Buoy is Learning His Trade

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Buoy is Learning His Trade

In early 2016, at 4 months of age, Buoy went home to the UK to join his ancestral Arnac pack and co-breeder, Chrissie Mayhew. He went to live at the home his mother Larch left when she came to live with us in the U.S. He’s had plenty of time to be a pup, learn good manners, and develop his retrieving skills.

Last winter, Buoy got to tag along a few times on the driven shoots that Chrissie works picking up game. These early visits were all about exposure to gunshot and the all the stimulation of a busy shoot. He was tested on a few retrieves, but then would be put up in the Land Rover so that the experienced dogs on the team could put in their day’s work. 

This season, two year-old Buoy is now really learning his trade. He’s a full-fledged member of the team and he’s proving to be just the right kind of dog for the job. Chrissie just sent this news yesterday: “Buoy on Friday was not good ............he was BRILLIANT!  He started the day with a cock runner during the drive on a reasonably bare field ....a good one for a young dog .......he picked it and came straight back despite there being shooting galore and more birds coming down. He has a really soft mouth. He then excelled himself at the next drive finding numerous birds ...nearly all runners ....Blue brought one back and dashed off for another before I could take it properly and it scooted off into the undergrowth so Buoy went after it and hunted and found it for me .....I am so pleased with him....he is as good as his mother. He got the dog of  the day award in my eyes.” As they say in the UK, he’s turning out to be a “cracking” retriever.

We don’t have any photos of Buoy working on the shoot because Chrissie has her hands full with the team of dogs and all the birds they deliver to her, but we do have this lovely photo of him at a working test. Photo courtesy of Sue Worrall, Watersplash.

Arnac Weatherdeck Buoy

Arnac Weatherdeck Buoy

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Ringo's 2017 Hunting Season

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Ringo's 2017 Hunting Season

As Ringo's second hunting season in Minnesota begins to draw to a close, it was time to check in with owners Grant and Pam Springer to see how Ringo has settled in as Grant's hunting partner. We had a nice long chat...the kind breeders love to have...in which the Springers went on and on about just how much they love this dog. It honestly brings me so much pride to hear about his gentle nature with people and other dogs, his athleticism, and, his skill as a retriever. Grant set my inbox on fire with photo after photo of Ringo who has grown into such a handsome boy. I'll let Grant's photos do the talking. Thank you Grant and Pam for loving our boy and giving him such a great life.

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Health: One Important Piece of the Puzzle of Breeding

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Health: One Important Piece of the Puzzle of Breeding

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Dogs are imperfect biological beings, just like us. We humans experience health issues and hardship related to those issues and yet no one suggests that our parents should not have fallen in love and started a family. Animal husbandry, and in our case, dog breeding, is a bit different in that we manage nearly every aspect of reproduction and determine so much about the future generations of our dogs. We decide which traits we hope to carry forward and we do our best to increase the chances of producing those traits in each subsequent generation. The best breeders among us do everything possible to reduce the incidence of common illnesses and other conditions that affect the quality of life of pups that we produce. We (responsible breeders) do our best, yet we cannot control everything...as much as we might wish that we could.

People purchase puppies with their hard-earned money. And, just like the parents of a newborn child, they hope that their youngster will live a long, healthy life, free from pain and adversity. But puppies are not a product of manufacturing (like a car). They are flesh and blood and bone, like us. I wish responsible breeders could guarantee perfect health for every puppy that we produce, but it's not possible to provide such a guarantee. What we can guarantee is that we will do everything that a person can do to reduce the risks of health issues by using the tools currently available to us. Responsible breeders do genetic testing for those diseases for which the scientific community has managed to find genetic markers. We x-ray hips and elbows for orthopedic weaknesses. And, we do annual eye exams for those eye conditions that can be visibly observed by a canine opthalmologist. Some of those conditions develop over time, which is why an annual exam is necessary. But, there are more health conditions than there are available tests. So, where we don't have a test, we have to research the health of dogs in the pedigrees of our sires and dams. We talk to owners and breeders of closely related dogs We commit ourselves to doing diligent homework.

