I ran across this quote on the internet from Lloyd Brackett, famous for creating the Long-Worth German Shepherds in the 1950s. (Thanks Tim Hackworth)
"In the dog game those who criticize the system of line breeding far outnumber its proponents. This is true for several reasons. There is a continual influx of beginners in breeding dogs, people who have never before mated one animal to another, or made any study of the subject. In their ignorance they believe that mating two dogs with "pedigrees", especially if both are winners, or better yet, "Champions", is all there is to it.
Then, there are a multitude of breeders who refuse to take the time to make any study of genetics, who want only to breed dogs to sell and make money, and these have no interest in breed improvement through years of planned effort. Again, we have the many hit-or-miss breeders who hope for the good luck which sometimes strikes novices who by sheer accident come up with a real "topper" or two. In listing the opponents of closed-up (line) breeding, one should not fail to mention owners of stud dogs, hungry for stud fees.
Fortunately there are in almost all breeds of dogs a very few fanciers intent upon consistently producing dogs superior to the average of the breed. Many of these know that the quickest and most certain way to do this is by line breeding."
As 2019 is coming to a close, we have much to be thankful for in life and with the hounds. Spring and summer found us out with the hounds quite a bit. As we moved into autumn, work and life got hectic and not as much running was done as we would like. Always seems like there just isn’t enough hours in a day to accomplish what we would like to accomplish. We were able to get Katie started and running well, put a lot of hours on Tiana, Maury & Bindi and enjoyed the rest of the pack for many trips throughout the year.
We were only able to get one female bred this year, Taya, and that was disappointing. Also disappointing was the fact that Taya only whelped 2 pups (both males). Paco, at 11 has reached the end of his fertile years and that seems like it came way too fast. We are grateful for the pups we have from these older males and must concentrate on what we have, not what we don’t have. We have had some bad luck with some other hounds both in our kennel and those that have gone to other homes. My uncle used to say that every time you unhook the lead, might be the last time you see them. Now we haven’t lost any hounds but there are definitely choices that we would make differently if we had a crystal ball. It seems you blink your eyes and the hounds are old like the Kenny Chesney song “Don’t Blink”.
Pria went to another good friend’s home and birthed a litter this summer. Our pup should be here around January 12 and we are excited to see how that goes. Pria is a very nice hound that was bred to a nephew of Paco on the West Coast. Pria is the only female pup from Twila, who was one of our all-time favorites. We have high hopes that Twila’s granddaughter will possess some of those qualities that made Twila such a special hound.
Katie and Tiana (pictured at top) are quite the duo. They are both sired by Gadget and their mothers are half sisters, both by Paco. Further, their grandmothers are littermate sisters (Elsie & Annaka). (I know that sounds confusing!) For young hounds, they have the stamina and desire that we like to see, and both have a level head when out with the pack. I have seen each do some things that are rarely seen in a young hound. Tiana was a very easy starter, Katie not so much but when the switch went on for Katie, it went on full blast. They are both very nice hounds in the kennel and fairly well behaved. They both love to have an evening wrestling match that sometimes gets pretty heated. They both also love to give the squirrels in the yard a “chewing out” every time they see one. They are buddies and they always seem to be together.
These are Taya’s boys. I call them Pius and Peus. Sometimes puppies can really get on the nerves, but I think I got on my parent’s nerves quite a bit also. All part of growing up I guess. They were using the doggy door at 5 weeks and are as round & plump as any pup I’ve bred. They are full of fire and spring will bring on some good times as we just love starting pups. Our rabbit population seems to be down (too many predators) but I always have a few to get the hounds some work. I am really hoping to do some predator control and rabbitat enhancement this winter.
Once again, time has a way of slipping by and I haven’t realized how long it has been since I did an entry. Lots of thoughts running around my brain but I just haven’t had a chance to get them down on paper. With the change to standard time, I find myself in darkness after work way too soon. As I stated before, standard time is not for running dogs if you’re a working person. I wish the powers that be would keep Daylight Savings Time year-round.
When the females were going through their seasons, I spent a good bit of time thinking about pack dynamics, not only in the field but also in the kennel. Back when I was in college, I took a summer class in biology. Dr. Baker, my Biology professor, spent almost the entire semester discussing wolf pack behavior. Dr. Baker was an outdoorsman, had a small gentleman’s farm, and loved to hunt and fish. We got along great! Another advantage of summer classes was their class size. We had maybe 12 students in the class which enabled a lot of one-on-one time. Since that summer, I have thought a great deal about pack dynamics and pack behavior of our domesticated wolves, our beagles.
It is amazing to me how fast the hounds will figure out their packmates. They know hound body language as well as voice of the other members of the pack. I have said in the past, the longer the dogs are down, the more they will tell you. Some hounds work better together with certain hounds and some can be down with anything at all and they can take control of that pack. I always find it interesting to see where the young hounds fall in once they get some running time in with the pack. No matter what, I enjoy studying the hounds in the field and how they fall into their place. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a squabble in the field.
Squabbles in the kennel are much more frequent. It is sometimes tough to watch an Alpha hound (I am the real Alpha of the pack) be contested and replaced or that dominant hound in the kennel be challenged by an up and coming young hound. Maybe it’s just my hounds, but I have many more issues with females. Occasionally I will see a tail up & quivering and I just know all hell is about to break out. Posturing, ear set, tail and voice all give away a lot of what is about to happen. I tell people I don’t usually have issues at feeding time but that doesn’t mean I don’t have issues. Sometimes just a sniff the wrong way can set a hound off. I think placement in their sleeping quarters plays a role in the donnybrooks that break out on occasion. Hormones also play a key role and I often go back to the wolf pack behavior that I studied some 30 years ago. Beagles have a fearless streak in them, a stubborn streak, and a competitive spirit that I definitely don’t want to be without but there are times when I would really like to contain some of that high-spiritedness! As I was telling my friend Bob, some hounds are full of jet fuel (Izzy & Tiana) and are always on the brink of combustion. Then there are others that are never in any friction whatsoever. But on occasion I am surprised by the hounds that appear meek, will be the first to be on top of the pile. Sometimes a stern voice will stop and squelch the tension. Sometimes it takes a bit more. Sometimes a hound needs to be put in “solitary confinement” for a bit to cool her engines.
