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Allyson Tohme writes about her experiences with her first Weimaraner. The article appeared in Weimaraner News Summer 2005, published by the Weimaraner Club of Great Britain

Tickners Esel UDex WDex TDex.

My first Weimaraner was bought after researching the breed via books and magazines, visiting a well known breeder or two and then phoning around to see what was available. Like most new owners I wanted one now and was pointed in the direction of a 4 month old pup hundreds of miles away who turned out to be a week short of 6 months old with whom I fell immediately in love.

I lived in Somerset at the time and had easy access to good walking which I enjoyed whilst admiring my dog’s prowess at hunting, catching and killing various forms of wildlife. Basically, this consisted of anything with fur or feather and I often had to dispose of the bodies which included rabbits, hares, pheasant and cats. By the time I realised that this was perhaps not such a good idea after all, it was, of course, too late as he had become an accomplished exterminating machine that made the Daleks look like amateurs. Nothing was too daunting for him to tackle; swans, foxes and on one memorable occasion a badger (the only time he came back the worse for wear).

Being deep in farming country I made sure that he did not threaten sheep or cows, however those who kept them tended to have dogs that lacked basic social skills and were equally hell bent on removing other canines that appeared on their horizon. Sadly for them, Smokey was up for the challenge which, to the day he died, he never lost.

When I joined my local dog club I was met with the immortal words “You will never do much with one of those” which was of course a red rag to a bull. It was here that I realised the truth; that Smokey would not let anything with 2 or 4 legs get between him and me, confirmed when he rather violently objected to the obedience trainer taking him off me.

I had heard about Working Trials and decided to check out the club nearest to me. Smokey took to it like a duck to water, however there was the small matter of control to sort out. We had none. Members would roll their eyes and disappear when we arrived on the scene especially after Smokey had informed all and sundry that he was NOT into small talk. We trained and did extremely well apart from the down stay, which became such an issue that I withdrew him from competition for 15 months. After some expert help we conquered this problem and he went on to win or be placed in every stake bar ticket. However, I had to be very careful where I exercised him and to always put him next to a bitch in the stays.

Smokey mellowed a little after being castrated at 3 but was still a serious predator and I spent our time together constantly scanning the horizon for loose dogs. Less than total concentration by me resulted in a few near death experiences (for others) and I have to say he nearly went on a one way trip to the vets several times.

Why was my dog the way he was?

It would be easy to say he was “a difficult dog”, which in truth he was; he feared nothing and no-one and was supremely confident. He was a dream to live with in the house and I could go out in the middle of the night knowing that no-one would get anywhere near me. But the price I paid for my negligence when he was a puppy was high.
A major reason behind his behaviour was me. I failed to recognise the potential problems in allowing my dog to go “self employed” in the field. I failed to expose him adequately to other dogs so that he would tolerate, if not actively like them. I failed to adequately control him so that he did not interfere with other people and/or their dogs. I failed to extend to others the courtesy I now expect for myself. He taught me some extremely valuable lessons which I have passed on to my subsequent dogs. His behaviour also led me to people who helped me more or less keep him in check.

So why have I written this article? Because if I cannot be a good example, perhaps I can be a horrible warning. Because I would like others to avoid the mistakes I made and to recognize and take good advice when it is offered in the spirit with which it is intended. Because success does not happen “overnight”, it is a product of consistent, relentless training during which many setbacks will be encountered and overcome if you want it badly enough.

None of my dogs popped out of the womb “ready trained” and there were times when I could have thrown in the towel but I guess I am one of those people who has a will to match that of our grey ghosts. I certainly needed it at times.

Smokey is still remembered, not always fondly by fellow competitors and in many ways he was my dog of a lifetime, but not necessarily for all the right reasons. To be honest although I loved him to bits it was a bit of a relief when he finally popped his clogs as I never had to worry about other dogs or people again.

Sad but true
Allyson Tohme

On point

WCGB Dedito Grouse Pointing Test 2 August 2014 at Scargill & Gilmonby Moors, North Yorks, by kind permission of Mike Ainsley & HostDario Martina.

 WCGB Member & Sponsor, Dario Martina was largely responsible for making the Jubilee Grouse pointing test go with such a bang last year.

 

He wanted to make it an annual event, in memory of his older Weimaraner Dodi (Dedito) who made it possible for Dario to access the grouse moors of North Yorkshire. And so we began to plan this year's Dedito GrousePointing Test

 

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The day went well supported by Weimaraners from Somerset, to Kent and all the way up to Yorkshire - 3 Juniors and 10 Adults filled the card.