When people buy from responsible breeders, they want guarantees that this new recipient of all of their love, hard work, and training will be perfectly healthy. But, as we've already said, no one among us can give you such a guarantee. We can and do promise you that we will devote ourselves to education and research about how to breed the healthiest puppies possible and that we won't compromise or skip any important steps in achieving that goal. But, that is truly the only guarantee that a responsible breeder can offer you.

Gudgeon and Gina have happy news.

With all of that said, we are pleased to say that our two year-old Gudgeon has just received a batch of results for all of the major health clearances that are most commonly done in our breed. Though the bulk of health screening is now behind us, she will continue to get yearly eye exams. We are happy to report that Gudgeon is clear of the following genetic diseases: Degenerative Myelopathy, Exercise-Induced Collapse, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (pr-cd), and Ectodermal Dysplasia. Her x-rays have been evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Her hips received a rating of "Good" and her elbows were found to be "Normal." In addition, she has two clear eye exams. Now, we breathe a sigh of relief and we begin planning for the future of The Weatherdeck.

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The American Chesapeake Club's 2017 National Specialty Show

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The American Chesapeake Club's 2017 National Specialty Show

We spent Labor Day Weekend with the Chesapeake Nation (or rather the Chesapeake World) in Raleigh, North Carolina for the American Chesapeake Club's annual National Specialty Show. Chesapeake breeders and owners from around the country look forward to this yearly event with great anticipation as we get to see so many Chesapeakes in one place competing in dock diving, agility, obedience and rally, conformation, and the field. And Chesapeake fanciers from around the world also attend each year. Friends from Germany, Greece, and the UK joined us for the fun this year. 

We travelled to North Carolina with our local Maryland friend, Amy, and our friend Maria who'd travelled from Greece to see the show for the first time. On board were Amy's Poppy, our Gudgeon, and our homebred boy, Brutus, who we co-bred with Jane Pappler of Redlion Kennels and who's owned by our friend Richard Schauber. 

Gudgeon and I had been working for over a year to train for obedience and rally obedience competition and this show in Raleigh was her debut in the obedience ring. We entered Rally Novice and Beginner Novice and were thrilled to earn qualifying scores in both and 4th place in her Rally class. In conformation, Gudgeon was entered in the Bred-by Exhibitor class where the handler must be the breeder and owner of the dog. It is a place for breeders to showcase their best dogs who are not yet champions and for this reason, it is often a very competitive class. For the second year in a row, Gudgeon placed 2nd place in the Bred-by class. To receive a placement in this class at your National is a huge honor and it means a great deal to us. Gudgeon was also asked to enter the ring with her father, BISS GCH Chestnut Hills Windjammer SH WDX "Jessie," for the Stud Dog class. In this class, the offspring of the stud dog are evaluated to assess the stud dog's ability to produce quality offspring. We were honored to be asked by Karen and Ron Anderson for Gudgeon to represent her father. Gudgeon appeared in this class with half-brother, Brody, bred by Robyn Haskin and owned by friends Jill and Rob Conroy. Out of 10 stud dogs in the Stud Dog class, Gudgeon's father was awarded first place and we were thrilled to play a part in that.

Gudgeon and I in our Beginner Novice Class. Photo Credit: Maria Kapsali.

We started our week off by attending the American Chesapeake Club's first ever Dock Diving competition. As you can imagine, Chesapeakes tend to excel at this sport. I've never competed in Dock Diving before, but decided to let Brutus have a go at it. He's no stranger to jumping off high banks when hunting, so surely he could jump off a dock, right? Though I never suspected that I would get so excited to see one of my dogs jump off the dock, Brutus' enthusiasm for the task made my heart pound. He finished the day with two qualifying Senior jumps of 15'6 and 17'6. I guess now, we'll have to get him out to finish that title.

I adore the look on Brutus' face as he jumps. Expert throwing by Maria Kapsali. Photo Credit: Diane Lewis Photography.

