ABOUT LONE PINE
A wife’s story:
When Mike came home announcing that he wanted a “bird dog” instead of the male boxer
we’d been talking about, I was a little put out. We already had Tyner, our female boxer and
were looking to add a second dog to the family. He’d never really bird hunted much, but
insisted he wanted to do more and didn’t want to “fetch his own birds”. I guess I only had
myself to blame since I was the one who had told him 5 years earlier that if he was going to
be part of my family he needed to hunt because hunting was a big deal to my family and I.
I had grown up spending every second that I could with my dad hunting, trapping, and fishing
in the Pacific Northwest. Little did I know that a Coastie from Boston would end up being
every bit as enthusiastic about the outdoors as my family and friends.
At first I thought maybe it was a passing phase and said something like, “Okay, but it has to
be female, it can’t shed or it has to have short hair. You do the research and let me know
what you find and then we’ll talk about it.” But soon he started discussing the merits of
different breeds that he’d found, reading descriptions to me and *gasp* asking my opinions.
This was no passing phase, we were going to be getting a bird dog. Good bye dear boxer boy,
Then it happened. He found the pudelpointer. He came home one day all excited that he
had “found the breed for us”. When he showed me the first picture I’d ever seen of a pudel-
pointer I have to admit I thought they were a little goofy looking. We were lucky enough to
live a half hour from the man who originally brought the breed to North America from
Germany, so we called and scheduled a visit to meet a pudelpointer in person and chat with
someone familiar with the breed. That day, we learned a lot about the breed, its history and
we came away feeling better about this potential new dog, but we still wanted to see some
bird work. So we looked up another breeder in Oregon and asked if we could watch his dogs
work. It was worth the 5 hour drive!
It’s a joy to watch a pudelpointer work, upland or waterfowl. Their hunting drive is awesome!
There’s no craziness, just focus. They are obedient, steady, and joyful in their hunt. What was
even more endearing was that when the hunt was over, and they were back at the house, all
they wanted was to be loved on. All of the hunting intensity suddenly melted into a wonder-
fully mannered house dog. I couldn’t believe they could mellow out that quickly. And that
goofy looking dog suddenly became cute in a goofy looking way, and melted my heart. I was
Enter Callie. At 4 and a half pounds she was the cutest little bundle of pup. We brought her
home in October 2010. Tyner looked at us like we were torturing her with this new little thing.
Sure enough Callie provided Tyner with plenty of torture. I think Tyner’s poor jowls are still
scarred from those sharp little puppy teeth. Thank goodness for the big gentle boxer nanny.
We played with wings, mini bumpers, and did all kinds of things new inexperienced bird dog
owners do wrong. Ultimately we decided we’d better get serious about training and joined a
gun dog club a couple of hours away; meeting once a month starting in February each year.
There, we discovered clicker training….and all of the training atrocities we’d been committing.
Although I was skeptical, clicker training worked great for Callie; she thrived on the positive
reinforcement training method. Slowly we started correcting the training mistakes we had
made in earlier months, and discovered how forgiving she was in her training. She was way
smarter than her trainers.
After a while we started thinking, “boy this dog is really good.” She picked up the training quickly, and seemed to excel at everything. She got a lot of compliments from other people in the club (where she was the only pudelpointer), and seemed to be such a natural at all of this bird dog stuff. So, naturally we started thinking about the NAVHDA Natural Ability test and possibly breeding her in the future.
Since I wasn’t working at the time, I became the principal trainer, with Mike helping me a lot when he wasn’t at work. We were lucky enough to live where we could keep a few training pigeons, and had a big open field right out our back door. We were also lucky to have some really great dog trainers, willing to help us along in this endeavor, and a couple of bird preserves that we could go to in order to get her familiar with different types of upland birds. Even if it did mean a 2 – 5 hour drive to get to them. We were willing. So from March 2011 until August 2011 training was our focus almost every day.
When Mike had to go fly on the Deep Water Horizon spill for a few weeks I took the opportunity to train Callie to fetch beer out of the fridge as a surprise for him when he came home. Boy was he impressed! The video is on her page.
We tested her at the Willamette Valley NAVHDA Chapter test in August 2011, 3 days before her first birthday. I was SO nervous! Callie and I went over the day before her test to watch the other dogs run and get Callie used to the area. Mike had to work and came over the day of the test to cheer us on. She was the last dog to run which was good for the field work. She found 3 birds and pointed them all beautifully, also having to relocate one that I couldn’t find. She had two wild flushes, one of which she ran down and retrieved to hand like a champ. Not an ounce of gun shyness; she even ran over to the shooter hoping for some action. The water work was a piece of cake for a dog that loves water as much as Callie. She was the only dog that day to track and point her pheasant. I kept thinking something was going to go wrong, that we weren’t prepared, that I was going to mess something up, but I could not have asked for a better day with that dog. She didn’t falter once. When they announced her score of 112, prize one, I cried. What proud mom wouldn’t?
Since that day we hunt every chance we get and wish we could go more. I often hunt for a while and then just work with Callie or take pictures of her working for Mike. She always finds more birds that we are able to shoot and always looks at us with a mild disdain when we miss.
We are currently stationed in Mobile, Alabama – the latest in a long line of Coast Guard assignments for my helicopter pilot husband – and considering training for the NAVHDA Utility test for Callie. We are also finally ready for a litter of pups. When it came time to choose a kennel name for our breeding program we chose Lone Pine for our favorite deer hunting ridge in Eastern Oregon where there is also a great chucker and grouse population.
Not only is Callie a great hunting dog, she is the happiest, silliest, best snuggling, most wonderful house dog. She makes me smile every day. I guess you could say this goofy looking furry faced little dog has worked her way into my heart and I will be forever grateful for the day my husband came home and said he wanted a “bird dog”.