Sunday, February 28, 2010

Foxtails - A Deadly Summertime Danger

Picture of foxtails in Shell Ridge open space February 28th. Still nice and green and soft.

"Most people living in the Eastern U.S. haven't heard of foxtails and how dangerous they can be to dogs. Foxtails are grass-like weeds which resemble the tails of foxes and are usually found only in states west of the Mississippi.

Southern California has a variety of wild grasses with similar characteristics. These annual grasses are often found in weedy areas along paths and roads.

From January until about March or early April, they are soft and green. In late spring, however, the seed heads begin to dry and the the danger begins, lasting throughout the summer until fall rains."
Field of foxtails still green. Starting by the first of May, I will no longer be in these open spaces until late August or until the foxtails are dried up and blown away.

"The seeds of the drying or dried grasses detach from the plant and stick to a person's clothes or an animal's hair.

They can easily become lodged between a dogs toes, in its ears, and in its eyes.

Since the seeds are barbed like a fish hook, they can be very difficult to remove. Once embedded, foxtail seeds cause severe infections."

Chloe looking for her ball in the grasses. This will be very dangerous later this spring.

"The telltale symptoms....
A foxtail seed can cause an inflamed, painful, infected lump anywhere on an animal's body.

A dog with a foxtail seed in its ear might rub its head on the ground or shake its head violently from side to side.

If a dog gets a foxtail seed in its eye, it might squint. The eye will water and the dog will paw at it. Even if you can clearly see the seed beneath the eyelid, do not attempt to remove it.

Get the dog to a veterinarian immediately.

Depending on the location of the seed or seeds, other symptoms are compulsive licking and biting at a paw or around the groin or rectal area or whining and crying with no obvious or acute injury.

In addition to causing pain and localized infections, foxtail seeds can migrate and lodge in the spine, in the lungs and in other internal organs.

They enter through the nose, ears, paws, eyes, urethra or just through the skin and travel through the body The seeds are very small, making locating them a painful, difficult and expensive procedure.

Depending on where a foxtail seed has traveled to inside a dog, it can even be life threatening and will require prompt surgical removal.

An inhaled foxtail seed which has lodged in the nasal cavity may cause violent sneezing, sometimes with a bloody discharge from the nostrils. To remove it, a veterinarian may need to sedate the animal, locate the seed with a scope, and remove it with a forceps. (note: average foxtail removal by vet $500.)

Swallowed foxtail seeds lodged in the throat will cause symptoms of an inflamed sore throat. A dog will swallow repeatedly, gulp, cough and gag. Even if the barbed seeds can be detected on examination, the dog will need to be sedated to relax the throat muscles so a veterinarian can grasp the seeds and remove them. "

These walks get risky when the grasses get brown like this.
Prevent foxtail tragedies....
If you live in an area where foxtails grow, remove weeds from your yard.
Keep your dog away from grassy weeds when walking, hiking or hunting.

Discourage your dogs from chewing on grasses.

If your dog has been outdoors in an area possibly infested with foxtails......

Examine your pet daily. Carefully brush its hair, while feeling for any raised areas on its skin. Check inside and under its ears; check between the toes, under the armpits and in the groin area. Keep long haired and thick coated breeds especially well-groomed.

If you see a foxtail seed sticking in the dog's skin, carefully pull it straight out, making sure not to break it off in the process.

If you think a seed might already embedded in the skin, in a paw, in an eye or an ear, or if a dog who has been eating grass seems to have a throat problem, get the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible!

Waiting can only make it harder to find, allow it to migrate and become more dangerous, and make treatment more difficult.

Living in Foxtail territory (Northern California Bay Area) makes summer time a challenge. Beach, river and desert time along with heavily forested areas. We are always looking for Summer "hidden treasures" where Chloe and Bailey can run off leash. Take advantage of the open spaces now in early spring.

If you live in an area where foxtails grow, or if you're planning to travel west with your dog this summer, especially to California or other Southwestern states, learn how to identify these deadly wild grasses so you can avoid them.