I’m not going to say that I have a kennel full of fighters because I don’t, but it is an evolving, constantly changing dynamic that leads to pack harmony.
Well here it is August, and it's hard to believe how fast time is flying by. I am not a fan of summer and people think I'm nuts when I tell them I would rather have snow than this heat, but it is definitely true. The temperature hasn't been as bad the last couple days but the humidity makes the air thick. It has not been going below 70 at night so there is not much hope for the day ahead. Also the rain, we are topping our rain totals from last year's record breaking precip. Later in the week, the forecast is for nighttime temps in the 50s, which is always a good sign.
The females have been coming in heat and just as last year, it is a consecutive process rather than a concurrent process. One is coming out and another is coming in. At present we have 4 in season and the males are letting us know it. Duffy has been doing choir practice all night and Maury heads straight to the female run after eating to see if anything has made itself available. A couple more weeks and we will be done for a couple months (Uggh again!).
I'll post a couple pics of hounds that came from our kennel. I love it when folks send us pics of hounds they have gotten from us or of their offspring. The progress reports and photos of them doing what they do, keep us going through the dog days when we can't run like we like. I will have more to write about these hounds in posts to come.
Bring on foggy nights and cooler temps!
According to Merriam-Webster, gusto is defined as: a) enthusiastic and vigorous enjoyment or appreciation b) vitality marked by an abundance of vigor and enthusiasm.
When I was a kid, my grandmother loved using this word. Sometimes it was in a positive way, other times not so much. As I've been getting quite a bit of running in lately, the word has come out of my mouth many times. Katie (above) hunts for a rabbit with gusto. She also plays with her kennel mates with gusto occasionally a little too much gusto. Her drive and search is incredible for a young hound, she hunts with such fervor and desire that is rarely seen in such a young hound. Even when she is out with some older hounds, she is all business... and I love it.
Taya jumps on her box for some lovin' with gusto. All the hounds like attention, but none with the gusto of Taya. She pushes herself up against me and nuzzles her nose into my chest. Taya also chews her rawhide with gusto. Some of the older hounds lose interest in rawhide as they age but not her. As I watch her gnaw and toss around her "bone" I just have to laugh. She is one unique hound for sure.
Maury jumps on my legs with gusto. One of these days he is going to take my knee out but I let it go because he is such a nut for affection. His voice on the line expresses his gusto for running a rabbit.
At the end of the day, many times I ask myself what I would do if I didn't have these hounds? 43 years of chasing bunnies around and I still enjoy it more & more.
Katie out in the snow before the big storm hits. Can't wait to get her running soon. She is one energetic pup, I have rarely seen her still. If her puppy voice holds, it's very deep for a female and seems quite loud. She has a sibling in Massachusetts that has started before 6 months. I see a lot of her grandparents in her.
Izzy & Petra are only separated by a few days with Izzy about 4 days older. They have basically grown up together; they eat together, sleep together and I like running them together. Even though their mothers were sisters, they are two very different hounds. Izzy is powerfully built, Petra is slim. Izzy hunts in a methodical way, Petra is in every thicket & under every bush. Petra is about 2 inches shorter and is the smallest hound in my kennel but has the biggest heart of any. Izzy will stand up to any hound, Petra is not one to be in the corner, and has surprised me with her aggressiveness at times but she is not what I would call an alpha female.
I really enjoy hunting them in a brace. They both are very biddable and work well as a team. Petra a bit better of a check hound and Izzy controlling the drives. The day of this picture, I was surprised to check the Garmin and see that Petra was moving almost a full mph faster than Izzy. I'm going to chalk that up to the fact that rabbits were tough to come by due to the approaching storm and the 2 had to work to get up the pair of rabbits that they did roust.
Wow! Where has the time gone? Soon leaves will be falling and gun season will be here. This has been the most miserable summer that I can remember. Non stop heat & humidity and endless rain.
I've been neglecting the website a bit as I just have so much going on and they are telling me I need to upgrade to a more "modern" format. Some buttons do not work on the mobile site and it has become more of a hassle to update. I have been keeping the Facebook page updated a bit more regularly. Just like everything else, you have to adjust to change and change with the times so at some point, this site will undergo a face lift. (I try to keep this webpage and the Facebook site similar as I know some folks don't do FB.
With the decreased daylight hours, I will try to do some more frequent updates here. I have many things running around my brain. From crap I see & hear, to some hounds I'd like to celebrate & acknowledge.
Before I end this short blog post, I would like to post a link: https://www.nationalbeagleclub.org/Standard Now the state of the show beagle today is not good, the conformation of the field beagle is just as dire. This standard was written by very knowledgeable folks and every aspect of conformation relates to field performance.
Hard to believe that it has been 4 years since Mike's passing. I think of him daily, usually when I'm in the kennel or out with the hounds. He always had words of wisdom for me and thinking back, some things really ring true. Especially with the hounds but also with the people that interact with us through the kennel. I have pictures of Mike and Willet in the kennel and I often literally talk to the pictures. I believe that Mike has guided me through some of the decisions I have had to make.