Friday, April 29, 2011

Vizsla Posters - Obey the Vizsla

They are Eastern European dogs after all.

Vizsla rally
1960 marked the year the breed went from nearly extinct after WW2 to an AKC recognized breed.


And you mistakenly believed you are the master. Hah!

History - Vizsla as a guard dog

"Historically there is the story about Derek Peters who tried to steal St. Stephen's Crown during WWII.

 He was not successful, but came back because he was
so impressed with the beautiful golden dogs who were ferocious in repelling himfrom the precious artifact.

 Peters made more than one trip to Hungary trying to bring a Vizsla to England.

The last time he tried he was found shot dead at the
border with a dead male Vizsla by his side.

 Gay Gottleib tells Peters story much better than I did in one of her books."

The full telling of the story can be found at:

And...there is that olde Hungarian Proverb:
 (loosely translated from faulty memory)

 "There are no wolves when Vizslas guard the flocks."


"You Need a Dog." - Merle

Ted Kerasote's book, "Merle's Door" opened me up to how I'd want Chloe and Bailey to be raised.
As "Freethinking dogs."

Read how Ted and Merle met below.  The story is a mixture of personal experiences, canine psychology and physiology.
Excerpt from Merle's Door. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

From the Wild

Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog

He came out of the night, appearing suddenly in my headlights, a big, golden dog, panting, his front paws tapping the ground in an anxious little dance. Behind him, tall cottonwoods in their April bloom. Behind the grove, the San Juan River, moving quickly, dark and swollen with spring melt.

It was nearly midnight, and we were looking for a place to throw down our sleeping bags before starting our river trip in the morning. Next to me in the cab of the pickup sat Benj Sinclair, at his feet a midden of road-food wrappers smeared with the scent of corn dogs, onion rings, and burritos. Round-cheeked, Buddha-bellied, thirty-nine years old, Benj had spent his early years in the Peace Corps, in West Africa, and had developed a stomach that could digest anything. Behind him in the jump seat was Kim Reynolds, an Outward Bound instructor from Colorado known for her grace in a kayak and her long braid of brunette hair, which held the faint odor of a healthy, thirty-two-year-old woman who had sweated in the desert and hadn’t used deodorant. Like Benj and me, she had eaten a dinner of pizza in Moab, Utah, a hundred miles up the road where we’d met her. Like us, she gave off the scents of garlic, onions, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and anchovies.

In the car that pulled up next to us were Pam Weiss and Bennett Austin. They had driven from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to Moab in their own car, helped us rig the raft and shop for supplies, joined us for pizza, and, like us, wore neither perfume nor cologne. Pam was thirty-six, an Olympic ski racer, and Bennett, twenty-five, was trying to keep up with her. They had recently fallen in love and exuded a mixture of endorphins and pheromones.

People almost never describe other people in these terms—noting first their smells—for we’re primarily visual creatures and rely on our eyes for information. By contrast, the only really important sense-key for the big, golden dog, doing his little dance in the headlights, was our olfactory signatures, wafting to him as we opened the doors.

It was for this reason—smell—that I think he trotted directly to my door, leaned his head forward cautiously, and sniffed at my bare thigh. What mix of aromas went up his long snout at that very first moment of our meeting? What atavistic memories, what possibilities were triggered in his canine worldview as he untangled the mysteries of my sweat?

The big dog—now appearing reddish in the interior light of the truck and without a collar—took another reflective breath and studied me with excited consideration. Might it have been what I ate, and the subtle residue it left in my pores, that made him so interested in me? It was the only thing I could see (note my human use of “see” even while describing an olfactory phenomenon) that differentiated me from my friends. Like them, I skied, biked, and climbed, and was single. I had just turned forty-one, a compact man with chestnut hair and bright brown eyes. But when I ate meat, it was that of wild animals, not domestic ones—mostly elk and antelope along with the occasional grouse, duck, goose, and trout mixed in.

Was it their metabolized essence that intrigued him—some whiff of what our Paleolithic ancestors had shared? Smell is our oldest sense. It was the olfactory tissue at the top of our primeval nerve cords that evolved into our cerebral hemispheres, where thought is lodged. Perhaps the dog—a being who lived by his nose—knew a lot more about our connection than I could possibly imagine.

His deep brown eyes looked at me with luminous appreciation and said, “You need a dog, and I’m it.”

Unsettled by his uncanny read of me—I had been looking for a dog for over a year—I gave him a cordial pat and replied, “Good dog.”

His tail beat steadily, and he didn’t move, his eyes still saying, “You need a dog.”

As we got out of the cars and began to unpack our gear, I lost track of him. There was his head, now a tail, there a rufous flank moving among bare legs and sandals.

