Category Archives: Dogs

Boykin Fun Day

Last weekend we had the awesome opportunity to truck it down to Gainesville, Florida to visit my brother-in-law and his wonderful girlfriend as well as combine the trip with a Boykin Fun Day being sponsored at the wonderful Watermelon Pond Plantation in Archer, Florida—about 20 minutes west of Gainesville.

While Boykins are South Carolina’s state dog, they’re growing in popularity out of state with their ability to hunt both waterfowl (Samson’s job) and upland. So it was pleasantly odd to be outnumbered by Floridian Boykin owners! Kate Boulos, owner of Watermelon Pond Planatation and lifelong English Setter breeder/trainer, offered such a wonderful day and use of her land. Over 400 acres set aside just for hunting—it was the most beautiful quail hunting land I’ve seen. Being the granddaughter of a pointer/setter trainer and avid upland bird hunter, it was a wonderful place to draw on memories and scenes of my granddad growing up.

Samson hit so many milestones this day! We started the day’s events on his check cord because my little guy will NOT leave a body of water once he has entered. As witnessed when he ran straight for the pond and delayed the clay shoot/bumber retrieve event until we finally had to set out in a row boat to retreive my dog! However, the beauty of the day was it was for fun. So once we completed the clay shoot/bumber retrieve times, you could spend the rest of the day at that pond if desired—or continue on to time the other events. We opted to spend some decent time at the pond.

If I can backtrack a minute, Samson’s recent stubborness in training, mostly from  boredom because the breed is so smart, led me to regroup with clicker training and goldfish. However, we’d only just charged him on a clicker the day before we left. So intermittently we’d been using it as it made sense but we were also traveling and out of his routine so not too worried if he wasn’t responding.

Back to our pond training. He fell in love on his check cord with his water retreives. He’d get a slight tug at point of retrieval to prompt his turn back on the whistle blow and by 4 retreives in, no more tugs were needed. He’d spin around and start coming back, holding his bumper all the way in. Remembering I had extra goldfish in my pocket just incase, the next two retreives in—still on cord—I’d lure in his return and hold with a goldfish. Much interest gained. The next mark and retreive thereafter was succesfully completed with no check cord. Completely responded on whistle (and some goldfish).

And he stayed so hungry for more. All the light bulbs went off for my little Samson in Florida on Saturday. He finally understood what all those yard drills were about and how much fun the end product can be. I can’t wait to see his excitement when he’s pulling ducks in instead of bumpers.

With us both working dogs, very few pictures if any were taken Saturday by us—but we should be getting some soon from a photographer that was on hand that day to capture some great moments. I’ll post anymore if I get these. But here is Samson flat worn out after his big retreives.


Healthy Dog Treats

If you’re a dog owner and lover as we are, I know you’ve seen news reports such as these reporting on sickly and dying dogs from tainted dog treats. Mostly placing blame with Chinese manufacturers and imports of poorly made dog foods. And sure we can all sign petitions and shake our fists, but you can also take responsiblity for yourself and your pet.

With two working bird dogs in our family, we’ve not only invested our love and adoration for them, but have given uncountable hours to their training and development of their hunting skills. This makes it very easy and almost second nature to pay attention to anything that goes in our dogs mouths—as you would a child. So I’m not blind to the fact that many own dogs just to own dogs, nor am I blind to the fact that with our nation’s obesity ratings and health issues—if a person can’t even feed themselves nutritiously and responsibly, how can the give more care to an animal than themselves. So yes, we may be a small group but I refuse to turn the other cheek to how simple and much cheaper it is to forgo the pre-made junk treats in stores and think outside the box.

Regardless, dogs love food. Real food. Every dog I’ve owned has grown up eating natural wonderful dog treats. And no, not expensive fancy gourmet whatevers, but plain, healthy and all natural fruit and vegetables. I wonder if all the back years of vets trying to train owners not to feed dogs table scraps and “people food” has counter acted some people’s ability to think about what food is healthy.

Ideal fruit and vegetable treats we regularly feed our dogs:
• apple bits
• cored apple with peanut butter inside
• watermelon
• canteloupe
• carrot sticks (excellent for dental hygiene and cleaning plaque—much cheaper than dental bones)
• bananas (great hot weather nutrients if at the park or training in heat—just like for people after 5Ks and road races)
•cucumber slices

These are as simple and healthy as it gets and dogs love them for the same reasons we do—they are restorative and refreshing. And you know what’s going in their bodies. Here’s a great article that details some more fruit and vegetable ideas along with cautions to one’s you should not feed your pets.

If you like to take a more hands on approach and bake dog treats, I highly recommend  this awesome book of Country Wisdom and Know How.

It details wonderful, healthy, homemade dog treats you can bake at home with the simplest of ingredients. Another favorite it includes is a top 10 list of herbs that are safe and helpful to common digestive and breath issues with dogs.

A Boykin’s Journey (and mine)

While we finish our kitchen cabinet project—final pictures coming very soon—we also recognized our big-hearted, little brown Boykin, Samson passed a new milestone this week seeing his 6 month birthday.

I know 6 months sounds silly but as a new Boykin owner, I’ve been just amazed at his personality and progress. Only being able to compare to Labs before this—and my Beaufort was even such a laid back Lab—but Samson’s ability to listen and roll with the punches at his early age impresses me. Maybe that’s just a common Boykin trait, and if so, I’m a fan.