Conditions were in stark contrast to last year's windless heatwave. This weather favoured the dogs, although the handlers had to adopt a 'layering' approach to clothing. as the temperatures went from baking to thunderstorms and high winds within a minute.

 

A 'test' can be off - putting to handlers not used to running under those conditions and who would otherwise not have come to take the opportunity. To encourage the unconfident and inexperienced, there was also a Keeper's Choice Dedito Trophy on offer, judged by Keeper Mike Ainsley and his underkeepers, as well as Roy, the Keeper at neighbouring Barningham and last year's host.

coming up on point 2

 

All the dogs had opportunities on grouse, and judges Costas Wilkinson and Rory Major awarded a Junior dog a 'Good' grading - Adrian Morgan handling his & Sally Morgan's Ignaheim's Bolt toParhelis, and Adult 'Excellent' grading to Julie Turner and Quadet Dargo at Rockleyan. 

Winners2

 

The Keepers huddled for a deep discussion while they sheltered in the lunch hit from the ragoinhg deluge outside, and decided on the Morgan's dog Bolt for the Dedito Trophy.

 

Dario's company, Deditoshootingwear.com and John Field.eu both generously sponsored the Keepers' prize and Judges' gifts, and Goody Bags for all the competitors. Sporting Saints sponsored prizes and vouchers for the 3 Junior dogs.

 

The raffle raised £50 for Rescue and Rehoming  - not bad for our small group.

group

 

Local photographer David Williams was unobtrusive all day, capturing the action. He has kindly supplied the images here, and all images from the day can be viewed on and purchased from www.calicoimages.co.uk under the 'Field Sports' heading Weimaraner - Dedito GrousePointing Trial - 2nd August 2014

 

Thanks to everyone on the field trial sub-committee, sponsors, photographer, host and officials , as well as the sporting competitors, who made this day possible and enjoyable

Suzi Burton

WCGB Field Trial Secretary 

 

The amended Dangerous Dogs Act comes into effect in England and Wales on 13 May 2014.

This law applies to all dog owners no matter what size or breed, whether your pet is a Chihuahua,

a Cockapoo or a Collie cross.

click here for more information

 

WARNING there have been a number of cases recently of two men attempting to steal gundogs and in some cases successfully!

Please be vigilent when out walking your dog, never tether a dog out side while shopping or leave dogs in a garden unattended. Ensure outdoor kennels are secure and locked.

Please report any suspicious circumstances to the police immediately

by Suzi Burton

Rabbit retrieve July 2012I have been asked many times why I didn’t have Chyna put to sleep. Over the last year or so she has gone from winning awards at Open field trials through chronic illness, glaucoma and blindness.

But the thing about my Chyna is her unwavering determination to get on with life with a happiness and optimism that is just inspiring.

Only twice since she became ill at just aged 4 years, did I think about the option of euthanasia – once right at the beginning when diagnosis was slow and she was clearly in pain, and latterly when her eyes became so painful that she became almost bedridden. Both times were the only indications from her that her life was draining of quality. Throughout all the other ups and downs, she never felt sorry for herself and so I resolved not to feel sorry for her either, but to go along with her as long as she wanted to fight on.

My devastation was for myself, the loss of my all-time best shooting companion just as she was coming in to her prime, a kindly soul who never wanted to do anything wrong.

For nearly a year, costing thousands of pounds of medical care beyond her insurance,  I fought hard to keep her overall condition improving and her eyes in, administering expensive drops several times a day, but in the end had to admit that my last option was to have them removed to alleviate her obviously increasing discomfort.

The veterinary eye specialists had told me soon after the glaucoma was diagnosed that it was better for Chyna to take the eyes out, and anecdotal advice from friends with experience of blindness and glaucoma nevertheless was considered and then dismissed. I couldn’t understand that life without eyes could be better…. But in the end there was no choice.

At the end of a busy day in her sheepskin lined bedThe improvement in her spirits came the night she came home with big stitches where her eyes had been…… I fed her alone where her bed had become in the living room, left her quietly and crept to the kitchen to feed the others. I turned around to see her at the door, wobbly from anaesthetic, wanting more food!

