December 17, 2012

Chasing Birds

We headed out to our favorite spot yesterday with the pups to "hunt" some quail. Riley made me a very proud mom! She found the biggest covey I've seen to-date. There must have been about 20-30 quail in the group. I had decided to get my camera out and ready to film a video once I heard some quail calling. Of course, Riley snuck up on the little buggers so fast they were completely silent the entire time we were approaching them, so I had my camera in my pocket as they broke cover and flew off. I'm adding a GoPro camera to my wish list!

It was a beautiful sight to see the quail flying off followed by both pups in hot pursuit. Cooper has honored Riley's points since the first day we brought him home and yesterday it was amazing to see Riley scent pointing where the quail must have been earlier that morning with Cooper holding a steady point right behind her, tail quivering in anticipation.

It makes my heart happy to see them running through the fields and bushes looking for birds. There is nothing better than seeing your pup doing what they were bred to do. This is where they belong - out in the wide open spaces. Hardened muscles propelling them forward toward their prey on the hunt. I'm just lucky they allow me to join them and be a part of it all.

I tried hunting on a whim and now I'm addicted. I'll be chasin' those birds 'til the day I die! :)

December 14, 2012

November 21, 2012

Cooper is birdy!

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but I've just been too busy. I took Riley and Cooper out to our new favorite spot to meet a friend who was bringing us some quail for Riley's training. We did a few (unsuccessful) plants and then he finally got a bird planted just right. I kept Riley on a check cord and when she found the quail scent she froze in a beautiful point. If it wasn't raining, I would have taken a picture. There is something magical about a Vizsla point. Tail up and quivering, cheeks puffing in and out with quick bursts of air to capture the quail's scent. I was very happy with how well she performed. Even with the poor weather conditions, she was able to locate every single quail. Of course, most of them were running away because the darn things refused to plant correctly! Haha!

When we were done with Riley's training, I asked my friend if we could just let Cooper see the quail and play with them if he was even interested. At first, I held the quail in my hands to let him come see it, but he would not approach me! He barked and play bowed, but wouldn't come see it. I was pretty upset and thought that maybe this meant he really was afraid of birds. I decided to set the quail down on the ground and let it wander around to see how Cooper would react. The minute that little bird hit the ground he was on it! I was so surprised! He chased it down and then when the bird froze he promptly picked it up in his mouth and proudly pranced around with it. I let him just play with it and have fun. The 2nd bird I actually planted in the grass for him to see if he could find it. It took him a while, but he did end up locating it and then proudly carried it around as well. I have yet to see him actually point a bird, but he does have the hunting instinct! :)

I'm also happy to see how Riley's range has started developing more and more. Now that she's been finding quail on a regular basis, she ranges MUCH further out from me. Some walks she even spends part of the time so far off I can't see her. I think it might be time to invest in a GPS tracking collar. 

November 19, 2012

A "Close Shave"

Cooper tried to commit suicide yesterday morning. Thank God he didn't swallow any of the blades. I also couldn't find any cuts in his mouth. This dog is going to give me a heart attack!

November 10, 2012

2nd Heat

Riley's 2nd heat came just in time for hunting season. *sigh* I guess we'll have to do quite a few private trips to wildlife areas for the next 30 days. I'm also going to be training her using planted quail. Anyone want to hunt wild birds with us?

October 29, 2012

First "Official" Quail Hunt!

Riley went on her first official quail hunt today! MagicandNucky joined us with his handsome pup and the two had a blast. We weren't sure if we would find anything, but the pups ended up flushing a large covey of quail and then finding several birds. I have never heard a covey of wild quail fly off like that & the sound of all those wings beating was amazing. Riley impressed me by locating and pointing out a quail about 10 ft up in a tree! That girl has such a good nose. She's been a little hesitant around shotguns in the past. No issues this time - tail was up and wagging the entire hunt & she went nuts every time she heard the birds fly off. No birds to bring home, although one was *just* nicked as it took off & the pups went crazy over the feathers on the ground.

Cooper waited in the car until we were done because I don't want to make him gun shy. When we returned to the car, he got to run around with his sister. Riley pointed a quail in a bush and even held her point while it flushed. I think she's learning!

We're excited for our next hunting trip!

