in a new class on a higher level. Helle and Cookie is in the same group. It is so nice to be able to follow her closely.
Every class starts with a little obedience with incorporated retrieves in the shape of backs and a few single marks. Then Pernille has prepared some exercises for us. It is often direction work where se send back, right and left - often a stop is included. When we train back we also teach the dogs to turn right and turn left. And the we have trained jumping fences.
On 13 March we attended a walk up class with Pernille. Walk up can really tricker Ms. Vixen - sometimes too much. Luckily, the class is called "Walk up - safe and sound" and is intended for dogs that are a little too hot. This Means that no markings will be thrown if the dogs are not able to handle it. Instead, Pernille has placed dummies several places in the terrain and we place some ourselves. And then we train to keep the line - which is not as easy as it sounds. Vixen was pretty hot, and several times I didn't send her because she was not able to keep calm and a few times she was not entirely quiet. I had persuaded Leif to come along to take some pictures. You can see them here: Link.
On Good Friday we went to Haunstrup to train with Martin and Frida/Chinook. We had brought our three dogs. We started to let the old dogs do some double marks (build up with single marks). The three old dogs (Chili, Daisy and Frida) did really well. Martin shot some video of Leif/Daisy that you can see here: Link to Daisy's double mark. Vixen was also allowed to try the double mark, and she did nicely. Leif shot some video that can be seen here:
Double mark: Link.
Back to retrieve a dummy that was placed as Vixen was returning from a double mark (we call thata 2½): Link.
I also worked with deliveries from Water with Vixen. We still need som work and I guess I will have to find the clicker to get a handle of this.
The next day Pernille Potepower had arranged another "Wal up - safe and sound" course and once again I attended with Vixen. I am not quite sure if it was due to the training the day before, but Vixen was very relaxed. She was so relaxed that I thought she might be ill. However, I believe that she was only tired :-) She did a really nice walk up and had some nice retrieves. And I so enjoyed that she was - relativfely - relaxed.
On my way to Pernille, I stopped by a lady that had embroided "Wildmountain Tollers" on my vest, game bag and two blankets. It looks so good :-)
On Sunday I went to Haunstrup to train delivery from water. It is still far from perfect, so I will have to go to Haunstrup several times during the week. I have entered Vixen to a B-test (an official test on Cold game) on Saturday and I would like to be in control of this before the test.
6. marts 2016
A good day on a C-test
Vixen and I have now participated in our first C-test (an unofficial hunt test on cold game) in the beginner’s class.
My start number was 18. However, as I was going to help in the Open Class I was allowed to start whenever I wanted to. So I started as the second dog in this class. On one hand it was nice to get it over with. On the other hand, I don’t like to be one of the first as I like to check out the exercises before it’s my turn – and it you are one of the first maybe the judge don’t remember you that well when he/she has to elect the best dog. Not that I imagine that Vixen would ever be considered best dog, but nevertheless…..
Due to a large amount of participants in the beginner’s class it had been divided into two with two different judges. Helle Engelsen judged one half of the group, while Lars Lynggaard Jensen judged the other part. As Helle’s route was farther away than Lars’, I chose Lars’ route.
The 20-30 meters to the first exercise was at heel. This is usually not our core competence – also not today, but it went OK. I had to “cough” a few times to keep her by my side.
First exercise was a short single mark. The pigeon landed in some twigs and downed trees. Vixen went directly to the pigeon, picked it up and came back and delivered to hand. Normally, I prefer that she sits and is calm before I receive the game. However, today I chose to receive it while she was still standing up. Just before the test I had her pick up a few dummies, and she was a bit stressed which meant that her mouth became unsteady. And I didn’t want to risk her making a hole in the bird. I kept to this strategy the entire test.
The second exercise was a “back” to where she had picked up the pigeon. I had to go and place it myself. Vixen was a bit awry in respect to the pigeon. However, I chose not to correct her as I was afraid that she might utter her frustration with a small whine. And I knew, that even if she had been with her back to the pigeon she would have run directly to it. And she did. And again – snap, back and delivery to hand.
Then we had to walk a few meters to the next exercise – also a short single mark. This time it was thrown towards us on a line. It landed on a path but behind a downed spruce which meant that we could not see where it had landed. Again she didn’t hesitate: Out, pick up, back and deliver to hand.
Then it was the last exercise – the search. There were 8-9 different game in the search (pigeons, rabbits and ducks). The dogs had to retrieve four of these – and preferably on of each kind. Vixen just powered ahead and within a few minutes she had retrieved two pigeons, a duck and a rabbit. And that was the end of this test.
