Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another fine dog is a memory....

7XNSTRA Ch. Quail Valley Trooper

Trooper and Jeffrey Keck

On the first of August, 2001, a little male pup made his way into the light and started pushing through his siblings to the warmth and protection of his mama. He was all squeal and push and mouth- and he was not to be denied the nipple. Not long after that day, Jeffery Keck picked that little guy up, smelled his puppy breath, looked him in the eye and told him, “I’m going to call you “Trooper”. And I’m going to put every bit of dog training knowledge I have in to you. That’s my job. Your job is to find birds. What do you say, Trooper? You got what it takes?”  

Three years and two months later, Trooper finished his first championship. Not many years later, he had seven championships, won everything in the Georgia Region and was second high point dog in the nation. It was a given for many years: If Trooper was running, we were all competing for second place.  

I remember watching Jeffery and Keith Howard working with Trooper in the back pasture. Lots of birds planted, voice commands, retrieving practice- most of all, lots of fun, grins and admiration and respect. I had a friend one time mention how I must really like the dog I was working at the time. I asked why he said so, and he said he could tell by the way my face lit up when I watched her run. Jeffery’s face lit up that way every time he worked or ran Trooper.  

I don’t need to tell a bird dog man about the bond that develops between man and his dog. It’s strong, deep and real. It’s about trust and hard work and not quitting- for either dog or man. The man sees a partner, a friend and an animal that trusts him to do the right thing- to care for him, feed him, train him and protect him. The dog simply looks at the man and sees his purpose for putting paws on the ground- to please this man. And he’ll do it every time he’s asked. The dog looks at the man and sees his god. For too short of time, we have our dogs. From pushing to the tit, to standing tall in the grass, to hobbling from the box one last time, they love us unconditionally until it’s their time to be a memory.

Quail Valley Trooper was put in the ground March 29, 2011. He ran his last field trial March 18, 2011. He gave his last run exactly what he gave his first run. I know because I was there to see it- I was his bracemate.  Trooper gave it all he had.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Season Officially Over

Randy and Ace at GA Championships

Seeing as how tomorrow is the 1st day of Spring and state NSTRA Championships are over, too, I guess I'll have to concede that my bird dog season is over.  

Ace did the best he could and made it past the first day.  On his first run of the second day came up somewhat short.  Not by much, but it only takes a point. While the top six dogs of the second day prepared to run again, we said our goodbyes and eased on down the road. 

It's time to work on the pups (Ruby and Cap), get them on to some birds, firm up their retrieving on freshly shot birds. Both the little guys have a lot of potential, an I'm excited already about my September trip to Montana with 3 broke dogs!  It's been a while since I've been in that situation.  

Well, I'm heading to dust off the lawn mower....

I wonder when fly fishing season starts out west..?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

At Loose Ends....

Seasons are closed, it's warming up down South, and all the bubba's down here are psyched up for Turkey season.  I confess, I have my decoys ready to go, the camo hanging the barn room, the shotgun choked full with #6 shot and the turkey call set up.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Georgia Region NSTRA Championships This Weekend

For those not associated with NSTRA, every year each region (there are a bunch- 27?) has a final trial to determine a champion.  To be in the final trial, a dog must already be a NSTRA Champion or have placed in a field trial (1-3) in that region during that trial year.  So, you can see, every time you run a dog, you will be running against a proven winner.  The GA Region trial will be at 4-Star Plantation, outside of Elberton, GA starting at 0730 Saturday morning.  My dog is ready and so am I.  Since even the best dog in the world still needs that 15% luck, we are hoping to get a dash of that and perhaps make a run of it.  I do know that a few dogs in the region have really been getting better with every trial and they are on a roll.  They will be peaked and ready to rumble! Well, whatever happens, it will be a fun weekend and a fitting way to end the trial year.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kawasaki Mule

My Mule
I resisted for a long time getting an UTV, or whatever they call these things.  I have friends that take these things out west with them and hunt off of them. They have the bigger models with two bench seats, enclosed with heaters, dog boxes and everything is first class!  I'm not to that point, yet, but I did want one to run around the farm, road dogs, etc.  I got a lot of support from the ball and chain on this, too, which surprised me.  She loves the Mule.  I highly recommend the roof and windscreen, too.  Now, some add-ons I need to get:  gun-rack, dog boxes for back, cooler holder for cold beverages.....what else?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I found this picture....

It really makes me shake my head how I can lose something so easily! Two things I've lost that are valuable in dollars and sentiment.  One is my boyhood pistol.  I can't find it and it's driving me nuts.  I know it's around here somewhere...the other is my "new" FindMeSpot locater device (OK, no jokes now!).  This is my second one- the first one, I think, is laying in a rest area parking lot in Montana. Anyway, while rooting through my office, I came upon this print of Bo, my old setter, on the day he won the 2001 Quail Unlimited National Championship in Bronwood, GA. Old Bo is still with me- a little arthritic and somewhat slower- but he's still got game...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Feed

I posted a while back about dog food and how I was having a dickens of a time trying to figure out what was best for my dog. I only have 3 working dogs (all Brits) so I'm not feeding a huge kennel of dogs.  That being said, I can afford what it takes to make sure they get what they need.  After much study and reading and opinion seeking, I've come to the conclusion that dogs need meat and some veggies.  Corn, they can do without and I noticed that some feeds the first ingredient it corn or corn meal, etc. I found that the best feeds (and most expensive, by the way) have meat or fish in 3-5 of the first 5 ingredients listed and always in the first two or three. Some have chicken innards, lamb meal, lamb, salmon, fish meal, beef, beef meal, etc.  You get the picture.  Right now I'm feeding Purina Pro Plan mixed with Mulligan Stew (from Jackson Hole, WY) and a 1/2 cup of  Bil-Jac. I am slowly changing the mixture to all Mulligan Stew and Bil-Jac. (I use the frozen Bil-Jac and give them 1/2 cup on top of the Mulligan Stew.)  For my 50# Brit, Ace, I feed him three cups per day of the mixture. My two smaller Brits 35-40#, they get 2 1/2 cups per day. After roading and training, they are thriving on the stuff and tear up the feed.  Their coats are shiny and smooth.  I will continue watching them, of course, and will note any problems for future posts.