Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

Sunday, March 10, 2019

You Can Take the Girl Out of the North...


 



"To have less and do more" became my motto almost 8 years ago and resulted in selling my beloved farm in Vermont.  The house was a classic post&beam saltbox that had tripled in size over its 100+ years, with bountiful years resulting in additions and double staircases which caused more than one visitor to get lost within the house.  The land was the ideal mix of fields and woods and four generations of my Firelight Setters pointed their first grouse and woodcock near the apple trees, alders and stone walls that were out the back door. 
But owning it required that most days I had to be away to earn the money to support it and I was ready for change.  So I sold the farm and took early retirement.   Well, okay, "early retirement" is a stretch since I did not meet the age and certainly not the financial criteria normally associated with retirement. Perhaps jumped-ship would be more accurate.



Since that time I moved to a rural house in Kansas and increased my hunting days from 25 to 60+ each year, with 6-week trips to Montana and 3-month seasons hunting quail here in Kansas.  The experience has been invaluable to me and to my dogs.  I have come to love watching the dogs stretch out and roll over the Montana hills and lock-up onto point on sharptail or a group of huns. I now understand why bobwhite are so well loved:
They offer both quality and quantity of dog work like no other species as the dogs work the brushy edges of Kansas fields.  Dog stamina and ability to stay healthy and strong when hunting several hours a day, day-after-day for weeks has crystallized the importance of breeding for both good conformation as well as the intelligence to handle a wide variety of terrain and species.  







But. Yes, but.  Ruffed grouse hunting still lured me.  Three years ago I went directly from 6 hot, dry weeks on the Montana prairie into the sweet, musty home of ruffs in Minnesota for a few days.  It was then that the call began.  Each of the past two years I spent a month hunting ruffs
in Michigan and it became clear: You can take the girl out of the North, but you can't take the North out of the girl.  I will continue to travel to the prairies and plains for hunting, but the woods where ruffs are found will see more of my time.  Which brings me to the past week where I signed a contract to sell my house here in Kansas and soon I will be traveling to northern Michigan in search of my next house.  I hope it will become my home, but only time will tell.  One thing of which I am certain: Home is somewhere in the North woods.  





Thursday, March 7, 2019

Blue Hens


In animal breeding the term "Blue Hen" means a female who consistently produces quality offspring, regardless of the sire to whom she is bred.   A male who consistently stamps his offspring with his own good traits is said to be prepotent.   To get either of these in a breeding program is when a breeder truly begins to put their mark on their breed: They begin to produce dogs that can be identified as being from their program either by performance traits, appearance, or both.  There are many breeders who produce nice dogs who perform well and look as they should. But there are fewer breeders who produce generation after generation of dogs with consistent quality and traits that can be identified as coming from that line.

I'm not sure how this much time could possibly have passed me by already, but last year I put the 7th generation of Firelight ryman setters on the ground.  My little breeding program is very small, limited to only as many dogs as I can actively hunt.  Reading about Blue Hens and Prepotent sires in other breeds where breeders own dozens of dogs and produce many litters a year got me to reminiscing about the wonderful females who have led me to own my current crew of 5.  If you care to take a moment, take a walk back through time with me. 


7th generation
 




6th
   
                                 

5th

              

                                                                 
4th  

3rd

2nd

1st generation


Cheers, and thank you, to all of these dogs and more that I have loved.
Lynn Dee

 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Be Afraid. And Act.


