Thursday, August 23, 2007

If in doubt...

Post more puppy pics!

Donny with Cate and his rat terrier puppy Junior

Donny decided to take his puppy Chance Jr., with us to Minden , to show him off a bit and give him some crate and truck time. The more hauling and handling now, the less stress and confusion come hunting season.

In his prime, Junior's sire, Chance, was probably the best squirrel dog I've ever known. With Junior, Donny hopes to keep the line going. So far, things are looking up. Junior is big, bold, and friendly like Chance.

Chance and Junior

Now nearly eleven, old Chance is finally slowing down a bit, but he can still give you a good half-day hunt in cool weather.

Back in Marshall, we stopped in to visit our friend Ricky Houston, a serious squirrel hunter and rat terrier man. He wanted to see Cate, and I wanted to see Ginger, his pup. Ginger comes from a well-known line of large rat terriers established by Bobby Davis over in Louisiana. (Donny; Ricky; Bobby - did I tell you this story takes place in the South?)

Ricky with Ginger

Cate gets pummeled

Sure, life can seem pretty rotten at times. But as long as there are pups, how bad can it be?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Productive Trip

Well, look what I brought home from Minden, Louisiana.

It started on a Tuesday afternoon three weeks ago when Donny Lynch, my East Texas hunting buddy, called. As usual, he began by expressing his surprise that I actually picked up the phone then complained for five minutes or so about how it’s damn near impossible to reach me.

I assured him that I always screen my calls and only took his because I misread the number. That seemed to satisfy him.

I said, “What’s up?”

Nothin’. I just called to talk dogs and squirrels with an old hunter.”

Of course he was up to something.

I waited.

He paused.

After a moment, he said, “I found you a cur dog.”

Yes, I’ve wanted a cur ever since I hunted over Donny’s old dog Molly, and especially after spending time in the woods with his young cur, Whitey. But I had convinced myself that I ought to wait until next year. This coming season I wanted to get Maggie, my German shorthair, into a lot of quail, and I wanted to scope out some good squirrel hunting spots close to home. Then I’d be ready to take on a cur pup.

Donny already knew all this, but I repeated it. He said, “You won’t find any better breeding anywhere around here.”

Coming from Donny, that meant something. He convinced me to give the breeder a call. I promised I’d call in a few days.

“Them pups is ready to go. They’ll be gone before Sunday. His dog has won everything around here, and the gyp is out of top Kemmer lines up in Tennessee.”

Okay, I’d call right away.

And I did. Then I called Donny back and told him I’d pick him up on my way through Marshall. He’d started it. He’d have to ride over to Minden with me.

I knew before I went that I’d buy one of those pups. The breeder, Greg Coker, is a serious squirrel and ‘coon hunter. His cur Tiger, the sire, is an excellent competition and hunting dog. The dam, a superb 'coon dog, belongs to his friend in Tennessee. Neither of the men were professional breeders looking to make a profit. Rather, they were breeding hunting dogs for their own use - always a good sign where experienced dog folks are concerned.

There were ten pups. Two females had been selected to go back to Tennessee with their Mama. True to their Kemmer blood, most of the pups were yellow. Greg and his brother would keep a pair of brindle males. After that I had my pick. I’ve always found dark brindle coats striking and backwoodsy. All of the curs I had known back in Kentucky had been brindled. But Jane likes yellow. (When Mama ain’t happy, and all that….)

Anyway, the pups tumbled out of the pen, and their mama, probably to her great relief, went over to join Tiger in another pen. Two bold females caught my eye right off. In the end, it was just a matter of picking one because I like her four white socks. I found the sire and dam calm and friendly, and neither barked or paced excessively despite the visitors and excitement.

So we loaded “Cate” and headed west. Donny, who took a shine to the other yellow female, later admitted that he had to repeatedly remind himself that he already had a yard full of good dogs at home.

Of course Maggs was appalled that first night, but she's a good sport.

Since then, Cate has been eating like a hound and growing like a thistle:

'coons beware!

Much to its benefit, the mountain cur isn’t recognized by the AKC. Hence the healthy variation in size and color. Until fairly recently, the mountain cur really wasn’t a breed at all, but a “type”bred strictly for working qualities. We all know the benefits of breeding records, judicious line breeding, and competition.. We all know the dangers, too. The cur has always been a rawboned, rural meat, hide, and stock dog, the sort of dog unlikely to catch the attention of the Fancy and well-heeled competitors. Let’s hope it never does.

Cate, a Kemmer Stock Mountain Cur, or Kemmer Cur, can be registered with the United Kennel Club, the National Kennel Club, and the Kemmer Stock Mountain Cur Breeders Association. For those interested in such things, the UKC website offers a brief history and breed standard.

Should be an interesting fall and winter.