Farflung Wildrose: Syndicate Actvities (Part One)

By: Dr. Ben McClelland

We can find Wildrose dog owner—pack members—across the continent and, indeed, the globe. Within the Wildrose pack is an active group of dog handlers that constitute the Wildrose Syndicate. The dictionary defines syndicate as an association of persons officially authorized to undertake a duty (Merriam-Webster).

Well, in the Wildrose Pack, Syndicate members are a subgroup of handlers, who participate with their dogs in various Wildrose field activities, such as picking at upland bird shoots, participating in the Wildrose pheasant hunt, volunteering at shows and presentations, etc.

These folks team up with our regional Associate Trainers, such as Tim Clancy (New England Kennels), Craig Korff (North Central), Sarah Barnes (Deep South), Erin Davis (Great Lakes), Travis Facemeyer (Mountain States), and Ryan Alderman (Teton Valley), Guy Cameron Billups (Texas), and Tom Smith (Oxford).

In this part of our discussion of syndicate member activities we feature New Englander Charley Cook and WR Rusty, who does pickup at European Hunts at Addieville East Farm in Mapleville, Rhode Island. Tim Clancy also serves as a guide on Addieville, taking Rusty alongside.

The pictures show Rusty at the scenic eastern coastline. Charley reported that he was sitting on my boat with Rusty when the club had just fired the cannon (for sunset and striking of colors). Rusty perked up, and started looking around. He finally relaxed when Charley said, “No bird.” Charley, says, “Thanks to Tim, Rusty is always ready.” Besides serving as Charley’s trusty gundog, Rusty’s “side activities” include fishing and modeling for a fashion stylists website.

Stay tuned: future parts of “Farflung Wildrose” will feature syndicate members from the other regions of the pack.

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Pilot on Board

By: Karen Weir-Jimerson

Aah, the joy of a puppy! Our household has a puppy again, so we’ve rolled up the rugs, stowed the leather shoes on the highest closet shelf, and bravely opened up the house to our new fox-red English Labrador Retriever puppy, Pilot.

On the day that my husband, Doug, and I went to pick up Pilot, we met other puppies that were destined to be pheasant, duck, and quail hunters. In the group of happy families struggling to hold their wiggly puppy, Pilot was the only dog who was going to become a shed hunter.

The whitetail bucks that call our woods and fields home lose their antlers in late winter and early spring. These bony castoffs are called sheds, because shedding antlers is what deer do—after carrying around their heavy headgear for months, one day the antlers simply drop off.

Bucks are described not by their weight or height but by size of their racks. Count the prongs or points. Some bucks may sport six- or eight-point antlers. Others carry a veritable trellis on their heads. But come spring, regardless of the number of points, the boys drop their antlers in what must feel like a lovely, lightheaded moment of freedom.

Mike Stewart, owner of Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, Mississippi, where Pilot was bred and born, trains hunting dogs. His kennel has produced what he calls “Gentleman’s Gun Dogs” since 1972. Wildrose Kennels breeds and trains imported British and Irish Labrador Retrievers for water fowling (ducks, geese) and upland hunting (dove, quail, pheasant). The same talents that make his dogs great hunters— intelligence, trainability, and calm temperament—also make these Labs excellent service dogs, diabetic alert dogs, and adventure dogs. And yes, their talents can be adapted to finding the quiet quarry of shed antlers.

Stewart picked up a rubber antler and showed us the liquid antler scent that you dab onto it to start the training. It looks like an antler and it smells like an antler. And when you toss it or hide it, Labs do what they love best: retrieve it.It doesn’t take long for a well-trained pup to graduate to the real thing. For the fun of discovery, a kind word, and a pat on the head, we learned that a Lab will do just about anything.

Finding sheds is more than a Saturday afternoon activity. It’s a sport that’s called, appropriately, shed hunting. And like the elusive morel, there are lots of theories about where and how to find sheds. I’ve found slender white antlers lying in grassy open fields as well as nestled amid the leaf litter in the woods. I found one shed under a hedge apple tree in the bare dark dirt, its stark whiteness like a beacon on the ground.

 

Our antler obsession is purely decorative. We collect and display them in a large wooden bowl on our kitchen island. (We admit to buying them at shops and online, so we don’t limit the hunt to woods and fields.)

