I have wanted to add a second bird dog to the family for nearly three years. Stella, my first shorthair is just over four. I trained her on my own with the help of a few friends and mentors. Once I saw the results of her training, I was hooked, drank the Kool-Aid, and I couldn’t get enough. I soon realized that if you want to be a serious bird hunter, you have to have dog power. I knew immediately that I needed more than one dog to do the hunting trips I wanted. It is hard on the dog to hunt all day long for consecutive days. In order to do hunts over three days long, it would require more dog power.
I’m a firm believer in doing your research. Picking out a pup is no small task. I knew I wanted a Shorthair and I’ve had a lot of experience with them over the past few years. You have to remember that all good things take time. I spent countless hours scouring forums on the internet and called a number of German Shorthair Pointer breeders to talk about what traits and personalities they were breeding. I wanted to align what I was looking for with what they had to offer. I think the best way to get what you want in a pup is to pick a breeder based on the qualities you’re looking for. From there, you want to pick the breeding if possible. At that point, you can basically pick a pup out of the litter blindfolded because all of the pups should meet your desires. It is also a wise idea to talk to breeders and send in a deposit well ahead of when you want a pup to ensure you are one of the top picks in the litter. This allows you greater odds if the litter is small or if they only have a couple pups of the sex you are looking for.
I settled on Odyssey Kennels out of Missouri for a number of reasons. A friend of mine owns a Shorthair out of one of their litters and I have personal time hunting and training behind him. He is one of the nicest dogs I have seen and he has impressed me every step of the way from puppyhood to seasoned bird dog. I had a number of discussions with Chuck at Odyssey Kennels and I was impressed with the level of detail and commitment to his breeding philosophy, they breed proven dogs and they have built a solid reputation since they began breeding Shorthairs. Chuck and Judy are extremely diligent and selective when it comes to breeding. They only breed a litter every one to two years and spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing dogs to match up the best pairing. These factors gave me confidence that I would be happy with any pup from their litter.
Sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned. My wife and I decided that we would try and get the second pup sometime in the spring of 2013. This would space out Stella and the new pup enough to the point where Stella would be a good citizen around the house and a solid, reliable dog in the field and I could dedicate time and resources to train the new pup. Another factor into the equation was that we were talking about starting a family. We thought it would work best to get a pup first and then work on a baby. By the time our baby would be born, the pup would have a year under its belt and we would be able to have a large part of the training complete.
God had different plans for us and what ended up happening was the exact opposite of what we planned. We got pregnant in late 2012 and didn’t end up bringing a puppy home until this summer. Either way, we ended up with what we wanted and were blessed with our daughter and a pup to add to our family.
I got word from Chuck in late March that the breeding had taken place. It was at this point that my anticipation started building. I had waited so long and I started thinking about all of the things that can go wrong, the breeding may not take, there could be a small litter, and complications can come up. The pregnancy was confirmed a couple weeks later and they expected seven pups. Stranger things have happened but there is always a possibility that the litter could be all females or that there would only be one male pup in the litter and leave me empty handed.
I received an email in late May informing me that six males and two females were born. I had a long seven week wait ahead of me. It was at this time that my excitement was overcome with some concern. How would the pup behave around my daughter? How would Stella deal with a rambunctious pup? How many sleepless nights are we going to have? What if he’s a barker? The questions were endless. I kept telling myself, “I’ve done this before, I can do it again.”
Chuck and Judy sent weekly pictures of the pups and I spoke with Chuck a number of times about the litter’s progress. We talked more about the traits that I was looking for as Chuck was analyzing the pups and figuring out which pup would be a good fit. The time finally came to make the trip down to Missouri. It was a six hour drive and I had reservations regarding how the pup would handle the long trip home. My dad was kind enough to take the day off work and keep me company on the trip.
Chuck and Judy welcomed us into their home where we spent a couple hours talking about the pups, hunting, life and our shared love of Shorthairs. We had a long drive home ahead of us so we didn’t stick around too long. As we were filling out paperwork and getting ready to leave, I could tell Judy was sincerely sad to see one of her pups leave. It makes me feel good when the breeder is so dedicated to their dogs that they hate seeing them leave. I assured them that I would take good care of him and hunt him every chance I get. We loaded up and hit the road.
My dad started off driving and I had my new pup in my lap. He was a bit squirmy at first and then ended up on the floor where he curled up and slept for the next two hours, what a relief! We took a bathroom break and hit the road again, with him in my lap. He was a bit more rambunctious this time so I put him in the crate. He started crying but it only lasted a few minutes before he quieted down. He remained quiet until our next stop. I took the wheel for the remainder of the trip and my dad was able to spend some time with the pup. Who doesn’t love puppy breath?
We made it home in one piece after nearly 13 hours round trip on the road. The rest of the family was excited to meet the pup. My wife and I had already narrowed down name options but wanted to wait until I was home so she could see him in person before we officially named him. Prior to bringing him home, we struggled with names and we each vetoed some of each others name choices. My top choice was Mav, after my favorite movie “Top Gun” but my wife did not approve. We ended up naming him Surly, after a local microbrewery. If you haven’t tried any of the Surly brews, I highly recommend it!
Surly has been home with us for a month now and I don’t think the transition could have gone much better. He is an extremely confident and bold pup but at the same time is calm and well mannered. I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you it’s been all sunshine and roses but overall, the transition has been better than I had anticipated.
Stella took a couple of weeks to adjust but now they get along great and she lets Surly harass her quite a bit. I’ve got some work to do with bird and gun intro before the season starts but I’m planning on doing that over the next month, then letting him have fun and let wild birds teach him lessons this year. I don’t see a need to rush his training; I want him to be a puppy and build his prey drive and confidence.
The countdown to the opener is on, only a few weeks to go!