I threw my pad and bag down on the sand under a cottonwood, slipped into its silky warmth, turned over, and found him digging a nest by my side. Industriously, he scooped out the sand with his front paws, casting it between his hind legs before turning, turning, turning, and settling to face me. In the starlight, I could see one brow go up, the other down.

Of course, “brows” isn’t really the correct term, since dogs sweat only through their paws and have no need of brows to keep perspiration out of their eyes, as we do. Yet, certain breeds of dogs have darker hair over their eyes, what might be called “brow markings,” and he had them.

The Hidatsa, a Native American tribe of the northern Great Plains, believe that these sorts of dogs, whom they call “Four-Eyes,” are especially gentle and have magical powers. Stanley Coren, the astute canine psychologist from the University of British Columbia, has also noted that these “four-eyed” dogs obtained their reputation for psychic powers “because their expressions were easier to read than those of other dogs. The contrasting-colored spots make the movements of the muscles over the eye much more visible.”

In the starlight, the dog lying next to me raised one brow while lowering the other, implying curiosity mixed with concern over whether I’d let him stay.

“Night,” I said, giving him a pat. Then I closed my eyes.

When I opened them in the morning, he was still curled in his nest, looking directly at me.

“Hey,” I said.

Up went one brow, down went the other.

“I am yours,” his eyes said.

I let out a breath, unprepared for how his sweet, faintly hound-dog face—going from happiness to concern—left a cut under my heart. I had been looking at litters of Samoyeds, balls of white fur with bright black mischievous eyes. The perfect breed for a winter person like myself, I thought. But I couldn’t quite make myself bring one home. I had also seriously considered Labrador Retrievers, taken by their exuberant personalities and knowing that such a robust, energetic dog could easily share my life in the outdoors as well as be the bird dog I believed I wanted. But no Lab pup had given me that undeniable heart tug that said, “We are a team.”

The right brow of the dog lying by me went down as he held my eye. His left brow went up, implying, You delayed with good reason.”

“Maybe,” I said, feeling my desire for a pedigree dog giving way. “Maybe,” I said once more to the dog whose eyes coasted across mine, returned, and lingered. He did have the looks of a reddish yellow Lab, I thought, at least from certain angles.

At the sound of my voice, he levered his head under my arm and brought his nose close to mine. Surprisingly, he didn’t try to lick me in that effusive gesture that many dogs use with someone they perceive as dominant to them, whether it be a person or another dog—a relic, some believe, of young wolves soliciting food from their parents and other adult wolves. The adults, not having hands to carry provisions, bring back meat in their stomachs. The pups lick their mouths, and the adults regurgitate the partly digested meat. Pups who eventually become alphas abandon subordinate licking. Lower-ranking wolves continue to display the behavior to higher-ranking wolves, as do a great many domestic dogs to people. This dog’s self-possession gave me pause. Was he not licking me because he considered us peers? Or did my body language—both of us being at the same level—allow him to feel somewhat of an equal? He circumspectly smelled my breath, and I, in turn, smelled his. His smelled sweet.

Whatever he smelled on mine, he liked it. “I am yours,” his eyes said again.

Disconcerted by his certainty about me, I got up and moved off. I didn’t want to abandon my plans for finding a pup who was only six to eight weeks old and whom I could shape to my liking. The dog read my energy and didn’t follow me. Instead, he went to the others, greeting them with a wagging tail and wide laughs of his toothy mouth. “...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bite? Got Teeth!

The Yahoo group "Vizsla Talk" is a great Vizsla discussion site.

Gathering of Vizsla owners in the SF Bay area at the end of a Vizsla Walk
  A couple days ago, I thought "Vizslas as guard dogs" stories might make an interesting discussion thread.  Several Vizsla owners posted to the board some of their stories. 
Here is one of my favorites:

"I have enjoyed reminiscing about the alert and "guard" tendencies of our wiggle-butt dogs. This morning I woke up and remembered another Rosie story.

I was teaching evening classes at a community center in a poor/rough part of town. Rosie always went to class with me - she lounged under a table as I lectured, and then played social
butterfly during our breaks. During one week of instruction, I switched classes with another instructor, which meant I taught a much later evening class.

View Image
When I got to the community center that night, I found the entrance to the parking lot was blocked off - the parking lot was being repaved. I ended up having to park 2 blocks away from the
center and, in order to get to get to class, Rosie and I had to walk through a freeway underpass. Fear of being late for class was foremost on my mind.

 I was not paying my usual attention to my surroundings so we were half way through the underpass before I realized that vandals had broken most of the lights.
 Just as I realized how dark it was, Rosie, who was at my side in "heel position" - stepped slightly in front of me and halted my progress.

View Image
When a voice in the darkness said, "Nice dog," I realized that there was a man crouched in one of the cement recesses of the underpass.