I adore the look on Brutus' face as he jumps. Expert throwing by Maria Kapsali. Photo Credit: Diane Lewis Photography.

Long ago, when I was planning to attend my first Chesapeake National, a friend advised me to enter my dog so that I would be a full participant in the event rather than just a spectator. Remembering that good advise led me to invite our Greek friend Maria to show Brutus for us at the National. Maria has shown her own dogs in addition to helping out our friend in the UK by showing Arnac Chesapeakes from time to time and she is a talented handler. I knew Brutus would be in good hands and I knew it would mean the world to Maria to show a dog at an American Chesapeake Club National. Brutus was entered in the Hunting Dog Class. He's eligible to enter this class by virtue of holding an AKC Senior Hunt title. Breeders and owners choose to enter their dogs in this class because they want the judge to know that the dog is a working retriever, not just a show dog. As a club, we should all be very proud that this year, we had a very large Hunting Dog class of 12 dogs. All the dogs in the class also hold show championship titles and 7 of them hold Grand Championship titles as well. Brutus is a multiple group winning senior hunter with a Grand Champion title. Maria showed him so skillfully as I sat ringside and watched someone else handle him for the first time. I watched this new pair with great pride. They were awarded first place in this competitive Hunting Dog class which enabled them to return to the ring on Sunday to compete for Best of Breed as the Hunting Dog. We all would have been over the moon if it had stopped there, but it didn't. The next day was a nail-biting experience as the judge made cut after cut and Maria and Brutus remained in the ring...always looking their best. The judge cut the male dogs down to only six and at this point we knew it was likely we would go home with a major award. In the end, Brutus was awarded Select Dog (2nd best male) out of ~200 entries. I'm so grateful to Maria for presenting him so beautifully and giving me the chance to watch it all unfold from the sidelines. 

Judge Lisa Warren, Handler Maria Kapsali, me, and Show Chair George Makatura.

Judge Lisa Warren, Handler Maria Kapsali, me, and Show Chair George Makatura.

I left this trip so proud of these two dogs who were born into my hands. I'm proud of their amazing temperaments, their working abilities, their beauty, and their hearts. I had a wonderful time at this event as all of my friends and I shared our dogs with each other. There was a great atmosphere where we all wished for and celebrated each other's successes. Such good times with a great group of people. Until next July in Ohio....

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Delta Competes at Game Fair 2017 in the U.K.

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Delta Competes at Game Fair 2017 in the U.K.

At 21 months of age, Arnac Weatherdeck Delta (BISS GCH Chestnut Hills Windjammer SH WD x Arnac Bay Arapahoe WD) competed in the Euro Challenge team retriever competition at Game Fair 2017 in the UK at the end of July and we are very proud of what she accomplished with her owner, Jérémie Guéneau. Jérémie and Delta were members of the Swiss Team in a competition in which teams from European countries compete in a field competition for retriever breeds. Delta was by far the youngest dog and many of the other dogs competing are seasoned Field Trial Champions. And, Delta was the only Chesapeake to compete in this competition!

Jerry had this to say about the experience:
"Delta's first Game Fair is over and I'm really pleased with her. The ground was very thick crop-like plants, heavy winds, loudspeakers and the shooting stands nearby made it quite difficult for the dogs to work. Also many good open dogs struggled. In that competition the scores are not so important to me, and they don't show the quality of my lovely chessie girl; but having my dog sitting calmy next to me (considering her level of energy, going out like a rocket and despite all the noise around, still working to get this dummy back...well, what more could I expect from my dog that hasn't even turned two yet?!"

The gorgeous photos of Delta working were taken by Polarstar Photography.

Jérémie Guéneau and Arnac Weatherdeck Delta compete as part of the Swiss team in the Euro Challenge at Game Fair 2017 in the UK. Delta's sire is BISS GCH Chestnut Hills Windjammer SH WD. Her Dam is Arnac Bay Arapahoe WD. Breeders: Gina Downin (Weatherdeck) and Chrissie Mayhew (Arnac).

