Friday, April 20, 2012

Tracking News from Canada - Nouvelles Canadiennes de la Recherche

by John Jeanneney

The first Canadian Province to legalize leashed tracking dogs was British Columbia on their west coast. This occurred more than a quarter of a century ago. “B.C.” is an important province for big game hunting, but strangely the idea of tracking wounded deer, elk, moose and bear never caught on there. Michael Schneider, a German who emigrated to B.C. and became a licensed guide, uses an Eastern European tracking dog Slovensky Kopov for tracking moose, but his successes have not inspired many to follow his course.

The French speaking Province of Quebec , on the eastern side of Canada , was the second province to legalize, and here chiens de sang (blood tracking dogs) caught on quickly in a big way. The reasons for the success of blood tracking in Quebec and the contrasting lack of interest in British Columbia are not easy to explain. The French speaking trackers in Quebec drew their tradition and inspiration from Europe, mainly France and Belgium , while in B.C. most guides saw blood tracking as a radical, foreign and unnecessary idea.

                                                       Chantal Bellemare with her wirehaired dachshund and their find.

In Quebec Simon Lemay , one of the major outfitters, maintains that you have to find a dead moose within six hours after its death if you are going to salvage the meat. The heavy coat, body mass, and internal body heart cause rapid spoilage. In British Columbia , which generally has warmer temperatures, there is little concern about this. Go figure! On certain things we hunters tend to think with our guts instead of our brains.

                                  This moose was recovered by Denis Fortier with his teckel.
A small group of hunters in Ontario , just west of Quebec , are pushing for legalization and it appears that they will succeed, No one knows what form the legalization will take since the Ministry of Natural Resources plays their cards close to the vest. I have worked with the trackers and provided them with background information, but they are now encountering doubts among hunters and wildlife officials, These are as negative as anything I encountered in New York State in 1975. If hunting practices are not tied into existing traditions, as was the case in Quebec , it takes a long time for things to change.

Nova Scotia , a small province on the Atlantic Coast , is the third province to legalize, and I will look forward to digging out the story of how this happened. In a former life I was a history professor; sometimes when I’m poorly focused on dogs and deer blood, the old urges come creeping back.

Returning to Quebec , the success that the trackers have had is really remarkable. Currently there are about 48 active trackers and many of them use European wirehaired dachshunds (Teckels). The small dogs have an advantage when tracking through thick back spruce, cutovers clogged with dead branches and in those awful alder swamps where all the alder shoots grow out at a 45 degree angle. They go under the trouble. Tracking on a long leash is mandated by law; in that wilderness country the trackers use about 18 meters of 4 mm polyethylene marine cordage. It works beautifully and doesn’t hang up in their type of thick stuff. I have tried it in our goldenrod fields, and here it is a nightmare.

                                 Steve Durocher from Warwick , Quebec

This year the Quebec trackers found 103 whitetail deer, 86 moose and 6 bears. Their recovery rates ran about 40% which is a little better than what we do down here in the leashed tracking dogs states. The trackers in Quebec are pretty consistent in maintaining this recovery rate from 2008 to 2011. These guys are good and tough to compete with. I haven’t come up yet with an excuse for why they do a bit better than we do, but I’m working on it.

Bows and crossbows are big in Quebec . About 73% of their calls are to track big game wounded by these two weapons.

Record keeping for tracking in Quebec is more tightly organized than in any of the American states. Alain Ridel does this on a voluntary basis for his tracking organization ACCSQ and for the Province of Quebec ; it is a lot of work!

