Right now about half the country is in the middle of an arctic siege. We need to dress differently and take precautions during these winter months. The same goes for our pointing dogs. I especially think about my very first dog that still lives happily at my parents' house: a Brittany named Daisy.
She's almost ten years old, which brings a few things to mind right away. For one, icy spots should be avoided during walks around the neighborhood so that she doesn’t slip and twist or break something, which really is the case for dogs of any age. Older dogs (and young pups) also can’t regulate their body temperature as well, so they can’t be outside in freezing or below-freezing temperatures for very long.
She is not as susceptible to the cold as other pointing breeds that have shorter coats; however, her feathers get easily ornamented with ice balls after a decent romp through the snow, so it's important for her to have a dry, warm place to return to.
Some other things all dog owners should be aware of: Paw Care. Salt and other de-icers for sidewalks and roads can cause irritation on your dog’s foot pads, which causes the dog to lick its paws. An upset stomach is usually the result since these products are toxic; however, this occurring too often can lead to more serious issues. Wipe off your dog’s paws with a moist towel right after coming back inside. Also watch for ice balls that may have formed between the dog’s toes. “You can reduce the problem by trimming the hair,” says Larry Brown. Frostbite. “All dogs should be watched for frostbite on the extremities (feet, ears, tail, etc.),” says Dr. Ben Character. These areas are susceptible because they are the most exposed to the elements and often have less insulation from hair or fat or muscle. Frostbite in an area begins as a reddish color that gradually turns to grey. If you suspect frostbite, give your dog a warm – not hot – bath, and wrap the dog in towels. Don’t rub the affected spots. Call your vet if the problem looks to be significant. Dehydration. Look at your hands after two months of winter and you can easily tell how little moisture is in the air. Dry winter air takes moisture from our dogs, who lose even more during a winter workout. To replace that moisture, we need to encourage our dogs to drink more often during and after working outside. The signs of dehydration are lack of skin elasticity, constipation, exhaustion, appetite loss, vomiting, and depression. Offer a dehydrated dog lukewarm water in small doses on a frequent basis. If your dog still refuses to drink, entice by adding a bouillon cube. Sometimes it takes two or three hours for recovery, but improvement will begin within 20 minutes of the first dose because that’s when the water starts to plump up the shriveled cells. Antifreeze. Dogs think this stuff is candy. Keep an eye on your dog when outdoors, especially in areas where it can encounter this poison. According to Dr. Ben, “The first symptom of antifreeze toxicity you will notice is something called ataxia, where the dog appears to be drunk. Within a short time, the second-stage symptoms, which include vomiting and depression, will begin to occur; lastly, the dogs usually either become comatose or begin to have severe seizures.” To put it in perspective, a 75-pound Lab has to lap up only two-thirds of a cup to be harmed. For Daisy, who’s half that size, that’s twice the amount. Take your dog to the vet immediately.
(Reuters) - A wounded fox shot its would be killer in Belarus by pulling the trigger on the hunter's gun as the pair scuffled after the man tried to finish the animal off with the butt of the rifle, media said Thursday. The unnamed hunter, who had approached the fox after wounding it from a distance, was in hospital with a leg wound, while the fox made its escape, media said, citing prosecutors from the Grodno region.
"The animal fiercely resisted and in the struggle accidentally pulled the trigger with its paw," one prosecutor was quoted as saying.
Fox-hunting is popular in the picturesque farming region of northwestern Belarus which borders Poland. (Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Matthew Jones)
In south Georgia's 'Plantation Belt,' chasing quail isn't shooting fish in a barrel
In a late December chill, I went quail hunting amid tall pines and waist-high broomsedge grass. My mission was to shoot 10-inch bobwhite quail, and then to hear a guide shout to the hunting dogs ahead of me: "Dead in here! Dead in here!" That command alerts the hounds to locate a downed bird…only in South Georgia's fabled quail plantation belt the drawled order sounds more like, "Deh-ud-n-heah! Deh-ud-n-heah!"A friend and I heard that command more than 40 times over the course of a two-day hunting trip to Willowin Plantation, located in Lax, Georgia, a rural settlement that's little more than a crossroads, a church and a few houses, three hours south of Atlanta. Willowin itself is 3,000 acres of rolling farmland, pine groves and a river that ultimately flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
Hitting a bobwhite quail—males issue a "bob-bob-white" call to woo hens—is a difficult task. A hunter has less than two seconds to gauge when and where to shoot. A preferred shot is a quail flying straight away. If a quail cuts left or right, a hunter must lead the bird by sweeping the gun barrel across the bird and then beyond to space where it might fly. A shot too soon blows the bird to feathers. A shot too late allows the brown-gray blur to fly beyond the 30-yard range that 410 pellets spraying from a shell can hit. Peter Brown, a guide at Willowin, calls the birds "brown rockets."
Long regarded as a gentleman's sport and leisure-class pursuit, quail hunting today is best—that is, most challenging—when the birds are wild. Wild birds get off the ground quickly and fly erratically, often for deep brush and thickets that aren't passable. Urban development, however, has destroyed many wild quail habitats. The challenge then is to find "plantations"—as they are called in this region—that offer a mix of wild quail (or semi-wild quail) with birds that have been raised in pens, then released onto the land.
Private plantations offer the best opportunity to shoot wild quail because most owners limit hunts. Commercially operated plantations—those that charge a fee to hunters—run the gamut. The worst of the lot, on the morning of a hunt, literally set out quail that have been raised in pens. The trick, if you're paying a fee, is to hunt at plantations that raise birds that know how to fly fast, and erratically enough, to avoid gunshots. In Georgia, where the state game bird is the bobwhite quail, there are about 150 commercially run quail-hunting operations.
Just after Christmas, I visited Willowin, which is owned by William O. Wingate IV and his family. Mr. Wingate's great-grandfather started Willowin, an abbreviated version of the family name: Will O. Win. I had heard that its fields provided a hunting challenge and wanted to test it, while gauging if it was worth the $750 rate for two days of shooting fowl.
Rebel, nabbing a quailWillowin raises quail chicks in pens and then releases them to the land at five weeks old. That process effectively creates quasi-wild quail that can adapt to the surroundings and learn to survive. Mr. Wingate limits the hunts on his land, a practice rare in these parts.
During Willowin's peak quail-hunting season—December through early March—only a dozen parties can participate. There's no overlap between groups; when you hunt, you're the only ones out there on roughly 500 acres. Hunters walk most of the designated Willowin land, occasionally using a buggy, a golf cart-sized vehicle, to get to a new spot.
Our hunt began in a pine grove bordering a hay field. Mr. Wingate, 37, provided safety measures. Know at all times where other hunters, as well as the point dogs, are positioned.
We donned blaze orange caps and hunting vests to stand out, and started in a formation that used the dial of a clock as a guide. Guide Peter Brown sent his dogs—Pete, Jessie and Molly—ahead. Mr. Brown walked at the noon position and began whistling commands.
Two whistles turned the dogs to different directions. My friend Tommy Hatcher walked about six yards to Mr. Brown's left, at nine o'clock. I took up the position to Mr. Brown's right, at three.