I started his training Richard Wolters style at 7 weeks and he took to his obedience commands and whistle training like a champ. But as time came to start working on basic retrieve concepts, it coincided with his awful teething. I never noticed teething as much with my Lab—partly because I was younger, maybe even because they’re larger dogs, also I didn’t work my Lab like I am Samson. But his teeth were bad and really put a hold on his overall training. I opted to not push the issue and give a break on his training rather than risk bad training experiences for him—especially at the retrieving portion.

As we rounded out the duck season and have now begun a solid month of serious house renovations, this all kinda timed itself well. We have an official countdown for Samson—27 more days—and training will get ramped up for him. After a good week or so of confidence building and reminding him what he knows, I’m going to set him up a fetch table to work on his holds. He loves to retrieve and he’s birdy as all get out but needs to learn in the bigger picture, it’s not a game of keep away. He’ll only be retrieving what I grant him and must return it to me. So hopefully with some focused but simple work in this department, we can make that connection before going back to retrieving work.

Any other Boykin owners experience a similar reaction at this point?

Here are some pictures of him growing up since coming home last September.

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Moultrie’s 3rd Birthday

We really can’t believe our Moultrie is turning three tomorrow. So just like last year, I’ll be making his Banana Birthday Cake for the boys as featured in last year’s post. Follow the link if you’d like the recipe.

This year should be a treat too for little Samson. This will be his first share of Banana Birthday Cake, but probably about his 47th banana—he’s really a monkey not a Boykin. Maybe this year I’ll be armed and ready with a camera for end result pics!

Meanwhile, here are some recent pictures  of Moultrie at his best.

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Our next big piece of news, that’s we’ve been patiently awaiting, is the arrival of our newest family member Samson!

Samson comes from Dovewood Kennel—a wonderful Boykin breeder and gun dog trainer who has been exclusively working with the breed for over 20 years. I’ve never bred dogs, nor do I plan too, but while growing up as a child and watching my grandfather, his brothers, and close friends work and train Pointers, I’ve certainly come to appreciate and respect the hard—and proper work—that goes into well-bred, healthy, hunting dogs.

So we welcome Samson home at 6 weeks with a fantastic personality full of curiosity, independence, and drive as he prepares to start school next week. I hope to bring you some updates on how he progresses with his training and retrieving! And for all of you that know our Moultrie—he has become an excellent big brother over night!

Blue Crab Summers

We planned ahead of Beaufort’s passing to spend the entire next day on the water. Because that’s just what people do that grow up on the water—whether to mend their souls, rid their anger, or celebrate life—the water’s just a part of it all. We loaded up the War Eagle with our black lab Moultrie, 6 good crab lines, an 8′ spread beach umbrella (for the dog and his black coat), and an FM radio.

We headed down river to the salt and cut across to my husband’s long time fishing spot spent with his dad and brother and got to work. For probably 45 minutes straight, we couldn’t even get the 5th and 6th lines out for the number of crabs that kept coming up on the first 4!

Moultrie had a splendid time trying to figure out just what was so special on the end of the line—because surely it was the raw chicken. After one or two got loose in the boat, he seemed more content to stay put. And after a day of awesome creek swimming in between crabbing sessions, it became suddenly apparent our little black dog, now 2 and a half years old, really isn’t our little black dog anymore. He’s a beast!

Even last duck season, at around 20 months, he still seemed smaller than he is now and pulling him into the boat was never a struggle. In fact, to see him swim to the edge and flawlessly pull his back legs up underneath himself while knowing my husband would pull him in was such an act of teamwork. But now? He still does what he was trained to do, but why force it? So, Moultrie and my husband have a surprise early duck season gift on the way!

We’ve got another big crabbing weekend planned in 2 weeks and we’ll be trying the ladder out then. We’ll let you know how it works.

My Sweet Beaufort has Passed On

To all of you who have known and loved my sweet Beaufort dog over the past 12 years, he is finally at rest. We were given the unsettling news just 4 weeks ago that the symptoms we’d been observing getting worse and worse over the past year weren’t just from old age, but from Degenerative Myelopathy. A terrible degenerative disease that works much like ALS or MS does in people by slowly degenerating the protective covering around his spinal cord, weakening and eventually paralyzing his legs from the back end forward. And while just 4 weeks ago, it was hard to swallow that the growing frequency of the symptoms we were watching were due to this; it has only become much more obvious, and at a much quicker rate, that this would be a very hard road for him to continue traveling and one that we did not wish to make him endure.

The decision does not come easily and it will continue to be hard as we face each day without him, but we do find great peace at knowing we could allow him to rest with such grace and dignity. He’s without a doubt the dog of my lifetime. There will be others but none that spent such great years with me. From high school, to college, to my first job, to finding my husband, and to the promise I was so honored to give him last May that we’d found our last home. My sweet dog endured 8 major moves over 12 years with me without anything short of a tail wag, and I’m so glad we could give him such a wonderful place to live his last year with a big, green yard, and a great river for boat rides with wind-filled ears and beautiful sunsets for those sage, old eyes to soak up.

He’s been my confidant and my bodyguard taking on his role as a protector from the day he and I moved out on our own. He’s stood by my side, circled in front to protect me from approaching strangers, and been dutifully waiting behind for me at home every day. It was a privilege to know him, love him, and share him with so many great people along the way.

“To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.” Hermione Gingold