***Take Notice*** Chagas Disease

A friend of mine sent me this information about a disease that he has had first hand experience with.  My friend and his wife raise beef master cattle and have been retriever enthusiasts for many years.  Miraculously they were able to diagnosis his dog, Punch early but as my friend states there is no cure.  When I read this I became very concerned and wanted to share this valuable information with you.  I will continue to update and post potential repellents as I research this fatal threat to our dogs.

Email Sent:


   I am sending this note out to a cross section of my dog and cattle friends.  The Austin American Statesman ran an article this morning on the front page which I want to share with you. I have attached a copy for you to read. The article discusses the disease Chagas.

   As some of you may know, my dog Punch died last month from this disease. He was diagnosed with the disease about two years ago and through heroic efforts we were able to give him two additional years of quality life through the use of strong heart medications and by importing benzidazole from Brazil. There is no medication available in the United States for treatment of this disease. I believe that this disease is under diagnosed in the United States as the attached article implies. Over the past two years I have heard stories of retrievers dropping dead after training. The reported cause was “heart attack” which is probably true but I suspect the underlying cause was Chagas. Typically people do not have necropsies performed so the cause is never discovered.

    Many of you live in or visit the southern states with your dogs. Keep a close eye out for the beetle pictured below. The beetle is about an inch long with distinctive orange stripes around the edge of the hind section. Usually the orange is more pronounced than shown in this picture.  We have found about six of these guys around our house during the last two years. We’ve sent them off to CDC for testing. About half carried the protozoa (Trypanosoma cruzi)  in their hind gut which is what causes the disease.  Dogs, especially puppies, will eat an infected beetle. The protozoa enters the dog’s blood stream through the stomach.

     I suggest fogging kennel buildings occasionally.  I bought a Bonide Fogger at Tractor Supply which is relatively easy to use and very effective. Do not leave kennel lights on at night. The beetles can fly over a mile to reach lighted areas at night.

     We believe the blood banks are now testing for the disease regularly so the chance of transmission to humans through transfusion has been reduced.  It is believed that some incidence of blood contamination was occurring at blood banks collecting blood from migrants carrying the disease from South America countries.

     I hope this disease never affects you or your dogs.  I wanted to raise your awareness…..


Please see the Link for the full story in the Austin Statesman



What’s the Purpose of it All?

 Hunter’s, retriever enthusiast’s, and dog owner’s alike can all agree that the unconditional love and devotion these animals give on a daily basis’ is both amazing and inspiring.  So, what’s the purpose of owning a dog? Well there are many reasons, whether it be to save the lives of soldier’s, compete in events or just keep us company on long road trips, having a trained dog is imperative!

     The days of getting by on having a good looking dog and a 100 yard over during a blind retrieve are a thing of the past.  In today’s world dogs must be quiet and obedient, no matter what their purpose maybe. And in the competitive world these simple tasks are taken to the extreme.  Not only is the dog required to be a good companion, but they must possess a burning desire to retrieve the birds no matter what obstacles or distractions enter into their path. 

     So, why must you train your dog?  Training a dog the dos and don’ts in life makes for a more enjoyable relationship with your dog.  While hunting the chance to harvest a banded bird comes to some maybe once in a lifetime. This opportunity to bag the coveted prize can be easily missed when the bird lands in waist high water covered in cattails. With the ever changing weather and conditions becoming more difficult and hunting land scarcer the simple retrieve gets even more challenging.  However, the dog that is trained (taught) how to maneuver through the cover and adapt to these situations is ultimately going to put more birds in your bag.   

     On the other hand we as trainers, handlers and judges make the competitive retrievers’ job near or next to impossible.  Not only does the retriever have to have good eyes to mark the birds, he must know how and when to honor his nose, he must also posses the willingness and intelligence to make the correct decisions on the way to the birds, and he must have a desire to play the game.   Now herein lies where the complexity begins, the dogs can’t retrieve the birds in the order they wish to, they must retrieve the birds in the order the handler requests.  And let’s not forget the rules of the water retrieves.  Running around the water is not an option, but the competitive retriever must have enough training savvy and experience to know when to get into the water, how long to stay in and exactly where to exit the water in an order that is acceptable to the handler and judges. The complexity of a blind retrieve is endless because its success is dependent on the handler’s ability, the dog’s ability, wind, terrain, and instructions from the judges on that particular weekend, where the rules may change for the next set of judges on the following weekend.  Therefore to be competitive, a dog must have training and lots of it. 

     So you ask, what is the purpose of it all?  The field trial game is challenging because it is head to head competition matched by immeasurable variables that come into play on any given weekend.  Hard work, a talented dog and good judging does not always guarantee that you will win the blue ribbon, even though you may feel it was deserved.   A handler’s error, a loud noise from the gallery, a slipped whistle, poor lighting or a bad throw can all play into the outcome of one’s success.  Just because you didn’t get the color doesn’t mean your dog is not good it just simply means it was not your weekend.  Although these situations can and will happen to you when you decide to compete your dog, do not get discouraged.   For it is the excitement in the thrill of the hunt, the butterflies in your stomach when your dog hits a mark just perfect, or the sheer joy you feel knowing your dog is doing something he loves.  Bear in mind this is a game of percentages and patience to learn the game is needed, a lot of luck plays into it and sometimes a leap of faith to get to the next series. But with a talented animal and proper training, someday it will be your weekend to shine and the color will be yours.  And so for these reasons it becomes the purpose for us to strive to better ourselves and our dogs through the complexity of retriever training in a sport we know as field trials.

How to build a Force Fetch Table

Heavy Duty Version
Stationary Table

The force fetch table is unique to the person training on it.  The table should not be too tall or too short but at a height the individual can rest a hip against.  The table top should be no wider than 48in & no smaller than 24in. The table top should have sufficent room for a full size dog to stand on without falling off.  For the purpose of this article we will use the demensions of my table.  I am about 5ft’9 in tall and have a long reach.  The dogs I typically work with are large breeds so my table top in 36 in W’ X 60 in L’ X 36in T’. The length can vary according to personnal preferace, some methods involve teaching simple casting on the table before transfering to the ground. 

Once the size is determined you will need some supplies depending on your budget you can build for forever or build for now. Because our table sits outside we chose to go with treated lumbar and scews for extra sturdiness.  We also have no plans on moving the table so it is heavy and will not fall over.  If you chose to build a lighter table make sure you secure it before using it. 

The table top will have a back wall mearsuring 36in W’X 48inL’. This wall is used to secure the dogs back legs and prevent him from stepping off the edge of the table. Then there is another side wall that is off set on the interior surface of the table.  This wall is where you will secure your pole and prevent your dog from moving his shoulders.  Once the table top is built and the base is secure attach an eye hook any where to the base where it will be out of the way.  This eye hook is where you will secure the dogs flat collar when you are transfering the dog to fetch off the ground.  Every table is unique and you can tweek the demensions however you like to fit your needs.  However, all tables need a place to secure the dogs legs and a pole to secure the dogs head.  There are many designs for force fetch tables and this is the best design for our kennel.  We feel that the less movement the dog has the quicker and better learned is the lesson being taught.  Please provide question or comment as we are here to provide accurate information to insure responsible training and humane force fetch training.  Good luck with your training!!