After having waited for a few minutes, the judge came back with his judgement: 1st prize. I was so relieved and happy.
Martin Degn filmed the test:
As the last dogs had finished the test it was time for the parade and the award ceremony. Out of the 14-15 dogs in the beginner’s class judged by Lars Lynggaard Jensen, eight was awarded a 1st prize. We were called forward one by one to receive the prize. As I had the highest start number, I was called forward as the last one. The judge asked me to stay as he had awarded us best dog of the day in his class. Wow, I have never tried that before, but it sure is a great feeling.
While I was helping in the Open Class, I was thinking about the work we did, Vixen and I – and I was trying to persuade myself to believe that we did not deserve a 1st prize. I always do that instead of being happy that someone is able to see Vixen’s qualities. I would never argue with a judge if he/she gave me a bad judging – so why not just embrace the positive and be happy? Of course, I don’t know why he chose us. I know that we could have done better and there are things we need to work on. However, the good and positive things have apparently been more important that the things that could be better. And that is a very nice thing
We have adopted Helle’s tradition that if one of our dogs win something the reward is a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. So on my way home, I had to make a detour to find a McDonald’s and buy Vixen a well-deserved burger
28 February 2016
Another x-ray result
Monday last week it was Ms Lucca’s (WT Cookie Dough) to be x-rayed. And then we had to wait! We waited till Friday to receive the very good news that Lucca has very nice hips (grade A), very nice elbows (grade 0) and no sign of OCD. It was a load of my mind. Now, we only need the results of the two German boys.
On Tuesday we went to Hedensted to train with Pernille Potepower. And as usual it was a pleasure. Pernille has an eye for every dog and she understands how to adjust an exercise to fit the individual dog.
On Saturday I went to Haunstrup to train on my own with Vixen. I wanted to train lines by means of a triangle. I chose a spot where I could make the lines very long and with a slightly hilly terrain. Well, I must have bit off more than I could chew (or that Vixen could chew). As long as I sent her back, she did well – also when I couldn’t see from one point to the next due to the hilly terrain. But….when I started to send her forward, she had some difficulty. The first one was fine, but when we reached the “leg” of the triangle, where we couldn’t see from one point to the next due to the terrain, she didn’t believe in me enough to just run. So the lesson must be to work with shorter lines to build up her trust in me. I also used the lines to send her right and left. This went well.
On Sunday, Leif and I had a date with training buddies Martin, Lonni and Kurt. Lonnie and Kurt are very skilled DcH people (primarly obedience, tracking and search). They wanted to try a Retriever working test. We trained together the first time in November. There they realized that there is quite a lot of work ahead of them. In the meantime they have been training and it shows. We worked with markings with different distances, search and walk-up with shots. Their dogs did so well and it won’t be long before they are ready for their debut on a working test.
Martin’s Lab, Chinook, got some markings and she did well. At one point, she ran in, which made the thrower pick up the dummy before she got to it. This had such an effect on her that she became a bit intimidated to run out and pick up. However, we solved the problem.
Vixen also had a few markings and did well. Then I worked with the lines and the triangle – this time with shorter distances. She did it perfectly. We also did some left and right direction work which also went perfectly. Finally, she had a search in a quite difficult terrain - this also went well.
The two elderly ladies – Chili and Daisy – joined us today. Daisy was very sharp with the markings and she worked really well. She whined quite a bit before and after working. However, during work she was silent. Chili also did some markings. However, she was just goofing around. At some point, I doubted wether she knew what she was doing. But…..I am sure she had a great time :-)
21 February 2016
Lucca's first C test
Saturday morning I got up really early and drove the aprox. 140 km north to see Keld's and Lucca's (WT Cookie Dough) first C test. A C test is an unoffical test on cold game. It is like a practise in going on a test and usually the judges are very nice and gives advice to correct the things that doesn't go well.
I arrived just in time for the parade and after having said hallo to other participants that I know, I found Keld. We went to the car to say hello to Lucca. I was so excited as I hadn't seen her since the puppy meeting in June. She is such a beautiful dog and it is obvious that Keld loves her.
The weather was not the best; it as actually pretty bad. It was cold, wet and with a lot of Wind. I had trouble keeping warm even if I had put on a lot of clothes.
There were two judges to judge the novice class. Keld's judge was Louise Rasmussen.
