Some people agonize over this. How do you choose a pup from a litter of tiny screeching future pointers?
Back in 2007, my friend and fellow outdoor writer Scott Haugen, introduced me to Steve Waller, a breeder, trainer and an enthusiast of the pudelpointer, a versatile hunting dog with a pedigree from Germany. Waller, who owns Tall Timber Pudelpointers, in turn, introduced me to Rod Rist, the owner of High Life Pudelpointers in Terrebonne.
A Brief discussion on the phone with Waller and another with Rist revealed a few female puppies still unspoken for. We wanted a female, Rist offered us the pick of three from the litter.
We decided to call the pup Liesl, which is of German origin, a short form of Elizabeth, and means God's promise.
The pudelpointer breed comes from Germany in 1881, from a dam, Molly, and a German hunting pudel, the sire. It was a pairing that promised intelligence, love of water, retrieving instinct and willingness to please, packaged in non-shedding, hypoallergenic coat.
In 1956, Bodo Winterhelt brought the breed to North America with the intention to establish and protect this versatile hunting breed from deterioration on the show circuit.
The promise is a versatile dog with "birdiness," desire, a strong field nose, endurance, pointing instinct; a family companion. The ideal coat is harsh, wiry and dense, often dark brown in color, sometimes rusty brown, sometimes black; with white or grey markings on the chest and a beardlike ruff at the muzzle.
In 2008, Waller showed me how adept the breed was at locating and retrieving deer and elk antlers from brush. That same year, we hunted pheasants over pudelpointers at a new preserve called Noble Ridge. Last season, we hunted together at the Big K Guest Ranch and filmed the pudelpointers in action, a day when our shooters dropped every bird the dogs pointed.
I considered a few other breeds including the German wirehair (which was bred from the pudelpointer) and settled on this one.
The first thing she did when she padded into our house was run over and bite the mane on the zebra rug
At this age, Rist tells me, we want the dog to hear loud noises at feeding time, make a few retrieves each day, meet new people and new dogs, and spend a few minutes chasing the wing. I raise it up and down to entice the dog to "sight point" the bird.
Next we will introduce a small frozen quail or chukar to get the dog used to the bird but prevent her from chewing. Then we will let the pup drag a rope around to get it used to the lead. Soon we will introduce her to water.
As I write this, Liesl is lying in her crate. She mewls and moans. She wants to play her new favorite game - chase the chukar wing.
On the subject of choosing a pup, there are a lot of theories. Some prospective owners look for the strongest, the biggest, or the puppy with the most chase. Sometimes the best dog of the bunch is the runt, the smallest of the litter. Rod Rist says he just closes his eyes and reaches in.
Being a veteran of 26 years of marriage and 16 years of dog ownership, I have learned enough to let my wife select the puppy. She put her ha nd in the pen and three puppies jumped up. She chose the one that nuzzled her arm but didn't bite her fingers.
She may not bite Merrilee's fingers much, but she bites everything else. This morning, she bit the couch, nibbled on the zebra again, nipped at the bear rug and chewed on the rocking chair, all of which earns her a little pop on the nose with a flyswatter. Now she wants to go chase the wing. After that, I hope, she'll take a nap.
Gary Lewis is an outdoor writer, speaker and television host from Bend, Oregon. Contact Lewis at www.garylewisoutdoors.com
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