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Goodbye and Hello to Dogs

A team of working dogs is like a tool box that you happen to love. A living and loving tool box. They are all like much loved family members, but there is also a constant calculation of their ages and abilities going on in order to have young dogs in training so that the team is  able to cope with the work required.

My team used to be larger because I used to be on grouse-over-pointers on the Scottish moors 4-5 days per week for six weeks from 12th August. Other times of the year there would be grouse counting jobs and plenty of other days of varied hunting work. These days I do less dog work, so a smaller team is better, but it does leave me more vulnerable to losing a dog because one dog is suddenly a larger percentage of the team gone.

My three German Wirehaired Pointers each holding a pigeon as I was plucking for the freezer.

A bad year of Goodbyes….

Many people tell me that they have followed my pointer blogs over the years, but I had a pause in the writing. I am now ready to continue after having had a few set-backs from my pointer team. I lost three dogs in just over a year.

Gaia: My open field trial winning German Wirehaired Pointer with such drive and skill. She was my little honey. However, she was slowly developing a side that was unpredictable and aggressive. It started with the odd “nip in the arse” when you least expected it. A friend would come in to the house, say hello to the dogs and go in to the sitting room at which point Gaia would nip them in the back of the leg. Most unpleasant, but everyone is polite and says it doesn’t matter…..

Gaia on point in the hedge.

Then she bit a plumber and a CCTV installer, which I excused by the fact she couldn’t know if they were friendly or burglars.

It was beginning to be a question of keeping the dog out of the way of other people, which is never nice and it is unsustainable. Gaia took a special disliking to one of my friends, whom she bit in the leg as we were going away on holiday together. He was dismissive and polite, but Gaia had it in for him and I resorted to be on holiday with her wearing a muzzle. During the holiday, she had a couple of attempts to bite him in the leg, but obviously was not able to. One day he walked round the corner of the house and Gaia went for a full frontal attack biting for his chest and face. At this point I realised she had to go. I sadly put her down having cried all my tears. She was the most loyal dog to me and therein, perhaps, lies the problem. A real one-woman-dog can be so devoted that everyone else is seen as an enemy.

I had already a little Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla on order, so my Smeagol arrived the same spring to be part of the remaining family of Pontus and Gollum, both also GWPs.

The most loving and kind dog, Pontus.

Pontus: My five year old son of Gaia. The most loving creature to walk this earth and a strong, powerful dog.

One morning I could hear a noise from the garden where the dogs live during the day. It was by instinct that I rushed out to check and here was Pontus looking unwell. I could see his big belly so I rang the vet to say I had a dog with suspected bloat that I would bring in immediately. Poor Pontus was operated on straight away and the operation of untwisting hihhs stomach went well, however he then developed Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis. It was awful and we tried to keep him going on drips and medicine for three days, but in the end he was too ill and had to let him go. That was a real blow. Pontus was never that good a pointer dog, but he was so incredibly loving and friendly and he was a pleasant working dog to have around.

Gollum:  He was made of strong stuff. Having been diagnosed with a cancer growth in his chest somewhere 18 months earlier, at the age of 11, he carried on till this spring despite wheezing away. It was one of these difficult times where he looked pathetic at home some times, but would be very happy to run along for 3-4 miles taking great detours and enjoying all the smells. Often I thought “It is time to let him go”, but then he definitely had quality of life and was just an old dog.

Then one evening I could see he got some cramps in pain and I let him go early the next morning. It was exactly the right time. Not too early, not too late.

The end of a long, happy life for a devoted dog. Gollum had been my “walking stick” supporting me while we crossed many Scottish rivers over the years. During the last few months of his life, I had to lift him over little streams and rivers. I was so happy to be able to give him that help and support in return.

Hello to Two New Members of the Tool Box

Having suddenly run out of German Wirehaired Pointers, it was time to change the tools. Since I had my Alice over twenty years ago, I have been tempted to have a Hungarian Vizsla again and now was the time. Not a smooth Vizsla, but a wirehaired this time. Smeagol arrived in April 2021 and she is a wonderful creature. She is smart, loving, cuddly and has a superb talent for hunting and pointing. Her mission is to do the right thing all the time.

She swims happily and her pointing is brilliant. Already at 8 months old we were called upon for a small grouse job and she served up three points for the guns without missing anything.

Smeagol on point.

Roi: Now building up the new crew of dogs, I considered a pointer or a setter. I got lucky and found an Upperwood English Setter puppy. I intended to have a bitch, but there were only three boys left and I chose this lemon coloured one. He is stunning and a very nice puppy in every way. The boy-dogs I have had in my life have all been so lovely and I think Roi will follow that line.

Here he is at 11 weeks old: Swimming in the river…..!

Roi, 11 weeks and swimming.

So there will be more stories about the new crew. Hopefully I get a few years of happy and healthy dogs in their dog beds.

Here is Roi happy in his nest that is still way too big for him in the back of the car.