After having seen several dogs in the novice class, it was finally Lucca's turn. he first excercise was a single mark which fell in a covered area. Lucca was totally steady and very attentive - and she didn't utter a single sound! Keld cast her, she went straight the to pigeon, picked it up and returned to Kld. Unfortunately, she placed the pigeon on the ground in stead of in Keld's hand. Except for this, the judge was happy. However, she remarked that Keld must remember to not cast the dog until the judge allows him to. But as didn't run in, she would not penalize him for this.
Keld placed the pigeon on the ground, went 30-40 meters away and send Lucca back. This was the second exersise and Lucca did well - except from placing the pigeon on the groun again.
Next exersise was another single mark. And again she put the pigeon on the ground. The rest of the exercise, however, she did well. She didn't find the pigeon immediately, but she used her nose really well and found it pretty fast. Nice pick up and directy back to Keld.
Fourth exercise was a directional search. Two rabbits were placed approx. 15-20 meters from the starting point. The dog was supposed to retrieve one of them. Keld casts Lucca and she runs out with a lot of speed. After having searched for a short while, she goes towards Keld and looks at him. He doesn't react so she continues the search. However, she searches in too big an area, and Keld calls her back. By the way, it was nice to see how quickly she reacted to his whistle. When Keld casts her again, she catches the scent of a rabbit that lies behind the judge. It wasn't supposed to lie there. Lucca picks it up and delivers it to Keld. He casts her once again and this time he uses his whistle when she is in the right area to tell her to start searching. She finds the rabbit and retrieves it. I didn't realize that he has tought her the area whistle. Had he used the the first time he cast her, she would have found the rabbit within a few minutes. The judge didn't blame her for picking the first rabbit up. it wasn't supposed to be there and she is upposed to do. But again.....she puts the rabbit on the ground in stead of delivering to hand.
The last exercise was a search. It was wide but not that Deep. She first retrieves a duck. On the way back she puts it down on the ground a few times to get a better grip. The next piece of game she encounters is a pheasant. Apparently, it is a bit worn-out. And Lucca - which isn't that keen on game tot fresh - puts it down and starts nipping it. She is daddy's hunting dog and used to fresh game. However, Keld gets her and the pheasant back. Then she retrieves a further 3-4 pieces of game. Again, it is all delivered on the ground in front of Keld. Keld has some work ahead of him to teach her to deliver to hand. But she knows how to use her nose and does an excellent search job.
While the judge writes out her notes, Keld is given a piece of advice from Lars Nørgaard on how to teach her to deliver to hand. Keld is open to recieving advice and I am sure he will go home and put the advice into practice. By the way, Lathat he really liked Lucca - the way she Works, her eagerness and not least that she is quiet. I take that as a pat on the back reeder and a skilled handler, WHO has managed to get the best of of his dog.
Keld and Lucca gets a 3rd prize for their work. They are primarely penalized for not delivering to hand - and that is quite fair and understandable.
After a ball of hot soup I drove back home. I as so happy to see Lucca. She has become a lovely and beautiful dog - exactly as calm and lovely as I had hoped for - and Keld has manages to make the best out of her. it is so obvious that Keld loves her very much - and she loves him.
Keld bought Lucca to be his hunting dog and she is of course also a highly loved Family dog. But.....after having seen how well she did on the test, I hope that Keld has acquired a taste for hunting tests.
19 February 2016
Winter vacation = dog training
I had decided that this vacation should be all about dog training. Leif had to Work, and Kristian was spending the week in Copenhagen with his girlfriend, Julie. So I hd the posibility to be selfish and spend time with the dogs.
As Saturday was all about show, we needed to do something more fun on Sunday. So I invited Martin and Chinook to train with us a few hours. Martin saw the opportunity to have others throw the markings so that he could concentrate on Chinoo - and she could get used to people being out in the terrain. She did really well. The broke in one time and then realized that it didn't pay off as the lady in the terrain picked up the dummy
Vixen also had a number of markings. However, before she is sent, she has to pick up a dummy from a small search. She finds it a bit frustrating to turn away from a marking. I haven't been working with this for a while - and that might be a mistake!
After having som lunch, it was time for some more training. This time we trained Chinook to be honest (not switch dummies) for Vixen.
Both dogs did really well, and I ng finds that Chinook is ready for her WC.
