|WORKING AIREDALE TERRIER ASSOCIATION|
PO Box 106
Winlaw, British Columbia
Canada V0G 2J0
Full Cry Column
Clint Stubbe (Northern Working Airedale Terrier Association correspondent)
The end of July and summer is definitely here in the beautiful Selkirk Mountains
of BC and the dogs are lazing away the hot days digging holes in the cool earth
under shady fir trees in their pen. The mountain lakes are full of fish, the
streams also as they run cool and clear with at least a couple little trout
in every pool you dip a fly in. The huckleberries and saskatoons are ripe and
plump on the South facing slopes and the mountain meadows are awash with the
colour of columbine, moss heather, lupines and Indian paintbrush. Life is good
and unfolding as it should. Oh there is one fly in the ointment - BUGS. Boy
can they make what would be an otherwise perfect day miserable. Working in the
bush can be pleasant because its always cool under the forest canopy but if youre
in a wet area theres mosquitoes, if its near running water theres
horseflies and if its dry theres black flies and no-see-ums. There
are few days where we are not tormented by some winged misery. Spring and fall
are definitely my favourite times of year. Today was an exception and I took
my wife and boy on the four-wheeler up to an alpine meadow for a hike and to
scout for goats. The wind was cool and kept the few bugs we did encounter to
a manageable few. We hiked up through a beautiful alpine bowl and had lunch
in a rocky saddle while I glassed for critters then down to the creek to catch
a few trout for dinner when we returned. All in all a perfect day. I will never
tire of the beauty that is all around me free for the taking.
Recently I received a letter I would like to share. It is as follows.
I am a 66 year old federal prisoner and recently I came across a copy
of November 2001 Full Cry Magazine. Apparently the fellow who had been receiving
the magazine was sent to another prison or, one of the lucky ones - went home.
Anyway I hadnt had a chance to read a Full Cry for several years and I
was surprised at the scope of the magazine today and the different breeds represented.
I was particularly surprised by two articles on Airedales, yours and Kevins
and a Matt Thom from Arizona. I believed for awhile that I was one of the few
people left who hunted Airedales, a few old guys my age or older. In fact the
last person I was familiar with was an old bear hunter from Silver City New
Mexico area who was twenty years my senior and is now I think deceased. I took
Full Cry for many years, when I began I have forgotten but I was a young man.
In any event I subscribed when the old dog trader from Joplin (O.L. Beckham)
was writing his best articles and Col. Dorman Clouse the redbone man and many
others were there.
I have hunted different breeds of hounds and Curs but I always had a soft spot in my heart for Airedales and usually always had one or a pair or was looking to get one. My Grandfather was a veterinarian who had a livery stable with about seventy-five horses for rent. He also had sleighs and hay wagons for rent and he had a pair of Airedales who loved horses and always went out with the wagons and sleighs. The town dogs would sit in their yards and bark but none would venture near those wagons no matter what breed they were. The Airedales in those days were used to pull woodchucks or badgers out of a box or barrel in a dog pit. People bet on which dog could get the animal all the way out in the fastest time. The Airedales were faster then the pit bulls, as they would yank the animal out to fight it.
I was a young man in the army when I bought my first Airedale. It was in the early 60s and I was stationed at Fort McPherson Georgia. A fellow up in Sparta Tennessee (a Mr. Moore) had a large kennel of Airedales and I heard about it (Mooreland kennels). When I got there he had at least seventy-five Airedales, adults and pups, in pens and on chains. His dogs were BIG some of his males a good eighty pounds or more. He claimed several strains of dogs making up his line but claimed them to be heavy in Oorang blood from around Arkansas or Missouri somewhere. His dogs all seemed to be pretty heavily curly coated as I recall. The male pup I got from him turned out to be one of the best four or five dogs of all the many Ive owned in my life.
I soon went overseas for one year and when I got back the pup was ready for hunting. I took a job in Silver City New Mexico for a couple years and hunted Curly there on bear with a Plott pup and a big well broke Walker from Sand Pit Ranch in California. He was a good dog to start pups with. Anyway when we moved to NW Montana Curly was not only good running a track (a nose as good as any Cur dog or most hounds Ive owned) but he was a hard stick to it tree dog which is the only failing I have ever seen in the Airedale breed as a bear or lion dog in the Northern woods. I have had a couple Airedale young dogs that would get bored at the tree and drift off after awhile and start hunting again. This was true in Montana and BC where there are a lot of bears and not hard at all to start. Ive lived and worked in the Kamloops area in BC and also up around Lac La Biche Alberta and North of Edmonton. Curly lost an eye when he was about five but it did not slow him down one bit
I believe I have seen some straight haired Airedales in my life but not many. I remember well a photo a friend of mine had of B.V. Lilly. Lilly was about in his forties in the picture (he died age 79 in 1936 the year I was born). He was photographed with three hunters next to a big bear, a grizzly with two slick haired Airedales. I thought at the time they were hound crosses but they had pure Airedale size and shaped ears. I had several friends, cowboys and timber men who had known Lilly when they were young. Most of his pictures show bigheaded Blueticks. There is a monument to him just North of Pinos Altos New Mexico North of Silver City.
