Posts Tagged ‘Top Gun Kennels’

My New Bird Dog and Puppy Potty Training

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Esky

I am proud to introduce Top Gun Escanaba v. St.Pierre, my new 10-week-old female German shorthaired pointer. My new bird dog pup, call name “Esky,” comes from the same bloodlines as my previous two shorthairs, Izzy and Trammell. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you may remember my young shorthair Izzy died tragically last October. Izzy and Esky share the same dam, Top Gun Hope.

Esky2Esky joined our family last Thursday after a trip to Top Gun Kennels in Iowa where we met a few of her siblings. The breeder, Steve and Jodie Ries, made my pup selection for me in advance. Steve and Jodie know me well, know my hunting style and know what attributes I was looking for in my new pup. There was no flipping over pups on their back to see which one fought me, or didn’t. There was no walking around the yard to see which one followed me, or didn’t. There was no chance of a pup having a good day or a bad one when I met them. I simply communicated my preferences and trusted them. This strategy of trust worked seven years ago with my first pup and I’ve kept returning to the same breeder ever since.

Tip: I’ve found most gun dog breeders to be similarly dedicated to their client’s needs.  If you’re looking for a pup, ask prospective breeders for the contact info from some of their clients and make a few calls.  Speaking to owners from the same bloodlines you’re interested in will provide a tremendous amount of insight into both the breeder and the line.  It’s well worth the effort.

The Name Game

EscanabaWhile I named my previous two bird dogs after Detroit sports heroes of my childhood (Alan Trammell and Steve Yzerman), I went a different direction with my new pup. “Esky” is the nickname of my hometown of Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I selected the name for a couple of different reasons. First, I’ve never met another bird dog named Esky and a unique name in the field is important to me. Second, Esky sounds similar to Izzy, which I like considering the circumstances of losing Izzy at such a young age. Lastly, growing up in Escanaba translated into my love for the great outdoors and bird hunting in particular, so naming my dog “Esky” seemed a fitting tribute to a place I love.

Puppy Potty Training

Life with a puppy is a shock to the system and our normal daily structure. In fact, I spent my Fourth of July holiday weekend not sleeping. Ten-week-old puppies want bathroom breaks at 2AM and 4:30AM, and you’d best move quickly to avoid accidents.

Tip: Puppies need to go to the bathroom as soon as they wake up. Carry your puppy outside as soon as they awake to avoid an indoor accident. Put that puppy where you want them to learn “going potty” is acceptable. Say “go potty” until they go to the bathroom. Jump up and down like you won the Stanley Cup after the pup successfully goes to the bathroom.

And it begins again; the process of training a puppy and adapting to life with a new member of the family. Stay tuned for more posts as I go through the process of training my third bird dog.

Note: I’m hoping to contact the gentleman from the Maplewood/White Bear Lake, Minnesota area who has named his new shorthair puppy, Izzy, in tribute to my pup. I’d like to express my gratitude. Please email me at stpete@pheasantsforever.org. Thank you!

Related Posts:

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Birth of a Bird Dog Litter

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

 Hope

It’s time for me to pass out the cigars. Two weeks ago, a litter of nine German shorthaired pointers was born in Iowa via the pairing of Hope, the dam, and Snuffy, the sire. The litter consists of four females and five males attached to nine different families anxiously anticipating their homecoming later this summer. I am excited to report one of those little female pups will be joining my family.

Familiar Bloodlines

After the tragic death of “Izzy” last autumn, I wanted to fill the void left in our home immediately. As with any loss – person or pet – it took time for me to come to terms with the fact my beloved bird dog was gone. During that time, I searched online for litters, evaluated hundreds of online German shorthair rescue profiles, and scoured the aisles of National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic for breeders. I considered a wide variety of breeds, sent my wife dozens of rescue profiles, momentarily considered adding two puppies at once, and learned a lot through the process.