A few days later I took her, as always with the rest of the gang, to my shoot barbeque, parking a good way away so as to be able to keep her from knocking in to anything. By the time I had let the others out and locked the car, I turned around to see her about 100 yards down the field, standing next to the barbeque, having negotiated her way around cars, marquee lines and chairs, following her nose to the smells of sausages!

We have never looked back. Chyna is an amazing example of an animal’s survival instincts and her sunny, happy-go-lucky disposition reappeared in proportion to her disappearing pain.

Everyone who knew her as she was, a good-natured, active and talented shooting dog, is amazed by her. I make a point of taking her out in public for others to meet her so I can tell her story.

On pointI never worry about her meeting other dogs, she is still sociable with people and dogs, only twice being attacked for being too close to their humans and unable to read the warning lip curl. She backed off both times.

She has an uncanny knack of turning before she hits stationary objects like walls, doors and cars, although she can come crashing into humans at a rate of knots. She has made mistakes, falling down ditches or careering in to hedges but she hardly misses a step, just carries on regardless.

She has built on her armoury of words and corresponding whistle commands she knew from training before – ‘heel’, ‘sit’, ‘come’ ‘down’, ‘on’ to hunt, ‘fetch’ to retrieve and ‘back’, ‘left’ and ‘right’ plus the ‘hunt there’ to be able to handle her on to retrieves.

I have been able to add ‘stop’ to cut her dead in her tracks, if she is for example heading for barbed wire, and ‘step’ to indicate steps or stairs or a dip coming up.

Armed with this lexicon, she can now come out rabbiting (video clips of her retrieves have been posted on youtube:

 and she has started this shooting season as one of my picking up team - making retrieves and ‘sweeping’ after drives, bringing game back to hand in with her usual tenderness, guided in by my verbal praise to a sit and present in front of me.  She accompanies me while I am shooting and we will try her deer tracking this season.Relentless in the water

She is also relentless in water, refusing to come out until she has found, even on the most submerged plastic dummy or game. Sometimes I am training the others only to find she has already got in the water on my commands and is swimming around looking for the retrieves!

Her searching in water is fascinating to watch, honing in on the barest scent track, changing direction as she loses then refinds the drifting bird or dummy, aided by my verbal and whistle directions.

On land, when she first went blind her gait was a ‘hackney’step, not sure of what lay in front of her, so careful to lift her feet high. Now on local paths she goes lickety-spit in front of me, ‘bouncing’ off the bordering vegetation with no loss of pace or determination.

On open ground, I tell her ‘away’ and she hunts at speed away from me, often finding game, and when she pauses to check her orientation I call her, at which point she comes charging back like there is no tomorrow. I try to let her be as independent as possible, and often leave her to it, so she air scents her way back to where I or the other dogs are. In close woodland if she feels unconfident about knocking in to trees, she automatically comes to heel until I reassure her she can go ‘away’ again.

A while ago I substituted her at an obedience class when my other bitch was in season. Unknown to me that week was an assessment by hard-core Obedience judges! Chyna dutifully did the heelwork off lead, with all the sits, down, rejoins, recalls and stops in mid recall they threw at her – and come out with First Prize rosette!

A quick turn at full speedSince her operation to have her eyes removed, Chyna’s ‘migraine’ (as the pain of glaucoma has been described when at its most pressured), has gone. A measure of Chyna’s increased confidence is her cheekiness, sometimes ignoring my stop whistle or directions, thinking she can do it herself, but this I take as a positive sign, and just correct her as I would if she could see. She also knows by some sort of telepathy when I am about to go into the living room for the evening, going along the hallway ahead but always waiting to be invited in before making her way to her basket, standing like a starving child facing the feed bin when it is time to be fed, and making her way upstairs to sleep on the sheepskin by my bed at night, and down again in the morning but only when she is sure it is breakfast time. She takes herself accurately along the path in to the garden to relieve herself, where I have put a small bell on the corner of the lawn, so she knows where to step down but this is really her only ‘white stick’.


Part of the teamAnother indication of her wellness comes from the pack – while Chyna was ill, Delta, my 4 year old, stepped in to the role of Chief, a part which did not sit well with her. Chyna has now taken back the reins and peace is restored, Delta making a daily ritual of grovelling to Chyna and Chyna playing her part by growling in a bossy way, just to keep Delta happy!

And so Chyna’s story is not one of loss but full of positive lessons about trust, trying and teamwork. She is a big part of my life and a valued member of The Trubon Team, hopefully for many years to come. She is priceless in every way.