Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Out Of The Tree Of Life...

...I Just Picked Me A Plum.

Her name is Dottie, she’s a well-papered English Setter and a high-tail pup with two field trial champion bloodlines in her background. Most important, she’s a real sweetie too.

We picked Dottie up last Saturday. My son was home on the weekend for my dad’s 80th birthday dinner along with his own 28th birthday celebration. Saturday was a whirlwind tour for Dottie the pup. At 7am we drove an hour each way to Renselear IN and back to bring home our 6-week old pup. After a few hours of outdoor play here at home we packed her into a kennel in the back of the Ford Exploder and drove 45 minutes to the bro’s bunker at 3pm. From there we left the pup in a kennel in his kitchen while we wined and dined at a new restaurant in Cedar Lake IN called the Lighthouse.

It’s a nice new restaurant right on the lake. I had the 8oz tenderloin but overdosed on crusty bread and appetizers. Feeling like a bloated yak, I along with the other family members drove back to the bro’s place for dessert and aperitifs about 6pm. Dottie was the center of attention for the next few hours. She didn’t chew any woodwork or poop in a corner. Dottie licked everyone who picked her up so she was a hit. We were on the way back to Valpo by 10pm. It was a long day for a new pup in unfamiliar surroundings.

She squealed all Saturday night long, nothing new for a young puppy. Fortunately I am a very heavy sleeper, the other half is not. Oh well. After spending all her short life in the company of mom and littermates it’s all a part of the weaning process. This will go on for about a week. I know from experience.

I almost forgot. There’s puppy poop. Experience tells me that a pup must be taken outdoors as soon as she wakes up, which is about five times daily. If not then we have a stack of old Chi Tribs and paper towel rolls on hand. Young puppies are on their own schedule, sleep two hours, play two hours, eat, repeat.

We wanted an affectionate house pet and Dottie overdoses on affection. She follows us around and wants to be held. Some dogs for whatever reason don’t like to be touched too much and definitely don’t like to be held. Not this one. That’s one reason I prefer getting my bird dogs from professional breeders.

A pro breeder can tell a dog’s personality even at a very early stage. By observing the interaction of the litter they can determine which are aggressive and which are passive. You can explain to a reputable breeder what you’re looking for in a dog and they will deliver most of the time. Since they rely on word of mouth endorsement, under delivering is bad for business.

Chewing is another puppy hazard. If planned for properly it isn’t a problem but there will be those incidents. We have a place for her kennel in the laundry room and a couple of chew toys to distract her from chairs and table legs in the kitchen. She really likes chewing the rope toy.

If the parents are of good stock chances are all of the offspring will be just fine. For those who keep their bird dogs outside aggressive is good. Those of us who want a house pet with a good nose, solid obedience in recreational field activities and aren’t interested in aggressive field trial competition, a more laid back pup works just fine. But in this case laid-back is a term used loosely.

For the first week we are allowing Dottie to be a pup without any discipline, puppies should be treated like babies. We owe it to her to bond and acclimate herself to a new family and surroundings.

Obedience training begins at about six months old. I think she’ll like a Midwestern January here in the Indiana lake-effect snow belt.

The best...is yet to come.



Dan from Madison said...

Awesome! I assume she will be on display at gunstock reloaded.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Not this year, sorry to say. Dottie will not hunt until the 2010 season.

Acclimating a young bird dog to gunfire is not to be treated lightly. There is a careful process in which to do so that I will explain later next spring. Nothing more sad than a gun-shy bird dog. And 99% of the time it's not the dog's fault.

But you can get to know her the day and night before Gunstock here in Valpo.

Annie said...

Congrats, Gerry!! She looks like a little sweetheart.

SupaFly said...

(Other than experiencing the birth of your own children) I am sure there are other things in life than a sense of pure joy equal to that of a new gun dog pup. But I have nary an idea of what that would be!

She's a winner already and I am envious !

I have a 7 year old Brittany that is still "young" as far as how he operates. However, it won't be long so NEXT year I am going to bring in a pup to keep him company and take some of the load off him as he gets on in years.

I thought I'd have to drive a day to find a good candidate but I think I'll try these folks where you got her.

Thanks for bringing a smile to my face with this story and photos!

Jay (in West Central Indiana)

Gerry from Valpo said...

Hey Jay,

Send me an email if you would like the name of a top-notch breeder.