October 21, 2012

Quail "Hunting"

We took the pups on their first two quail "hunting" trips this weekend. I say "hunting" because neither of us have a permit or a shotgun! We did bring a blank gun just in case Riley pointed any wild quail & I wore my new, fashionable day-glo orange vest. Saturday was a total bust. We parked in the wrong area & had to hike for about an hour before we even got to good quail habitat. Today we started out in the right area, but too late in the morning. All the quail had been scared off already by other hunters. We heard a lone quail calling out, but it was from across the freeway in the (protected) state park. Riley had a great point on one of the bushes, but we quickly discovered it was a scent point with no bird. The pups had so much fun! Riley was in full-on hunting mode most of the time & it was an amazing thing to watch her work the hillsides. Cooper is learning to follow in the footsteps of his big sister & always honors her points! We gave up looking for quail after about 2 hours & headed back to the car. It was then, of course, that Riley's little cheeks started puffing and she took off full-speed for the base of a tree in some long grasses. Next thing we knew, a quail came running full speed out from under the tree and flew off! It was nice to find at least one. Next time we'll go much earlier! :)

October 11, 2012

Why Hunting Is A Dying Sport in California

I was trying to figure out for the longest time why hunting is such a dying sport in CA and it finally dawned on me yesterday. It is expensive enough to just make a living in CA, put a roof over your head, food in your mouth, and have a decent car to get to/from work. It makes sense why mostly the older generation are into hunting because they have more time and spare money for hunting. I was very excited to get Riley back into hunt training full-time this month now that her leg is 100% and hunting season is upon us. Then it happened - Reuben's starter in the truck went out (there goes $300), a rock bounced up and hit my car windshield to create a nice 1ft long crack (another $250), and we received a letter in the mail the other day saying our property has been reassessed so our taxes are going up.

It's very frustrating looking into those beautiful brown eyes and know you are depriving your dog of something they were born to do, but unfortunately hunt training is going to have to wait, yet again. :(

October 8, 2012

Crab Fishing & Fort Funston

Crabs are delicious, so when my hubby said he wanted to take me crab fishing in Pacifica as my birthday present, I was ecstatic! It turns out the actual fishing part is rather boring, so I left that to my hubby & brother in law, while my sister & I took the pups to Fort Funston. They had a blast running around & stalking/chasing birds. The men caught 4 crabs, which we cleaned & cooked for dinner. I can honestly say it was the best crab I've ever eaten! We're all very excited for Dungeness season to start in November. We would have brought home about 10-15 crabs if we could have kept the Dungeness we caught!

Ranfery & Reuben with their first crab
One of the many Dungeness caught (and released)
Red crab up close
Riley posing for the camera
Me & my beautiful pups!
Riley "hunting" birds at the beach
She was frozen on-point until they flew off

September 30, 2012

Fort Funston Trip

Riley & Cooper went on their first trip to Fort Funston yesterday. It was what I would call a "series of unfortunate events". They were playing a game of keep-away in the front yard early that morning when Cooper slipped and fell on the brick walkway. He yelped a bit when he fell, but otherwise showed no signs of being injured. On the drive to Fort Funston we stopped at a gas station to fill up & it was then that I noticed the blood trickling down his leg. Thankfully, it was just a surface wound & he had scratched off the top layer of skin. I rinsed it with some water & we were on our way. We arrived at the Fort Funston stables late, so we were looking for a way down to the beach when we noticed another Vizsla in the distance. I let Riley & Cooper off-leash and we went over to meet up with the other pup. This was when we realized there was a steep drop between us & the beach. We found the easiest (so we thought) pathway down and set off. About half-way down the trail went from a nice slope to an uncomfortably steep angle. The dogs were having a blast running around & making the humans feel very clumsy! There were some spots that were so steep we had to slide down on our rears to keep from slipping & falling. We finally made it to the bottom when we realized there was yet ANOTHER cliff we had to climb down to get to the beach! My dad found the easiest way down & the rest of us followed. Cooper was very nervous about climbing down! Riley climbed down & then went back up to encourage her brother to follow. The beach itself was gorgeous & the pups had a blast running, swimming, & chasing birds. We met up with the main group of Vizslas toward the end & the pups got to play with their buddy Louie. It was a nice beach but there were too many groups of horses for us to be able to relax. The beach is apparently empty at around 7:30AM but I don't think it's worth it to get up that early just for a beach trip.