Ultimately, however, I came back to the bloodlines I know fit my family and hunting style. Both of my bird dogs, “Trammell” and “Izzy,” have come from Top Gun Kennels and their “Higgins” bloodline. Steve & Jodie Ries, owners of Top Gun (and longtime Pheasants Forever supporters), provided me with the best option in a breeding with Izzy’s dam, Hope. So with a heavy dose of patience, I’m proud to announce I’ll be bringing home Izzy’s half-sister later this summer. And yes, I do indeed have her name already picked out, but I’ll be saving that proclamation for a future post.

Related:

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

UPDATES: Izzy, Trammell and a Thank You

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Izzy found this brace of bobwhites during a Rooster Road Trip hunt last year in Nebraska

Izzy found this brace of bobwhites during a Rooster Road Trip hunt last year in Nebraska

I love to write.  However, as my wife, Meredith, so adeptly penned in her blog post, I was overcome with emotion at Izzy’s passing.  I knew I could never write a blog that would do justice to how much Izzy meant to our family.  I didn’t know where, or how, to begin.  Every time I thought about her potential in the field, I’d tear up.  Every time I’d think about her positive energy and unconditional love in our home, I’d sob uncontrollably.  As bird hunters, we spend a couple dozen days a year in the field with our dogs if we’re lucky, while the remaining 300 plus are spent in kitchens, back yards and walks around the block.  Izzy was the “energy” in our family that’s now gone.  While every dog owner knows he/she will outlive their canine best friend, we’re never really prepared for the day that inevitability comes home to roost, especially at 1 year, 7 months and 8 days.

Our Community

In the days since that fateful Saturday, October 19th, I’ve received more than 200 emails, voicemails, blog comments, Facebook messages and Tweets with words of support and wisdom.  To put it bluntly, I’ve been overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and friendship the Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and bird dog communities have shown me.

As you can imagine, I’ve been brought to tears dozens of times in the days since Izzy was taken too early from us.  What I wasn’t expecting was that my little 1 ½ year old pup would inspire people to reach out to me to articulate their support for my personal well-being, Pheasants Forever’s habitat mission and my role within that mission.  People I’ve never met before or interacted with have grabbed the phone and keyboard to tell me what my words on the screen or over the radio waves have meant to them over the last several years.

Izzy and Trammell find a pair of late August sharp-tailed grouse in northwestern Wisconsin

Izzy and Trammell find a pair of late August sharptails

Trammell’s Recovery

When Meredith wrote her blog post, she did leave out one massive component of our terrible weekend when Izzy died.  She did so purposefully as a sign of respect to Izzy’s importance in our lives.  However, I feel it’s now appropriate to also bring to light just how close we came to losing both our dogs within 24 hours.  The night following Izzy’s passing, Trammell woke us up at 5AM.  She was dry-heaving and struggling to breathe.  This lasted for about thirty minutes before I was overcome by a sense of “I’m not going to lose both my dogs to tragedies in one day,” so we raced to a 24-hour pet hospital.  They immediately took X-rays and found two nails, a staple and a massive wad of grass in Tram’s stomach.  As you can imagine, I was shocked.  While definitely food-motivated, Trammell has never been a chewer.  I couldn’t comprehend how nails were now threatening her life.  The vet did an immediate endoscopy successfully removing one nail, but was unable to capture the second.  Emergency stomach surgery to remove the second nail surrounded by a massive ball of grass commenced and was thankfully successful.  I’ll never know how Tram picked up those nails; however, I am fearful they were intended for a wolf in a bait pile left in the same woods Izzy passed.  I hope my thoughts are purely those of an angry and grieving dog owner.  No animal – wolf, dog or other – deserves such a fate.  Thankfully, Tram’s stitches are now out and she is making a full recovery.

Borrowing a Dog

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been offered the services of a dozen people’s bird dogs.  Most of these offers have come from folks I’ve never met before.  I can’t express the measure of generosity I’ve felt from these offers.  Let’s face it; I haven’t had much luck with bird dogs recently.  For a stranger to trust me with their pup speaks volumes to their humanity.