On Monday, I went to see Helle and Cookie. We wanted to train the search on cold game. We went to Føns Beach and prepared a search of approx. 30 x 40 meters. We had to pigeons, three ducks, one pheasant and one rabbit. Cookie was allowed to get re-introduced to all four types of game under more controlled circumstances before the search. She had no problems picking it up :-) The she was allowed to do the search. She first found the rabbit and Helle had to encourage her to pick it up. But then she just went for it with a lot of speed. It was such a pleasure to see her work and to see how she and Helle work together. I wished I had had a better plan - or maybe a plan altogether - when I got Vixen. I have done so many things wrong in the beginning. Fortunately, I believe we are on the right track no. However, it has taken some time and we have established some undiserable things alone the way which we might never be able to get rid of.
I was very impressed by Vixen's work in the first search. If you are interested in seing it, you can watch this video.
The second time around we enlarged the search across a small fence. We had talked about speeding Vixen's return run up. So after she had retrieved the two first pieces of game, I rewareded her with the ball. Bad idea! The result was that when I sent her again, she ran out, stopped and turned towards me - probaæbly to see if I would throw the ball. I sent her again, and she retrieved a rabbit. Then when I sent her the third time, she stopped again and came back to me. She did that a couple of times. Then we tool a time-out (to discuss the sitation and eat some chocolate).
When we resumed the search, she retrieved a pheasant and then a pigeon - both were in the far end of the search. After another stop, where I had to re-send her, she retrieved a duck. Now she only needed to retrieve a pigeon. It was right at the back of the search. She didn't succed until I went out into the search area. Before that she had four times revisited the places where she had already picked up the game and had returned to me several times. I am not really sure what is going on; if she gives up if she has to search for too long, or if she is not fit enough. Hopefully, we will solve this at some point.
All in all, she did really well though. I was actually most interested in finding out if she would be as spontaneous at picking up as she was on the search course with Pernille Lillevang - and she was. I am sure that I don't have to fear that she will refuse to pick up ordinary types of game.
On Tuesday I took all the dogs to the Woods. We went for a long walk and they were allowed to run around as the pleased. When we returned to the car I prepared a small search with the game from yesterday. The did the search one by one. Vixen was first and again she did not hesitate to pick up. She was very stable and emptied the search. Chili and Daisy also worked well. It is obvious that we don't train them much anymore. They haven't forgotten what to do and the joy of working is a huge as always. But the deliveries were a bit sloppy and the speed could be better.
In the evening, I went to train with Pernille. As usually we started with some obedience and sending the dogs back. It is a bit difficult for the hot lady to be steady when others are working and she one or twice. I had brought the game we had been traing with the last two days and Pernille used the birds for markings. The rabit was used for direction work in th
After training we had tea and a cake that I had baked to celebrate Vixen's and her "pups" success in the show ring on Saturday. Pernille then got her lab ZigZag's pups and there was a lot of kissing and cuddling. Nice!
On Wednesday I went to train with Majbrit and Michael. The theme was "lines". Michael and Majbrit work with lines in a triangle. With Iben Pytlich we work with the lines in a square. I wanted to see if Michael had any tips for me or a new way of working with lines - he had. The triangle is also a good way to work with lines and it provides other opportunities. I could see that all the training with Iben paid of as Vixen did really well.
On the other hand, she was too excited when we started to walk-up and did markings with shots where the dogs were standing on a line. So it started up really well but ended pretty bad. Unfortunately, it is the bad things that get stuck in my mind. Maybe four days of intense training is too much for her. So on Thursday we took the day off - and Friday and Saturday will also be days off.
On Saturday I will drive to the Northern part of Jutland to see Lucca on her first C test (an unofficial test on Cold game). She and Keld will participate in the novice class and I really look forward to seing her and to seing her work.
13 February 2016
A day in the show ring
The Toller club's first show this year was held on 13 February. I thought this would be a good oportunity for the Ben & Jerry-litter to have their show debut. I managed to persuade three of the five Danish pups to participate: Cookie, Cody and Vigger. Lucca is not allowed to be shown due to too much white and Lucky's parents didn't fnd that Lucky was ready for the stress of a show.
We met about one hour before the show started to find somewhere to be with the dogs, settle in, do the last trimming and have a talk about what to expect.
The judge was Gisela Werner from Germany. A very nice and thorough judge.
The first from the Ben & Jerry litter in the ring was Cody and Vigger. Both was entered in the Junior class. Both dogs behaved very well - in spite of a fairly aggressive and provocative male that was disqualified and asked to leave the area. Vigger did best as he recieved an Excellent and was was placed second. Cody was right behind him with a Very Good and a placement as third Winner.