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The Great Gift of Old Age Done Right

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The Great Gift of Old Age Done Right

To say that our Eddy's life was a journey is an enormous understatement. It was a journey for him. It was a journey for us. It was a long, adventure that we went on together and in the end, we were all better for it. Thomas and I got better, but Eddy reached perfection. All those years of work and learning were all so that Eddy could evolve into the perfect old dog. A surprise ending that no one could have predicted. 

Black Walnut Riptide's Eddy CD
October 22, 2002 - February 28, 2017

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Hardwood or Throw Rugs?

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Hardwood or Throw Rugs?

We have hardwood floors in our house and sometimes you might find a throw rug or an area rug or two. Or you might not. Our floors are in a state of constant change and it tells you a lot about our pack at any given moment. When circumstances allow, we like to have an area rug in the living room, especially in the winter. Our house is over a hundred years old. It's drafty and the floors are cold. But, sometimes, our pack requires that the area rugs gets rolled up and put away for a while. Sometimes we have a puppy that is still in the process of housebreaking and we have some accidents. Other times we have a foster dog that is living in a house for the first time and learning that you have to go outside to take care of business. For quite a while, we had a foster dog that experienced urinary incontinence and who also was a bit of a submissive wetter. It's much easier to grab a roll of paper towels and clean up the hardwood floors than to clean up a carpet. 

Well after a year of raising a few puppies in the house, the rug went back down today to help our old guy, Eddy, who just can't get his footing on the hardwood floors. And, we bought him a runner to get from the area rug to the rug in the foyer. It's sort of a landing strip for Eddy. We share our home with the dogs and that can get a bit crazy at times. We joke that our dream home would have concrete floors with a drain in the middle of the room so we could just hose the place down. 

But, tonight, Eddy has carpet to protect his old bones and to support his continued mobility. At the moment, I can hear him breathing the deep breaths of a sound sleep on his comfy bed. And, we are grateful that we can make him comfortable yet another day. 

Eddy sleeping soundly, as an old guy should. (14 years and two months old)

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Gudgeon Wins Puppy Sweepstakes

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Gudgeon Wins Puppy Sweepstakes

Each Fall, the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club holds a Specialty Show here in Maryland and it always draws a nice entry. At a few special shows each year, we hold Sweepstakes competition for both puppies and veterans as a way to showcase the youngsters and the elders in our breed. It's very special when our dogs are recognized at these events. Puppies can compete until 18 months of age and veterans can begin to compete as veterans at 8 years of age. This past Saturday, Gudgeon competed in the Puppy Sweepstakes and was awarded Best in Sweepstakes. She is still a wiggly puppy, but is learning the ropes and we are very proud of her. If all goes well, she can compete in one more Puppy Sweepstakes in late Winter before she ages out. Special thanks to Nat Horn for chairing this special show year after year. 

Weatherdeck Arnac Bay Gudgeon RATN CGC awarded Best in Puppy Sweepstakes at the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club Specialty

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Ringo's First Hunting Season

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Ringo's First Hunting Season

One year-old Ringo (BISS GCH Chestnut Hills Windjammer SH WD x Arnac Bay Arapahoe WD) is enjoying his first hunting season in Minnesota and we just received photos and and an update of his hunting debut.  Owners Grant and Pam share that all of the training of the last year has paid off. Ringo is well-prepared for the work and he approached that work with all of the promise woven deep in his genes. It made us so proud to hear that this young boy is breaking ice with enthusiasm on the Upper Mississippi.

 

Last winter, when Ringo first went home to Minnesota, Grant decided to try Bill Hillmann's training approach to training a retriever which emphasizes building a positive bond based on trust and kindness. We have no doubt that Grant and Ringo have a promising partnership ahead. And, we are so grateful for the friend who sent Grant and Pam our way. There is no better life for a Chesapeake puppy.

Thanks to Grant Springer for the photos!

