Fall & Winter – hunting, conformation, Flyball, and – girls!

We’ve been busy over the last few months! We’ve got not so much competing to report, but we have been working and training nonetheless.

In late September Casper and I went to an event called “Gals and Gundogs” and spent a weekend training in the dry lands of Eastern Washington with a bird dog trainer and a wonderful group of women and their dogs.

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Casper flushing a live pigeon with the trainer (shooting) and me (handling).

Casper with a training bird in Eastern Washington, Sept 2018

In October the local upland bird seasons opened. We spent a few weekends at training days, and I finished my Hunter’s Ed requirements and bought my very first hunting licenses for WA & OR, as well as a 20-gauge shotgun. My low-slung old car limited access to hunting sites, but we had tons of fun wandering around various accessible sites in eastern and western WA and western OR. We both have a lot to learn, but Casper tracked running pheasants into the thorniest of cover and put them up like a pro, despite, you know – being a Kooiker (not a gundog!). In Oregon we brought Braam along, where his interest in hunting rabbits (for which we did not have a license) led us to invent a new sport: huntjoring – where one dog wears a bikejoring harness and is attached to the huntress’ belt to pull her along behind the working bird dog! In January, Casper spent a day and a half hunting in Oregon, then two days playing Flyball and laying down a new personal best of 4.567 seconds in the pack over 7″ jumps.

In early fall, we experienced a new challenge – a friend’s female Kooiker moved in with us, and she was in heat when she arrived! The boys had a rough week but since then, everyone has settled in well. Casper & Delphi are buddies and have nightly wrestlefests.

We’ve gotten a crazy amount of snow this year and the dogs love it. All 3 Kooikers learned to pull a sled, harnessed in pairs.

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Braam (front) Delphi (left) and Casper (right)

In January we began a new agility class, although nearly simultaneously phased ourselves out of agility due to repeated entry-fee forfeits due to snow closures, and an associated lack of ethics and professionalism on the part of the host clubs, trainers, and local agility community. We might pick agility back up if we move away, but for now I’ve decided the PNW agility community is not one that I need to be associated with, unfortunately.

Also in January we started practicing once- or twice-weekly with a new Flyball team, Engage. We have a lot to learn from them and appreciate them taking us under their experienced wings!

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Casper’s first tournament with Engage Flyball, March 2019

Braam stepped back into the conformation ring in March for the Seattle Kennel Club dog show (as our hometown club, we never miss it – except the year I was busy in the Netherlands getting Casper!). He went with a friend while I crossed the border to Canada with Casper for a Flyball tournament, and went Best Opposite for a point. Braam is a showy boy who loves the attention of the conformation ring, and although he hadn’t shown since Seattle Kennel Club the year prior, he went right into it like an old pro (which, of course – he is!). So proud of this sweet boy being a great ambassador for his breed at such a busy and well-attended show.

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Braam at Seattle Kennel Club, March 2019

Lastly but certainly not least-importantly, in February, we sent two precious packages of fresh-chilled sperm from Casper to California for a breeding to Emmi (Waterbound Endearing Emmi). This is a special breeding because Emmi is Braam’s half-niece, and is the litter sibling of Harvey, who won the breed at Westminster just a few days before. Susanne Martin of Golden Gate Kooikers is breeding this litter that has tremendous working potential and we are excited to see how these puppies turn out!