I had a number of Airedale over the years but the strangest was a female I bought in Kalispell Montana about twenty years ago. She was four months old and unlike the other pups in the litter she had to be kept separate from her mother. They would begin fighting as soon as they got together and the people were afraid the mother would kill her but the pup would barrel right into her. Anyway I called her Tonto and I took her home. By the time she was one year old she was a bear dog. I had two Catahoula/Leopard Cur crosses of my breeding and I started her running bear with these two dogs. She had one very bad habit - porcupines, in her 1st year from late April to October she grabbed nine of them. I had to carry needle nose pliers and scissors in may saddle bags all the time.
One day when she was about 2 ½ a fellow came by, a teacher who needed some cash and had a three year old Walker female he claimed was a cat dog. He wanted $1000 cash, a lot of money for me but I heard from some people she was a good dog. Anyway it was June and as I dont have specialists (I run cats, bear and coon with the same dogs) I said lets try her out. Just as we were leaving I stopped and went back and turned Tonto loose and put her in. We got up on some old logging roads and way up ahead we saw a black spot cross the road. We pulled up and turned the Walker out and she hit the track running, the back track, barking hard and fast and going out of hearing. I said a few bad words and turned out Tonto who was trying to choke herself to death and she hit the hot track and whistled it down and caught the bear. The Walker heard the fuss and came sailing back and we had both dogs treeing. We took the dogs off the tree and went back to the truck. We hadnt gone five miles and we saw a big bear cross the road. We let the dogs out and both hit the track hard. They caught the bear and we heard a good fight. They kept getting further and further away and were getting out of hearing. We hit another road and could hear nothing. About a half hour later we saw the Walker coming down the road. We put her in the truck but still could hear nothing. After about two hours of driving and listening we heard Tonto barking way down in the bottom of a canyon. We got down there and the bear was up a tree next to a pond. I didnt buy that dog.
When Tonto was four she had her six-month pup with her along with my other dogs. They hit a running bear and I found my Leopard dogs three days later but no Airedales. I finally found her and her pup a month later in the area I had let them out. . Both were full of porcupine quills and were thin. I got the quills out and got weight on them and took them out a couple of weeks later. I should have never taken her out again with the pup. They treed a bear and we made camp. Next day they hit an old track. They ran it cold and then the barking picked up and then they went out of hearing. I was on horseback but could not hear them. Two days later the male dogs were heading back to camp but I never saw Tonto or the pup again even though I advertised and spent a lot of time looking for them. We were in an area of no ranches or people and I posted adds in Eureka , Whitefish and Kalispell to no avail. I believe she turned wild but my mistake was hunting her with her pup. She always was a strange dog.
Well good luck with the Airedales and with the help of the Lord I should still have a few years left to hear the dogs Barking.
Name withheld by request.
What a great letter I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did. It reinforces
something I firmly believe which is that a good Airedale can be as good or better
then a dog of any other breed. When I first got interested in Airedales
some years back I sent for a brochure from Mooreland kennels. I never did purchase
a dog from that kennel but have heard some good things from folks who had including
the previous gentleman whom I hope I can talk into sending a couple more letters
Al Kranbuhl of New York whom I am planning on getting a puppy off of this fall has some heavy Mooreland blood in some of his dogs and he seems to feel that is not at all a bad thing. I recently sent him an email and got this in reply.
It is good to hear from you, I was just getting around to give you a report on the pups and I will have some new pictures this week for you. The weather here has been very hot and for the last month no rain so everything is drying up, I hope I get some soon as my pastures are looking bad and those cattle need grass. As for the pups everything is good they are all healthy and I have just begun weaning them this week. Size wise they are pretty uniform, there are a couple that are bigger and a couple that are small. The coats will most likely be what Henry calls second or third quadrants with two having the longer coat. They are just now starting to get around and show some personality and I will be studying them closely from here on out, it is tough to pick them when they are young but I will do my best. This has been a very tough year for me as I have lost all of my old dogs, a whole generation of hounds and some Airedales. They were the first really good dogs that were produced here starting around fifteen years ago when I started getting some kind of handle on successful breeding. These dogs were about as good as they get and I have many fond memories of all of them. Last year I knew they were not going to be around much longer as they all just passed fourteen years of age and from past experience I know they do not live much longer than that. Even though it is tough when they pass on, I can deal with losing a dog to old age, but so many one right after the other makes it too hard. California Eliminator, California Stoney, California Bertha - English Coonhounds that could match any coonhound. Airedales California Charlie girl and California Meagan, these two ran with the hounds and gave a good account of them selves, Meg was also a producer of better than average dogs. The real knife in the heart was July first when I went into the house after mowing the lawn and found my Tucker, the best Airedale I have had in thirty years dead on the floor from an apparent heart attack at not quite four years of age, I am still not over the shock and grief and won't be for a long time if ever.