September 28, 2012

Morning Walk

Mom & I walked the pups for about 1 hour this morning. Cooper needs A LOT of heel training, so we are going to start doing this several times a week. Toward the end of the walk I had him in almost a perfect heel. My arms are tired... it was a good workout! :)

September 25, 2012

Just Say NO to Rawhide!

Please, PLEASE don't give your dogs rawhide toys! They are very dangerous and can cause severe stomach problems and even death from obstruction or choking. Here are some emails that just came through on the Vizsla Yahoo email list earlier today:

"...Heidi died last night due to a rawhide caught in her esophagus.  She was in surgery and they removed it but she did not recover. 
   I stopped giving Zoe rawhides after my vet told me she had done too many emergency operations removing them.  (She told me to give Zoe the bully sticks instead because they crumble rather than become long shreds like the rawhide.)  Heidi's rawhide was one that was tied in a knot but Heidi had chewed it until it was soft and became untied and then she swallowed it.
  [The owner] was devastated because she had to make the decision to take Heidi off the ventilator.  Too sad.  But at least Heidi was older and had had a good life."

"...please listen to those who have dealt with this and just say no... I have personally saved two Vizslas from choking on rawhide chews in the past 10 years, the shape is of no matter once they get slimy and pliable. THANK god I have very small hands and I was able to go in, The piece of rawhide that was blocking his airway was quite far down and this Vizsla was no longer passing air. This was not my V, I was dog sitting and the owners insisted on bringing those for him. I just about had a heart attack, it happened RIGHT in front of me. I've witnessed some dogs get especially careless when another dog comes along and they think they have to cram it all in their mouths before the other dog gets there. Horrible. I was very lucky, so were they. It's very easy to make the situation worse and push it further down the throat since rawhide gets so slick. But I knew there was no way we would make it to a Vet in time. This is what you will have to deal with if there is an accident, I say no thank you."

Not only are they dangerous, are you aware of the process used to create rawhide treats?

"The Lime solution is the quickest and most often utilized by manufacturers. This utilizes ordinary builders powdered (hydrated) Lime. The hide soaks for 1-3 days and the hair is scraped off. This process is highly caustic but the most efficient for mass production. To remove all traces of the Lime solution and to sanitize the rawhide product, commercial makers then rinse the hides in a bleach solution before creating whatever shape is to be used. The bone and other shapes used to attract you and your pet are created while the hide is still wet.  The “treats” are then either dried or sent for “smoking” to further entice the unsuspecting owner and pet." - (Dane Angel Network)

 There are many other chew toys available that are much safer for your pets:

- Bully sticks

- Large, raw bones
- Kong toys 

Cooper enjoying a tasty raw marrow bone!

September 19, 2012

Dog Interaction - Ian Dunbar

DogStarDaily just uploaded this BRILLIANT video onto YouTube and it's very insightful regarding dog interactions, the affect of altering on these interactions, and how to prepare your puppy for success as an adult.

"In lots of cities and towns abroad there is often a culture where it's OK for dogs to roam around on their own unsupervised and unattended. Very often these dogs get along very well, often without the kind of loud and unsettling aggression problems that dogs have when they're on leash with their owners. One factor could be the extent to which many strays are intact, especially when it comes to the treatment and subsequent temperamental development of young male dogs. Also, groups of stray dogs usually include a variety of ages and breeds, which naturally teach puppies how to behave around older dogs. Finally, and possibly most important of all, these packs of strays don't have human owners around accidentally reinforcing and provoking antisocial behavior."

The most interesting point he made (in my opinion) was how altering a male puppy before the age of 1 year actually is detrimental for their social development because intact males won't discipline them the same way. It makes sense - if a male doesn't smell like a male, it won't be treated as such. And some people wonder why their males altered at an early age are so out-of-control. I do worry that Cooper will miss out on the kind of discipline he needs from intact males due to the fact that he was altered at a young age.

Ian Dunbar is having a seminar in Santa Clara November 9-11th! I am begging my hubby to let me go as an early Xmas present.