Based on article by Sandy Moyer

More information at:

Further information about green foxtails and wild oat seeds from a fellow Northern California Vizsla owner:

"I thought I would reply to you personally about the info regarding 'green' foxtails. I know most folks think that foxtails are only dangerous when they are dry--not so! The green ones may not be picked up by a dog as easily because they are still attached to the plant...but if a vizsla races by and knocks off the seed (awn) and gets one up the nose, in an ear or into the lungs...they are just as deadly!

The wild oat seeds are especially dangerous--which people sometimes mistake for foxtails. The awns on wild oats are dangling at head level when a vizsla is running through a field of wild oats. The fields at Point Pinole are covered with both wild oats and the lower-growing foxtails.

The seeds are 'hygroscopic,' and when they come in contact with moisture (a rain drop)(dog trachea, nose, ear, etc.) they begin almost immediately to corkscrew into the ground, or flesh of the critter. That is the mechanism that allows the foxtail or oat seed to 'travel' inside the body. Its a one-way deal--they move only forward.

Pick a green wild oat seed sometime and stick it on a drop of water on a plate, and you will see what I mean. Creepy.

Unfortunately, I speak from experience. My V boy inhaled THREE wild oat seeds into his lungs. My guess is that this happened because he was running slightly behind his mother in the field. I think she probably dislodged the seeds, and he inhaled them.

Its a long story, but UC David was able to remove only one seed using fiberoptic bronchoscopy. The other two oat seeds did make their way through his body. The seeds went through his lungs (resulting in a collapsed lung on one side) and then traveled along the inside of his rib cage and then showed up as a lump in the softer tissue at the bottom of his rib cage. UC Davis then removed one from each side of his body using ultrasound and surgery. I have the green foxtails in a test tube that the vets removed.

Just thought I would share this...I would hate for folks to be too complacent about GREEN foxtails/wild oat seeds. I almost lost my boy (Zsa Zsa's brother) to those nasty seeds, and would hate for anyone else to experience the same nightmare."


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Redbirddog walk planned in the New Forest

Well, the England trip for 24 April until 1 May is set but where I end up night to night is still up in the air.

John and Juliet of Radar fame, have invited me on a Vizsla Walk (Viz Wiz) in The New Forest on Sunday morning, the 25th of April. We are to meet at Mill Lawn, near the town of Burley with other local Vizsla owners.

I've told my California Vizsla friends I will post pictures.

Then on Monday, it is off on research on construction methods and emission regulations for work. I will be in a rental car and will start out in Bristol and make a clockwise loop around England.

Birmingham and Manchester will be part of the "tour'. On Thursday, I will be outside of Cambridge at the Air Museum in Duxford, and on Friday the last stop in London before flying out of Heathrow on Saturday morning, 1st of May for home.

Since I am traveling solo, leaving my wonderful wife and two great dogs at home, it would be great to met with Vizsla owners along the way for a beer and maybe a meal.
If you are in the general route of my trip and would like to join me at a local pub near your home town or city, e-mail me at:
I don't really want to stay in cities or do much of the tourist things, but this is my first time to England and driving on the right side of the road, so I can't venture too far off the path.

One of my favorite books of all time is "In Search of England" by H.V. Morton written in the 1920's. Hope the weather holds up.

Cheers from wet Northern California.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Testicals or no testicals? (testicles)

Young Mister Sunshine, AKA Bailey, gets to "keep his bits" as my English friends say.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Versatile Hunting Dog - Vizsla

Vizslas are part of a group of dogs that are classified as "Versatile Hunting Dogs."

Unlike pure pointers or pure retrievers or pure tracking dogs, a Vizsla can hunt, point, retrieve, track game both fur and feather.

This long weekend Bailey had a blast being a Versatile Hunting Dog. Chloe enjoys our walks out in the open spaces where she can do her "hunting".

Saturday morning, we were up in Briones open space and came across a large herd of cows. Bailey had his training collar on so we took the opportunity to work on leaving cattle alone. Along with the cattle in this large pasture were hundreds of birds in the grass.
He only once thought of bothering one of the cows before a "leave it" and a quick small jolt reminded him that cows were off limits. He got the idea and left the cows alone.

The rest of the time he had fun running among the cattle chasing BIRDS! He and Chloe had a wonderful time.

Yesterday was a pheasant hunt with Bailey, see previous post, and today was a two- hour walk in the Shell Ridge open space.