            It's time. Time to stop being so dang nice and tolerant. Time to act. For a few years now I have read and heard stories about fellow dog lovers, breeders, bird dog owners and other pet owners having to defend themselves against wrongful accusations regarding the welfare of their dogs.  Each time I felt badly for the individual and although I knew it was wrong to not do more, I just ducked my head a bit and was relieved that it didn't happen to me. Thankfully it still has not happened to me but it has come close enough for me to no longer idly sit by.  And you and your dog may be next so I encourage you to read this and to consider what action you can take. Just in case you think that the fact that I am a hunter and breeder means that I am at greater risk of having their dogs taken away, I'll give you the two most recent scenarios that have brought me to action.  Any one of you who has used a kennel to housebreak your puppy or keep your dogs safe, make sure you read through to the end because you are in the target zone also.
            Situation 1. Nice suburban couple has 3 fairly large dogs that they adore. Well trained and socialized, the dogs live in the house, go on vacation with the family, and romp in a yard that was fenced in for their safety.  For safety when traveling, the dogs travel in the back of their vehicle, secured in airline approved travel kennels.  A recent family health situation brought them to travel to another state (which happens to be a destination state for bird hunting, may I add) so of course the dogs went along. The husband frequently checked on the dogs in the vehicle out in the parking lot of the hospital which was Ground Zero for the whole family.  At one point he decided to walk the dogs and reached into the back of the vehicle to unlatch the kennel door. The normally well behaved dog excitedly burst out of the kennel and rushed to jump out of the vehicle. My friend reflexively grabbed the collar of the large dog and had to use his body as a block to prevent the dog from jumping out into the traffic lane. Phew, close call.  But.  But then he hears a womans voice nearby, yelling that she "saw him punch that dog in the head" and she was calling the police for animal abuse.  Shocked, he secured the dog (it's safety comes first), turned and began to explain the situation but the woman was yelling at him and snapping photos of him with her cell phone.  An officer did indeed come, listened to both the woman and the dog owner, rolled his eyes as the woman persisted, and told the dog owner that it was obvious that there was no wrongdoing so everyone please go on their way. The officer also said that these types of hysterical, over-reactive reports are not unusual these days but that he is required to at least respond each time. My friend, the dog owner, was mortified and in shock.  Not only had he experienced a close call with his beloved dog jumping into a traffic lane but he had a stranger outrageously accuse him of cruelty which was unthinkable for him and dogs.  With his family dealing with the passing of a loved one, he decided it was best to simply put the incident behind him although he did wonder aloud if his face was going to be on Facebook that evening under the heading of Dog Abuser......
            Situation 2.  It's wonderful to have a farm. Plenty of rural acres, you can run your dogs for exercise and training.  But even well trained dogs sometimes "get a wild hair", forget their lessons and let their legs take them where they shouldn't.  Particularly when they are highpowered bird dogs and they live in bird country...sometimes temptation is just too much. For 3 days this particular dog had her fun on the run while her owner went without sleep, drove hundreds of miles of back roads looking for her, made posters, spread the word and worried himself sick.   Finally a call came from someone who had found her; he said she was at the dog warden's kennel “in rough shape,” to be picked up in the morning.  Even more concerned now, the owner drove to the home of the man who had found the dog, paid him a sizeable reward, and thought it odd that the man apologized over and over for not calling the owner first from the info on the collar.  The owner reported to the county animal shelter first thing the next morning.  The dog is a fit athlete, but after 3 days of running she was thin and tired but fine, and her owner was enormously relieved to get her back safely. However, the dog warden informed him that he was being charged with animal abuse because in the opinion of the person who found the dog and the veterinarian who then examined her because of the complaint, "she was at a ’Level 1’ of starvation."  Despite the fact that the dog is of a hunting breed known for being very slender at any time and despite the fact that she had been missing - and therefore had not eaten - for 3 days.  Despite the fact that he is a lifelong farmer whose profession, passion and heart has been wrapped around elite hunting dogs like the wayward one who rode home on his front seat, wagging her tail and very happy to be headed home. So now this dog's owner is on county probation for animal abuse, with no opportunity for explanation and no specifics of how/what the probation actually means, other than that his farm is subject to random visits from animal control authorities.

Still thinking that you are safe from this type of legal accusation?  If like most owners of multiple dogs you happen to use kennel runs to keep your dogs safe and to keep your house from becoming a kennel, check out the following active proposed legislation.  If this law passes and you keep a dog in a kennel overnight in New York, you will be punished with jail time and fined.   