                                 Gilles Deziel and his dachshund Whiskey

                                 This moose was found by Bernard Demers and his dachshund

                                 Stéphanie Marcoux from Warwick , Quebec

More pictures of big game recovered by trackers from Quebec can be viewed at

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

They Call It Blood Tracking by John Jeanneney

They call it “blood tracking”, but the name is certainly misleading. Hunters, especially men of my age, sometimes say. “If there’s blood to track, what do we need a dog for? Dogs and deer hunting don’t mix. EVER”.
            The same problems exist in French where the equivalent term for blood tracking is recherche au sang. The Germans are more sophisticated; their term is Schweisswerk, literally “work on sweat”, involves more than blood scent alone.
            For many years I’ve been tracking wounded deer after hunters gave up on them because there was no more blood. I even do my advanced training with tracking shoes, deer feet attached, that lay a scent line produced by the interdigital glands between the cloves of the hoofs. This works, but my deer hunting experience this fall reinforced my faith in the capability of a dog to follow a designated, deer, even an unwounded one, just as a police bloodhound can follow an individual “alleged perpetrator”.
            I was hunting on a food plot in my own woods when a doe came in. Following her was a buck , a big six of the sort that never has a chance to get much better in my part of New York. I had caught him on my trail cameras and he was distinctive; there was nothing else around like him. I waited and finally I got the “perfect” shot down into the oat plot  50 yards below me. The cross hairs were just where I wanted them, and at the shot the buck took a big leap into the brush, and disappeared.
            I went down quickly to the hit site. No blood, no hair. Oh well! I knew this does happen sometimes. I knew my gun and I was confident/super optimistic as even experienced hunters can be when it is there own deer and a good one. What I did not see, until several days later, was the top of the log behind which I had been sitting as I shot.

My scope had shown a clear shot, but the rifled slug barrel, an inch and a half lower,
had been in line with the top of the log as you can see. The shot had been deflected, and I had never hit the buck at all. All this I did not know until I went back to this stand several days later.
            It was getting dark and I didn’t have much time to look for sign in the briars and logging slash. I had seen nothing, but I knew that my tracking dog would make short work of the problem after supper. And we would get there before the coyotes.
            After supper I took Joeri down to the woods. My plan was to work the woods roads around the five acre block the deer should be in. I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t a blood trail leading out of it and down into the valley. Normally I begin at the hit site, but I had already checked this thoroughly, and I didn’t want to work through the thick stuff again if I didn’t have to.
            On the circuit around the block Joeri indicated, at one point, that a deer had crossed the woods road, but there was no visible blood; Joeri was willing to leave this line, so I just marked that point with tape and continued around to the hit site.
            I put on the long, stiff tracking leash, said “Find him!”, and Joeri began to work down through the briars and logging slash. He had a definite scent line, but I never saw a trace of blood. Oh well! Once you get started, you don’t quit. If a hunter had called me from 30 miles away to say that he had shot at a nice buck, but had no evidence of a hit, I would have gently turned down the call. But with my own deer on my own land it was different. More about this later.
            Joeri came out of the slash, crossed the wood road exactly where he had previously indicated scent and I had marked the scent line. Still no blood, but the scent line was only two hours old and Joeri had no problems. He is a slow, careful worker, which is just what a 76 year old guy needs.
            We worked down into the valley and on to property where I had permission to track. Now it was not so thick and with my coonhunter’s headlight I could see 50 yards ahead. We had gone about a half mile on the steep timbered hill and there he was! He got up and he flagged as he took off. I could distinctly see the high rack. I’m not too sure about why he was lying down and let me get so close, but there was no blood in the bed where he had been. And he had raised his white tail as he took off . Not good! But we continued for another 3/4 mile over hay fields and across a creek. Sometimes I could see his tracks in the frosty grass. I’m sure we crossed the scent lines of other deer, but it made no difference to Joeri. He was on his designated deer.
            We crossed a state road, and I had no permission for the property on the other side. I marked the crossing and the next morning we were back with the necessary permission. We tracked another half mile, which was much more difficult. There was still no blood or bloody beds. When we came to another creek, wide and deep this time, I gave up. I still had my doubts, but Joeri and I had done all we could.
            When I later returned to my stand and saw the log in the photo, I felt better. I knew that I had not killed that buck for the coyotes.
            As I said earlier I would have turned down this call if someone else had called me from a distance with the information that I gathered at the start of my track. The problem is you can never be certain as you screen calls. Earlier in the bow season a bowhunter called me on my cell while I was having lunch at Subway. All he had was a couple of drops of blood, and he had searched in vain all morning. Since he was very close by, I said, “All right, I’ll check it out for you.” It didn’t sound good.
            Joeri took the line. No blood for 300 yards. I told the hunter and his buddy, “It doesn’t look like we’ve got anything here. Everyone agreed but Joeri. When he saw we were ready to turn around he yelped and pulled. “All right” I said, “I’ll give it another 100 yards.” Fifty yards farther on, there lay the deer.
            In most European countries, where tracking dogs and handlers are much more numerous than here, it is the custom, and often the law, that all shots, which are not clearly a miss, have to be checked out with a tracking dog. These are called “control searches”. One study of control searches for roe deer shot in Denmark showed that 25% of the control searches there led to finding the deer.
            We are a generation away from anything like this over here. Tracking dogs and handlers are still spread so thinly that we usually have to screen our deer calls and only take the ones most likely to produce a dead or mortally wounded animal. We like to learn that there is a good amount of blood at the start. But once we are at the hit site, a good dog knows that there is a lot more to blood tracking than blood.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Letter from a Puppy Buyer

