Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happiness in our back yard

A short 10 minute walk from our house is the gate to the Acalanes Open Space in Walnut Creek, California. It is now the end of August and the hills are golden brown. We have not seen rain for over four months and we are looking forward to some fall rains that will make everything green again.

Temperatures can change dramatically from day to day. Yesterday at 8am on this ridge it was 90 degrees. By 3pm it got up to 103. Today at 8am it was 55 degrees and we'll get up to maybe 80. The wonderful Pacific Ocean air conditioning system has kicked in!

Just before the gate to the open space, in a shaded valley is the Larkey Reservior with a drinking faucet. Great on a warm day.

On a weekend we will come across 10 to 30 people and their dogs on a morning walk.

There are several Vizsla owners in the area that take advantage of this space. At last estimate eight Vizslas run happily along the open trails and through the oak valleys. Almost everyone up on the ridge knows our dogs. I was thinking of calling it "Vizsla Hill".

Happy dogs after an hour of walking in the morning breeze.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pet or sporting dog?

Where is the line between "just a pet" and a sporting dog? I found myself asking myself that during a walk in the hills above my house yesterday afternoon.

Our life with our two Vizslas is a wonderful experience in any form.

Many of the sporting dog enthusiasts, that I have had the pleasure to meet this year,would define a "pet " as a dog who is not challenged to reach any potential.
Agility, obediance, field trials, hunt tests all require the dogs to aquire skills that take hours, days, weeks, months and years to hone.
We as sporting dog enthusiasts are willing to spend thousands of dollars to help our dogs aquire these talents. I guess I wonder sometimes why. Is it for them or our egos that we do this? Are the dogs happier than "pets" when they are performing these man-made skill sets?
I found doing field trials with my young male Vizsla that to compete against the professional handlers, we can't just train once a week for half an hour with a trainer. This will be a minimum 4 days a week committment for at least an hour a day. Then I think we can get close to the level of the professionals.
We have made committments like this before with children but never dogs. The joy of working with the dogs so far has been reward enough.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Field of Dreams?

Ok, now it is Sunday evening and we are home after the season's last field trial for Bailey.  One thing I learned.  You can come up with great excuses for not winning.  Just after Lyn snapped this picture, Bailey looked down and found a field mouse under the grass and then another and then another.  Now it became a field of mice and no longer a bird field.  The judges came up and said, "Go ahead handlers you can release your dogs." 
 Bailey shot out and twenty yards out he made his first mouse stop.  For five minutes he must have found forty mice and pointed each one out to me.
So at one point he realized that he needed to do what he came out to do - FIND BIRDS.
So run he did.  He covered the field very well and when he came across a bird he stopped and pointed.  Not his most graceful point ever, as he was almost standing on the bird.  He held as I bent down and flushed the bird.  Off he went and ran down the bird and brought it back almost all the way to me.  He qualified by finding and pointing a bird for a placement in Derby, but the dogs he was competing against were finding and pointing birds also.
There were some very good dogs out in the field for the Open Derby and many handled by professionals.  14 dogs total in this class and Bailey finished as an "Judges award of merit" which was just out of the four placements.  Scarlet, Janet Kuivenhoven's great young female Vizsla was awarded forth.  The highest Vizsla placement in Derby.
So on a afternoon that was hot and a field full of field mice with Bailey having a paw pad which had a two week-old cut re-open; he did all right against some of the best under two-year-old field dogs around. 
Now after our first season, I see what it will take to succeed in this sport.  It will take knowledge, determination, time and paitence. 
Now we start some hunt testing.  Junior Hunter will be the first tests.  From there to Senior Hunter and then Master Hunter.  Bailey can do it.  The question is: can I?
Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Field Trial Sleeplessness

 It's 5 AM  I'm up and blogging. Today is the last field trial of the year for Bailey and I didn't sleep well last night.

I posted back in June to the Vizsla Field Trial Yahoo group on how exciting I find this sport.  One response was:

"Welcome to an addiction that is more potent than any narcotic. If you ever loose the thrill of watching a dog work then quit.
Personally I still get excited each time I put a dog down (in to the field)."

This is only the sixth month we have been involved in training Bailey as a bird dog.  Today is our fifth field trial since the first Spring Vizsla Trial and the 9th and 10th braces.

The event today will be the German Shorthair Pointers Club of Northern Sacramento Valley's Walking Field Trial.

The field of dogs will be several German Shorthair Pointers, Brittany Spaniels, Vizslas, and a Gordon Setter, an English Setter

Bailey is entered into Open Derby (14 dogs) and we run the 4th brace today against Maysie, a female Brittany Spaniel (like the one pictured above).  These dogs are fast and very intelligent bird dogs that have exceptional noses. A French hunting dog from the provenance of Brittney, they came over the the US in the 40's as GI's brought them home from the Continent.

Joanie asked me why they have us against a Brittany.  All the dogs names are put in a hat and it is a blind draw that lets you know what brace you are in and what dog you run with.

About an hour later, Bailey will run again in the 2nd brace against Sonny, a male Brittany Spaniel, in the Open Puppy stake (11 dogs).

The temperatures today are going to be in the mid 90's and humid. 

Bailey is ready.  He had a good breakfast of kibble, liver, wheat germ oil and a little cod liver oil.
I used to wonder if Bailey gets excited about these events.  Now I know he gets excited also.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Man and his dog go to Heaven

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered. 'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.

Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveler asked.

'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in...'

"How about my friend here?' the traveler gestured to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump.'