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/a830?intent=oppose.   
"THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- 
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: 
 
 Section 1. The agriculture and markets law is amended by adding a new 
section 353-g to read as follows: 
§ 353-G. TETHERING, RESTRAINING, CAGING OR PENNING OF DOGS. 1. IT 
SHALL BE  UNLAWFUL TO TIE, TETHER, RESTRAIN, CAGE OR PEN A WORKING OR 
NON-WORKING DOG OUTDOORS, BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 7 P.M. TO 6 A.M. 
2. A WORKING OR NON-WORKING DOG MAY BE TIED, TETHERED, CAGED OR PENNED 
OUTDOORS BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 6 A.M. AND 7 P.M., TO A STATIONARY OBJECT 
OR A PEN OR CAGE IN A SIZED PEN OR CAGE FOUR TIMES THE HEIGHT AND LENGTH 
OF SAID DOG... 
.... 3. ANY PERSON WHO KNOWINGLY VIOLATES THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION 
SHALL BE GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR, PUNISHABLE BY INCARCERATION IN CITY, 
TOWN, VILLAGE OR COUNTY JAIL FOR NOT LESS THAN TWO DAYS AND NOT MORE 
THAN SIX MONTHS, SHALL PERFORM BETWEEN FORTY-EIGHT AND ONE HUNDRED TWEN- 
TY HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE, AND SHALL BE SUBJECT TO A FINE OF BETWEEN 
TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS AND ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS, UPON THEIR FIRST OFFENSE. 
UPON THEIR SECOND OFFENSE, SUCH PERSON SHALL BE SUBJECT TO INCARCERATION 
IN CITY, TOWN, VILLAGE OR COUNTY JAIL FOR NOT LESS THAN TEN DAYS AND NOT 
MORE THAN SIX MONTHS, AND SHALL BE SUBJECT TO A FINE OF BETWEEN ONE 
THOUSAND DOLLARS AND TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. UPON THEIR THIRD OFFENSE, 
SUCH PERSON SHALL BE SUBJECT TO A FELONY." 

       The list goes on for the number of bills being proposed across the USA that would make many pet lovers/owners criminals and allow other people to decide whether you and I can own a pet. If we responsible animal owners do not fight back, the list is going to get longer.  Stand up for yourself and for your animal. Educate the ignorant and that includes making sure that friends and families are not unknowingly supporting anti-animal groups through monetary contributions: the marketing ploys can be very deceiving and the money that the anti's collect will be used against you and I.  Stay alert to proposed legislation and let your representatives know that you oppose.   Nearly 70% of households in the USA own a pet, let's stop the anti-pet minority from pushing us around.  Don't just be afraid. Stand up and speak up.  For you, me, and our pets.  


Image result for dog paw print

Friday, December 21, 2018

When Things Go Plop. Or Pop.


Sometimes things don't go quite the way I expect.  When I open the refrigerator door in the RV, I do not expect the eggs to fall out and Plop onto the floor.  But they did.



Related imageAnd just this week, I was thinking that I was oh so smart because I figured out that I can use the bathroom in the RV after it has been winterized.  You simply flush with RV antifreeze, no water. This might not work in wicked cold temperatures but it's barely below freezing at night right now.  So I was pleased with myself when nature would call in the middle of the night and I didn't have to bundle a jacket over my nightie and slipper trek outside in the cold to use the campground privy.  Well, the laugh was on me this morning when I was at the dump station.  The tank was all emptied and done and the last step was using the high pressure wash to clean out the RV connector when the fresh water hose slipped out of my hand.  Mind you, this is no common hose. This was under high pressure and being attached to an industrial spring, this thing sprung into life on its own, spraying up, down, and all around, soaking me nicely before I was finally able to force the stiff-from-the-cold hydrant handle down and off. The only good thing about this event was that I was not in an urban setting so there was no one around to flash record it on their phone and create the first dump station viral video.
       