Wanted to send you some recent pictures of Lucy and Traveller. They are so precious. Doesn't matter how many bones are on the floor, Lucy still wants Traveller's and she let's her voice be heard. Traveller barks when Lucy tells him he can bark. Most of all, Lucy knows when I don't feel well and always wants to give me a hug. She literally wraps her body around my neck and kisses my cheek.
These pictures show them during their afternoon nap dreaming of getting new bones for Christmas:) 
Thank you for breeding such wonderful dogs.

For all the fine breeders out there - this is why we breed. We bring joy and love to families. 
Be proud!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Make your own chicken jerky treats!

  • Chicken Breast Fillets
  1. Preheat oven to 200° F
  2. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  3. Rinse off chicken breast and remove any fat.
  4. Slice the chicken with the grain. This will help make the jerky even chewier for your dog. The slices should be very thin, about 1/8" to 1/4" thickness.
  5. Place the strips on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for approximately 2 hours (see note below).
  7. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack until completely cool.
  8. Cut strips into bite sized pieces.
Storing: These homemade dog treats may not last long enough to be stored because they are so good. But, just in case they do, store them in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Freeze any remainder for up to 8 months. Be sure to read our tips on storing homemade dog treats for more information.

Tips & Techniques

  • Checking - The baking times will vary due to difference in ovens, temperatures and meat size. Your jerky treats should be firm and dry, not at all soft or spongy. It is safer to go a little extra dry and firm than for the meat to be underdone.
  • Cutting - Once the treats are cool, it's easier to cut them with kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter, than a regular knife.
There is so much flexibility when making your own chicken jerky dog treats. One of the best options is that you do not need to be restricted to only using chicken. So let's preheat the oven and go for low and slow for these tasty jerky treats.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oldies but Goodies

A Not-Quite-Serious Depiction of a Blood Tracking Test

Blood tracking test.
Log of lot number 2:

