Saturday, August 2, 2014

Puppies, Debutantes and Coming Out Parties

Flyboy Ace's Black Pearl (Pearl)
A little over a year ago, Ruby came in season.  I got Ruby four years ago, after waiting two years, from Nolan Huffman in South Carolina.  She's a daughter of 32XCH Nolan's Last Bullet (frozen semen) and her mission, besides being an amazing bird and trial dog, was to breed with my Ace dog and produce a follow-on male and female for me.  Eleven months ago, Ruby whelped eleven puppies.  All thrived because she was a super mom. Six females and five males.  Really, the purpose for the litter, all those years in the making, was for us to keep a liver female.  Ace is liver.  Cap is liver.  Ruby is orange, but I'm partial to the liver Brit.  The biggest problem I had was picking the puppy, of course.  All but one of the liver females were identical. 

(Photo by Nancy Whitehead)

(Photo by Nancy Whitehead)

They all had the same head coloration as Ace and Cap.  Believe it or not, I had trouble telling Ace and Cap apart in the field.  So much so, that I put different colored collars on them! I really wanted a dog I could quickly distinguish from the others. Pearl had that all-liver head on her and solid body.  There was no doubt who she was when we scanned the pile of Brittany puppies.  And besides, she was a holy terror, aggressive and a real bully.  She never backed down from any puppy there, even though she was only three-quarters the size of the biggest.  I liked that.

Everyone has a different method when picking a puppy. Some great trainers say check out the parents, then close your eyes and grab a pup and go.  Others spend a great deal of time studying and making noises and playing and stuff.  I like bold movers and pretty dogs. Pearl fit the bill perfectly.  As she grew and matured she picked up the mannerisms I was looking for from the sire and dam.  She had the color, intelligence, run, and birdiness from Ace (NSTRA CH and Grandson of 32XCH Nolans Last Bullet) and the run and stamina from Ruby (who came from horseback stock on her mother's side and 2XFC Diamond Hill Dan). In short, all the bona fides aside, the bottom line is this: the lady can find birds and look good doing it. She is bold and inquisitive and listens to me.  She hits the bottoms and the pastures as easy as the cutovers- with grace and speed.  In about a month, she and the rest of the kennel will head out on our first traveling hunt of the year- to Montana for starters, then maybe Utah, Wyoming,  or Minnesota, or....who knows?  She will be in her own kennel getting booted up and wearing the Garmin- just like the big dogs...  

She doesn't know anything about her history or breeding or who her daddy was.  But, hopefully, she'll know what it feels like to get a snoot full of intoxicating Sharpie or Hungarian Partridge scent coming up the nose.  I see her frozen like a statue on the side of a coulee, with me easing up in front of her, just before the world explodes in feathers and shots and the smell of gunpowder. And another generation of bird dog has its "coming out".