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Our Trip to the American Chesapeake Club's 2016 National Show Specialty

Every year, I attend the American Chesapeake Club's National Show Specialty. The show rotates each year across three regions of our country, so travel is sometimes involved. I go to the effort to attend this event each year for reasons that I'll share below. For the first time, I missed our National last year when our pups were born just a few days before the event and I was unable to leave mom and pups to travel to Wisconsin. I was thrilled to have a whelping box filled with happy, healthy pups, so I had no regrets about staying home. But, I was particularly excited to head to Portland, Oregon last week for the 2016 show.

When I can, I enter my dogs to compete in the various events associated with our National Specialty. Over the years, I've competed in Obedience, Rally, Conformation, and our Working Dog Stakes. It's not always possible to take a dog for various reasons, but it's important for me to attend regardless because I go for many reasons beyond competition. Our National provides many opportunities, both formal and informal, for learning. There are typically several seminars (health, breed, judging, handling, etc.). And, the show brings knowledgeable people together from around the U.S. and the world and we have nearly a week to spend together to watch judging, share meals, have a drink, or simply walk our dogs together. The formal seminars and the informal discussions are an invaluable learning opportunity for me.

Though I live in Maryland and have the ability to see many Chesapeakes on a regular basis, I think it's important to get out and see dogs from other regions so that my perspective on the breed isn't limited to what I can see locally. I become familiar with dogs from other lines and this opens up breeding opportunities that can help to preserve diversity within our gene pool. I go to see possible stud dogs. And, in one place, you can sometimes see the parents and offspring of any given dog. It's important to see how traits are passed along.

And, amidst all that "work," I get to visit with dear, old friends and make special, new friends. Our common bond is strong as is our commitment to the breed that we love. We joke. We laugh. We support one another. We celebrate each other's successes. And, when the veteran classes go around the ring, we even shed tears together...tears for the old ones we've grown to love over the years...and for those we've recently lost. My friends in our breed community have become some of my dearest friends and I really treasure them. 

This year, I hopped on a plane with my little Gudgeon who celebrated her first birthday in Portland. It was her first big trip and first time on a plane. It seems that all of our socialization and training paid off as she was relaxed and enthusiastic about the whole adventure. She went nearly everywhere with me during our stay in Portland and was a ray of sunshine with all she met. When it was time to compete, we showed in the Puppy Sweepstakes under breeder judge, Annette Monugian (Marnett's Chesapeakes) and in the Bred-by Exhibitor class under breeder judge, Betsy Horn Humer (Eastern Water's Chesapeakes). Both judges placed Gudgeon in 2nd place in their respective classes. This was a lovely result for her 2nd weekend out in the show ring. In addition, Gudgeon earned her Canine Good Citizen title. So, all-in-all, this was a successful trip for us on many fronts. And, I loved having this time to deepen our bond. 

I want to thank Chairpersons Marilyn Williams and Karen Marcotte and everyone who volunteered to host us all in Portland. I've co-chaired one of these events myself and have served on the American Chesapeake Club Show Committee and I know how much work goes into a specialty that spans six days and includes 6 competition events, seminars, meals, trophies, etc.  Thank you, Team Portland!

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News from the Norwegian Retriever Club in Ringerike

Glenna was, once again, well received at a show in her home country of Norway. Today, at the Norwegian Retriever Club in Ringerike she received more than one special award.

In the Chesapeake Bay Retriever ring she was Best Junior (9-15 months of age), Best of Breed, and, she received her second Challenge Certificate with a rating of Excellent. She needs just one more Challenge Certificate to be a Norwegian Champion! 

Next, Glenna got to compete against the Best Juniors from the other breeds where the judge awarded her Best Junior in Show! 

And, finally, all of the Best of Breed winners competed for Best in Show. With Heidi Sageng on the other end of the leash, Glenna was awarded Best In Show 4. There were 170 retrievers entered in the show today and young Glenna ended the show in fourth place. All of Glenna's extended family and friends are so proud of her success. And, we are thrilled for Glenna's owners, Margunn Tvedten and Heidi Sageng. 