9:50 am at the hit site (Anschuss): The dog seems uncertain and not quite convinced of what to do. After a thorough inspection he finally starts moving. The handler’s blood pressure comes down below the danger zone.
After 10 meters: The dog is still not quite convinced if he should keep going. Therefore he takes a short thinking break. But quick eye contact with his master at the other end of the tracking leash forces him to surrender any revolutionary ideas.
24.5 meters to 105 meters: The urge to crowd the dog has overwhelmed the handler, immediately resulting in a remark by one of the judges to,”Give the dog more lead, please.”
105 meters: Tracking leash develops a life of its own and tries desperately to cling to a bush, it doesn’t even shy away from a knot. Slight communication problems develop between dog and his handler as a result.
110 meters to 231 meters: So far no blood found, slight anxiety sets in with the handler. Result - hands must be wiped dry on the pants several times. The dog does not hold up his end of the bargain; he has obviously found a different interesting line. The handler can still nip it in the butt.
232.5 meters to 301 meters: The dog tries again to make a good impression with his handler and walks ahead fast with his nose down on the line. First faint-hearted attempts by the handler to sneak a look backwards. The continued pursuit of the judge’s group and the gallery is noticed with satisfaction.
301 meters 10:08 am: First wound bed found, the handler is clearly amazed. The dog is less impressed.
10:11 am: The dog is still puzzled in what direction he should continue. Confusion of the part of the handler assumes frightening proportions. Sweat attacks and butterflies in the stomach are not good omens. Wild gesturing by some gallery members, which stops abruptly as soon as one of the judges turns around. A quick look out of the corner of the eye over the right shoulder has a positive effect on further tracking.
301 meters to 631 meters: Quickly moving ahead, the handler has obviously found his trust in his dog and follows him without much thinking.
631 meters to 660 meters: Twenty-nine meters of thoroughly plowed ground by a herd of wild boars. That it was specialists at work can be seen immediately, since they followed the course of the line exactly. The second wound bed unfortunately fell victim to this precision work. Resulting in the dog, handler, judges and even the two line experts collectively marching right on by.
660 meters: The two line experts don’t recognize the course anymore, an uneasy feeling sets in with both of them. They get significantly restless, which in turn generates questioning looks by the judges. Deliverance – the wound bed is found, confirmed by a quick look back.  Unfortunately it was overshot by 15 meters. First callback. The handler’s color thereupon changes from bright red to ash white.
Back to 633 meters at 10:25 am: Dog is restarted at the second wound bed.
633 meters to 770 meters: Good progress. Several times the dog marks blood, which in turn adds to the substantial calming of the handler. Fortunately the handler’s natural color returns. Unfortunately, the new gray hair can not be reversed.
770 meters: Third wound bed found. The question by one of the judges to his colleagues, if this is already the third wound bed, is being discretely ignored. The dog had found the subsequent course of the line at the first attempt, which is confirmed by the handler’s quick glance to the rear.
821 meters to 950 meters: Herd of roe deer in the nearby underbrush, a purposeful major attack on the concentration of the teckel and his handler. Revolutionary ideas surface in the teckel, the call of his genes comes to the fore. The handler can barely counter the sudden turn of 90 degrees. The tone of his masters’ voice, “Back to the line, search the wounded!” leaves no room for discussion.
960 meters to 970 meters: The end of the tracking leash tries desperately again to hold onto a shrub, an attempt to knot itself around a nearby shrub fails, however.
970 meters to 1023 meters: The handler tries to slow himself down, so he won’t pass his dog, but doesn’t avoid the admonition to give his dog more leash.
1023 meters: The handler’s attempt to spot the end is unfortunately unsuccessful, attesting to the well-camouflaged carcass at the end. The handler’s blood pressure approaches the upper range on the scale. The sweat glands on the scalp also intensify their activity, which results in the increased usage of a large handkerchief. Minor disagreement among the line experts, they are also a bit disoriented and try desperately to find a clue. This does not go unnoticed by the judges.
1026 meters: One of the line experts has spied the carcass.  Joy can definitely be seen on his face as he barely avoids a cry of relief.
1051 meters: 10:45 am: The carcass is found, relief not only for the handler.

Karl-Heinz Müller invented this test log - with tongue in cheek. Any similarities to a real occurrence would be purely accidental and unintentional.

Der Dachshund, June 2001
pp 148,149
Translation: Anke Masters

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Most of us are sick and tired of the term “Wiener Dog” supported by that American cartoonist version of the dachshund: a long, fat couch potato watching diet programs on TV. The Wiener Dog has little in common with the German ideal of the Teckel as an agile, all-day hunting dog. Unfortunately the cartoonist version of the dachshund still has much more influence in North America today than the alternative ideal of the Germans and the North American Teckel Club. When I used to tell uninformed hunters that I track wounded deer and bear with dachshunds, they could barely suppress a laugh.    “Dachshunds?”
The gene mutation that produces short-legged dogs in various breeds has been around for thousands of years. In our dining room hangs a print of a 16th century painting by Pieter Breugel, the elder showing hunters returning from a successful fox hunt in what is today Belgium. Following the hunters is a small pack of three distinct types of dogs: long-eared scent hounds, sight hounds looking like shaggy greyhounds, and some smaller, short-legged dogs used to bolt the fox if he went to ground. One of the small dogs shows a long ear that is not a terrier’s ear. All the dogs look tired as if they had done good work.
Painting (1565) by Pieter Breugel, the elder, showing the return of successful fox hunters..Small, short-legged den dogs along with scent hounds and sight hounds follow the hunters home.
Short-legged types of dogs had been used in Europe for centuries, but the dachshund did not become established as a “breed” until the 1800s. In Germany they were first developed as foresters’ dogs, who followed their masters in their rounds of inspection. If a badger (Dachs) or a fox were preying on small game, the little dog located the den and bayed the source of the trouble. If the critter didn’t bolt, it was time for digging. When it came time for big game hunting they were useful as a slower dog to drive game to the gun. If a deer or a wild boar were wounded, the small dachshund was one of the breeds that might be brought in to track it.

Dachshunds began to be registered by a German breed club in 1888, but their development as a handy, versatile little hunting dog had been going on well before this. They were not thought of as a pack hound, but rather as individual workers more responsive to their handler than most hounds. It was their small size and their responsiveness that soon made them very popular as family pets for town and city dwellers. By the beginning of the 20th century tensions were developing between the hunters, who were interested in agile dachshunds and wanted good leg length, and show/pet breeders who wanted their dachshunds longer and lower. None-the-less the German Dachshund Club from the beginning considered them to be, first of all, a hunting dog. Hunters, not show people, were the leaders of the DTK (Deutscher Teckelklub). Dachshunds also became popular in England at this time, but unlike the case in Germany, there was no real interest in hunting them there.

Long before a national breed registry was established three distinct coat varieties had emerged. The smooth coats came first and from these wire and long haired coats were developed by out-crossing to terriers, in the case of wires, and to spaniel types, in the case of longs. Today the wire-coated dachshunds are the most popular in Europe, and the wire coats are even more dominant among the dachshunds used for hunting. The details of coat standardization don’t concern us here, but it’s useful to realize that the European dachshund today is usually not a smooth, slick dog. Roughly 2/3 of the German registry is today made up of wires, and the smooths are a distant third behind longhaired dachshunds.

The early 20th century German magazines and studbooks show a wide variation of dachshund physical types. Some dogs seem very low and heavy-bodied, but one sees other more athletic looking types with longer legs capable of serious work above and below ground. A few German show judges were complaining that too many of the dachshunds they were observed were excessively long legged. Rather than try to select a “representative” photo of the dachshunds of the era, it is more useful to present the “ideal” smooth coated dachshund as it was officially presented in the Teckel-Klub studbook of 1909.
The ideal hunting dachshund as pictured in the 1909 studbook of the German Teckel Club. Note the leg length.
The first dachshunds brought to the United States from Germany in the 20thcentury were smooth coated dogs similar physically to their German parents. These dogs ranged toward the heavier, shorter-legged type that was being criticized by German hunters. The buyers were usually well-to-do Americans, who relished the idea that their dachshunds came out of a hunting tradition. However, they seldom attempted to use these dogs for hunting in their new environment. For these Americans, who bought German breddachshunds, theirnew dog “sport “ was not concerned withhunting, but instead was focused upon pleasing judges and winning at dog shows.
American show champion Helmar von Flottenberg, a German dachshund imported into the United States in the 1930s by Mr. and Mrs.Herbert Bertrand. This dog is longer and lower than the German ideal of 1909.

It must be said that both American thinking and our conditions were very different from that of Germany. It was not so obvious that dachshunds could have a place in the American hunting world. First our foxes were smaller than the same species in Europe, and they did not spend as much time underground. A 20 pound dachshund was too big to work foxes underground here, although he could do so in Europe. As for tracking wounded deer, no one worried that much about wounded deer in America. If some wounded deer could not be found by eye-tracking, well that was part of hunting.

In the show ring the tendency to exaggerate the features of the breed took over, just as had been happening in England. Since a dachshund was a rather long low dog, show judges concluded it would be even more of a dachshund if it were even longer and lower. To be sure the judges believed that form should follow function, but their idea of function had little to do with the original function of the dachshund.They wanted a dachshund put together so that despite its physical handicap of being extremely long and low, it could still flow smoothly over level surfaces. This “lawn cruiser” was beautiful in its own way, but this had nothing to do with a dog that had to work in natural underground dens or in rough wooded terrain.
Back in the dachshund homeland of Germany tensions had been developing for a long time between the non-hunters, mostly city folk, who had recently acquired dachshunds, and those who wanted to maintain the dachshund for its original role as an underground hunting dog, game flusher and wounded game tracker. This is an involved and bitter history of hunting dachshund clubs forming and temporarily splitting off from the main German Dachshund Club. But in Germany, unlike the case of the United States, it was the vision of the dachshund as a hunting dog that prevailed over the wishes of the “long and low” extremists.
The real triumph of the hunter’s vision of the dachshund, as an agile hunting dog came to Germany in the 1930s. The split between the newer German dachshunds and the American conception of the dachshund then became very obvious. In his conversations with me in the 1970s, an American show judge, George Wanner, explained that my own imports from Germany were “Nazi dachshunds”, because they were of the hunting type that approached the German standard as it had been reinterpreted in the 1930s. George Wanner had been a G.I. in World War II; his bitterness had not subsided.

As the hunter’s version of the dachshund conformation became more dominant in Germany, changes also took place in coat preferences. Smooth-coated dachshunds, which had been by far the most widely owned early in the 20th century, began to lose in popularity. In breed registrations they were first overtaken by the long coated dachshunds, and then ultimately by the wires. In 1987, a year before the 100th anniversary of the DTK German Dachshund Club) there were 10,388 new wires registered, 3,037 longs registered and 592 smooths. Only 4.2 % of the dachshunds registered in that year were smooths. Times had changed!Partly this was a shift in fashion among pet owners. Certainly not all of the puppies registered in that year were destined to become hunting dogs. But the dominance of wires also reflected a conclusion that a good wire coat was especially well-suited for hunting in rough cover and tough weather. The predominance of wires entered in hunting tests was even greater than in the general DTK registry.

Wirehaired German hunting champion of 1950, GS.Knast von Seevetal, shows how Germans had shifted by that time to a lighter, more athletic hunting dachshund
What does all this mean for practical North American hunters? Particularly in the Northeast, Midwest and in Quebec it is increasingly recognized that the hunting dachshund, as distinct from the Wiener Dog, is filling a niche long vacant. The dachshund has a remarkable ability to track wounded big game, even when there is no blood trail. He follows the scent line tirelessly through dense cover, swims cold creeks and climbs rocky ledges. A smaller version of the dachshund is proving to be an excellent falconers’ dog.
Ch. Daydreamer Sun Hunter, a good example of the American smooth show champion as it had been developed by 1998
The term “Wiener Dog was rightly or wrongly applied to the type of dachshund that was imported into the United States before World War II; these dogs were thenexaggerated though the influence of American show judges. Today virtually all of the dachshund stock used for tracking wounded big game in the United States and in Quebec comes from Germany or other parts of Europe in an era long after the Wiener Dogs were brought here in the first part of the last century. The dachshunds now tracking wounded big game are profoundly different from the type of dachshunds that are winning at AKC dog shows, or living as companions in so many American households.
 Tom vom Linteler-Forst, imported from Germany in 2008 and used for blood tracking in New York. Tom is a good example of the dachshunds used here for tracking in the 21at century.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Life With Teckel Is A True Blessing

Just the other day a hunting friend of mine asked me how I got started in dachshunds and my mind started to wander … back to the beginning and all the years since then.  I did not grow up with dogs but with a variety of small pets and rescued wildlife. But one of my aunts had two standard longhaired dachshunds and one of my first memories was that of one of those dogs attacking me and biting me in the face … I was about three. These dogs terrified me ever since.