One unusual thing happened today that you don't see every day . As I was walking along the ridge heading back towards the Jeep. Bailey and Chloe were out of sight (very common on our walks). I heard a noise of rustling brush from my right and above.

A deer came bounding across the trail 15 feet in front of me heading down the hill.
Two seconds later, Bailey was in full pursuit, followed two seconds later by Chloe.
Down the hill all three ran until the deer started to pull away and I yelled at Bailey to "leave it".

Before I could reach for my transmitter, he had pulled off the chase and was returning to the ridge where I was walking. (pictured below)
Before I went on this walk, Joanie and I talked about how these walks now take up the time I used to do projects around the house such as: chores, gardening, tinkering with cars, remodeling.
But after I got back from today's walk in the hills with Chloe and Bailey, there is nothing more important that can't wait.

It is seldom a dull walk with these two.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bailey the Vizsla learns to pheasant hunt

This morning Bailey and I went pheasant hunting at Bird's Landing in the Sacramento Delta area. This was my first upland bird hunt behind my own dog. I was excited and a bit anxious on how he would do at this young age.

The fog was thick when we started out. Bird's Landing Hunting Preserve is one of the premiere facilities on the West Coast.

Before I fired a shot, Bailey had run down three pheasants. The birds made the mistake of trying to run for it. Bailey ran the birds down and brought them back to me.

After a couple hours, Bailey went on point and a pheasant held until I flushed it. When the bird flushed, I pulled the trigger and nothing happened. I had left the safety on. The bird flew away across the river. I apologised to Bailey for letting him down. He had done his job.

About 15 minutes later, Bailey went on point again. This time I did manage to bring that bird down and Bailey returned it to me. Finally we worked together as a hunting team. We both did our parts.

I brought back 20 pounds of pheasant home for dinners over the next couple weeks all nicely dressed out by the hunting preserve staff.

Thank you Bailey.

He is such a great hunter. Bailey is only a year and a half old. His point and hunting ability seem beyond his years.

The pheasants are "planted" in the fields. These pheasants are pin raised birds, like chickens. When the dogs flush a bird out too far, the chances of the pheasant getting away is great.
Besides Bailey, we hunted behind a sweet small lab that was five-years-old. She was a good little hunter but unlike a pointer, she would flush the bird much quicker than a Vizsla. The lab was fearless about retrieving a bird, no matter where it landed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Best use of a bark collar


I am a firm believer in the intelligent use of a high-quality training collar.

I have an issue with a bark collar.

I'd rather have a dog bark than bite.

Great commercial.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wile E. Coyote and friends are invading Manhattan.

Since coming across the coyotes in the open space above Walnut Creek a few weeks ago, I find it interesting that coyotes are coming closer and closer to urban areas.

Vizslas are not the only wild animals in the city.

Reading about coyotes,some studies are finding that they are expanding to all parts of the country very quickly. They are being "protected" in suburban areas, so they have no predators.

As noted in an earlier post, when I came across a lone coyote in the middle of the trail, they are getting very bold.

Joanie found the following article. Thought it interesting.

New York Post reporter and how and why coyotes are coming near cities.

"Three coyotes turned up on the Columbia University campus on Sunday morning, prompting an e-mail alert to students and faculty.

A few hours later, a coyote was spotted darting around bushes and across a frozen lake in Central Park.

Urban coyote authorities say the dogs will likely be seen more and more in big cities as they fight one another for living space.

"It's not uncommon at all, and it's going to increase in frequency," Dr. Stanley Gehrt of Ohio State University said of coyote sightings in cities.

Columbia's public-safety officials said the coyotes were spotted in front of a campus building near 119th Street and Broadway. Someone called 911, and police saw one of the coyotes before it left the campus, apparently near 120th Street.

Later, in Central Park, photographer Neill Engler was walking along the 72nd Street transverse when he spotted a coyote running back and forth near The Lake and a gazebo.

"I was very shocked but pleasantly surprised that wildlife has returned to Central Park," said Engler, who recognized the animal based on his experience with them on California trails.

Gehrt and fellow coyote expert Dr. Paul Curtis of Cornell University said coyotes are coming to cities because they are being forced to seek out new territory.