Antlers are beautiful—they are smooth and cool, like alabaster. And unlike ivory (which is from nonshedding tusks), sheds are from a sustainable resource. As I arrange our shed collection in their wooden bowl, it makes me think of Gaston, the character in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, who uses “antlers in all my decorating.”

And now we have a professional shed hunter living under our roof.

So in the crisp mornings of early spring, Doug and I will head out into the woods accompanied by our rubber-antler-trained dog, Pilot. Together we will comb the woods and fields in search of cast-off antlers from whitetail deer. And if we come up empty-handed, that’s cool, too. There are worse things than spending a day hiking with an eager dog crisscrossing the ground in front of you.

 

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A Kaleidoscope of Careers: FTCH Silversnipe Ledgend “Luke”

By: Erin Davis, Wildrose Kennels – Great Lakes

Photo by: Chip Laughton

FTCh Silversnipe Legend, better known as Luke, was an accomplished British Field Trial Champion who was imported from Scotland in 2011. He successfully sired puppies internationally and was a primary participant in “Wildrose on the Road” demonstrations across the United States.

Luke retired from the breeding and joined my family in 2015. His new life in Indiana was less than retirement and more of a career change. In his new job he functioned as my training assistant by setting a fabulous example of a true Gentleman’s (or Gentlewoman’s) Gundog while backgrounding puppies and starting gundogs.

Since coming home with us, Luke’s kindness and patience never wavered. He always sat silently while waiting to be aired, allowing the little dogs to go first. He never hesitated about being crated between loud rowdy puppies and he greeted new training dogs with a welcoming stance and wagging tail. He remained a crowd favorite due to his exceptionally gentle nature and style. Our former neighbors had 6 young children who were found frequently knocking on our door asking us to “show me what Big Luke can do!” They loved to hide things in the yard and watch him flawlessly hunt and handle with precision.

 

With time Luke began to show some age. His face was greying with skin tags and small growth on his lower jaw, but his enthusiasm never wavered. As he began to run a little slower he still had no problem climbing in and out of his “prince and he pea” bed (kuranda bed with an orthopedic mattress and fluffy edges). He had slight cataracts, but his wise soul always shown through. In the last two seasons he only liked to duck hunt in warm water and upland hunt in cool air, but even at his age he was still the first one in the truck ready to hit the field. He loved to travel near or far, but his favorite place to go has always been Bass Pro Shops where they have a treat waiting for him.  He loved working with our young dogs, except in the last year you may have found him occasionally rolling on his back in the lineup or snacking on a bit of grass. His hearing may have been fading, or perhaps just more selective, but his nose never wavered.

My favorite specific story about Luke is the unexpected role he was thrust in to last year.

Last August, my husband and I moved to my in-laws home after a quicker than expected sale on our home.  We also brought along our 8 personal and training dogs. We quickly found a property that suited our needs with the pups, but the house was not exactly move-in-ready. Little did we know our displacement was a blessing in disguise.

My father in law, Big John, was the typical “healthy” guy who worked in the steel mill his entire life. That all changed when he was unexpectedly diagnosed with congestive heart failure and renal failure last summer. After 10 days in the hospital he was left with a whole new lifestyle. Diet changes and a fluid restriction meant his beloved Miller Lite had to go. He acquired a treasure chest of medications and a full calendar of doctor appointments. He also had to wear an external defibrillator. The machine’s bulky size created a great deal of frustration paired with the fear of a potential shock looming. It also prevented him from driving- including his adored mustang and fancy zero turn mower. Big John’s body was weak. He was short of breath frequently and endurance was poor. Walking across the room was a challenge. But that grim picture had a slight glimmer of light in my dog Luke.

To nonchalantly encourage exercise, we asked Big John to help with the dogs and purposefully paired him with Luke. This became an informal cardiac rehabilitation program that started simply by sitting and holding Luke’s leash. Soon they migrated to the driveway and were soaking up the sun together. Their chosen seating arrangement in the driveway became Luke constantly trying to sit in Big John’s lap. That was until someone passed by the duo, prompting Big

John to pretend he’d been telling Luke to get down and Luke seemingly rolling his eyes at the situation.