But the biggie that didn't go my way this week instead went Pop.  While hunting last weekend I slipped on an icy/frozen/muddy hillside and as my left foot headed off in its own direction I felt/heard a Pop.  It's not good when your body goes Pop.  No one knows this, but I am stubborn (insert eye roll)  so I hunted the rest of that day thinking that I would "walk it off."  And two days later when I left for a few days of quail hunting further west, I thought that my pain and sorry limping would subside from more "walking it off."   Well, those who have had hamstring injuries of their own were not surprised in the least when I later told them that only a couple of hundred yards into my first cover the pain was too much and I had to turn back and call it quits.  And now I was limping more than ever.  To add insult to injury, poor Kate tangled with a terrible burdock patch during our abbreviated hunt and it took me longer to remove them from her short coat than she actually hunted.   REST was the chant so REST it is for a few days here at home.  But I'm already feeling less pain so hang in there dogs, we'll be back out soon and maybe the mud roads will have dried out by then.





Cheers
Lynn Dee

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Seasons

I spent a year on the road once, letting weather and hunting seasons dictate my path.  North while it was hot, south while it was cold, and several states for hunting while it was in between.  I remember being at the Grand Canyon in AZ in January and overnight a few inches of snow fell.  It was quite beautiful to see the snow on the layers of the canyon.  But it was also the first time in my travels that I felt homesick. 

It was then that I realized how important the 4 seasons of the north are to me.  The joy of warm sunshine in the spring and the scent of lilacs blooming.  Summer brings it's heat, but everything is beautiful, green and lush.  Fall, well, there simply should be several Octobers in every year. The earthy scent of the woods, the sound of footsteps on leaves on the ground, the crisp air that makes you breathe in deeply, and the colors.  Oh, the colors.  The brilliant foliage, scattered leaves, pumpkins and squash, and even the sunlight takes on a golden hue.  Winter comes with a hush.  The first snow silently falls in the dark, grey woods and silences the leaves as living things tuck themselves away for the season.  It is a time to settle in, get caught up on reading lists that have grown lengthy throughout the year and endlessly carry in wood for the stove. 

Seasons are not quiet or peaceful here in Kansas.  Spring storms are thunderously loud with howling winds and laser show lightening strikes.  Summer is sizzling hot.  Snow does not gently fall, it is blown in horizontally on 50 mpg winds which leave some areas bare but drifts that block roads and doors.  But today it is beautiful.  Blue sky, snow that will melt in a few days is still lovely to look at.  The woodstove is clicking from the log I just added. Yes, seasons are good.



 


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Carrying On

What goes around, comes around?  Top photo: Annie today at 4 months, Bottom photo: her mother 5 years ago, at 6 months. Annie carried this stick for most of her run today here in Michigan and it brought to mind her mother Sally's first days in Montana at the age of 6 months. On one of the first days in MT, puppy Sally found this cattle pelvis and proceeded to carry it all the way back to the truck. The next week she got into sharptails and forgot all about bones. Annie's time will come, meanwhile I enjoy watching the puppy in her.




Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Day of Double Takes



  

Some things you have to look twice before your brain makes the connection with what you are seeing.  I took these photos today but no, I am not back in New England and that is not the Atlantic.  It is a bay on Lake Michigan with a north wind blowing and lake effect snow in the air.  

This morning's double take woke me up faster than the caffeine in my tea.  I stepped out of the trailer to get something and my car started up. All on it's own.  I was standing right next to it and suddenly it was running.  Took my synapses a quick lap to realize that I had the keys in my pocket and that I had somehow managed to "butt dial" my remote starter.  A bit amazing given that the small button must be pressed twice to remote start.  

Last double take of the day was sitting in the trailer eating dinner. Looking over at Kate as she watched out the window my heart did a double-take and I saw my late, beloved Ditto as a youngster.  Two generations separate them yet bring them together.    
    Kate, tonight                                                Ditto, too long ago


Cheers and Happy Hunting all...
Lynn Dee