"The peak of breeding is right around this time of year," Curtis said. "The young animals get kicked out of the home because their parents are preparing to breed."

As a result, young coyotes migrate south along train tracks, cemeteries and other green patches from Westchester County and other points north.

Green spaces, like parks and college campuses, provide a food source, like small rabbits, Curtis said.

"They're pushing themselves into the city, and what they found in the city is that life isn't so bad," Gehrt said.

Columbia warned its students and faculty "not to approach these animals."

That's the right policy, experts say, even though coyotes are not as ferocious they are sometimes depicted.

"I've been up close to them a number of times," Engler said. "They're far more scared of us than we are of them."

Monday, February 8, 2010

3,000 views in 8 months

On June 8th, 2009 , I posted my first post after coming home from a field trial in Hungry Valley, Nevada.

Eight months later, I am having a great time working with Bailey and Chloe and blogging about these great dogs.

Thanks and keep following. More adventures to come. I will learn more and will post those things here.

Vizslas - the best dogs on the planet!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vizslas hunt their first gray squirrel

On today's afternoon walk Bailey and Chloe were having a fine run while I walked the trails.

The Vizslas were in "roam mode" covering the hills both sides of the trial.

As I climbed up a rise, Bailey and Chloe were on the ridge to the right. They came upon a low-lying tree, and first I watched a bird flushed.
The next thing I saw was a squirrel being tossed in the air by Chloe. Then both the dogs teamed up on the squirrel, and the hunt was over in 15 seconds. We don't hunt when we walk, but they are hunting dogs.

I picked up the squirrel by the tail like I do with birds and thanked the dogs for a good hunt. They were VERY HAPPY. They gave me that, "We did good, huh Dad?" look.

I walked a short way and disposed of the squirrel. After that both dogs went into "Hyper-hunt drive" for about twenty minutes. They covered ground like veteran hunting dogs.

Chloe, my sweet little 2-1/2-year-old girl, found her inner huntress.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hardcore field trialers

Weather: Rain, heavy at times.
Temperature: 45 degrees.

Location: Little Panoche Wildlife Area Central California

Event: German Shorthair Pointer Club of Santa Clara Valley

Bailey's event: Open Derby (open to all pointing breeds. Amateur and professional handlers for dogs under two-years-old)

Horseback trial. Oh yeah, I don't own a horse yet. It is allowed by AKC rules to walk, but you really need to be on horseback to run against professionally handled dogs.

First challenge was getting a horse to ride.

I didn't know who would be there so I used my sign in the windshield. Sometimes a wrangler will be there and you can rent a horse, sometimes a friend will loan you one to ride.

So, with that problem solved and having a horse to ride, Bailey and I went out into the Little Panoche field trial area for the very first time. The rain had come down hard most of the morning, but by 11 am the weather had mellowed out and by after lunch rain had stopped.

It really is hard to explain a field trial on a horse. A very good field trial dog in a horseback trial will be out 200 to 400 yards ahead of the horses and hunt for birds in likely areas. The dog should not come back to check in with the rider but just stay out there and hunt.

So Bailey goes out and runs well but keeps coming back to me too often to win a field trial. He found his first planted bird 5 minutes in. Found his second bird 15 minutes in and his third bird 25 minutes into the run.

Nice points. He is such a joy to watch run.

The GSPC of Santa Clara Valley did a great job at making this field trial go off smoothly, even through rotten weather.

Placement: Little Mr. Sunshine came in fourth place in Open Derby.

Out of the four placements in Derby, second and fourth by Vizslas.

Congratulations to Jim Searles and Pearl for second.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Redbirddog jackets came in

Two months ago I ordered Carhartt J25 hooded jackets for the crew that works with me.
I had ordered 15 jackets in dark brown with our company logo and the employee's name on the front.

After they arrived I really liked how they looked and how warm they were. I chose to get a couple in moss green with the copper Vizsla embroidered on the back from the same company.

The artwork of the Pointing Vizsla was from the decal I like so much. I purchased the right to use the artwork on two jackets for $35 from:

and placed the copyright below the left rear leg.

I think they turned out well.

When you see me at pointing dog field trial or just on a walk along a trail, it will be easy to know who Chloe and Bailey are.

They should be the ones somewhere around the jacket.