Over time Luke became my father in law’s daily companion to the mailbox. In the following months, they pushed to the railroad tracks, the stop sign, and even the far stop sign. Every day Big John had to take the initiative to pick Luke up from his crate and walk. The alternative was Luke forcing him to go outside by relentlessly barking, at which point he figured they might as well take a walk. Regardless of how they got moving every day, before we knew it my father in law was strong enough for surgical implantation of a defibrillator/pacemaker. After that surgery, he never had a readmission to the hospital, spent a day in rehab or a nursing home, or relied on home health care.

It’s possible that my father in law would have made his recovery with medications and healthy diet. Perhaps living with an ER Nurse/Dog Trainer helped him too, but I truly believe Luke pushing him forward every day eased the burden of his illness and without a doubt improved his outcome. Luke will always hold a special place in Big John’s heart….which is now much healthier.

Heaven gained an angel on July 5th, 2017. Luke peacefully passed away at home in our arms and surrounded by love. Though he is missed, the impact he had on our life has been profound to which we are forever grateful.

“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog,” Sidney Jeanne Seward

 

Luke at one of many on the road shows.

Luke and Dolly.

Luke backing Breezy.

 

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Fried Deer Steaks

Recipe by: Mary Lee Henderson

After thawing tenderized deer steaks, soak them in milk overnight. Drain milk the next morning and marinade deer steaks in Italian dressing.

Heat oil in skillet on medium heat. (I prefer to use a cast iron skillet) While the oil is heating up mix flour with a tad of corn meal along with salt and pepper. Beat 2-3 eggs depending on the amount of deer meat.

Dip the deer steaks into the flour, into the egg beat and then back into the four. Fry deer steaks until they are light brown on each side. Drain briefly on a paper towel.

My favorite side to go along with fried deer steaks are fresh peas, rice and brown gravy and macaroni and cheese.

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Irie Goes To Court

By Dr. Scott Wilson, Director of Wildrose Service Companions

We are excited to announce that Wildrose “Irie” is well on her way to becoming the first “Courtroom Dog” in Mississippi.

Irie and Bess Bruton at The City of Oxford Courthouse

 

This summer Wildrose Irie, along with her trainer/handler Bess Bruton, began exploring her new service career in cooperation with social services, police, prosecutors, and judges here in Lafayette County and Oxford.  In this particular job, Irie will be known as the “Facility Dog” in the courtroom.  She hopes to ultimately serve as a victim’s advocate and help the prosecutors reduce some of the fear and anxiety that so often influences mere mortals sitting in the witness box.  Beyond the witness box, Irie may be utilized by investigators, prosecutors and other legal professionals to help victims find the calm confidence required to assist with their own complex legal process.  Therein lies one of the major challenges for every facility dog, the handler may be someone other than the owner/trainer/primary care-giver.  Every handler will of course be trained and evaluated to work with Irie.  Except in those very rare cases where the facility dog is owned, trained, and handled by a household that includes a victim advocate, forensic interviewer, detective, prosecutor, guardian ad litem, therapist, and other legal professionals, these exceptional facility dogs may have to comfortably work with handlers that do not live with their pack.  Irie has already been introduced to most of the many professionals she will encounter as a facility dog.  It is worth noting that Wildrose Irie is already a finished Gun Dog, a Trail Rated Adventure Dog, and an accomplished Therapy Dog.

Irie may be pursuing a novel career choice but our multi-talented Wildrose Labradors have already worked successfully through all of the component responsibilities required of a facility dog.  Wildrose companions travel with us along every pathway of human life.  There are Wildrose Gundogs, Wildrose Adventure Dogs, Wildrose Scent Specialists, Wildrose Service Dogs, Wildrose Emotional Support Dogs, Wildrose Therapy Dogs, and now Irie has her sights set on being the first Wildrose “Facility Dog” in a Mississippi courtroom and beyond.  The evolution of the human-canine connection enables these remarkable, properly trained companions to help in ways that science and human intervention simply fail to match.  All of our canine service companions fill a special role and they must overcome special challenges in their training.

American Disabilities Act:  Service Animals

The ADA defines “service animals” as dogs that are individually trained to work or  perform tasks for people with disabilities.  Examples include guiding the blind, alerting the deaf, protecting a person having a seizure, alerting a diabetic to dangerous chemical levels, reminding a mentally challenged person to take medication, calming a person with PTSD during an attack, and on and on.  We have all heard about or seen service dogs performing their many unique duties.  Strangers are admonished to avoid touching or distracting a service dog so the animal can stay focused on the task at hand.  Some of these service companions stay on duty 24/7.