Vigger's critique: "Very typical young male dog, nice temp. exc. bone and correct coat. expressive head, well set ears, good length of neck, correct angulation, strong back but slooping croup, sound mover, well handled. Shown in very good condition."
Cody's critique: "Good size, well developed for age, good coat with correct markings, would prefer more undercoat, very typical head, well shaped nice expression. weel set ears of good size. good topline, tailset could be better, well angulated, forchest must develop, feet slightly open, movement needs a bit more training. well handled."
Next ice scoop was Cookie. Helle has quite a lot of experience in showing her dogs and she has trained Cookie to stand - and she did that very well. The judge also like her. She received a Very Good and became second winner of the Junior class. Her critique was: "Typical young bitch, good size, expressive fem. head, almond shaped eyes of good colour, back slightly soft, slightly slooping croup, a bit short in upperarm, slightly loose in elbow while moving, needs time to develop. nicely shown."
Having persuaded the pups to come to the show I felt obliged to show Vixen. I showed her in Open Class without any expectations. But.......apparently this judge liked the more sporty models because Vixen actually won her class with an Excellent and a CK (Champion Quality). She received a really nice critique: "Friendly 4 years old bitch, with lots of temp. shown in good condition, correct coat, with correct markings, well shaped fem. head, beautiful almond shaped eyes, good angulations, but slightly upright in upperarm, good ribcage, free mover nicely shown." This qualified her to fight for the Best Bitch title. However, she wasn't place amongst the four best.
What a day. I am so happy and proud of the nice results and the nice cirtiques. However, most of all I am so happy that the dogs were so relaxed about it all. I also like to see that especially the two males are so friendly and nice towards other dogs. After all, they are 13 months now and one could imagine that the would fell the need to "show off".
I think it could be fun to repeat the success when they have all matured a bit more. By then, I hope that Lucky's owners are ready to let Lucky showw off in the ring.
As always when a dog in this family has won something the reward is a cheeseburger from McDonalds:
1 February 2016
Bad and good
Week 4 started in a very bad way. I had invited the Danish pups to a x-ray session at vet Marianne Klitgaard. Lucca was not able to join us, as her owners were on vacation. But the other four pups came. It was supposed to be a nice day were we could chat, eat cake etc. The x-rays were nothing special. But....as we parked in the yard, Vibeke (Vigger's ower) met us. She had arrived some time before us and Vigger had already had his x-rays taken. The vet assessed the hips to be A and C (Excellent / Mild). Elbows and shoulders looked fine. Urrgh, not what I had hoped for. A C hip is not a disaster, but I had hoped that they would all have excellent/good hips.
Well, things didn't get better when it was Cody's turn. The vet assessed one hip to "moderate"! The hips looked fine. I now thought that it was time to put the rest of the dogs in the cars and drive home! But as always, no good comes from not facing the truth. Then it was Lucky's turn. Finally, good news. His hips were assessed to A/A (Excellent) and elbows 0/0. Cookie was also A/A and 0/0. She also had her shoulders x-rayed. They looked good.
Well, it isn't the vet that has the final word; the examiners at the Danish Kennel Club does. Already on Tuesday three of the four results had arrived - for Vigger, Lucky and Cookie. The examiners agreed with the vet - Lucky's and Cookie's hips and shoulders are excellent and so are Cookies shoulders. Vigger's hips are A/C (Excellent/Mild) and elbows are excellent. We had to wait until today for Cody's results: Hips C/D (mild/ moderate) and elbows 0/0 (excellent).
It is no secret that especially Cody's results surprised me and it is definitely not the result we had hoped for. Fortunately, I know dogs - also heavier dogs than a Toller - that have lived a very active life with bad hips. However, it doesn't lesssen the disappointment. I am especially sorry on behalf of Cody's owners. I was the one - based on the puppy test - who decided which dog went to which family.
Now I can only wait for the last three pups to have their hips and elbows x-rayed. The waiting time will not be fun. Then I will have to consider if Vixen is going to have another litter.
Fortunately, the week ended on a high note. Yesterda, Cookie earned the Retriever Club's working certifcate. I went along as support, camera man etc. Cookie did really well and the judge loved her. When he had to appoint the best dog, he decided to appoint two dogs. He said that he was impressed by the high quality of the dogs and many of them had earned maximum points (40 points). Cookie was one of them. Best dog no. 1 was a really nice Labrador and Cookie became best dog no. 2. Well done! Now the world of hunting tests is accessible for Cookie and Helle.
