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Barbara Spring

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Pudelpointer Not Puddle Pointer
By Barbara Spring
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

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A romp with our dog

Pudelpointer Not Puddle Pointer by Barbara Spring When our dog Heidi bounced into our lives, no one could tell us what kind of a dog she was, not even the family who sold her to us or the veterinarian who had given her shots. She looked something like a German shorthair, but smaller, and her compact body had the consistency of a super ball. Her coat had the smooth reddish gleam of a chestnut, yet her muzzle and eyebrows were bristly giving her a piquant winsome look. She looked like she forgot to shave. Her yellow eyes seemed to be always gazing at us wondering what was coming next. Comically, her shaggy eyebrows moved up and down as she tried to decipher our conversation. She looked like a well trained athlete, deep chested and narrow at the waist. The family who had owned her sold her since she was becoming too much for them. The mother liked to jog, but the dog was so strong and fast she could not manage her on a leash as she grew. The kids liked to rough house with her, and when we got her, the dog would get quite hyper at the sound of a bouncing basket ball or a skateboard rolling past our house. We had trained dogs before and so my husband Norm knew what to do; he taught her to sit, heel and come to the sound of a whistle. And she learned quickly--she sat with so much enthusiasm she levitated then plunked down at his heel at attention. In spite of her high spirits, she was eager to please. It just took some training. The first day we owned her, she slipped her leash and led me on a chase that took me down to the Grand Haven beach where a volley ball team was smoothing sand in preparation for a tournament. Heidi streaked through the raked sand making divots and kicking up sprays of sand in her wake. “Heidi,” I yelled. “Heidi,” shouted several of the volley ball champs. They tried to help me but it did no good. “Your dog is really fast,” one said. Little wonder. With such a deep chest, her lung capacity gave her Olympic speed. Gasping, I finally caught up with her several miles down the beach when she paused to dig up something in the sand--I nabbed her by the collar. Several days later I ran across a dog book while browsing in a book store. In the book I found a picture of dog like ours. I realized we owned a pudelpointer. Most dog books do not list pudelpointer since it is rather rare. In reading, I learned she was developed as a bird and squirrel hunting dog in Germany by crossing a poodle and an English pointer in 1881. The sire was an English Pointer owned by Kaiser Frederick III, the dam was a German Hunting Pudel (the German name for poodle). Our Heidi looked like neither except for the poodle like chest and perhaps the high spirited intelligence. I learned that pudelpointers can have either rough or smooth coats. They can be chestnut (like ours) with a few white hairs or liver or even black. Yellow eyes are typical. The first pudelpointers were imported from Germany to North America in 1956. The Pudelpointer Club of North America was founded in Canada in 1977. The American Kennel Club classifies pudelpointers as a hunting breed. They are a versatile hunting dog since they can hunt upland game birds such as partridge and pheasant as well as water fowl. Heidi always knew she was born to hunt. Even as a pup she knew she was supposed to hunt something. She just hadn’t learned what yet. We took her to visit a neighbor and she froze into a perfect point--at a ceramic cat sitting on the floor next to the door. She got a little warmer when she pointed at a bird’s nest hidden in our bushes. When my husband Norm took her out in the field and showed her pheasants, she finally understood her destiny was to find and point game birds in the field, and to retrieve them. She was ecstatic. Then he took her duck hunting and she took to the water with gusto, standing in the chilly marsh, then swimming out to retrieve the downed birds. She is such a gung ho bird dog that she will hunt all day to the point of exhaustion unless someone makes her stop. And even when she is exhausted, she will still be hunting in her sleep. Her nose twitches, and then her feet start to gallop even though she is lying on her side totally unconscious. Sometimes she talks in her sleep letting out little yips. When Heidi is not hunting, most of the year in fact, she is an amiable house dog, a good companion to keep us amused. Comically, she lies on her back with her legs straight up in the air. We didn’t teach her to play dead, but she does anyway. It’s her way of relaxing. If Heidi thinks she is going for a walk, she goes into transports of ecstasy. Her compact body has the springiness of a super ball and she bounces high into the air whirling in circles like a member of the Bolshoi Ballet. “Sit” I say to her while snapping on the leash. Outdoors at last, she tests the wind with her keen nose scanning the breeze to see whether the neighbor’s cat has just sauntered casually by, or what dogs, friendly or not have trotted by with their dog tags jingling. A chipmunk that dashes out from under our deck to the top of our fence has been her nemesis. She knows the chipmunk is teasing her and she can’t do anything about but look up at the cheeky intruder. She has a fearsome bark. When someone comes to the door, she sounds like she might tear off an arm or leg. As soon as a guest crosses our threshold she knows it is our guest and she is all sweetness. There is one exception. For years our UPS man has been trying to make friends with Heidi, but she refuses. Maybe she hates the sound of the truck. Or maybe it’s because we never really invite him in. She used this bark on the neighbor’s cat until the cat got fed up one day and I saw it chasing our Heidi up the street. All bark, no bite. As dogs will, she loves us unconditionally and is always at our sides, underfoot most of the time, while we go about our daily chores. I had not really wanted a dog, but Heidi won my heart. My husband says he has never had a better bird dog. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------  

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