Development of Social Behavior & Treatment of Fearfulness, Reactivity & Aggression 

September 18, 2012

Sunol Hike - Cooper's First "Official" Swim

Our "goofy goober" <3

 Reuben took the pups on a hike at Sunol today (I'm so jealous) and they had a blast! Cooper has always been interested in water and he fell in accidentally on our last Sunol trip, so he had to swim to get out. I didn't count that as his first swim because it was by accident. Well, today Cooper took the plunge (quite literally) and jumped into the creek after his big sister for a swim!

They stopped at Little Yosemite for some rock climbing and more fun playing in the creek. We are both loving the Ruffwear backpack we purchased for Riley. It's great for her to be able to carry her own water and it's also been strengthening her leg muscles as it holds about 2 bottles of water.

Yummy creek water!
Looking through the pictures Reuben sent me brought a tear to my eye today. It fills me with so much joy to see my pups running free in nature exploring and enjoying all the wonderful smells and sounds!

They are such mountain goats on these tiny trails!

Explorer pups

Race to daddy!

Running wild and free in the grass

The "end" ;)

September 17, 2012

Bird Training & Bird Intro!

This weekend was a busy one for the pups! We drove 4 hours on Saturday and 4 hours today for some quality bird training with Ken's lovely wife, Janet, from Willowynd Ranch up in Davis, CA. Not only is she a great Vizsla trainer, I also discovered she is a fellow accountant! Janet used pigeons in little velcro wraps to teach Riley to be steady on her point. She's already shown great improvement over the weekend.
Saturday Training

Sunday Training

Pulling the velcro on the bird wrap

Riley in full hunting mode

POINT! (Can you see the orange wrap on the bird?)

Pulling off the velcro wrap

And the bird is off!

 Cooper had some bird exposure for fun and to see his level of interest. Saturday he met some pigeons, which he was very nervous about until they flew away... then he chased them! Yesterday he got to play with a chukar on a string. As long as the chukar was running away from him, he chased. Whenever the chukar turned toward him, he ran away. He did prove to be an EXPERT butterfly hunter. ;) Janet gave us a frozen chukar to take home and Cooper was extremely interested in it. After about 10-15 minutes of showing it to him he decided it was pretty awesome and he proceeded to carry it around the yard with a little prance. We still haven't seen him point at anything other than his sister in play. He may or may not be a hunter, but I don't really care. I just want him to be happy. :)

Where'd it go?

Chase the chukar!

Ah! It's lookin' at me!

Chukar hid in the plants... that was exciting

"I'm not so sure about this *bird* thing, guys..."

Passed out after a long weekend!

September 9, 2012

Santa Cruz and Brewery Trip

Riley and Cooper posing for a picture

Today we took a trip to the beautiful Santa Cruz coast. It was a beautiful day and perfect for a walk! We walked about 4.5 miles total up and down the coast. The pups even had a fun romp on the beach. Riley of course found a chunk of dead sea lion washed up on the beach and ROLLED in it. @_@ (Needless to say, they both got baths when we came home.)

After our walk and beach run we stopped at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing where the pups relaxed (well, COOPER relaxed) and we enjoyed some beer, hot dogs from Gary's Old Fashioned Snappy Dogs, and pastries from Kelly's French Bakery.

I said "Riley, are you ready to go home? :)

The pups were fast asleep within about 10 minutes of our journey back home. <3 <3 <3

Sleeping beauty

Sleeping beast... lol!
A tired Vizsla is a good Vizsla! :)

September 8, 2012

Meet "Cooper"

We had a 6 month old Vizsla pup (re-home) as a trial this weekend and he is now an official member of the family! He went on his first off-leash hike with a Vizsla pack today at Sunol Regional Wilderness and had an absolute blast. We also celebrated Riley's first birthday with some "doggie" cake made by my sister. :)

Chloe, Riley, and Penny at Little Yosemite

Cooper says "This is so much fun!!!"

Cooper checking out the water with Riley in the creek

Cooper fell in! At first he wasn't sure what to do...

... then he started looking a little worried...

...he tried to climb onto Riley! She showed him the way out. :)

Cooper enjoying some birthday cake

Riley ate 2 pieces of cake!