Emotional Support Animals

In addition to service dogs, there are “emotional support animals,” these too are typically dogs.  Only a licensed mental health professional can prescribe an ESA for an emotionally disabled person.  An ESA is not required to perform any specific task other than affection and companionship.  You may have seen these ESAs travelling with their owner on commercial airlines.  Responsible ESA owners train their companions to behave in a predictable manner in public; however, there are no federal requirements for these animals to be registered or periodically evaluated for basic obedience and predictability.  ESA’s, like service dogs, may be on duty for extended periods of time and strangers should avoid touching or distracting these working dogs.

Some owner/handlers share their companion with other humans through animal-assisted interventions (AAI) that may involve activity (AAA), education (AAE), and/or therapy (AAT).   These interventions primarily involve friendly dogs handled by an experience primary care owner.  Whether helping through activity, education, or therapy, these dogs serve to relieve stress, anxiety, and fear, while enhancing feelings of comfort, calm, and well-being.  The intervention dog owner/handler may share their companion with individuals or groups of people.  A therapy dog team routinely encounters complete strangers who are usually more excited to engage with the dog then the handler.  Registered therapy dogs are trained and periodically evaluated to ensure they react predictably in all situations.  Therapy dogs normally benefit from the presence of their primary care handler who is also trained and periodically evaluated for appropriate behavior and handling.  One common misconception holds that any non-aggressive family pet is automatically ready for interventions and nothing could be further from the truth.  The family environment may be well known and tolerated by most dogs but extensive socialization is required to prepare dogs for atypical environments, behaviors, vocalizations, sights, sounds, smells, and movements to dramatically reduce inappropriate behavior.  For the dog, the combination of new environments, excessive petting, and some under restrained exuberance will eventually lead to over stimulation, stress, exhaustion, and unpredictable behavior.  Therapy dog visits are routinely limited to a maximum of 2 hours.

The Facility Dog

Which brings us to a whole new challenge, the Facility Dog.  The facility dog is a mix of service, emotional support, and intervention talents with the added complexity of multiple handlers.  While not technically a service companion, the facility dog helps people suffering from a disabling or uncontrollable state like fear or anxiety.  As is the case for an emotional support dog, affection and companionship may be extended for many hours.  Like a therapy dog, the facility dog provides service to someone other than their owner/handler.  The United States Courthouse DogsÒ Foundation estimates 2 years for facility dog training.  Assistance Dogs International sets the training standards for facility dogs and in some instances, they are even as rigorous as our own Wildrose training for dogs in public environments.  From the ADI list of training standards for example, “The facility dog should demonstrate basic obedience skills by responding to voice and/or hand signals for sitting, staying in place, lying down, walking in a controlled position near the facilitator and coming to the facilitator when called.”

 

Wildrose Irie:  Mississippi’s First Certified Facility Dog

As you may correctly interpret from these images, Irie responds to voice and/or hand signals and she waits patiently for instructions even when her handler must move about the courtroom.  In her first visit to court she was introduced to the receptionist, court recorder, and bailiff 30 minutes prior to the start.  The judge, bailiff, and recorder moved in and out of the rather large room through their own special entrance but everyone else entered through the main entrance and walked right by a calmly sleeping Irie.  She ignored a wheelchair, a walker and an older gentleman with a cane who passed a dozen times or more.  Nearly everyone smiled serenely when they noticed and walked by the sleeping Irie.  When the action paused momentarily, several more of the legal professionals including attorneys from both sides of the aisle stopped to greet Irie.  The orange tennis shoe planted beside Irie belongs to a person she never met.  In the middle of the proceedings he sat down beside Irie and acknowledged the handler but merely smiled kindly at the sleeping dog.  Sometime later one of the lawyers approached the owner of this orange shoe and struck  up an extended conversation while standing next to Irie.  The young dog opened her eyes momentarily then went back to sleep.  After the four-hour session ended we introduced Irie to the judge who, along with generous smile, commented that he wished his granddaughter was here to meet Irie.  We still have several more hoops to jump through before Irie graduates from law school but she has rocked her introduction.

