Wild Apple Kennel and Guide Service

Wild Apple Kennel and Guide Service
The 2007 Grand National Grouse Champion, Winner 2008 Northern New England Woodcock Championship, Winner 2010 Lake States Grouse Championship, Runner-up 2011 Northeast Grouse and Woodcock Championship, Winner 2011 International Amateur Woodcock Championship, Winner 2012 Southern New England Woodcock Championship

Wild Apple Kennel Training Blog

This blog will try to present a running account of the training and field trialing season for the pointers of Wild Apple Kennel. NOW ACCEPTING BOOKINGS FOR THE 2015 GROUSE AND WOODCOCK SEASON WITH WILD APPLE KENNEL GUIDE SERVICE! PHONE NUMBERS 603-449-3419 OR CELL 603-381-8763.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Planned Parenthood
By Craig Doherty

Alright, I’ll admit it. For approximately 20 years, I’ve been a fan of a dog I never saw. It was the dogs that he produced and those from his second and third generations that impressed me. It always seemed like when I saw a derby I really liked and asked the handler how the dog was bred, the answer would be Guard Rail. I was a setter guy at the time, but those young Guard Rail-bred dogs always impressed me. They were well built, not too big, had big motors that never quit, and strong attractive heads. Best of all they seemed as a group to be bird dogs first and foremost. After I got an Elhew pointer (Elhew Liebotschaner: Elhew Fibber McGee X Elhew Gypsy Rose) from Bob Wehle, who wrote in 1991 that “Guard Rail has to be one of the great sires of the breed,” and thought about breeding her; I looked around for a dog that had those Guard Rail traits and blood.

At the time Andy Cook had just started in field trialing with long-tailed dogs (he had many years of experience with continental breeds and NAVHDA) and he and Al Robbins were working together on a breeding program. They acquired a bitch from Pat Labree that was by Railway Willie out of a Rail Dancer bitch and bred her to Elhew No Trump (Elhew Fibber McGee X Elhew Miss America) which produced the litter that included Wynot Ace. When I was planning to breed my first litter, Ace was a derby and had just won both the National Amateur Grouse Championship and the International Woodcock Championship. Although Guard Rail was not that close in his pedigree, Ace definitely reminded me of all those Guard Rail-bred dogs I had been admiring long after Guard Rail had tragically died in a highway accident.

The results speak for themselves: that litter produced two Grand National Grouse Champions who now have three wild bird championships each. So, needless to say when it came time to look for a bitch to add to our breeding program, I jumped at the chance to buy a 15 month old female who was a frozen semen daughter of Guard Rail. Indian Creek Triple Rail (Trip) has an impressive pedigree with Guard Rail as a sire and as a grandsire on the bottom. In addition to Guard Rail, there are five other Hall of Fame dogs in her four generation pedigree. I got her in November 2009 and took her to Texas that winter. She had what I was looking for and has also become one of the house dogs here in New Hampshire. When she came into heat last May I did the math and expected her to come back into heat in late November or December which would give us pups in January or February. Perfect.

However, as the days began to shorten in September, she came into heat again which left me with a dilemma. I could breed her then, although bitches whose heat cycles are that close together are often infertile on the second cycle, and also I would be faced with puppies late in November for a litter of off-age puppies. It would also have meant giving up a planned five week trip to Texas to stay home and take care of the puppies. I decided to skip the September cycle, which meant that Trip would next be in heat in March or April, but there were no guarantees, especially since she had already shown a propensity towards irregular cycles. When I got back from Texas I started to look into maybe helping nature along.

