31 May 2010

Alarm bark

As we sat outdoors yesterday evening, eating our dinner on our balcony, Diva started to bark and growl. Then Miska & Tyro chimed in. Diva, however, kept it up and wouldn't stop. We couldn't figure out what she was vocalizing at but she was clearly perturbed about something. We did hear the snap, crackle of some creature going through the woods and Michael figured it was probably a squirrel. But I didn't think so as our dogs don't react like that to the sound of a squirrel. It was something else but we didn't know what so Michael disappeared to check things out. I thought he was going into the woods but instead, he went to the DVD player to which we have hooked up an infrared camera located by the fox/coyote dens. Well, well, well! He saw a coyote passing through. So our little Diva, whom we still think of a puppy, is now grown up enough to be a real watch dog. Diva was right to get worked up and give us a warning.

Diva taken May 2010

And on the subject of coyotes, I just learned today that Diva's brother, Quest, was attacked from the rear by a coyote about a week ago.  He had several puncture wounds, especially around his tail and likely sustained when he was trying to flee.  It was around 4 pm when this happened, in North Toronto.

30 May 2010


Yesterday I ran Miska in an FDX (Field Dog Excellent) at the VSO field tests. I only entered her in the one day because:
  • She hadn't been on birds or done any field training for the past 8 months due to our lengthy sojourn in AZ
  • I didn't know if she would be in good enough physical condition given that the main form of her exercise for most of the past 6 months while in AZ was very brisk leash walks
  • I wan't familiar with the grounds having found the venue at other field test locations far too small for FDX level.
I thought that perhaps her lengthy absence from the field might deliver some positive results (wishful thinking, eh?).  Well, I didn't really expect Miska to pass although I was hopeful.  She started off well, covering a lot of ground quickly. Then she honored (backed) her GSP brace without me commanding her.

Miska backing her bracemate

Miska holding her honor position
Miska stayed in position throughout the flush, shot and retrieve of the GSP's bird.  I saw Miska flinch when the bird flushed and knew she was desperate to retrieve the other dog's bird but although she re-positioned herself (well, she just moved a tiny bit) she otherwise stayed pit.  At that point, my hopes really started to rise because remaining steady through the shot & retrieve of another dog's bird has been her nemesis.

Then Miska found a bird & went on point, exhibiting a beautiful style. We had to wait quite a while for the GSP to be rounded up so he could display his backing skills. The GSP either saw Miska on point and ignored her or looked right through her because he needed a command from his handler to whoa.  Finally he backed Miska. 

Miska pointing her Chukar

The Chukar was right in that grassy mound so it was easy for me to spot. I told Miska to whoa while I flushed it. As soon as it took flight, she broke her point and started to chase it (aaarrrgh!).  All hopes were dashed at that moment because it meant a FAIL.  Why did she break her own point but held it on the honor?  Who knows?

Despite the 'Fail',  I was still very very pleased with many aspects of Miska performance. She covered a lot of ground; she scored a 9/10 for desire; 8/10 for style of running; 15/15 for pointing and a 10/10 for her honor.  I can't possibly fault her for what she didn't do or did. I realized afterwards that this was my first time handling at this level in Canada as Miska's field trainer, Mike Wilshire, had always handled her. So I probably made some mistakes or failed to take action when I should have.  But Miska came out of the field very tired and happy because she did was she loves to do and I was very happy with her honoring.

27 May 2010

Sasha, you made my day!

It's been more than 2 years now that we lost our beloved Sasha. But today, he was very much in my thoughts because of the surprise I found. I've been purging closets, drawers, cupboards, etc. disposing, donating, moving stuff to reduce clutter. I came across a couple of old Vizsla Club of America national events catalogues in my bedroom and decided to move them to another room where more of my dog stuff is stored. The catalogues dated back to 2002 and 2003. I just happen to open the 2003 catalogue from Charlotte, NC which then brought back lots of memories:  

  • An entire garment bag got left behind at home so I had nothing to wear into the show ring and to rush around shopping for new outfits after our arrival in Charlotte; of course I didn't discover this until we arrived at the hotel, 780 miles from home. I was not a happy camper especially because it was still very hot at the end of October and the only clothes the stores were selling were for winter.  I couldn't find anything cool to buy!
  • There was a fire alarm in the hotel and every one had to vacate their rooms. Fortunately Michael was in the room  with the dogs at the time and was able to get them out but other dogs were trapped in their rooms while most people were at a VCA welcome reception; fortunately there was no fire but it was a scary moment for all Vizsla owners.
  • Keira earned her first leg in AKC Novice A, Jumpers with Weaves in the agility trial with a clean run, score of 100 & 2nd place; I got happy.
  • Keira and Tasha came second in the Brace class. I was very happy.
  • Sasha took 4th place in the Veteran Sweepstakes, 12 yr & older. I was thrilled. 

Well, the surprise was finding the envelope containing Sasha's sweepstakes win, still sealed after almost 7 years! So today (May 27, 2010), I finally opened it.  Inside was his $15 (US) cash win. Thanks Sasha! You made my day. I love you and still miss you so much. And Keira and Tasha are still missed and loved.

