How Many Dogs are the Right Number for My Hunting String?

I have too many dogs.  I have written about this before but I really didn’t address it with myself at the time that it happened.  This blog post is really more for me than it is for you but I have to write down so I’ll do it here and see what comes out of it.

Right now I have 16 dogs.  The breakdown of these are 11 pointing dogs that are still hunting, 1 lab that is used for Dove, Duck and Pheasants, 1 pet cocker spaniel and 3 retired pointing dogs (1 english pointer and 2 brittanys.)

It’s rare for me to actually get rid of a dog.  I’m not really sure I ever have really.  I sold one of my younger pups to a buddy of mine, but ended up buying him back a few years later.

I have room for this many dogs and I can afford to keep them.  The question is do I have time to properly train and condition this many.

The other question is how many dogs do I REALLY need on my hunting string?  I think the correct number is 8 active pointing dogs and one lab. That gives me 4 braces in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.  That’s a full day but it is doable when the weather is right.

I can also easily travel with 8 by myself.  Anything over that is more than I really want to deal with on the road.

So if I go that route, who gets cut from the team?

Click, Sage and Stud are in.  Cash, Merle and Brandy are also locked in.  That leaves 5 dogs to fill 2 spots.

Bu, Mac, Apple, Izzy and Axl.

Bu is the dog we found a few years back that had gotten off a chain gang and was lost in Texas.

I like several things about her.   She has an amazing nose but lacks the speed of my other dogs.  She would fit someone that prefers a slower paced dog.  I have put a good bit of time and money into her and she is steady to wing and shot.  Her retrieving needs some work but she likes to find dead birds.

Mac is a half brother to Stud, Click, Merle and Apple.  He is showing a bunch of promise and I think he fits my program as well as any of the five I am looking at cutting.  My only concern with him is that he is very head strong.  While that isn’t normally an issue, I already have a couple of bull headed dogs and I’m not sure I want more.   The other side of this is that he showed more promise as a young dog than any I have ever had.

Apple is a half sister to Stud, Click, Merle and Mac.  She also fits in my system really well and is one of the classiest young dogs I have ever owned.  She is a keeper, but she would also be pretty easy to move.  I have had a couple of offers on her already.

Izzy is out of National Champion Lester’s Snowatch.  She is a birdy dog and I love watching her run.  She shows some signs of being the kind of dog that could replace Em as my number one dog.  I don’t really know how do describe it but there is a certain personality trait that my better bird dogs have shared.  They tend to not really care about other dogs and have a aloof nature about them that I don’t see in many dogs. They also tend to be very fond of me while ignoring other people.  I will have a hard time letting her go.

Axl is a granddaughter to Nation Champion Funseeker’s Rebel.  She has the typical Funseeker look – tall and leggy.  She has an awesome nose and is doing really well on pen birds.  She needs some time on wild birds.  My only concern with her is that she isn’t going to run as big as I prefer.  At this point I am a little up in the air on her.  No question that she will not make a horse back dog but I seldom hunt off horseback and having a few close dogs would not be the end of the world.

If I had to make a decision right now, I would keep Mac and Izzy to round out my 8.

This little exercise has helped me get my thoughts in line, but I still don’t know if I want to let these dogs go.

End of the season really isn’t the best time to sell dogs.  The smart move would be to work them in the spring and summer and make my choice closer to next season.

Steve Snell
Gun Dog Supply

Last day in Texas – Another Torn ACL

The last day of the Texas hunting season we started early to get the right light for taking pictures.  Rob prefers that magical hour right after the sun pops over the horizon and that means we have to be on the ground before sun up.  I have to get out there early so I can prep my gear and get my dogs exercised.

I don’t like to put out a stake out chain at the hotel at 6am out of respect for the other hotel guests that are still asleep.  Nothing like the sound of a sledge hammer to wake you up in the morning.  I seldom have barking issues at the hotel because I make sure any of my barkers are wearing bark collars.  I can’t stand having to get up at 3am because a cat decides to cruise by my truck and gets the crew worked up.

I started using the chain gang more this year since I made more trips to Texas on my own.  I doubt I will go back to walking dogs since I can do this SO much faster.  I can exercise 12 dogs in about 20 minutes.  That’s start to finish and it includes clean up and poop scooping time.  I couldn’t do that with two or three guys helping me.  It also allows more time on the ground per dog.

We got all the dogs settled and started the first round.  I ran Em, Click and Sage.  Em prefers to go first and Sage and Click are my “pretty” dogs.  They take better pictures and Rob wanted to finish up a few specific shots. 