In the Spring 2009 issue of the magazine we ran an article on cabergoline which is used to induce the heat cycle and there have been reports of successful breedings after using the drug. However, there seems to be a growing body of evidence both scientific and anecdotal that the Ovuplant implants are being used with a high success rate and less uncertainty about timing. Ovuplant is, according to its manufacturer, “a sustained release implant of deslorelin” which is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist. For those of us without degrees in organic chemistry, medicine, or veterinary science, Ovuplant is basically a hormone that comes as a pellet preloaded in a syringe with a rather large needle. The pellet is inserted into the vestibular mucosa — right under the skin just inside the vulva. If the implant is effective, the bitch will come into heat within five to seven days of insertion and should be standing within five to seven days after the onset of the heat cycle. She then can be bred either naturally or using artificial insemination. It is important to note that once the breeding has taken place, the implant needs to be removed. Failure to do this may cause the female’s system to reject and then absorb the puppies.

There are some other caveats that need to be brought up as well. First off, Ovuplant is not sold in the United States and needs to be imported from Canada. Furthermore, it was developed to be used in horses, and its use in dogs, although studied and proven effective, is off-label. Two other factors should be considered before rushing out to make arrangements to bring all your bitches into heat — cost and timing. It needs to be at least four months after the conclusion of the female’s last heat cycle before you do the implant. This allows for the development of eggs and increases the chance for success. The other aspect of this is cost.

I decided to go ahead with the Ovuplant implant for Trip and contacted the nearest vet who is a canine reproduction specialist. She explained that the implants had to be imported from Canada which is legal but you need to buy them in lots of 25. She only uses about a half dozen of these a year, so, she gets them through a well known vet in Ohio who imports them in quantity and resells them at what I assume is a substantial mark up. I paid the Ohio clinic $125 plus overnight shipping for the Ovuplant. In addition, my vet charged me just over $150 to do the implant which involved a mild sedative and a shot of lidocane. We were in and out of the examining room within 20 minutes and that included the vet tech trimming Trip’s nails while we were waiting for her to wake up. Removal of the implant after breeding will be about the same or a little less.

Cost will vary depending on location. The vet I am using for this is located in northern Vermont and I’m sure her rates are more reasonable than a vet in a less rural setting. I’ll be into this for between $450 and $500 which isn’t too bad when you consider that I’m breeding her to my own male (Wild Apple Jack) and don’t have to worry about stud fees or shipping expenses to get her bred.

Before proceeding with this I spoke to a number of people who have successfully used Ovuplant to bring a bitch into heat and only received positive feedback. Ohioan Pete Casgrain’s comments were typical of the responses I got. His bitch Star’s Misty Willow’s cycle had been irregular and they used Ovuplant late last fall and ended up with a litter born in late January. One vet in Pennsylvania who has dogs with a noted professional trainer has used Ovuplant on numerous occasions with great success. Trip received her implant on Thursday, February 17th and was already starting to swell by the following Sunday and was in heat by Tuesday. She stood the first time on Monday, February 28th and again on March 2nd and 4th. If all goes well we should have puppies the first week of May. (You can view the puppies that resulted in a previous post of this blog.)

Field Trial Magazine provides articles like this four times a year. For more information go to:


Sunday, June 26, 2011


Someone on one of the messageboards was asking about a puppy that was running off, and I thought this article from the Fall 2010 issue of Field Trial Magazine might be helpful

In the infamous “Rumble in the Jungle” Muhammad Ali covered up along the ropes until George Forman punched himself out, then Ali went on to win the fight. In this version of “rope-a-dope” this summer, we had a dilemma with Mariah, a black and white pointer puppy. She just didn’t want to listen. When I did the traditional checkcording in the yard, she would run to the end of the rope until stopped by a shoulder-shocking jolt then run in another direction to be brought up short again. The addition of a traditional spike collar brought a certain amount of control to the situation and she began listening to me. I thought we were making progress and had run her a couple of times in places where she could keep track of me if she was so inclined.

Then we ran her with an older dog in our wild bird training area. She stayed with us and I got to see her point and hold briefly on the first woodcock that she had ever come across. Shortly thereafter the older dog had a find and we called Mariah in. She locked up and I was able to get to her and hold her steady for the flush. I let her chase the bird, as we usually do with puppies, and then the wheels came off. She didn’t run away but she ran wherever she wanted with no regard for me at all. At one point I caught up with her and found her playing in the brook like an otter. She ran up and down the middle of the brook, went to the far bank looking at me when I called and then went back to playing in the water. At the time, she was wearing a shock collar that I was reluctant to use while she was in the water or on the far bank.