It is possible to see a video of the test on Helle's blog.
17 January 2016
Back to business
My knee replacement went well, Vixen is no longer in season and a new year has started.
Right now I am reflecting over yesterday's training with Potepower. I am so happy that Pernille Lillevang decided to become a professional dog trainer part time. She is an amazing trainer who meets dog and handler at their level. She has only a few persons in each class which gives her the possibility to give each the time and advice they need. The fact that you then receive homework per mail just makes it even better. And of course, the homework is individual :-)
Last Sunday, I went to a direction course at Potepower. It was the third out of four classes. However, it was Vixen's first as she was in season during the first two classes. It was really cold with a lot of wind and wet snow and the desire to spent time outside was not huge. But.....as is often the case when it is about traing dogs it ends up being a great time that you would not be without. This was also the case last Sunday.
Pernille had prepared a walk up with dummies placed in different locations in the terrain. The dogs that were not used to working with blinds (for instance Vixen), were allowed to see the other dogs work before they were send to retrieve.
It was all about teaching the dogs to rn a sraight line but we also worked with sending them to right, left and back. All in all, Vixen did well. As always there is room for improvement. The clou of the day was when Tommy Langelund praised Vixen's ability to run a straight lin. Praise like that makes me happy and makes me want to do myour best.
Yesterday, we attended another course with Potepower. This time the topic was the search.
I had entered Vixen to the open class level having pointed out to Pernille that Vixen had never tried working in the search with another dog. The brief stated that if anyone wanted to, it would be possible to try to search with cold game. This made me believe that we would be working with dummies.
Then when we were about to start, Pernille put out cold game. Hmm, what to do? Vixen does retrieve cold game. However, she doesn't have much experience with cold game in a search. Would she pick up spontaneously? Would she leave one kind of game in favour of another? There were several possibilities to fail. I explained my worries to Pernille just as I told her about our challenge with Vixen asking for help after picking up 2-3 dummies. Of course, Pernille had a suggestion how to solve this problem - so I jumped into it.
Vixen's first search was without another dog. The terrain was very undulating and challeging. The cold game used was ducks, phasants and pigeons.
I sent Vixen and she flew! And she picked up totally spontaneously and flew back to me. The first two deliveries landed on the ground. I know that she is able to deliver to hand - and the training was not about delivering to hand, so I ignored it. The next two she delivered to had. Then Pernille asked me to pause her while she walked around in the area shouting and shooting a single shoot. The purpose of this was to keep Vixen interested. Whether it was Pernille's shouting and shooting or the exciting cold game is uncertain. But Vixen kept her pace for the rest of the search. She retrieved another three birds. Wow, I was so excited
We changed to another area which was even more undulating and with a lot of shifts in the terrain -i.a. a creek.This was Vixen's first search with another dog. The other dog was Pernille's Labrador Ketchup. She is an experienced dog which is only interested in retrieving birds for Pernille - a perfect partner for a dog doing this for the first time.
Vixen went first. Then it was Ketchup's turn. When Ketchup was send the second time, I was allowed to send Vixen while Ketchup was still in the area. Vixen did not take much notice of Ketchup and Ketchup managed to "drag" her over on the other side of the creek. At some point, I sent Vixen when Ketchup was coming back with a bird. She runs straight towards Vixen who becomes unsecure and runs back to me. When I send her again, she is OK and she works well the rest of the search. Again, she picks up spontaneously and has lots of speed.
The third search was in an area next to search area 2. The terrain was a bit more difficult. Still very undulated and with a lot of brushwood and fallen logs - and the creek was still there
Vixen now had to work with another dog - a black Lab with a lot of speed. As both dogs was inexperienced they were allowed to see Pernille put the birds out in the area. She did that with a lot of sound and shooting. This made Vixen even more alert and she uttered a single small whine. The black Lab was sent first while Vixen had to wait. This also made her utter a single small whine. However, when she had retrieved the first bird, she was silent when she had to wait while the Lab was working. Again, she did amazing. However, she did switch a duck for a pheasant. On her way back with a duck she finds the pheasant and puts down the duck. I shout at her and go out to make her pick up the duck and we walk together back to the starting point. When I send her again, she runs straight to the pheasant and retrieves it.
A day like that makes me fly. It was such a positive surprise that the did so well. I finally think that we are on the right path. There is still a lot of work ahead of us. But we have arrived at a point where I don't break down when we don't succeed the fist time.
Pernille managed to take some really nice pictures of Vixen and she has allowed me to publish them here: