A New Pup!

Aramis des Marais de Saint Hilaire 
Dog folks are a curious bunch. No matter how many dogs they currently have and how happy they are with them, thoughts of the "next dog" still pop up from time to time. For Lisa and me our next dog is always an ongoing conversation since we are constantly exposed to dangerous levels of puppy cuteness. After all, in our travels, we often meet with top breeders and handlers of all sort of dogs and many of them offer us a pup at some point. So we'd probably have a dog or two from every pointing breed in the world if our credit cards could handle it.

But somehow, we've been pretty good at resisting temptation. We keep just enough dog power with us to cover our hunting needs and keep us warm on cold Manitoba nights.

But then, last May, Henri died.

Henri the Pocket Rocket nearing the sound barrier in pursuit of snipe. 
His passing left a massive hole in our hearts and massive shoes to fill. We were suddenly down to two ancient gundogs: Souris nearly 16 and Uma 12. Sure, we had other dogs we could hunt with when needed. We chased roosters with the Amazing Maisey.  Zeiss rocked the prairies in honour of his buddy Henri. Beebe, a daughter of Henri , spent the fall with us cuddling, hunting and getting her freak on with Zeiss (pups are due next week!). But when the season ended, we were left with a nagging void around the house.

As our hearts began to mend, we considered getting another Weimaraner. But over the years, we'd lost two magnificent Weims to terrible diseases so now, every time we talk about it, we end up on the verge of tears. So we thought about the other breeds we'd always wanted. The list was long. Lisa and I have never met a breed of pointing dog that we didn't like. But we do have a short list of dogs we want next. It includes breeds with a lot of white in the coat (I wrote about the reasons why here) and a couple of other breeds that we've always loved, the Portuguese Pointer and the Picardy Spaniel

Aramis des Marais de Saint Hilaire, one of the best Picardy Spaniels I've ever seen. 
Then a couple of weeks ago, photos began to pup up on my Facebook feed. They were of the first litter of Picardy pups whelped in the UK. I had been helping breeders of Picardies and fans of the breed connect via Facebook and email for a number of years already. I'd even set up a Facebook group for the breed and told anyone that would listen that the Picardy would be a great choice for North American sportsmen and women. 

So last week I 'shared' the post with all the photos of cute Picardy pups and wrote: If you've ever considered getting a Picardy pup, now might be the time! Check out these photos of pups from the first litter whelped in the UK and try to resist.

One of the shots that shattered my resistance. Photo: Sue Axtell

And the more I looked at the photos, the more I felt my own resistance fading. At one point I had to step away from the computer and plead with Lisa,: "Talk me down dear, help me step away from the edge". I fully expected her to provide me with some solid, logical reasons why I should not get a pup at this time. But instead of being reasonable and helping me resist, she said: "A new pup!? I'll go get my purse..."

So, despite my best efforts, it looks like the first person to give into temptation was...me!

SAY HELLO TO LEO!! He's headed to Canada!

Photo: Sue Axtell

Since announcing that we were getting Leo, I've received a lot of questions about him, his breed and our reasons for the choice. Here are a few answers to the most common among them:

Why that breed? Do you just want to show off by having a breed nobody else has?
How rare or popular a breed is has zero influence on our choice of hunting dog. I have always maintained that you can find hard-hunting, well-bred gundogs in any pointing breed. The only difference is how much time and effort it takes to actually find and get one. With some breeds it is dead easy; just find a litter, reach in and pick a pup. Your chances of getting a decent hunting dog are excellent. With other breeds, it is a total crap shoot, you really have to search high and low to find a good one among all the crap.

Having studied the pointing breeds for nearly 2 decades and having excellent contacts in a ton of breeds means that Lisa and I can find a decent gundog in just about any breed we choose. So it comes down to which breed is best suited to the kind of hunting we do (there are quite a few) and all the little things about it that, for whatever reason, we find appealing. Lisa loves the expressive eyes of the Portuguese Pointer, I love the tri-colour coat of the Picardy. Lisa loves the curly coat and quirky characters of the Pont-Audemer Spaniel and I like the class and style of Pointers and Setters.


This is Leo's father Justus, a fantastic dog in all respects. 
So why did you choose the Picardy in particular? Was it a spur of the moment decision?
We met our first Picardy Spaniels in France about 10 years ago and have been a fan of the breed ever since. In fact on one of our trips to Europe, I would have purchased the handsome fellow at the top of this post right there on the spot! I wrote about him in my book and used his photo for the main shot in the breed chapter. So, no, it was not a spur of the moment decision.

I'd always known that one day, I would get a Picardy. As a mediocre trainer and someone who just wants an easy-to-live-with gundog, French breeds tend to fit my style better than German breeds. And since the Picardy region has a lot in common with Manitoba --good to great waterfowl and upland game hunting -- the pointing breed native to that area seemed to make sense. And finally, I've always thought that among all of the French pointing breeds, the Picardy may be the best suited to North American hunters and the types of game and terrain we hunt. By bringing Leo to Canada I am putting my money where my mouth is and making a commitment to the breed. With fellow hunters in Qu├ębec and the US I want to establish a breeding population of Picardy Spaniels on this side of the Atlantic.


Loves water you say?


Aren't rare dogs way more expensive? Aren't they rare for a reason (ie: they suck)?
Short answer: no. Long answer here.

Leo left side. Photo: Sue Axtell

Picardy SPANIEL? Spaniels are flushing dogs, not pointing dogs! 
There are actually more breeds of 'spaniels' that point than breeds of spaniels that flush! Sort of.  It's complicated.

Are you abandoning the Weim? 
No. I love Weims and will continue to support the efforts of those in the breed that are committed to producing solid hunting Weims. We will continue to hunt with Zeiss and Maisey even if they don't live with us and will probably get another Weim at some point in the future.


Leo right side. Photo: Sue Axtell


The Picardy intrigues me. How can I get more info? Where can I get a good one?
Start by buying my book!  lol..  If you are on Facebook, check out the group I set up for the breed in North America here. There are breed clubs for the Picardy Spaniel (and Blue Picardy and Pont-Audemer) in France and the Netherlands and a Picardy club in the UK. If you are serious about getting a Picardy, drop me a line via Facebook or via email: dogwillingpublications@gmail.com and I will be happy to lend a hand.

Leo in full cuteness mode. Photo: Sue Axtell

UPDATE: New photos of Leo posted here






Enjoy my blog posts? Check out my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals

www.dogwilling.ca







5 comments:

  1. I'm glad to part of this with you Craig. I'll keep you posted with photo's for your blog. Best wishes, Ade Morris

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  2. Good stuff Craig! Is there a way to sign up to receive notification of new posts? Apologies if I missed the link somewhere.

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    1. Hi Clinton,

      There is a 'subscribe' link just under the box for recent/popular/random near the top of the column on the right side.

      Cheers!

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  3. Congratulations on your new pup! Great news to hear Canada's gaining a Picardy! We own two Blue Picardys ourselves and although we don't hunt with them, they are amazing to watch go into a stalk and break into a nature set/point...maybe Leo needs a cousin? :-) http://www.brighthopekennels.blogspot.ca/2016/02/available-puppy.html

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  4. Craig,

    How does Leo's drive look? Is he pointing and taking interest well? Very interested in the breed and have liked what I have read. Y'alls boy sure is pretty!

    Josh

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