How we got started
Backing into a “Breeding Program”
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Let me start by letting everyone know who we are. This picture shows my 3 sons and I on a late Thanksgiving day (2005) hunt. All the boys are currently in college (Ben, in the back, at NDSU, civil engineering---Dan and Shadow on the left, at SDSU, civil engineering---Adam with Muda on the right, UND, commercial aviation flying planes, and I am in the center with Dee) so to get all 3 boys together with the 3 dogs is an event. We live in east central South Dakota just north of Sioux Falls. I am a professor on the faculty at South Dakota State University and we also farm. Our farm is a mixture of crop land, wet lands, CRP and food plots. We hunt pheasants, waterfowl and deer on our land. As an FFA project Adam started raising pheasants. He sold the roosters to a local hunting preserve and let the hens go on our property. This has really helped increase the population.
I grew up in east central South Dakota as the oldest of 3 brothers. My brothers and I trapped, hunted upland birds, waterfowl, and deer with our father and cousins from the time we were big enough to tag along. My brothers and I hunted with an English Setter given to us during our years at home. Upon graduation from college, I did not actively hunt or fish for a number of years as the careers started. My wife Laurie and I were blessed with three sons (Ben, and twins Daniel, Adam) who all showed interest in hunting, fishing, and generally enjoying the outdoors. Just before Ben my oldest son reached hunting age, I realized if my sons were to truly experience and gain a love for upland bird and waterfowl hunting, we needed a good dog. My love for pointing breeds, the existence of a local reputable breeder and a lot of luck we chose the Kleine / Small Munsterlander. The three boys picked DeJong's HShadow from Ray's litter and the rest is history. The boys were 9 and 13 when we brought Shadow home. They were a great help in obedience training and testing her in NAVHDA Natural Ability. The boys have taken her hunting by themselves since she was 1 year old.
Our first litter: Shadow had 10 pups her first litter. She was four. All of a sudden we had a bunch of pups, no deposits and every one got real busy. Puppies are a lot of work. Without the 3 boys (Ben 17, Adam and Dan 13) this would have been a total nightmare. Thank God for the SMCNA. There was no club web site back then. Bev Turner and several other breeders helped us find good homes for all nine.
Then two years later Shadow was 7 and we realized we would need a replacement for her in a couple years. Shadow had always been a good performer for us so we decided to breed her and keep a pup. What male to choose? We looked a little and settled on Hans, the first SM Versatile Champion. He hadn’t produced a lot of pups that had been NA tested. So we could not really evaluate if he was able to pass on his great attributes. But none of the other males around at that time, had either. We wanted to stack the odds of producing a good hunting performer in our favor and if Hans threw anything similar to his ability we would have what we were looking for. We didn’t know if Shadow would be able to have more pups after this liter because of her age so we viewed this liter as our only shot. Shadow had 9 pups, 3 females and 6 males. The day they were born we thought Bermuda (Muda) would be our choice to keep. As we watched them over the weeks we became more confident of our decision. She was very much a people dog and had her nose on the ground using it from almost the first time we put them out on the grass. We found very good homes for the rest of the litter. Thinking this was our last liter for sometime, if ever again, we wanted them to go to hunting homes but were not overly concerned if the owners NAVHDA natural ability tested them or not.
Then the whole picture changed. Muda was developing into one really REALLY nice hunting dog with a great personality. We NA tested her in May at 10 months. We could have done it earlier but there were no tests close during the winter. She did not pass. She did everything perfectly but track. Up to that time she had literally never missed a track except that day. It was 90 degrees and I went up to do the track too early, had to wait, and Muda got too hot and lost focus. The judges let me start her again because she had been doing such a great job all day, but no luck. After the search we put her into a small kids wading pool of water and she literally tried to dig the pool deeper to get more water on top of her. I learned the hard way. When I got home I immediately signed her up to retest NA in North Dakota the end of August. I thought the temperatures would be more favorable---the climate was--- and she walked through the test with a 112 Prize I. By that time I was pretty confident if I was ever to have a utility dog she was it. The boys agreed to help and we went to work. With their help along with the help of our local NAVHDA chapter—Midwest Tri-State—we prepared her for our clubs May test. Muda was the second NA dog we had trained and she was the first UT.
Muda was just over 22 months when she received a prize III. Muda’s only short falls where the staunchness of her point and the duck search. She found the duck and brought it back to me in about 3 minutes and when I had to resend her she searched to close to me for the balance of the time. We took a break for a month and then began again to prepare to retest her in August. Walking in waders in the slew in July and August getting ready for the duck search is a great weight reducing program. When we tested her again that August, at 26 months of age, she received a Prize II just missing a prize one by one point due to her pointing staunchness. During the duck search she retrieved the first duck in short order and when I sent her the second time she was gone long enough that two of the judges went looking for her. Finally after about 15 minutes she came around the corner of the reeds with about an 8 pound AFLAX goose, and received a 4 in the duck search.
The next step. Since Muda turned out so well and Shadow was in good health and physically fit, we decided to try for another liter. This mating appeared to be a good one, so you do what works. By that time Han’s had had some prostrate complications and was unable to breed but his semen had been collected and stored. We talked with Dr. Rice who would be doing the surgical insemination and decided to go ahead. At 9 years of ago Shadow raised 10 pups. We sold only to people who hunted and would commit to NA test. The liter was very even, all very promising pups. I had a hard time choosing the one for us. A friend came and did an unbiased temperament and aptitude testing for me. He and his wife have done this testing on literally hundreds of litters. They were extremely impressed with the whole liter. So that was not much help in making my selection. I finally decided on Candy (Dee) and she is coming along nicely. We have great hopes for her.
To say we backed into breeding Kleine / Small Munsterlanders would be putting it mildly. As a new breeder I have become a strong believer in NAVHDA and their testing program. These tests are a great aid for breeders by allowing them to continually evaluate their breeding program. Providing valuable information on the ability of the female and male to pass desired attributes on to their off spring allows the breed as a whole to continually improve. Utility testing gives breeders valuable information on trainability as well as producing one great hunting companion. Muda has been on the cover of two gun dog magazines for two reasons, we happen to hunt with a freelance outdoor writer (Jerry Thoms) and because as part of her utility training she will sit and stay, or point and hold, when I ask her to and keep doing it until I release her. That comes in handy for good cover quality picture.
Producing SM’s that are great companions and even better hunting partners has been a real joy. I am truly blessed with three exceptional sons who share my passion for hunting and fishing and to have these SM’s that have enhanced the whole experience. Not only through hunting and raising them but also through the great people we have met who are providing loving homes for our pups. We truly appreciate the help and encouragement we have received from the SMCNA and our local Midwest Tri-State chapter of NAVHDA.