While I’m eternally grateful to these offers, I’ve always had a rule about “borrowing” another’s bird dog (even before the tragedies of the last two weeks).  Under no circumstances will I ever put myself in a situation of being responsible for another’s pup.  Likewise, I’ll never lend out my own dogs.  My opinion is it’s simply too much of a risk for both parties to be in a situation of having to answer for unexpected circumstances.  Nevertheless, I do want to acknowledge the overwhelming gratefulness I’ve felt each time one of these offers arrived in my Inbox.  THANK YOU for trusting me.

Rooster Road Trip

The afternoon after Trammell’s surgery, I emailed Andrew and Anthony from my home after waking up from a sleep with Tram in bed.  In that email, I told the guys there was no way I’d be going out on this year’s tour without either of my dogs.  “Agony” is the word I used to categorize the feeling I’d have wandering five states “alone” to think about my departed Izzy and mending Tram.  As you’d expect from fellow dog guys, they understood completely and quickly enlisted Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever’s Public Relations Specialist, to fill my slot.  I think you’d all agree, the trio did a marvelous job on this year’s Rooster Road in my absence.

Top Gun Yzerman "Izzy" v. St.Pierre

Top Gun Yzerman “Izzy” v. St.Pierre

Cremation and Rebirth

There were tears in our kitchen again last week.  Heavy tears.  Meredith brought Izzy’s cremated remains home from the vet in a tin urn.  As I write, that tin rests on our mantle next to Izzy’s puppy blanket . . . and I miss her a lot . . . and the tears stream down my face again.  1 year, 7 months and 8 days of joy.  Thank You, Izzy, for loving me and being my bird dog.  I’ll miss you FOREVER and hope to someday join you for another hunt.  Just you, me and Tram.  I love you . . .

Life and death, it is the incongruity of our existence.  Izzy’s passing has put the St.Pierre name on the list for a Top Gun litter again this spring. God willing, Izzy’s half-sister will join the St.Pierre family late next spring and you will have to endure another round of articles about dog names, potty training and first birds.  For Meredith and me, there was never any question we’d have to add another pup to our family as soon as possible.  The void Izzy’s departure has left in our home with her “big” personality is just too large to not try filling immediately.  I understand why some folks would take more time to grieve before getting another puppy.  Simply put, the opposite was needed for our recovery.

If you’d like to read a bit more about my beloved Izzy, here are a few links:

Finally, I just wanted to say “THANK YOU” for all the notes, love and support.  THANK YOU for all the messages and photos about your pups pointing in Izzy’s honor.  Most importantly, THANK YOU for giving your pup a scratch under the chin in Izzy’s memory.  That was always her favorite spot and I know she’s wagging her tail every time another pup gets a little love there.  THANK YOU.  I am humbled and thankful for your friendship.  Bob

Izzy's first pointed grouse came at the tender age of 7 months.

Izzy’s first pointed grouse came at the tender age of 7 months.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

The Best Compliment for a Bird Hunter: I Want a Bird Dog like Yours

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Me with my pride and joy, Trammell, a German shorthaired pointer

Me with my pride and joy, Trammell, a German shorthaired pointer

Last autumn, on a bird hunting trip with Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, we stopped by my brother’s house in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.  Anthony’s little nugget of a bird dog, “Sprig,” was in tow.

 

Sprig, an English cocker spaniel, made fast friends with my niece, nephew, and brother.  So much so that my sister-in-law, Julie, said that Sprig might be just the ticket for helping push my brother over the ledge to adding a bird dog to their busy family.  We ventured further on the trip to Escanaba, Michigan where both my parents also offered to “take Sprig off Anthony’s hands.”