Arnac Bay Aquamanda Glenna of Weatherdeck (BISS GCH Chestnut Hills Windjammer JH WD X Arnac Bay Arapahoe WD) enjoying the spoils of her wins today. Breeders: Gina Downin & Chrissie Mayhew. 

Arnac Bay Aquamanda Glenna of Weatherdeck (BISS GCH Chestnut Hills Windjammer JH WD X Arnac Bay Arapahoe WD) enjoying the spoils of her wins today. Breeders: Gina Downin & Chrissie Mayhew. 

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Week of Wow!

Wow! What an exciting week for four 10 month-old Weatherdeck/Arnac pups in three countries. Our Gudgeon got things rolling over the weekend when she entered the show ring for the very first time in a series of three shows in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I expected her to be a wiggly puppy that would be easily distracted by all the sights and sounds of a large indoor show. She impressed me by being completely at ease and by carrying herself in a way that allowed the judges to see her in the best light. On Day 1 she was awarded Winners Bitch and began her journey toward her conformation championship. Wow! Winners Bitch at her first show! On Day 2 the hosting kennel club had a special competition for puppies under one year of age. Gudgeon was Best Puppy for her breed which meant that she got to compete in a puppy sporting group. She was not intimidated by the larger ring where she claimed 2nd place in the group. Wow! Holding her own with the best puppies of the other breeds in the sporting group! She finished up the weekend with another Winners Bitch award and the added honor of being selected as Best of Winners. The weekend far surpassed my expectations. This was supposed to be a learning experience for Gudgeon and an opportunity for us to learn to work as a team in the show ring. It's such an honor for her to so well received during her debut weekend.

Gudgeon. Practicing the fine art of standing still. (Photo by Karen Beste) 

Gudgeon. Practicing the fine art of standing still. (Photo by Karen Beste) 

Before we'd even packed up to head home, unexpected news started coming in from far away. On that same day, three of Gudgeon's littermates were also being recognized in both the UK and Norway! I didn't even know that they, too, were entered in shows on that day. Brother and sister, Buoy and Delta were battling it out for Best Puppy in the UK. Buoy was Best Dog Puppy and Delta was Best Bitch Puppy and in the end, the judge chose Delta to be Best Puppy overall! Then, in Norway, Glenna was awarded Best of Opposite Sex and her first Challenge Certificate with a rating of Excellent. Owner, Heidi Sageng, was on the other end of the lead. Wow, what a great day for all of these pups!

In Norway, Glenna and Handler/Co-owner, Heidi Sageng. (Photo by Co-owner Margunn Tvedten. )

In Norway, Glenna and Handler/Co-owner, Heidi Sageng. (Photo by Co-owner Margunn Tvedten. )

And, if all that wasn't enough excitement for one week, today Buoy knocked it out of the ballpark in the UK when he went Reserve Best Puppy in Show, handled by our friend James Newton. Just, wow!

Chrissie Mayhew and I worked very hard to make this breeding happen and we couldn't have done it without the help of our good friends Sue Worrall, Polly Ruff, Richard Schauber, and the Wernecke family. And, Karen and Ron Anderson of Chestnut Hills Kennel (breeder/owner of the stud dog) have been equally supportive and invested in the whole project. Our little family is touched by a bit of pride this week. What great fun for all of us!

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Happy Summer from The Weatherdeck

The rolling Weatherdeck is at it's summer location on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina where we camp in the sand dunes with the dogs. Gudgeon (now 9 months old) is enjoying her first trip to the beach. Bo'sun  (9 years old) and Eddy (nearly 14 years old) are seasoned campers and they are showing her the ropes. We'll share more photos when we get home, but we got a real keeper of Gudgeon on one of our first morning walks on the beach. 

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Glenna's First Show in Norway

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Seven month-old, Glenna, just competed at her first weekend of shows held by the Norwegian Retriever Club. Glenna is Arnac Bay Aquamanda Glenna of Weatherdeck from our Fall 2015 litter.