 

Irie, like so many Wildrose Labradors, goes well beyond accepting new people.  She understands her job through patient, repetitive training and she is comfortable interacting with handlers because she enjoys truly her role in the social scheme of things.  She has already trained in the field with multiple handlers and she has accompanied different handlers for training on visits to an assisted living facility.  She has absolutely no fear of gun fire so loud noises are not a problem.  She is comfortable around other dogs and even really big dogs (aka horse is courtesy of the Oxford Mounted Patrol)!  She occasionally exercises caution when she encounters excessive or rapid movement that she has never seen before but Bess is working through every imaginable circumstance one-by-one until Irie has a chance to record these events in her memory.

 

 

As a facility dog, Irie may be asked by a victim’s advocate or therapist to help break the ice

with a client.  As referenced on the Courthouse DogsÒ website, one of the successful animal intervention methods employed is to have the dog retrieve something.  Irie is a retrieving maven!  She doesn’t just retrieve something, she retrieves “anything” you ask her to retrieve and gently holds “anything” until the handler tells her to release by voice or hand signal.  In summary, Irie has skills, she has talent, and she really knows her vehicles.

 

 

 

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The Canopy

by: Mike Stewart

This short clip of Diesel (FTCh Scott x Judy, DOB 3/31/16) owned by Chris Plummer, DE, trained and handled by Clint Swinney, demonstrates his enthusiasm for the hunt when he hits a canopy of ragweed cover, despite the light rain.  The video offers several great points for young upland gundog development and possibilities for your summer tune-up activities.  As you watch, please note:

  1. We cultivate ragweed at the Wildrose Oxford Training Grounds as well as other crops and grass fields.  Many summer grasses produce nasty seeds that can litter a dog’s eyes and nose.  Ragweed, though heavy in pollen, does not have large seeds.  It effectively creates a canopy of tall cover which allows for fantastic hunting opportunities, more so than thatch-type grasses.  Birds love it as well.  Dogs, whether Pointers, Flushers, or Retrievers, really have to work close in lush, tall cover like ragweed.
  2. Diesel loses his mark due to the height of the cover requiring him to hunt in the proximity of the fall.  He simply cannot see the target area after entry.  He’s running blind relying on distance estimation and his nose.
  3. This cover is also excellent for marking by sound.  Cover the dog’s eyes and toss in a feather-laced bumper.  Developed properly, dogs can become pinpoint markers by sound.
  4. Interdependence—the relationship between Diesel and Clint demonstrates excellent teamwork.  Diesel had to learn how to locate his handler for instruction on whistle stops.  When he hears the whistle while hunting under the canopy, he must to move to see his handler.  Notice his response to the whistle and cast.
  5. Obviously, his nose is getting a desirable workout in the lush cover.  Green, pungent, high-nitrogen foliage can really mask scent making the pick more difficult to locate. Also ragweed is heavily pollinated making the task more difficult.

Our objective when developing a Gentleman’s Gundog is to match the client’s expectations for the perfect hunting companion to complement their family’s sporting lifestyle. We never forget the importance of the underling purpose of our Labradors… game recovery, to bring back a bird that otherwise may be lost – Masters of Scent.

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Strike-Back: The Basics

by: Mike Stewart

Strike-Back Training is nothing new at Wildrose, actually it is a combination of several

Photo by: Katie Behnke

training phases the company has transcended over the years which has involved Pointers, Retrievers, Spaniels and even Beagles.  Strike-Back is training the Wildrose Labrador, a superb gamefinder, to work simultaneously, in harmony with other sporting breeds; Pointers or Flushers, one complementing the other while avoiding interference or frolic.  The training emphasizes teamwork tapping each breed’s specific and best talents then blending them into field performance in a workable collaboration of hunting, pointing, flushing and game recovery.  The effort is to provide sporting enthusiasts with the ultimate in upland gundog experiences.

Training emphasizes working the Retriever or Spaniel in combination with the Pointer in several key areas:

  1. Wagon/strike dog
  2. Quartering and flushing
  3. Pointing and backing
  4. Game recovery
  5. Field obedience and control elements

But, where do we begin our training for Strike-Back?  As always with the Wildrose Way, begin with the foundation skills and train to the point of habit formation. An excellent comprehensive training program for the upland gundog is the Wildrose Upland DVD available at wildrosetradingcompany.com. Here all the basic skills for field performance are fully covered in a progressive, positive, balanced methodology. At the outset it’s important to keep in mind that the upland hunting field can appear to a young gundog as quite chaotic so train for the distractions.

