An “$#/*!-$ Expensive” Kleine / Small Munsterlander Named Shadow
Download the Shadow (.doc)
Sometimes when you start something having no idea where it will end up, really great things can happen along the way.
In September of 1996 DeJong’s HShadow , our first SM, arrived at the Julson home. Why a name like HShadow? She was Ray DeJong’s “H” litter and my Sons (Ben-11, Dan-9, Adam-9) had already chosen her name, so Ray wrote down HShadow.
Let me backup just a bit. I grew up in east central South Dakota as the oldest of 3 brothers. My brothers and I trapped and hunted upland birds, waterfowl, and deer with our father and cousins from the time we were big enough to tag along. We hunted upland birds with an English Setter that had been given to us because she was very submissive and had not been socialized well---three boys, a lot of open country, and pheasants cured that. My wife, Laurie, and I were blessed with three sons (Ben, Dan, Adam) who all showed interest in hunting, fishing, and generally enjoying the outdoors. Just before 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 a good dog was a must. Having gained a love for pointing breeds and the existence of a local reputable breeder, I chose the Kleine / Small Munsterlander. My three sons picked DeJong's HShadow from Ray's litter and the rest is history.
Shadow and the boys grew up and learned how to hunt together. We literally did not know much about the proper ways to train a hunting dog. To give you an example we started training her to retrieve by throwing a hat. It worked so well that when the boys were outside sliding down the hill next to the house in their snow sleds Shadow would pull the stocking caps off their heads, run off, turn around and stand there looking at them waiting for the chase that followed.
We operate a grain farm in southeast South Dakota and one of the ways I learned to bond with our dogs is to take them with me in the fall when I babysit the grain drier over night. Also it gets pretty boring when everything is working right, and you can only listen to so many country western songs. Shadow stayed with me overnight on the seat of the pickup that first fall she was with us. I would periodically get out and check to see if everything was working. One time, while getting back into the pickup, I reached down and grabbed the ball of the floor stick shift to be sure the transmission was in neutral before starting the pickup to warm up and realized the ball seemed slimy and rough. Shadow had become bored as I slept and had chewed on the shifter ball. Eight years later when we traded in that pickup (all the boys had learned to drive in that pickup with the rough shifter ball) it still had Shadow’s marks on it.
One day when I was planting corn in the spring, a number of years ago, I stopped by the house to get something to eat and saw Shadow looking bored. I thought, “you know, she likes to ride in the pickup, I’ll bet she would get along just fine in the tractor.” So I loaded her up, took her to the field, lifted her into the tractor and started planting. She was content standing or sitting in the tractor cab and watching out the window. I think she thought this was alright, because when I stopped for a bathroom break, she would get her job done and come right back and stand at the bottom of the steps going up into the cab waiting for me to lift her in. Normally she would have run off and started hunting. Guess she liked the ride? Recently I had asked Dan to move snow so we could haul grain and when I came home I found Shadow, riding along, making sure Dan was getting the job done right.
In order for us to purchase Shadow, Ray required us to Natural Ability test her. Ben helped me ready and run Shadow. She received a prize III, and at that time we were elated, we passed! Based on our ability and knowledge, she pretty much did it on her own.
We trained her without the aid of an e-collar. At the time I could not even spell e-collar let alone know what it was or how to properly use it. I had a hard enough time getting the purchase of the “#$#%%$ expense” dog past my wife, let alone purchase an expensive e-collar! As a result Shadow became hearing deficient and worked way too far in front to effectively produce birds the boys could shoot. So with their aid we convinced “Mom” we needed an e-collar. From that day forward the boys along with their friends and relatives, have literally shot over 1000 wild South Dakota roosters over her, along with sharp tail grouse and waterfowl. Shadow as never been the most stylish dog but has always been a solid performer finding birds, marking and retrieving them. I have always been amazed how we can knock down a rooster in CRP switch grass that is well over her head and she can come up with the bird. I am continually asked how can she do that, and to this day I just shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t have a clue, but she does!” On numerous occasions my oldest son, Ben, would get home from High School, I would already have Shadow out hunting, so Ben would head for the late afternoon “honey hole.” Thick heavy slew grass and cattails. As he stepped in pheasants would erupt, he’d knock down his limit, throw his blaze orange hat on the ground to mark the spot and head for home to wait for me to bring Shadow back from hunting somewhere else. When I got home Ben would proceed to take Shadow, many times almost or after dark, and a flashlight, head back to the “honey hole,” find his hat and send Shadow to find the birds he’d shot. Not many times did the two of them come home without all the pheasants he’d knocked down.
Shadow has provided us with 3 liters of pups for a total of 28. She has a great personality and any stranger could handle her pups 3 days after they were born. The boys have helped care for, socialize and name her pups. They would weigh them every day and if some were not gaining properly they would hand feed those with a bottle. In fact they could provide the new owners a more complete background and personality traits than I could. We have kept a pup from each of her last 2 litters and in fact her last litter produced several Utility dogs and earned the NAVHDA Breeders Award. This last litter was not necessarily any better than her others, but because the boys were older and we had learned a lot training our SM’s over the years we did a better job of following up and helping our new owners prepare themselves and their SM’s for the NAVHDA Natural Ability Evaluation.
We have had the opportunity to hunt two of Shadow’s daughters from the Arizona/Mexico border to Alaska. Anywhere we put them down they have quickly adjusted to the terrain and the species and have hunted peacefully with any other dogs they have been with in the field including Chessys.
Two years ago I decided Shadow was too old to hunt and hardly took her out. Her health was good but she could not cover the ground as well and sometimes we had to wait for her. I did that for one year and then decided, “I am not being fair!” We got her weight down, ran her about ½ mile per day and she began bouncing around when we let her out of kennel wanting to play like she had as a pup!
She has always traveled well, produced and retrieved birds for us. I purchased smaller traveling kennels so 4, instead if 3 would fit into the back of my pickup and she started coming along. She moves a little slower (now we wait!) and since she is hard of hearing the only reason I have to put an e-collar on her anymore is so I can activate the beeper on the collar and when she hears the beeper she knows that is her comeback call.
This season maybe her “last go round,” her back quarters are getting weaker, so I wanted to make it a good one. This season alone she has hunted pheasants and sharp tailed grouse in both North and South Dakota, chukar in Nevada ( and she went anywhere we did), ruffs in northeast Wisconsin, mearns and gamble quail in Arizona and successfully trained the next generation to bath her and give her, her favorite treats. In fact when my granddaughter gets the treats out she makes sure Shadow gets hers first and she usually gets the most.
I never imagined how much fun, how many challenges, how many hunting experiences and how many GREAT PEOPLE we would meet through one “$#/*!$ expensive” female Small Munsterlander named Shadow who came to live at the Julson home just about 14 years ago!
Every hunting adventure Shadow and I have had outside the state of South Dakota was a direct result of the people we have gotten to know through the Kleine / Small Munsterlander Club of North America and are SM owners or soon to be owners.