On Saturday, at the club's Specialty, she was awarded Best of Breed and Best-in-Show 5. The judge's critique: "7 months, feminine, well-built, correct angulation front/rear, moves very well - BOB and BIS 5."

On Sunday, she was Best of Breed again and Best in Show 2!  And, the judge had this to say about Glenna: "7 months, well-balanced, self-confident, shows a lot of go, very good reach/drive on the move, correct pigmentation, correct set/carried ears, good length of neck, straight good bone quality, deep chest, flanks tucked up, correct angulation front/rear, tightly webbed harefeet, good coat quality, well presented, very promising. BOB and BIS 2."

We're super proud of Glenna and so pleased for owners Margunn Tvedten and Heidi Sageng. 

 

Heidi and Glenna in the ring at the Norwegian Retriever Club show. 

Heidi and Glenna in the ring at the Norwegian Retriever Club show. 

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Ratters!

Just a quick Barn Hunt follow-up. Last weekend, we set off for another weekend of Barn Hunt trials with our friend, Amy Wernecke and her Poppy. Both of our young girls went into the weekend with a start toward earning their first Barn Hunt titles and they both came out of the weekend as certified ratters. Gudgeon and Poppy earned their Instinct and Novice titles and it seems that we've all been bitten by a new bug. 

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New Beginnings with a New Sport - Barn Hunt!

When you try something new, it's always fun to do it in the company of good friends. My friend Amy Wernecke and I have begun to explore the sport of Barn Hunt with our young girls: Poppy and Gudgeon. The sport pays tribute to the role that dogs have long played in ridding barns of pests. Terriers have their Earth Dog Trials, but they are limited to dogs that can "go to ground" in small tunnels. The relatively new sport of Barn Hunt is open to all breeds that can pass through a tunnel made with bales of hay and, therefore, many more breeds can participate. Even a Scottish Deerhound participated in the trial we attended last weekend!

It's been three weeks of back-to-back ratting for Amy, Poppy, Gudgeon, and me, which led a good friend to refer to us as "The Rat Pack.". We went to our first training day which was enough to give us confidence to enter a trial the following weekend. Both of our girls earned their first legs in the Novice Class which requires the dogs to use their nose to discriminate between three different PVC tubes that are all hidden amongst the hay. One tube is empty. A second tube contains a rat. And, a third tube contains rat litter (intended to deceive the dogs.) The dogs have two minutes to achieve three tasks. They must locate the tube with the rat and signal their find to their handler who must be able to read their signals. When the handler believes they've received an indication from their dog, they must call "Rat!" to the judge who reveals whether the dog has chosen the correct tube. Also, within the allotted time period, the dog must pass completely through a tunnel of hay and they must execute a climb upon the hay bales. As soon, as the dogs have accomplished all three tasks, the judge records their time. The fastest dogs receive placements. And, of course, if all tasks are not completed within two minutes, the dog does not qualify. 

In our first weekend of trials, both Gudgeon and Poppy qualified and placed in their classes. They NQ'd a few times as well, but it is those shiny ribbons and the joy of watching our girls learn and grow with us that has us going back again this weekend. Anything that stimulates our dog's minds and deepens our partnership is a good thing in our book. 

If you'd like to learn more about the sport of Barn Hunt, please visit the Barn Hunt Association's website at barnhunt.com. Barn Hunt titles are recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Poppy's first qualifying run in the sport of Barn Hunt.

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The Hardest Part...

The hardest part of loving our dogs is the inevitability of losing them one day...of having to live with only the memories of the way they looked at us, of how it felt to run our hands through their fur, and the joy we felt at watching them do the things that they loved. 