 

While “nice shot,” is always an appreciated sentiment on a pheasant hunt, I don’t think there is any greater compliment for a bird hunter than a fellow hunter remarking “I want a bird dog like yours.”  For all the trials of potty training and the tribulations of obedience afield, bird dogs provide the greatest rewards when others appreciate the fruits of your labor.

 

Although my immediate family seems fixated on Anthony’s Sprig, I’ve been honored to have many hunting partners comment on their desire to have a shorthair like my “Trammell” pup.  A few have even gone so far as to connect with Trammell’s breeder and seek out her bloodlines through Top Gun Kennels.  That’s a fact I’m flattered by . . . although Top Gun’s breeding has more to do with Trammell’s prowess than any training I accomplished.

 

At its foundation, following the bloodlines of a bird dog you enjoy hunting behind is a great formula for finding a bird dog pup that you’ll cherish for a decade and more.  Have you ever pursued the pup or breeding of a hunting partner’s stellar bird dog?

 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

 

The Marriage Proposal Puppy

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Steve Ries, owner of Top Gun Kennels

Steve Ries, owner of Top Gun Kennels, may have stumbled upon a new business model for his German shorthaired pointer kennel business: incorporating marriage proposals with puppy pickups.  For at least one customer, that was the business arrangement last Saturday.

 

When Brandon Berg of West Concord, Minnesota visited Top Gun Kennels in Iowa this spring and put a deposit down on a GSP puppy, he told Ries the puppy was part of a surprise for his girlfriend.  Yes, only part of the surprise.  You see, Brandon was also in the process of designing a one-of-a-kind engagement band for Shay Jurgensen of Kasson, Minnesota.

 

Shay meets her new German shorthair puppy

“Shay loves German shorthairs and I wanted to make the perfect proposal very special and unique to her,” explained Berg.  “After I told Steve my idea, he was all-in and excited to give me advice on how to best pull my plan off.”

 

So with Brandon’s plan in place, the couple road-tripped from southern Minnesota to Iowa last Saturday to “look at” Top Gun Kennel puppies.  Shay had no idea what lay in store for her.

 

“Steve handed me the pup I had picked out earlier this spring.  Around the pup’s neck was the collar I had given him with the engagement ring I designed attached,” explained Berg.  “When I handed Shay the puppy, I dropped to one knee.  With puppy in her arms and Shay’s eyes fixed on the ring, the tears began to roll pretty quickly down her face.”

Brandon proposes

The happy couple named the new pup, “Remington,” and plans to hunt pheasants, ducks and geese over him this autumn.  Most bird dog owners will tell you that there is one dog that stands out as their “dog of a lifetime.”  I’m confident Remington will be exactly that dog for Shay and Brandon.  No word yet on Remington’s role in the wedding ceremony, but I’m placing the smart money on the position of ring-bearer.

Shay said "yes"

Tune in to FAN Outdoors radio this Saturday morning at 7:30AM CDT to hear Steve Ries tell the story in his own words.

 

NOTE: In a twist of serendipity, Remington happens to be from the exact same litter as my new shorthair pup, “Izzy.”

 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Naming my Second Bird Dog, Part 1 of 2

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Pictured here is Hope, my new pup's dam. Photo courtesy of Top Gun Kennels

Bird dog names are a big deal to me.  Admittedly, they’re probably too big of a deal.  However, as I’ve written about in previous posts about dog names, a bird dog’s name says a lot about the owner as well as what you hope the bird dog will become. In naming a bird dog, there are two qualities I hold as important guidelines: creativity and personalization.

 

Creativity

Although you may not realize it at first blush, a creatively named dog is an advantage in the field.  I’ve often been in hunting groups with multiple dogs named the exact same way.  Not only are the owner’s commands confusing for the dogs, they’re confusing for the other hunters too.  Under this guideline, I personally throw out the nation’s most popular dog names as well as a few names commonly popular to other bird hunters.  The names “Drake” and “Hunter” fall in this second category, as does any name referencing your favorite brand of shotgun.