To paraphrase Tom Landry, the long time coach of the Dallas Cowboys who was talking about not having his quarterbacks throw many passes, there are three things that can happen when you shock a dog and two of them are bad. The dog can stop where it is afraid to move for fear of being hit again, bolt away from the stimulation in a direction away from you, or, the desired outcome, come to you. When Mariah finally gave up being an otter and came over onto my side of the brook, I pushed the button and called her again. She chose the first option and just stood there. I walked over to her, and she wagged her whole body like she had been lost and was glad I had turned up. I made a fuss over her and then we headed out towards the truck. She stayed with me for about a minute before she was once again off exploring the world in directions that did not coincide with where we needed to go. I stopped her two more times with the collar and walked over and got her going in the right direction again before I finally raised the white flag and hooked the lead on her. She happily bounced along at the end of the lead sending shockwaves up my arm to my shoulder completely unfazed by our “training session.”

It had been a long time since I had worked with a puppy that had not been whelped at the kennel and walked regularly. The puppies we raise are socialized and have a strong human bond. Mariah was whelped elsewhere and had not had the same level of early foundation work. In addition, she is one of those strong willed dogs that wants to assert her independence. When I got back to the truck Tony Bly, who I have trained with regularly for over 20 years, was waiting for me and offered a solution which involved a shock collar, a lead, two lengths of checkcord tied together, and the ball of the trailer hitch on the back of my truck. I walked out to the end of the ropes while Tony wrapped the lead around the hitch and held Mariah as well as the transmitter for the e-collar. When I was ready, I called Mariah, then Tony let go of the lead and pushed the button, and I reeled her in to me as fast as I could. When Mariah got to me, Tony released the button, and I made a big fuss over her. We repeated the process a couple more times and she was soon running to me faster than I could pull in the rope. By the second day of this, Mariah was coming to me from the tailgate with no stimulation or only a quick tap to keep her on a direct course.

From there we moved to letting her run dragging a single checkcord. She was fine on the road but when she got into the cover and couldn’t see me she took off on her own and stopped when stimulated. We then found a big field that had recently been mowed and have been working her there. Except for getting distracted by little white moths, this works well. The next step was to put her back in the woods where she has to keep track of me with her ears more than her eyes.

When we started running Mariah in the woods again we worked her in the field for a few minutes just in case we needed to refresh her memory, but the earlier lessons so far have stuck. One important step in the process is that I make sure I call her in and get my hands on her two or three times during each relatively short session. This accomplishes two objectives: first it reinforces the imaginary rope that now runs between us, and it teaches her that coming to me doesn’t mean the end of freedom. This will be especially important as we start getting her back into wild birds – that’s usually when the wheels come off – especially when they start dropping from the sky in October.

Between now and then the major objective will be to keep her under control while giving her more freedom to run. There is no doubt that she can and will run but whether she stays in the woods with me or moves on to be run from horseback the dog must be under control. You need to be able to subtly steer a dog in a field trial so you can get to known or likely looking bird spots. You also have to keep them to the front and show them to the judges at the right time and places. You can’t do this if the dog has not submitted to your will. That’s the bottom line. They have to submit – when you call on them they have to respond. Not when they get around to it – but right then like an invisible string is attached. Don’t confuse this with a mechanical dog the hangs around and keeps the windshield clean between 10 and 2.

A dog that will perform at the level we have our sights on for Mariah needs to fill up the country, but it has to be the country that you’re in and not the country on the other side of the swamp or four sections away across the prairie. The winning dogs run big with speed and style but everywhere you go they are the ones that work with their handlers not against them. If you have a young dog that has not submitted to you and is independent and wild with no regard for where you are, it may just be time to step back like Ali did and rope-a-dope.