Core Principles

Obedience and control in a group setting.

Here we are developing obedience and steadiness around other active dogs and people as well as the distractions of flushing birds and distant gunfire.  Our dogs work in group settings on basic obedience, walk-ups, short retrieves and steadying denials (including live birds).  The starter must learn to maintain focused composure despite distraction.

Photo by Katie Behnke

Examples:

  1. A Retriever hunting cover for a downed bird as a stylish Pointer slashes about the area. Will your Retriever stay on the hunt ignoring the distraction?
  2. Will the Spaniel stay steady backing a Pointer as you approach to make the flush? Backing includes remaining steady to the flush and disregarding the Pointer’s actions afterward.  Backing is remote steadiness at its finest.

Focused Initiative – Interdependence

Strike-Back requires a dog to focus on its individual sense of purpose despite the activities of other dogs.  The Pointer proceeds on the hunt even as the Retriever works to recover birds down.  The Lab marks well and holds his line to the fall despite the activities of the Pointers running about after the flush or other dogs also searching for downed birds.
To initially train for this situation, get the starters in a group at heel.  Have a bumper in thick cover that will require a diligent search.  Send in one dog and monitor the other dog’s steadiness.

  • Steady the group both at sit/whoa and on a walk-up to tethered flight birds.
  • Have a dog continue to hunt cover as you send another for a short memory or mark.
  • On the walk-up, as the Pointer hunts while others remain at heel, fire a shot and throw a mark simulating a flush. With all remaining steady, send one gundog from the pack to make the pick.

Remember Wildrose Law #7, “If it’s not right at heel (close proximity), it won’t be right in the field.”

Backing the Point

Our Strike-Back Retrievers understand the “whoa” command just like their Pointing partners.  Have the Pointer locate a planted bird and hold steady as the Retriever or Spaniel approaches.  Give the stay or “whoa” command to the approaching dogs behind yet in sight of the point.  Walk in and make the flush while insuring our “back up” dog(s) holds their position without noise or creeping.  Backing a point/flush is premiere steadiness and the behavior must be rewarded profusely.  Do not call the backing dogs off position unless a speedy recovery of a runner is necessary.  Return to each steady dog and reward the steadiness then release.

Developing Bird Savvy

The nose knows and there is simply no substitute to training with scent.  Include the following:

  • Feather-laced bumpers (non-plastic)
  • Cold game
  • Live flushes
  • Variety of cover to hunt

These variables offer different scents identifiable in the conditions you will be hunting under:  snow, wind, temperature variations, humidity, and types of cover.  Birds should be found in training in places where they will likely be found on the hunt.  Training as you will play. Today with the vast availability of preserve shooting grounds in most areas of the country, one can purchase birds for training or book an afternoon in the field on location for upland training purposes.

Strike

A “strike dog” is a flusher of upland birds from cover that have been located by Pointers.  The purpose is to roust birds airborne from cover rather than have them run about clinging to the ground.  The strike dog, either Retriever or Spaniel, is brought into position ahead of the point holding the birds.  On command, the striker blasts into cover to get birds airborne while remaining steady to flush and shot.  We practice this using planted birds only after both Pointer and Striker are steady to tossed bumpers with shots as they hunt cover.

Remember steady to flush is important for the dog’s safety (See 5-Option Drill on page 195 of Sporting Dog and Retriever Training, the Wildrose Way).

Finished upland Strike-Back gundogs are a refined team of gamefinders:

  • Steady to flush

    Photo by Katie Behnke

  • Excellent at game recovery
  • Wise students of wind, scent detection and bird savvy
  • Not distracted by the activities of other dogs afield
  • Proficient markers by sight and by sound
  • Controllable by whistles and hand signals
  • Balanced to the pack with appropriate obedience behaviors

Strike-Back trained gundog are sporting dogs of duality blended perfectly for the ultimate Gentleman’s Gundog upland experience, all achieved “The Wildrose Way.”

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Adventure Stories: Wildrose Breeze

by:Vickie Raburn
April 5th, 2013, whelping day. The puppies are coming! I had long anticipated and confidently prepared for the events to come… now the time was here. I had envisioned the perfect pup, my own female fox red to mold into the dog I had dreamed of. We had other labs before, but they had a bond with my husband. I wanted one for myself! As the weeks went by, I studied the puppies closely trying to decide which one would be for me. As it turned out, I was the one who was picked. At the kennel five of the six pups jumped on the fence as if to say, “Pick me, pick me!” But it was the little “Blondie” as she was nicknamed who sat behind the others just giving me “the eyes.” Yes, it was at that moment when we made the all-important eye contact that I knew I had my dog.