Imagine my reaction when my new husband insisted on getting a dachshund … he grew up with them in the US and dearly missed them. Well, I gave in and our first dachshund pup moved in. Strangely enough she decided right away that she was going to be MY dog … and I was hooked.

Even though she was from a show kennel she had a keen hunting drive and could not be stopped. To my horror she followed a badger into his den at the tender age of 4 months spending a good half hour underground, just to pop back out with a face expression as if she just had tea with that dangerous fellow. After a while I knew that it was senseless trying to curb her instincts. Slowly I was sucked into the foreign world of hunting. She taught me well … basically to trust her instincts and to come along for the ride - and above all … to enjoy.

Soon we added another dachshund and here we are … many years later with the next generations of dachshunds. Because of my dachshunds I have many years of wonderful and unique adventures to call my own. I swam with my dogs in the Mediterranean off the French Rivera, the Northern Sea in Holland, the Baltic Sea in Denmark and the Atlantic in New Jersey… we climbed mountains in Hungary and Germany, hiked and camped throughout most of Europe, hunted red foxes with some great ‘old’ hunters in Germany and Denmark, searched wounded deer in the Odenwald, flushed game in the Taunus region and lastly - dug for woodchucks with a wonderful group of friends here in the Eastern United States. I was charged by a wild boar and climbed a tree faster than I thought I could ever move … while my teckel chased the boar around the tree below me with obvious enjoyment. We got attacked by crows in the mountains in open terrain and ran side by side in wild gallop for cover (well, actually my dogs were faster and lower – so they had the advantage).

I remember the chill running down my spine when standing in the thickest fog anyone can imagine, completely lost in the dull gray wall … clueless where my teckel were … and all of a sudden I could hear the Spurlaut of my dogs … following their run completely blind, yet knowing exactly what they were doing. AHH! The power of Spurlaut! After they lost the line silence returned … until they appeared out of nowhere right in front of me and unfailingly guided me home. Or how about the time when I sat with a friend on a log at the edge of the woods, dogs lying next to us. It was dusk and in the middle of rutting season for deer. We could hear the mating ritual and the chase in the field in front of us. All of a sudden the sounds came closer, we strained our eyes, the dogs pricked their ears. And here came the doe out of the twilight … straight at us, followed by the buck. They were so preoccupied that they did not notice us sitting motionless. At the last moment, about 6 feet away from us the deer finally saw us and broke away, almost touching us while racing by. We sat frozen for a moment, stunned by the experience … and then looked around to find us sitting behind the log now - together with the German pointer and my teckel – equally stunned it seemed.

Another great moment was to find our first fresh bear tracks in the snow in the US. It only took another year to come across a bear in person during one of our long hikes. My otherwise fresh-mouthed dogs showed their intelligence and instinct and warned me ahead of time by ducking low, raising all hair and growling real low. It was a great moment and thanks to my dachshunds I could avoid a dangerous encounter.

By now we have also met coyotes during our hunting outings and hiking. They scare me more than the bears and I am extra careful not to let the dogs run and I keep a close eye on them, even in the yard at night, since the coyotes have been seen close by.

Sometimes it’s the quiet moments that stay with me … the breaks during our hikes and hunts, just sitting and sharing some treats while taking in the sun or the wind. Once we came across two huge snapping turtles mating in a swampy area. We sat down at the edge of the water and watched. It was like being transferred back to prehistoric times.

Would I have experienced such wonderful things, would I have met the great people I have without my dachshunds? I think I can safely say - more than likely not.  Many things stick in my mind … not just the good ones; thoughts of snakebites, injuries (the vets in the area know us well), skunk encounters, final good-byes and peaceful gravesites and urns in the shelf come to mind.
But today is about the good memories, the ones that make my heart sing. So, after coming home from today’s hunt I took out some fresh lamb shanks and gave my four-legged companions an extra treat. And as I sit here on my deck in the sun, watching my happily chomping dogs in the grass - I raise my coffee cup to my beloved teckel and toast to the great times together.