 I could not see him clearly but I could smell "booze" from where I stood. Rosie stood at my feet leaning against me - I could feel the vibration of her low growls against my legs.
View Image
 When the voice in the darkness inquired, "Bite?"
I replied "Got teeth!"
I will never forget the sound of the man's cackling laughter echoing through the underpass.

His comment, "I watch your van." took me by surprise until I realized he was offering a service.

I thanked him and told Rose to walk on.

 As we exited the underpass, I leaned down, patted Rose, and told her what a good dog she was. Her silly wiggle-butt bouncing response made my own laughter echo in the night."

Pam (Aunty Frog)

See the world through AuntyFrog's eyes

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vizsla Fun Field Days in Northern California

In the lower right hand corner of the video is the expand icon.  Press it to make video full screen. 
 Much better in full screen with volume cranked up!
This great Vizsla video created by my friend Pam Lambros. 

 She did a fantastic job catching the spirit of the Vizsla community here in Northern California at the Vizsla Fun Days at Hastings Island earlier in the month. 

 Photography by Pam Lambros, Dane Mrazek and Stephen Baur. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vizsla as a guard / watch dog

 Bailey is 60 pounds.  A male of all muscle and built like a tank.  Some people mistake him for a small Rhodesian Ridgeback. 
Chloe is 43 pounds.  She is a very fit and trim female and is equipped with a loud bark.
Now that the dogs are adults and no longer puppies, I have noticed a change. Chloe is going on 4 and Bailey is almost 3. They are both much more confident.  They have learned to mind me and obey my commands.

Important qualities in a watch / guard dog.

The many long hikes on hill trails and busy city street walks, along with much of the field trial training we've done, have crossed over quite well. 
 At home, when someone drives up the drive, Chloe barks a high-noted notice.  "Someone is here."  Bailey doesn't bark much.  When he does, it is low and loud.  
 He stands guard at the gate or door. 
They both look intimidating at the gate. 
 If I was a thief or robber, I would find another house to choose.
Chloe is our watch dog and Bailey is our guard dog.
We both feel safer with our Vizslas "on guard."

Stories from friends about their "guard dogs:"

"Years ago when I only had one Vizsla, one night my bedroom sliding outside door screen was temporally off being fixed.  Being summer the sliding door was wide open. About 3AM there was a loud clatter and I woke to see a guy climbing over the 6Ft high back fence, 10 feet from my open sliding door. I was scared, this just doesn't happen in down town Palo Alto. Both my dog and I froze for a few moments, then my Vizsla jumped off the bed and went flying out the open door barking like a over sized pit bull. The guy heard the dog and took a few quick steps and clamored over the next 6 Ft fence into the neighbors yard. This was a normal female V, not a trained guard dog. That dog was impressive, a really fierce bark and after the guy.

Soon there was lots of noise coming from the street. I got dressed and went out to the front yard (yes, taking the dog with me). The street was swarming with cops. A guy had broken into a woman's house, robbed her and then was jumping fences and running through the back yards trying to escape. They caught him further down the street.

Before this I wondered what a V would do if they detected real fear in an owner, now I know; very impressive. I hope to never have to test that dog reaction again but have much more respect for the Vizsla security system if needed."


And then:

Years ago when I lived in Oakland, we had an alarm on the house. One day it went off and the Oakland police called me at work about it so I went flying home. When I got there, the police told me they did not see any evidence of a break in but they would stay until I checked the house out to be sure. The entire time the two vizslas (yes, there was a time I had only two) were barking their heads off.

As the police were leaving one said to me:

 "Lady, you're wasting your money on that alarm system.
No one would break into a house with dogs barking like that."

 I called the alarm company the next day and told them to discontinue the service. So yes, I do feel safe with my v's."


And finally this fantastic story from a Vizsla Talk post:

Stories of Vizslas as guard dogs

"Many years ago, I was working as a campus minister in an inner-city setting, and I often was there alone late into the evening. I had a Doberman puppy that I wanted to have accompany me to work, so I sought advice on how best to train her. I needed her to be welcoming and non-threatening to the many people who came to the ministry, but provide at least a "visual deterrence" to anyone who wished me ill.

I found a trainer in New York City who specialized in training dogs who would accompany their owners to their workplaces. He told me to teach my puppy basic obedience - preferably at a dog training club or other group setting, where she would be well socialized and learn to obey despite distractions. In addition, he said, I should take the puppy with me wherever I could, much as one would do when training an assistance dog.

Under no circumstances, he said, was I to intentionally train the dog to "guard" or to have any sort of attack command. A dog who loves you, he said, will always know the difference between a friendly visitor and someone who means you harm and be willing to take care of you, but a dog who has an attack command is susceptible to misinterpreting your signals, and that can lead to a bad outcome.