At 8 weeks old “Wildrose Sugarland’s Northern Breeze” and I began our journey together. Training started right away with teaching her to learn, which means the important skill of looking at me for direction and focus that would soon transfer to learning down the road. We began with games on the place board using my older dog as the example. You know, “Monkey see, monkey do!” She didn’t know it at the time, but she was learning while playing. Soon she was taking hand directions left and right going from board to board and learning to be steady, all at a VERY young age!

It was at this time that I ordered Mike Stewart’s book Sporting Dog and Retriever Training. I read the book cover to cover and began to realize that this training method was not what I was used to. We began reading “The 20 Wildrose Laws of Dog Training.” I think some of the ones that stand out to me are: “Law #4 Don’t condition in a problem that must be trained out later” and “Law # 14 A dog will not follow unstable leaders.” This one proved more challenging as I soon found out that I had a dog, who wanted to be the leader. Breeze is very confident in herself and bold, which is a good trait to have, but only in the right situations. Two things always seem to play on repeat in my mind: “Begin with the end in mind,” and “The dog is always learning. Be careful what is being taught.” This is where our formal training began.

Two years prior to having Breeze, my daughter Leah was showing our other dog in the 4-H dog program. I became the Superintendent and trainer for the kids to help them prepare for the county fair. When Breeze reached the minimum age to participate in the program she began to attend as a student. Until that time she came along to every class to gain proper social skills and become accustomed to new surroundings. This gave Breeze and me many opportunities to build her confidence, as well as train around many distractions. Breeze quickly became my demonstration dog during classes. It was during my daughter’s Senior year of high school and last year of 4-H that she wanted to show both dogs at the county fair. She came to all the classes and rotated training each dog as well as training at home. Their time together and effort paid off. She and the dogs took home all Blue that day along with top scores in Obedience, Agility, and Top Competitor. Breeze accomplished this at the age of 2 years old! One needs a strong foundation in heelwork and obedience to control a dog at a distance, as is the case with Agility, for example. It all starts at heel. “Law # 7: If it’s not right at heel, it won’t be right in the field (or the agility ring!)”

After Breeze gained basic skills and a solid foundation, we began to focus on Retriever Training. We spent many hours on heeling, hand signals, hold conditioning, memory retrieves, whistle sits, denials, delays, and diversions. I never knew so much went into training a retriever! Our training led us to the started level where we could try a Hunt Test, Breeze earned two passes toward her Junior Hunter title. At this time we have not yet acquired her other two passes to earn her Junior Hunter Title, which I hope to do this summer.

Some other skills that Breeze has include dock diving, shed hunting, and scent work. This past fall and winter I started working her on upland work for pheasants and chukar. Upland hunting is something she excels at; she took to it like a fish to water. Watching her use her nose and working cover is a beautiful sight to see. I guess you can say she is a multi-purpose dog, ready to go and do whatever the job is you are asking of her!

When my daughter graduated high school and aged out of 4-H, I started looking for something else that I could do with Breeze, something that would take us outdoors and work with our lifestyle of hunting, fishing, and camping. Enter the Adventure Dog program. I had seen training videos online and thought this is perfect, just what I was looking for. I ordered the training packet, read, and researched videos and we began our new adventure. I asked the help of a friend, who owns horses to help us out with our first merit, Equestrian. Breeze had never seen a horse before, so the horse smells, size, and noises were something to be conquered for sure! But we took it slow, just as Law #5 says, “Make haste slowly.” Breeze had to trust that I was a stable leader; I had to show confidence that she was safe in this strange and new environment. She was able to greet a pony, nose to nose, and by the end of our training she was jumping obstacles     with him, brace style. What fun that was! During our training with the horses I think the most difficult aspect she struggled with was the distraction of all the farm animals nearby. The cows were at the fence mooing and watching us, the goats were jumping and playing, and oh so many chickens in the pen next to us. Talk about distractions for a bird dog! But she soon learned that they were to be seen but not bothered, as she had a task at hand.