George Tracy Endorsement

This will appear in the Editor's Column of Field Trial Magazine's Summer Issue and it may not get to some of you before you vote so I thought I'd post it here.

Hopefully this issue will reach you before you’ve gotten around to voting for Bird Dog Hall of Fame candidates for this year. In the past I have pretty much stayed out of this process because it literally belongs to the American Field, but this year I want to make sure I go on the record and endorse a candidate.

Almost 16 years ago I made a trip to Glenville, Pennsylvania with the hope of doing an article on George Tracy for the Premier Issue of Field Trial Magazine. Instead of one article, George agreed to do a regular training column that was a mainstay during the early years of FTM. He never got paid for word one and did it to support the magazine and share his wealth of knowledge about bird dogs and field trials with our readers.

Over the years, I have made many trips to Glenville and visited with George at trials and at his winter training grounds in Hurtsboro, Alabama. I have even had the chance to follow behind him as a judge a few times. Make no mistake, George Tracy is a fierce competitor who has amassed a record that will be hard for anyone to match, but more important than that are the times he has loaned a horse, helped an amateur with a dog, and willingly shared his experience and knowledge.

Every year in August George and Mary, and now Mike and Jeanette as well, invite their friends and customers to a pig roast in Glenville. Those who gather for the event each year don’t come for the food, they come to pay tribute to a man who has given so much to enrich their experience in our sport. If just those people whose lives George Tracy has touched in becoming one of the greatest bird dog trainers and field trialers of all time vote for him, then he will get in with a huge vote. If everyone who knows the truth of what I’ve written votes for him it would be a fitting and well deserved tribute for the man who epitomizes everything the Hall of Fame represents.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let the Training Begin

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time on the tractor mowing in our training cover. The hope is that by mowing the big fields we will attract more woodcock into the area to feed at night and hopefully roost in the cover nearby. Another week and we will start running the big dogs on wild birds. In the meantime I have started walking our puppies once or twice a day. A video of their walk yesterday afternoon should be below. They are 7 weeks old and the first two are leaving this weekend.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You tube video

Hopefully I suceeded in embedding a youtube video of the puppies

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Training Season

We have had a short spring here in Northern New Hampshire. We had substantial snow that stayed late into April which put a damper or our usually productive training on returning woodcock. They started arriving in late March but the singing grounds didn't open up until well into April. By the time we were able to get into the woods many birds must have already been nesting as we weren't finding them in the usual spots. However, the early May training on grouse was the best I've seen it for a long, long time. The older dogs were getting birds pointed on just about every outing.

On one occasion we were scouting some new cover and could hear three for sure and maybe four separate grouse drumming. We got some substantial rains over Memorial Day weekend but the weather has turned dryer and warm and should stay so for the next ten days which are usually our critical time for the grouse hatch. The difference between a good grouse hatch and a great one is the weather in the first few weeks of June. It's a simple mater of arithmetic. If a 1,000 grouse hens have small clutches of 3-4 compared to a good year where the have 5-6 or a great year when you see numerous broods with 8-10 there's a substantial variation. There were a lot of hold over birds and it shaping up to be great hatching and brooding weather. Keep your fingers crossed. Tony's already stocking up on 20 gauge 7 1/2s.

It's shaping up to be a busy month of September and early October with six grouse and woodcock championships in September:

NY Grouse

Northern New England Woodcock

New England Open Grouse

Northeast Grouse and Woodcock (which is leaving Calais for new grounds)

North American Woodcock (club has reorganized)

International Amateur Woodcock

We had a litter of pups born on May 4th that are looking great and growing fast

There is still one male available. They will be ready to go soon.

This time of year we stay out of the woods in hopes that the wild birds will settle into our regular training covers un-harrassed. So, we do the more mundane stuff like steadying dogs up on pigeons and working on quail as soon as they get here. The pigeons that I have are new and probably would not return to the coop yet, so we tethered them to the traps. It worked well. They would pop up three or four feet, fly to the end of the 30' tether (I find old fly line works great) and then set down in the tall grass.