New Puppies – Two Litters / First Look

Thistle and Feather both whelped their puppies over night on the 17-18th of June with about four hours between litters. Needless to say it was a busy night. Thistle had nine pups (6 males, 3 females) and Feather had four (two males, two females). All are doing great. Thistle’s milk supply wasn’t quite keeping up so Feather volunteered to help out by adopting two of her pups. Here’s some video we shot today.

Thistle x Buck

Feather x Coulter


OFA X-Rays Are Not Difficult!

To our amazement, and disappointment, the biggest obstacle to our hip program has been, and continues to be, veterinarians. Although a majority of vets have been supportive and helpful,  our puppy buyers regularly encounter resistance when they ask for the hip x-rays we require, especially regarding the use of anesthesia which we recommend against.

Most people don’t have any idea what the process of getting an OFA hip x-ray is actually like, so they don’t know when the information they are given is false. Let’s go over some of what our buyers face, and then we’ll take a look at the x-ray procedure.

Here are some of the most common roadblocks our customers run into with their veterinarian:

  • The BIG one: “You can’t take an OFA x-ray without anesthesia.” Yes you can. The only exception is a very strong dog that fights the positioning, in which case they can be given a little sedation. We haven’t sedated one since 1996.
  • “The OFA requires anesthesia.” Not true. Here is the veterinarian info from the bottom of an OFA application. If anesthesia was required there wouldn’t be an option to check “Physical restraint only”.

  • “You can’t get good positioning unless the dog is anesthetized.” Again, this may be true for dogs that are big and very strong but otherwise it is not the case, especially if the dog has a prominent spine as English setters have. If the dog is awake the muscle resistance actually helps keep the body lined up.
  • “I won’t do it without anesthesia because I don’t want to expose my employees to more radiation.” The process is identical whether the dog is awake or under anesthesia.
  • “The dog might bite someone.” If that’s a concern the dog can be muzzled.
  • “It’s painful.” Unless the dog is dysplastic this excuse is hogwash! See video below.
  • “OFA evaluations can’t be done before 2 years of age.” From the OFA website:
    “The OFA accepts preliminary consultation radiographs on puppies as young as 4 months of age for evaluation of hip conformation.”
  • “Dogs have to be registered in order to do an OFA”, or “They have to be registered with the AKC”. Not true. If a dog is not registered it will be assigned a study number that includes “NOREG” (we have over 300 reports on file that were done like this).

There are more, but these are the most common.

Here is what it’s really like.

It’s understandably hard to know what to think when your vet is using these arguments. Yesterday we took three dogs in for hip x-rays and shot a video of the process so everyone can see what’s involved.

  • The first dog is a 6 month old puppy. In our experience puppies of this age are virtually always calm and easy to deal with.
  • Second dog is an adult that is strong and fought the positioning more.
  • Third is another adult. She’s not dead at the end, just relaxed and being obedient:-)

The vet has to be able to see the positioning for the hip films, so experience makes a big difference. Our vet got acceptable x-rays first try on all three of these dogs, but to be fair he sometimes takes more than one before he’s satisfied with the positioning.

Two people are all that’s necessary, but a third one in the middle can make it easier to line things up well.

The X-Rays

Here are the 3 hip x-rays from yesterday in the same order as the films were taken.

2019-20 Season Wrap Up

Overall we had a good season and got a lot done with the dogs. Our Sage Grouse season remains closed so our hunting began in Wisconsin in October. We found plenty of Grouse but most were still in broods, which was a little odd for this time of year. Our focus was on the youngsters we started the last couple years and they continued to develop nicely. Here’s a pretty poor shot of Feather pointing a Grouse:

Feather on Point
Feather Pointing A Grouse

And Misty with the first Grouse she’s had shot over her:

Lisa with Misty and grouse
Misty’s First Grouse

On this trip Misty developed a unique style when handling birds. When she smells birds she goes straight to them like a laser beam. She crouches and does kind of a fast stalk, very intense, no side to side motion – just straight to the bird. Very positive – no messing around.

OK, we can’t resist a puppy photo. Heather came from Thorn Plum Kennels in NY.  She’s a nice pup we’re hoping makes a good addition to our crew.

Cliff With Heather
Cliff With Heather

In December we headed to southern Idaho and spent a few days in some of our old Hun covers that we hadn’t hit in years. The birds were still there and they were spookier than ever. Small coveys that ran a lot and didn’t put up with any mistakes. A great challenge for the dogs and they were up to it. It was really nice to see the dogs handling tough birds like this even when we didn’t get shots at the flush.

We arrived in Kansas on New Year’s Eve for another Gathering and some Quail hunting. Birds were way down this year but we still managed to get some good hunts in. The Gathering was fun and informative as usual and we had quite a crowd this year.

Lisa With Thistle
Lisa With Thistle

Rick with Abby
Rick Walking In On Abby’s Point

A highlight for us was what we called a “parade”. We got together one morning for kind of a show and tell session before dispersing to hunt. Breeders present broke out their dogs and described the breeding and qualities of each dog. Very informative.

Breeders’ Show And Tell Session

We switched our focus to getting pups started and had fun watching them discover what life is about.

Dusty Pointing
Puppy Point / Dusty (Brook x Coulter)

Heath REsting Up
Heath Enjoying The Fireplace

Since we weren’t finding many birds we headed back to Idaho to finish out the season on Chukars.

Chukar Camp
Chukar Camp

Bird numbers weren’t spectacular but it was good enough to get a lot done with the dogs. Not to mention it’s beautiful country.

Tillie / Piper x Doc
Tillie (Piper x Doc)

Prince On Chukars

Cliff, Thistle and Misty
Cliff With Thistle And Misty

Fog Bank
Fog Bank Spilling Into Valley

We had great weather and lots of good dog work to wrap up our season. Memories that will carry us through until next year.


Breeders of Classic foot hunting English Setters from Ryman and other close working bloodlines.

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