After many training sessions, we completed our biggest challenge of heelingbeside the horse, off leash, with a mounted rider. I was very proud of her for our first merit completed. Our next merits that we earned for our Trail Rated patch were Motor Vehicle, Public Access, ATV, and Trail Assistance. I must say having control in all situations and disciplined obedience was a big help in working on and earning these merits. We trained in many situations and places to create predictable habits. After attending the Adventure Dog Workshop we completed the merits needed to earn the Adventure Dog Certified patch. These included watercraft, hiking, hunting sports, fishing, and mountain biking. Our ultimate goal is to become a Master Trekker, only two more Merits to go! I am very proud of all of these accomplishments.

All training is like building a brick road–each task or step is like a gold paver along the path. It takes you further and further along and the possibilities are endless. Each phase requires something different or a different skill set. Speaking of new skills, I think after our Adventure Dog Training we may give Therapy Dog work a try! I would find it very satisfying to put this training to use in another field, giving back to the community.

In retrospect, I believe I named Breeze adequately. Living with and training her has been a breeze; no major hurdles to overcome. I contribute this to the Wildrose Methods of training: follow the Laws and you will have yourself a dog you can be proud of whatever adventure you choose to go on.

Get outdoors and Adventure on!

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Specklebelly Nachos

Recipe from: Adam Van Sant, owner of Wildrose Dixie

Ingredients:

30 dried guajillo chiles

20 dried ancho chiles

20 dried pasilla chiles

2 ½ cups orange juice

Grated zest of 1 orange

1/3 firmly packed dark brown sugar

9 cloves of garlic

1 ½ TBS ground cumin

1 ½ TBS Mexican oregano

1 ½ TBS Kosher salt

1 TBS black pepper

1 ½ TBS distilled vinegar

1TBS lime juice

6 oz. Cola

8 oz. Mexican beer

4 lbs. of Goose or duck breast skin off

3 TBS of lard or vegetable oil

Directions:

Stem, seed, and rehydrate the chiles in warm water.  Once softened drain and set aside, reserving soaking liquid.

In a small saucepan simmer the orange juice over medium heat until reduced by half.   In the blender puree the rehydrated chiles until smooth, adding some of the reserved soaking liquid as needed to achieve smooth consistency.

In a large bowl combine reduced orange juice, pureed chile, orange zest, brown sugar, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, vinegar, lime juice, cola, and beer.  Stir to mix well.  Add the geese or duck and marinate overnight.

Remove meat from marinate and place in a slow cooker.  Pour marinate over meat until covered.

Cook on low for 8-10 Hrs.

Remove meat from slow cooker and shred with 2 forks. Heat lard or oil in large skillet or griddle.  Refry the shredded meat adding some of the liquid from slow cooker to keep moist.  Cook until the meat becomes slightly caramelized.

Serve with your favorite Nacho toppings or use as a taco filling.

Enjoy!

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Wildrose Associate Trainers

With multiple clients in all 50 states and every Canadian province, Wildrose has always embraced outreach as a means to provide services to our “Pack” by conducting regional seminars and through our unique training of Associate Trainers.  In addition to our home base in Oxford, Mississippi, Wildrose operates satellite training facilities in NW Arkansas, Colorado, Teton Valley, and soon to open in Texas.  Our most unique approach to outreach has been through our team of associate trainers scattered by regions across the country.  The sole purpose of the Associate Program is to provide training and boarding support for our client base universal performed identically to “Wildrose Way” standards.  These forward deployed sites are indeed extensions of Wildrose representing our training methodology, commitment to client services and promotion of our sporting lifestyle culture.

Many clients have met our associate trainers over the years through the services or at training/demonstration events.  The associates have developed their own Facebook accounts to share the Wildrose activities and experiences occurring regionally.  We invite you to visit their links… like, follow and share.  The Wildrose Journey continues:

Wildrose Kennels – North Central – Craig Korff

Wildrose New England Kennels – Tim Clancy

Wildrose Kennels  – Great Lakes – Erin Davis

Wildrose Kennels – Rocky Mountains – Clinton Hinebaugh

Wildrose Kennels – Deep South – Sarah Barnes

Wildrose Kennels – Mountain State – Travis Facemyer

Wildrose Teton Valley – Ryan Alderman

Wildrose Texas – Guy Cameron Billups

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