In the early days and weeks of 2016, Thomas and I said goodbye to two of our girls...Scupper and Schooner...mother and daughter...and our family is forever changed.  During these past few months, I've tried to write something to mark their passing and honor what they meant to us. I always admire when someone can write something that beautifully captures what a loved one meant to them. But, I just can't seem to find the words. All the words that come to me just seem too weak and small. Maybe that's fitting though. Scupper and Schooner were so different from one another and each was so unlike any dog I've ever known. They were Scupper. And, Schooner. And, they meant everything to us. That really says it all. Fair winds, my girls. 

GCH* Redlion's Come Back Scupper, December 2, 2003- January 4, 2016

Redlion's Weatherdeck Schooner** WD, November 26, 2010 - January 25, 2016

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Stepping Back in Time at The Morris and Essex Kennel Club Show

Every five years, the dog show world remembers a different era of dog shows by reviving the famed Morris and Essex Kennel Club Show in Somerset, New Jersey. Judges and exhibitors are encouraged to wear clothing reminiscent of the glory days of this special event. The event took place this past week on October 1st. We entered GCH** Brutus of Bloodsworth SH WD who was bred by Jane Pappler and myself and who is owned by our friend, Richard Schauber. Brutus is Richard's hunting dog and Richard is kind enough to allow me to take Brutus out to dog shows a few times a year as we are quite proud of him and think of him as a wonderful example of our dual-purpose breed. There's a great saying out there that, "Life is too short to hunt over an ugly dog." Well, Brutus is one handsome, duck dog! 

The American Chesapeake Club supported the entry at Morris and Essex this year and we had a nice entry of 30 Chesapeakes. Judge Eliot More awarded Brutus Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed. Five years ago, Brutus' mother, GCH* Redlion's Come Back Scupper, was awarded Select Bitch at this same show while she carried Brutus' litter. Here's hoping that every 5 years, one of our dogs can be recognized at this very special show. 

Brutus and I playing dress-up for the show.  

Brutus and I playing dress-up for the show.  

There are some wonderful online resources for learning more about the history of the show and for seeing historic photos.  And, photos from the 2015 show are beginning to be shared. Below, are some links to explore. Enjoy!

 Remembering Morris & Essex Part 1 on the American Kennel Club Website. 

Remembering Morris & Essex Part 2 on the American Kennel Club Website.

Rare Video Brings Ring Greats Back to Life Part 1 on the American Kennel Club Website.

Rare Video Brings Ring Greats Back to Life Part 2 on the American Kennel Club Website.

Rare Video Brings Ring Greats Back to Life Part 3 on the American Kennel Club Website.

Morris and Essex 2015 Photo Gallery Part 1  on the American Kennel Club Website.

As more photos from this year's event surface, I'll be sure to share more links. 

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Photos of the Mother-to-Be

With Larch's due date about a week and a half off, we took the opportunity to give her one last outing today before we hunker down and wait for pups to arrive. We went out for a girl's day out with our friends Amy and Polly. Larch was thrilled to be out and we all had a lovely day in St. Michaels, Maryland.

When Larch first arrived, we visited the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels and we did a fun photo shoot in the Waterfowling building. The photo below was captured by my dear friend, Sue Worrall.

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And now...

We can't wait to meet the little "Guppies." ;)

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We are expecting! Pregnancy confirmed by Ultrasound.

After any breeding, there is an excruciating period where we imagine and dream without any tangible evidence that our dreams might come true. Then, a day comes when you think you know that something is brewing inside. You catch a momentary glimpse of something different and it lights a fire under your hopes and dreams. And, days just like that start stacking up as you catch more glimpses, but you doubt yourself and wonder if you are letting your hopes get the best of you. Maybe not everyone does this, but I certainly do!

Last night, we confirmed by ultrasound that Larch is carrying pups! And, this wonderful news breathes life to the dreams of the small "village" that has put so much effort into coaxing these stars into alignment. 

Pups are due ~October 6th and we are now looking for a few more good homes. And, we expect that puppies might go to their new homes during the first week of December. If you have some interest in these pups, please check out the "Puppies" page on our website. Fill out our puppy questionnaire and we'll get right back to you. You can also email us at the address at the bottom of this page!

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