Here is a little something about Tuck and why I thought he was so special. First off that I even had him here was a story in itself. All his littermates were sold and he was the last pup left, the ad had few more days to run in the paper and I was kind of getting attached to him and was thinking about keeping him when I got a phone call from a man that wanted to buy him, reluctantly I gave this guy directions and he came over to look at him. When he got here it did not take him long to make up his mind and wanted to buy him but not for himself but a very good friend of his and for me to make out the papers to her, so I asked what her name was and when he told me, it instantly rang a bell. I told this guy you can't buy this dog and he said why? I replied two days ago this same lady bought two pups from me a male and a female and I opened my receipt book and showed him her name and address. I told him I am sure she does not need another pup, he laughed and agreed. When he left I pulled the ad from the paper and that is how I ended up with Tuck. Right from the get go Tuck proved to have the foremost thing that I look for in a hunting dog and that is natural intense bred in instincts to hunt. The first thing he showed as a pup on his own was the interest in squirrels, I am not talking about sight chasing a squirrel and running it up a tree like some dog in a park. This guy as a pup showed he had a nose and knew how to use it, he could trail like a hound and locate like a hound and tree like a hound by scent not sight and when I checked the squirrel would be up in the tree and I always checked. This might not sound to impressive to some but anybody that trains tree dogs knows better, even more so when the dog does it all on their own, just check out the squirrel hunters message board and see what those boys go through to train their dogs. A switch to coon would have been a snap for Tuck but the longer I had him the more impressed with him I got and I felt he was becoming to valuable to risk doing that, connibear traps, cars etc, and besides I already had coondogs. So I made the decision to make a retrieving dog out of him as it was much safer and a couple of new preserves opened within close driving distance. Tuck was a little over a year old when I started his training and was coming along better than I had hoped when he became severely ill, I took him to the vet and at first they thought he was poisoned but after running a bunch of tests he was found to have contracted ehrlichia, it is a disease thought to be transmitted by ticks and it messes up the blood and is fatal much of the time, rare in this part of the country. The treatment for this is almost as bad as the disease, steroids, antibiotics and other meds and even if the dog pulls through there is damage done to the organs to some degree. Watching this guy pull through this was almost too much to watch, his weight shot to over one hundred pounds and his breathing and heart rate was so fast that he looked like he would just explode, but pull through he did and although the vet said he would never be as he once was, I was still happy as could be. Last summer I messed around with some light training but I could see that he was not anywhere near what he was physically before he got sick. Over the winter I could see a marked improvement in Tuck's condition and this spring we again started some retrieving work, you had to see this dog to believe him, he made me look like a expert trainer, actually he was training me, he was teaching that breeding is everything. Two days before Tuck died I had an infestation of Grackle blackbirds getting into my feed, I took a chair and hid in some trees with a Stevens Favorite single shot twenty-two and Tuck. I was using some new shells that are loaded only with primer so they are almost silent and they did not scare the birds when touched off. Now this was the first time for this so I did not know what exactly what was going to happen. Shortly after I sat down with Tuck laying on the ground next to me a flock landed in the trees close by, I cocked the hammer and drew down on one and popped him, as soon as he hit the ground Tuck had him, he mouthed the bird for a moment and I told him to come, he brought it over and I took it out of his mouth, I gave him a pat on the head and told what a good boy he was. The next bunch came in a couple of minutes later, this time when I thumbed back the hammer Tuck heard it and came to attention, it took him just one time to hear that gun being cocked and associating it with action. After around two hours we had collected around a dozen birds, with Tuck retrieving all of them, this mind you he was doing something for the first time as well as I could ever hope for, I was thrilled. I am not real picky when it comes to coats and size and a lot of the other trivial things many of the Airedale people seem to argue about. I have found with over thirty-five years of trying to obtain the good ones that one cannot be too particular about the looks if breeding GOOD hunting dogs is your goal. Any dog that can contribute with hunting ability is welcome here, we try to get the dogs hunting first, and if I am around long enough I might be able to make them look good too. After saying all this I do have an idea of what I think an Airedale should look like and Tuck fit it to a tee. Tuck stood about twenty five inches at the shoulder, and the one time I weighed him when he was in good shape he went sixty-eight pounds, He had muscles growing on muscles, fast and