Sasha sporting his Parade of 
Champions rosette from the 2003 Nationals

25 May 2010

Goodbye new neighbours??

Well, perhaps the presence of our 3 Vizslas has been enough to give the coyote family the heebie-jeebies.  We saw the coyotes on camera (we have an infra-red outdoor camera that is set up close to the den entrances and we can record activity as desired on our DVD player), trying to herd their 3 youngsters into the woods one night.  It was a challenge for the parents as the kids weren't co-operating so finally mom and dad finally picked the uncooperative urchins up by the scruff and carted them off to another location.  So far, we haven't seen the family back.  Yippee! 

That's not to say they aren't very far away however as it's likely they found another home somewhere on our adjacent neighbour's 40 acre plot which is mainly wooded, like our land is. What we did see however, not long after their disappearance, visits from a fox and a very large male coyote (or perhaps wolf-coyote cross) but not 'our' coyotes.  This big male sniffed around the den entrance and then marked his scent but didn't enter the den.  A neighbour a few miles away told me about wolf-coyote hybrids (coywolf) being in the area. This male that paid us a visit sure was big, like a wolf although seeing something on a large screen TV can be deceiving. Anyway, we do watch our dogs more closely now when they are outdoors and pray we will have no Vizsla Coyote encounters.      

24 May 2010


Our Diva (Varazs Kedves Quickstep FDJ) born 2008 from our Ozzie-Miska litter, finally took her first show point in Canada today. I had focused on showing three of her littermates (Piper, Gunner & Quest) last year in Canada so Diva had to sit home while her littermates had fun in the ring instead. This was Diva's first conformation show in Canada in 2010 after being away in AZ for 6 months. Finally on Monday we had another female whom Diva was competing against and Diva took one point under judge David Kelland of Conception Bay South, NL.

21 May 2010

Unwelcome new neighbours

While we were away in AZ for the winter, we acquired some new and close neighbours who are NOT welcome at all. They are quiet, keep to themselves BUT - they are coyotes (canis latrans) and Mr & Mrs Wil E. Coyote have 3 kids! We are definitely not happy about these new neighbours. Last year coyotes virtually drove away the red foxes which had been occupying dens on our property for several years. We enjoyed and welcomed the foxes and looked forward to their kits but don't feel the same love and friendship towards the coyotes. These dens are only about 20 feet from our driveway and about 200 feet from our house. Very close indeed! Just when we thought our dogs could enjoy their off-leash freedom, instead, they are being very closely supervised while outdoors and not being let at all unattended, which means they must be kept indoors much of the day except for walks. Not at all what I and they were expecting on our return home. Boo, hoo!

10 May 2010

Happy Campers!

We just returned to Ontario after a 6-month stint wintering in Arizona. Our welcome home was inhospitable: rain, sleet, ice pellets, very chilly temperatures, and strong winds. Quite a dramatic change after the mild winter and early warm spring I was told this province had.

After 4 days of traveling in the van from Arizona to Ontario, our dogs had to endure yet another 2 days being cooped up in our Ontario home due to the foul weather.  But better safe than sorry as a few new trees came down during the wind storm so I was thankful I didn't venture out into the woods.  Finally, the winds subsided and it warmed up ever so slightly on Sunday.  I went to get their blaze orange collars and bells and from that point, the dogs just got so excited! They remembered what this meant. Walkies!!  Actually, "runnies", not walkies.

Apart from several trips to the dog park in Arizona, our dogs' main exercise has been brisk, long leash walks - for some very important reasons.
  1. Dangers of cactus everywhere and I mean everywhere! (at least where we live)
  2. Very strict leash laws in Maricopa County
  3. Huge fines and court appearances if charged for being off leash
  4. Potential dangers of coyotes, javalinas, bobcats, and rattlesnakes depending on the time of year and location of our walks.
So imagine their excitement at the prospect of going for a run off leash!  Let's go, let's go, let's GO mom!  Admittedly, I was rather nervous even though I've taken them for runs in our woods for years and years.  I guess I was worried they would be so smitten with being free, that they would quickly disappear into the woods onto fresh scents they hadn't smelled in months.  At least when I walk them on leash, I always have them under control.

To ease my feelings, I did a lot of short recalls while they were in close proximity and this helped.  However, Diva, now almost 2, disappeared twice. The second time she disappeared in the same area and didn't return right away when I blew the whistle and called her name. I called and called. Note to self - work harder on her recalls!!!  Finally she emerged carrying a deer leg in her mouth.  Well, what a coincidence! Miska did exactly the same thing - found a deer leg the first day after our return from Arizona last year! (See http://varazsvizslas.blogspot.com/2009/02/miskas-trophy.html) Like mother, like daughter!  At least I know Diva has a good nose and has already proven herself to to be a good hunter.  Now Diva has to prove herself on her recalls.

Proud Diva with her deer leg treasure