 

If you’re struggling to find a creative name, consider a different language to fit the breed of dog you’re getting.  There are lots of fun ways to connect a dog’s German, French, Spanish, English or Irish heritage through their name.

 

Personalization

For me, a bird dog’s name should tell a story about the owner.  Read some of the comments at the bottom of my Please Don’t Name Your Bird Dog That post and you’ll find fantastic examples of dog names in honor of people’s heroes, favorite book characters and idolized musicians, as well as fun stories of the circumstances surrounding the dog’s personality.

 

Admittedly odd for some to understand, I named my now five-year old female shorthair “Trammell,” in honor of a male Detroit Tigers baseball player, Alan Trammell, who retired two decades ago.  However, naming my pup “Trammell” immediately personalized that pup to me.  Her name has also always served as a conversation starter about my love of baseball and my roots as a grouse hunter from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

 

Pictured here is Fletcher, my new pup's sire. Photo courtesy of Top Gun Kennels

Later this month, my wife and I will be adding our second bird dog to the family.  The new pup comes from the same Top Gun Kennel bloodlines as Trammell.  In the sequel to this post, I’ll finally spill the beans on our new pup’s name.  Got any guesses?

 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Cougars, Snappers, and Some Dog Treats

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Listen back to last Saturday's FAN Outdoors radio show for dog training tips from Steve Ries and an early pheasant forecast from Ben Bigalke.

Here are some quick hitters for this Monday morning.

 

  • Also last Saturday on FAN Outdoors, Ben Bigalke (Pheasants Forever’s Regional Wildlife Biologist for South Dakota) gives an early look at the pheasant forecast in the “Pheasant Capital” during the end of Hour 1 and the beginning of Hour 2.  Ben tells us it’s been wet during the peak of the pheasant hatch across SoDak, NoDak, Nebraska, and Minnesota.  Bummer!

 

  • I spent Sunday on the lake with my good friend Matt Kucharski.  The fishing was slow, but the sun was out and the laughs were fast and furious.  Good friends & the outdoors, always a good time.

 

  • Check out the story of Rick Oliver.  He’s a North Carolina dude who has been struck by lightning and mauled by a bear.  No mention of any deep sea fishing plans.

 

  • Cougars in the U.P.  Yep, the Michigan DNR has their 7th confirmed “Yooper” cougar in my homeland of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  I have yet to see a mountain lion in Michigan or anywhere else, but I have had the pleasure of tasting them at wild game dinners.  You may be surprised to know they are a very delicious white meat that reminds me a bit of pork.  They are legal to hunt in many western U.S. states.

 

  • Speaking of tasty . . . Minnesota’s snapping turtle season gets underway on July 1st.  Check out the Minnesota DNR’s fishing regulations book for the rules around snappers.  Be careful, they can snap off your finger, but their sautéed flesh is worth the risk. 

 

  • July 1st also marks the beginning of the new season of Pheasants Forever Television on Outdoor Channel.  I’m predicting this year’s premier episode will be Matt Morlock’s Hollywood coming out party.  Matt is an “Acre Maker” Farm Bill Biologist for Pheasants Forever in South Dakota and makes appearances in two segments of the PF TV season premier.  He’s also a helluva good guy, a cracker-jack hunter, and grows the meanest beard on the Pheasants Forever staff.

 

  • If you haven’t checked it out yet, take a gander at For Love of Dogs, an Outdoor Life group of essays I was honored to participate in writing.  I wrote about my love for German shorthaired pointers, while other hunters extolled the virtues of their favorite dog breed; including, a compelling essay on Labradors from my good friend John Devney of Delta Waterfowl.

 

 

  • And to end today’s hit list, I’ll ask the same question Field & Stream’s David Dibenedetto asked last week: Do You Feed Your Dog Table Scraps?  I will admit that my pup, Trammell, has been known to find a few nibbles after most dinners in the St.Pierre household.  What about you?  Does your dog get any table treats?