agile with stamina enough to stay with hounds. A nice big head and big chompers, dark black back, nice red head and legs. His coat was hard and fairly short, he looked like a well-groomed Airedale should, just enough furnishings. I could write a book about Tuck, there are so many things that made him special but I do not want to leave out his extraordinary intelligence and it was the same with the others mentioned above, they were just too smart and that has a lot to do with their greatness. The thing that bothers me the most about losing Tuck was I really think that he could have been the dog all us breeders have been looking for, that octane that puts the AIREDALE in Airedales. I have never taken the loss of a dog so hard and if I can get over all these deaths I do have some hope as Tuck did sire four litters and I am keeping close track of them. I have a female from last year that just turned a year old and while she does not look like Tuck she acts and does many of the same things he did so that at least makes me somewhat hopeful. The current litter has the potential to be my best ever as the mom has every single good Airedale that I have owned for the past twenty years in her background. Breeders of the best to the best theory would love the cross. If they turn out we will have to take care of them because there will be no more. I would like to close with these thoughts, I consider myself to be extremely lucky in having the opportunity to hunt with some of the best dogs ever in these parts, a world champion Bassett, a world champion Beagle, many titled coonhounds that were super and Airedales the could get the job done as well as good hounds. What this has done is made me not accept mediocrity, and know a good dog when I see it, I think this is the problem with some Airedale breeders, they do not really know what a good dog is supposed to be. I don't want to give the impression that I am the last word on breeding Airedales, far from it, in thirty-five years of buying, breeding a sifting through hundreds of pups, I have raised and trained about thirty dogs to adulthood and out of all that about a half dozen were good and only three tops. That is just eight dogs that when turned loose under decent conditions would get out and strike a track, run that track with very few mistakes and locate by scent the right tree and start treeing and staying there until I got there, most of the time as no dog is perfect. It is those eight good ones that keep me trying there is no reason in my opinion that those numbers cannot be turned around with correct breeding practices.
Thats a tough blow to lose so many dogs in such a short span of time, I know, Ive been there although not to such a degree as Al has experienced and to lose such a promising dog as Tucker in his prime is just not right. My condolences to you Al and I hope your luck is nothing but good in the future.
I also got a short email from Wayne Waggoner about a trip he made to hopefully
create some future breeding possibilities.
Thought you'd love this picture of the trip to Eddie & Nancy Boatwright's with Henry Johnson, Jr. to trade them a McCain-Lil female puppy for a Little Chief-Katie puppy. By the way we named him Rocky Hollow Rebel after a short conservation on the front porch. He is such a nice puppy with a splendid personality. Loves to follow you and be with you all the time, very alert and studying everything. He's a bold puppy. All in all I feel it is a very good breeding and will be an asset to the Stepping Stone Farm's breeding program.
I left Biglerville, PA, Friday night July 5, after work, and drove as far as Sparta, TN before I had to stop and rest. The little dog in the picture is my Jack Russell Terrier, Suds. I took him along for protection and he did his job well while I was sleeping by announcing a Sparta police officer checking on me. From Sparta I left and went to Viola, TN to the home of Henry Johnson, Jr. and Henry drove from there to the Boatwrights, so I could get some rest. (A giant thanks Henry for your help in driving, I would never have made it myself.)
After a very nice reception and a delicious light southern lunch, there was time for conversation and napping on a beautiful wrap around front porch. The photograph tells the whole story.
What we will do to better the working Airedale breed is some times insane.
Thanks Wayne and I hope we will hear more on both those pups as they come along.
Well thats all there is this month and next time you hear from me it will be bear season again. Time flies when your having fun. Summer was so late in coming this year that it will seem remarkably short but with every year that passes the summers seem shorter no matter what the weather, in any event fall is just around the corner as I write this and with it the crisp mornings and the opportunity to get out and pursue elk, deer, goats, bear or whatever it is that gets your heart pumping so get out there and enjoy it and take a kid along too.
The quote of the month is I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. Frank Lloyd Wright (1869 - 1959)
As Henry Johnson always said: Until next month, let me hear from you
Airedale people and don't forget to put your arms around those black and tan
dogs with the beards and the moustaches and talk to them. They are people dogs
and family members.
Respectfully submitted, Clint Stubbe, Northern Corresponding Secretary for the Working Airedale Terrier Association. No rules, regulations, officers, dues or formal affiliations. It's more a state of mind.