How right he was. This was a very busy ministry, and in addition to college students, we ministered to a large number of homeless folks. My wonderful Dobe was a great companion (and therapist) to them all. After a couple of years, we moved on to a boarding school, where I was the chaplain and directed a dormitory of 70 teenage boys. Our Dobe was in heaven, having 70 boys always ready to pet her or play with her.

In all her (15+) years with me, my Dobe girl got tough only twice. Once was when a man tried to break into our house while I was home alone. He managed to kick in the door, knocking it off its hinges, but he did not make it into the house. The second time my Dobe guarded me, it required more finesse on her part. A student in the boarding school came walking down the dorm hallway one afternoon, walking toward my open study door. This was a common occurrence in our dorm, where I always kept the door to my study open if I
was home. My Dobe would lie obediently in the doorway, eagerly waiting for my signal to greet whatever boy was coming our way.

This time, though, as the boy approached the door, my girl came slowly up into a low crouch, a menacing growl in her throat. Hearing this, I looked up to see the boy walking toward us. I had no idea what was going on, but I trusted my dog. So I told the boy, "You better not come any closer. She means it, and I have no intention of calling her off." He muttered something, then turned and quietly walked away. Just about the time he was out of sight, my phone rang. It was the headmaster calling to warn me that he had just kicked this boy out for being caught with drugs, and he had left the headmaster's office threatening to "get me," believing (mistakenly) that
I had turned him in.

We are no longer at the boarding school, but my husband still teaches at a high school, and over the years we have fostered several teenage boys and hosted some teenage foreign exchange students. We had to send one of those foreign exchange students home. This came after we had become Vizsla people, and our Vizsla boy at the time was the jolliest, friendliest dog we had ever had.

When this new student arrived, our Vizsla welcomed him immediately. Two or three days later, the student went on a bus trip to D.C. with some teachers and other foreign exchange students. The afternoon the student returned to our home, our Vizsla went running to the door to greet him. Then, all of a sudden, the Vizsla whimpered and turned tail and ran up the stairs to our bedroom. I was watching this scene, and I saw no indication that the student had touched the Vizsla or said anything unpleasant to him. But, once again, I knew to trust my dog. I phoned the headmaster only to learn that he was about to phone me. A female teacher who had been a chaperone on the bus trip had just reported to him that this student had assaulted her on the bus at a time when they were the only two present. The school was
sending someone to our home to retrieve the student and take him to the airport.

That New York trainer who advised me on training my Dobe told me he believed that dogs can smell the pheromones and other odors we humans give off with our emotions. In addition, of course, dogs are much better than we are at reading body language. Combined, he said, these two abilities give a well-adjusted dog a nearly perfect ability to know the difference between a threatening person and a benign one. That trainer was saying this over 30 years ago, but all of the science since then has only gone to support his theory. I rest easy knowing that my otherwise friendly and welcoming Vizslas will protect me, when - and only when - they need to."

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's the little things in life

In 10 days, I'm going to take our grandson up to see the pups.  He is just a little over 2 years old now and hasn't been around pups before.  I'm excited about how they will relate.  The pups will be three weeks old by then.  About the age of the above picture I found on the internet.

Here are a few pictures of Sophie and Bailey's litter at 11-days-old.
 Eyes are open and starting to see what a wonderful world it is.
Close-ups are blurry because of the low light.

More pictures to follow in the coming days.

Julie can be reached at :
if you want to know more about the litter

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Honda Trail 90 - perfect bird dog training machine

 My trusty 1970 Honda Trail 90 went to work planting birds at the Vizsla trial down in California City a few weeks ago.  72 miles riding the hills for two days.
 When I wanted to give Bailey a workout, we would take off at about 14 mph for a few miles in the desert.  Bailey loves to stay ahead of me on these off-leash runs.
 You can find these great little motorcycles on Craigs-lists and E-bay and all parts are still available. 
And the bonus: 

 They can be street legal and get over 100 miles per gallon. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Time to Get A Gun - the Song

Just find this song fun.   It goes very well with upland bird dogs and getting out into the country.

South Dakota pheasant hunting trip 2010

A small lake near Isabel, South Dakota at sunset

Miles and miles of rolling hill prairie in search of the elusive Sharp-tail Grouse.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Get your kicks at site 66 - Coloma Resort

Coloma Resort on the American River in Coloma is a great weekend or week long get-away.

 Our favorite site is Site 66 which is right on the river.

from the dining table of the motor home - site 66

Coloma Resort requires leashes, but in April, the resort is quiet.  Once you're away from the groups of people, the dogs are free to run.  Make sure you can control them with your voice.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sophie had the pups!

Little Red Bird Dogs!!!!

Last night I got a voice mail from Julie that five new Vizslas have joined the world.

Four girls and one boy were born around 8pm last night.

Pictures taken in darkened room with no flash. 

Julie calls them squeakers.