I knew 5 minutes out of the truck that I had a problem.  Em was having a leg issue.  She had ran well the two days before and overall she had a pretty nice season.  She may look her age but she can still run. 

She had recovered well from her torn ACL from last summer.  The TPLO surgery had really fixed the issue and I was real pleased with her progress. 

I could tell from the way she was holding her leg that she had screwed up the repair job.  My guess was that one of the plates had come lose or worse.  I called her in and took her back to the truck. 

She did not appear to be in any pain so once we got her settled, we moved on to another spot to finish running dogs. 

Once we got back to Starkville, I took her in to my vet to have him look at it and see what had happened.  He called me back that morning to tell me that the hurt leg was not the one she had messed up last summer but her other leg.  She had torn her other ACL.

I guess in hind sight, it’s a good thing that the repaired leg held up.  I had just forgotten which leg it was that was hurt last year.

My vet gave me my options but I really didn’t need to spend a bunch of time thinking about it.  Em is the reason I bird hunt today and really the reason that I am running Gun Dog Supply.  She was my third bird dog.  I got my first one Dee, when I was 9.  My next was a duaghter of hers names Babe.  My dad bought Em when I was 28.  She quickly became my dog.

 At some point, I’ll spend more time writing about her, but needless to say, I’ll do what ever it takes to make her time left here comfortable.

I could not be happier with the way she responded to her first TPLO surgery, so I had little or no doubt that this one would also go well.  It’s never easy to make this kind of decision on a dog her age, but I felt pretty comfortable that it would work out.

I had my vet set up the appointment in Birmingham and we headed there two days later.  I had them check her and no question it needed to be repaired.  I left her over night and came back to pick her up the next day. 

The Doctors were real pleased with how it went and I thought she looked better than the last time.

Now we begin the two weeks of little or no movement and the daily regiment of pills.  She also has to wear the stylish Elizabethan collar that keeps her from chewing  out the staples.  Last time I gave her some time with out the collar but I was pushing my luck and I don’t need to do that this time.  She will wear it unless I am with her.

I set her up a new smaller dog run in the garage.  This way she is close to me and does not have to deal with the other dogs.  She can stay in the crate in the house at night and come to the office with me on most days.

She hates taking pills.  I have always been good at getting pills dog a dog, but I think if she had any teeth left, I would have lost a finger by now.  Only a few more days left of pills and less than a week until we get the staples taken out.  We will both be much happier after that is done.

Then it’s on to physical rehab.  It will be good for both of us. 

I’ll right more in the near future about the TPLO surgery and using a roading harness to keep your dogs in shape during the off season.

Steve Snell

Welcome to the Jungle

I picked up my last new puppy for a while……I swear….no more.  Not until these are all trained.

Axl is the grandaughter of 2007 National Champion Funseeker’s Rebel 

She is out out a Funseeker’s Rebel Joe and a daughter of CH Sir Lancelot Phantom’s Shakira

I got to see both dogs run last summer in South Dakota and was so impressed I had to have one for myself.  I wish I had picked up a direct son or daughter before Funseeker’s Rebel pasted away.

Axl is as bold of a pup as I have seen in a long time.  I expect her to make a really nice bird dog.  

This gives me dogs out of the last three National Champions.  Should be interesting. 

For those of you that don’t know, she is named after Axl Rose of the rock band Guns n Roses. 

 I named my Lester’s Snowatch pup “Izzy” after guitarist Izzy Stradlin.   I’m not that big of a fan, but they really had cool names.

I guess that means the next pup will be “Slash”…..when I get my next pup…..four or five years from now……I swear….

Steve Snell

Gun Dog Supply

New Pups in the Field

This morning I ran  Mac, Apple and Izzy.  All three pups are coming
along really well and showing signs of turning into classy bird dogs.

Mac is out of Phantom’s Wizard  and Phantom’s Southern Sky

Wiz is the sire of several of our dogs including Click, Stud and Merle.

Apple is also out of Wizard and Phantom’s Saffron

Izzy may just be the best bred female I have ever had in my kennel.

Her sire is 2009 National Champion Lester’s Snowatch.

Her dam is Phantom’s Wild Chick

Wild Chick is a full sister to 2008 National Champion Whippoorwill Wild Agin

All three are finding and pointing birds and holding them pretty well for their age.

Mac is the most natural bird dog I think I have ever seen.  He seems to really understand birds and how to find them.  What has really impressed me about him is that he has found wild birds in both Texas and Georgia.  These are very different scent back grounds and it normally takes grown dogs time to adjust to the change.

It’s going to be a really busy this spring getting them ready for the fall.

Steve Snell
Gun Dog Supply

400 Industrial Park Road, Suite G
Starkville, MS 39759

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