Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

Friday, October 23, 2020

Puppy Boundaries

 Puppies.  Who doesn't love puppies? Yet many people dread the puppy phase of their dog's life.  When I read and hear about people whose puppies are terrors in the house, biting hands with their sharp teeth, chewing on woodwork and furniture, jumping on people, bolting out the door when someone comes in I can understand why they don't love puppies.  It doesn't have to be that way.

Start with the genetics of the puppy. Chose a breeding that offers the "livability" that you want for yourself. Actually witness adult dogs from the breeder living in a similar environment.  If your bird dog is going to double as a house pet I strongly recommend you spend some time in a home where one or more of that breeding lives.  Each of us has very different home situations, energies and stimuli and what one person considers good and acceptable may not be for you or me. 

Once that well chosen puppy is home it is still up to you to "civilize" it, that is, shape it into the dog that you imagined living with in the first place. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of setting boundaries with puppies starting the day that you bring them home.  Limits. Restrictions and understandings.  For example, from the beginning, my own dogs learn the following: No, you do not go through any door or gate unless I tell you to. No, you do not jump on people or nip hands. No, you do not get up on the sofa. No, you do not scratch the door when you want out. No, do not put your paws on the counter. You will spend quiet time in your crate or kennel. You will respect fences and not try to escape. You will sleep in until I get up.  

These are all very reasonable expectations that I set for my own dogs: each home will have it's own. I joke that my dogs are miscreants because I do not teach many of the usual pet commands such as sit or lie down. But from puppyhood my Firelight crew is taught my limits and boundaries which is how I can have a half-dozen bird dogs that double as house pets yet maintain a fairly normal looking home. Boundaries make for a more pleasant pet experience as well as help with building the foundation for the desired partnership in the field.  

My most recent miscreant pupil, Firelight Cool Hand Luke


Cheers
Lynn Dee Galey
Firelight Setters, Michigan


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Choices Can Be A Gamble

 

When breeding my first ES decades ago I traveled to a very reputable breeder whose stud dogs were highly respected in the bird dog world. He let two brothers out into the exercise yard for me to choose between. Both were nicely built, good looking dogs.  The first one briefly greeted us and then went off across the yard  to do dog things. The second dog came over to me, held his head high and looked right at me.  He then floated across the yard with high head and tail catching the breeze of the day, looking like a million bucks. The bite on the second dog was off a bit so the owner said that he and others had usually chosen to breed to the first. But to me the decision was an easy one since I have always sought eye catching style.  I gambled on the bite and in all of these years I have had only one puppy with a bad bite but a whole bunch with that proud tail waving high in the breeze and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

Firelight Storm and Firelight Tweed  

  

Cheers, Happy Hunting and High Tails,

Lynn Dee


Monday, October 5, 2020

Size Matters

 

The old timers said that if you have to bend down to pet a gun dog's head then it is a Spaniel.  A Setter's head is where your hand rests when hanging down at your side.  If you have to raise your hand to pet the head then it's a Dane.

 

Believe it or not, the size of a bird dog is one of the topics that can turn a discussion ugly.  To that, and to the endless volleys of "best breed" arguments, I say that is why there are chocolate and vanilla and lots of flavors in between:  pick what you like and don't worry about other people.   It's enough for me to just focus on my own dogs as far as size and base my breeding goals on personal taste, what experience has taught me works, and what the avid hunters who buy my pups say that they are seeking. But make no mistake - size does matter.  

 Let’s define “size” in a gun dog.  We usually hear just the weight of the dog for size comparisons, but I believe that height is also important. Why? Because together they give you a more accurate picture of how the dog is built.   That build determines so much about gait, stamina, and durability.

 As example, I have three dogs who are each 22" at the withers yet their weights are 50, 54 and 63 lbs. The 50 and 54 lb dogs are females and although the same height, the one weighing 50 lbs has the shorter coupled, more compact body that I prefer.   That compact, short coupled body is more ergonomic because the topline remains level and tight during movement and therefore is more efficient with no body roll or extra motion that wastes energy. This translates into more bottom to hunt faster and longer without fatigue and quicker recovery for day after day of hard hunting.

 The 63 lb dog is a nice short coupled male with good bone and masculine musculature that adds up to the higher weight than the females of the same height. But I have another male who at 65 lbs is only 2 lbs more yet is a full 2" taller with a longer and leaner build.  Again, the weight alone does not accurately portray dogs. 

 Hunters shopping for a Setter are often understandably puzzled when they see Setters listed as ranging from 35 lbs to 80 lbs.   My females are running 48 to 54 lbs. and are 21 – 22” tall at the withers.  My target for males is 60 lbs, but I see a little more range with most of mine weighing 55 – 65 lbs and 22 – 24” at the withers.  In a sense, in my Firelights, I am looking for the “middle dog” in the size range of modern Setters:  a dog with enough size that there is no doubt that it is a Setter but moderate enough in size to be animated, attractive, and athletic on the move while maintaining excellent stamina and healthy durability for a lifetime. 

Female,21" 48 lbs. Hunted til 13, lived to almost 16. 


   

   Male,22" 63 lb. Powerful and compact. 
   


Cheers and Happy Hunting all,

Lynn Dee