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

'What do you call this place?' the traveler asked.

'This is Heaven,' he answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveler said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?' the old man asked.

'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hungarian red dog vs. Deutschland Uberhunds

Next weekend Bailey takes on the German Shorthairs in Open Puppy and Open Derby.

We are training and conditioning to give them good competition.

This will be Bailey's last puppy trial as he will then be over 15 months by the next trials.

The German Shorthair Pointer is a bird hunting machine. They are the dog of choice of the "serious" bird hunters. The GSP roots go back to the mid-1800's when the new middle class of Germany wanted an all around hunting dog or "versatile dog". The GSP was a genetically engineered and designed hunter for this newly created hunting population.

The Vizsla was still only available to the wealthy and royalty of Hungary and were always allowed into the house and were part of the family while the GSP was bred to be a kennel dog.

So we must train hard to compete with these Deutschland Uberhunds.

I watched the USA lose to Mexico in soccer this week 2 to 1.

So far the USA team is 0 for 22 in Mexico. But one day.

Like soccer, field trials are a competition and sport. I want Bailey to go against the best in the area and will need to train to that level.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Salt Creek Waterfall - Central Oregon

Travelling west on Highway 58 just west of the Willamette Pass at 5128 feet is Salt Creek Falls.

This was a great stop to let the dogs get out and streatch on our way west from the tour of Crater Lake. This was on the way to Portland.

I played with my camera's shutter speed and took a few pictures of the falls.
Click on the picture to make it full screen.

My joys in life right now are my wife, family, work, our great Vizslas, traveling the West in our motor home, pointing breed field trials and photography.

The blog format gives me the chance to tap into whatever creativity I have through the lens of the camera. I use a Nikon D70 camera with Nikon lens.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vizsla - an amazing history

Borrowed write up from website of

"The Vizsla breed lays a strong claim to being one of the oldest documented sporting dogs in the world. The Magyar tribes which wandered the Russian Steppes and lived in the Carpathian basin during the eighth century, were known to hunt extensively when not breeding cattle. An anonymous scribe of Hungarian King Adelbert III (1235 - 1270) wrote about the history and wanderings of the Magyars, including their use of the yellow pointing dogs called the "Vizsla". Early illustrations of this dog appear in chronicles written by Carmelite Friars in 1357.
Other Hungarian documented references to the Vizsla appear in the 1500's.

There is little doubt that the basic Vizsla was crossbred throughout the centuries with other breeds, including hounds. The Magyars apparently always took such crosses back to the basic Vizsla because hound noses are black and the true Vizsla nose is brown or flesh coloured. Even today, the resemblance of the Vizsla is closer to the lighter wild dogs of the Russian Steppes in colour and quality of coat.

The Vizslas were companion dogs of the early warlords and barons and kings. Their blood was preserved pure for centuries by the land owning aristocracy and held in high esteem by their owners.
The Vizsla has survived the Turkish occupation, the Hungarian Civil Wars, World Wars I and II, and the Russian occupancy. Late in the 19th century, the Vizsla suffered a decline and during the Second World War, came close to becoming extinct. In 1945, when the Russian occupation forces invaded Hungary, many of the wealthy aristocrats were forced to flee their beloved land. Serveral were able to smuggle their Vizslas and pedigree records out of the country. These owners fled to various parts of Europe and North America with their dogs and from this small, remaining Vizsla stock are descended our present day dogs. Some of these Hungarians came to Canada and the United States in the early 1950's and brought their dogs with them."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Crater Lake - Wow

It is hard to explain Crater Lake besides a huge hole in a mountain that is full of crystal clear blue water. The interior walls show the force of the mighty volcanic explosion that blew the top half of the mountain off many millennium ago.

Early morning on a Friday, at the end of July, was a great time to visit. The massive summer crowds arrive later in the morning and over run few roads. We arrived at around 8am in the RV to the north gate and made our way up the road to the rim. The 23 foot motor home would be about as big as I would have wanted to travel the narrow rim road. The road is steep at times and there is no shoulder with long drop offs.

The dogs were not overly impressed as there were no birds or open fields to run in and the water was WAY down there so they couldn't even swim. A trip worth taking to see but stay at Diamond Lake just 10 miles to the north. Diamond lake had a lodge, RV parks and camp sites

I'll just post pictures taken from the rim.Pictures on the web are better but you'll never get the feel until you stand on the rim and look out over a speculator sight.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The RV life with Vizslas

Dogs and RVs go together well. In our longest RV trip so far (all of six days) we found that taking the dogs crates and having them sleep in them made life at night better.

In the morning, I would take them apart and store them inside each other and place them back on the bed.

The learning curve on how to travel in an RV is quick. You find out the mistakes quickly and how all the little parts work. The 23 foot Aero Cruiser is just right for two dogs and two adults for a couple weeks at the most.

For field trials they are great. Many field trials are Saturday and Sunday events with an area that you can set up for the night. Most of the time you are "dry camping" with no external power, water or sewer hook ups but a good RV is self contained and has no problem going a few days on the batteries, generator, propane, stored fresh water and holding tanks.

All the conveniences of home with XM radio and DVD players and TV sets for the evening makes being out in the middle of no where very pleasant.

Some RV places are green and lush with many extras. Others are dry and simple but in wonderful locations.

Every RV park we have stayed at has been fine with Vizslas, as long as they are on leash while in the park and are not left alone in the RV while the owners go out somewhere else.

It has been a great way to see the West. Many trips in the RV to great places in search of birds, ribbons and some very cool spots!