WHOA! Doggie. Photography by Yukiko McFarling Edited by Lisa Spakowski Copyright Illinois Birddog Rescue, Inc For Wubs
ILLINOIS BIRDDOG RESCUE, INC. Illinois Birddog Rescue, Inc. is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to saving, transporting, vetting, fostering, and adopting homeless American Field bred Pointers and English Setters. All of the dogs in the following pages were strays or owner surrenders pulled from shelters from all over the United States. Perhaps some weren't winning enough in Field Trials, maybe some became too old to hunt or to have litters of puppies, but many were gun shy and most had suffered from neglect or abuse. Sadly, all were in danger of being euthanized - never reaching their full potential until we pulled them to safety. Thru patience, kindness and commitment, these dogs regained their confidence in the IBR program and are back working in the field to the joy of their adopters. Our special adopted working hunters dispel old wives tales passed on through generations of birddog owners. All of our adoptables have been spayed or neutered as required by the Illinois Department of Agriculture shelter regulations and all live indoors. Altering a working hunter never lessens the desire to hunt and living indoors (and in most cases on the furniture or in bed with their owners) also has no negative affect on their bird scenting abilities. Also, dogs with a strong bond to their owners are that much more confident and happy to work side by side with their master. Illinois Birddog Rescue's extra patient training techniques show over and over that kindness and praise can reverse the damage done by cruelty and painful training methods. We are so proud of these magnificent resilient dogs. ENJOY!! ILLINOISBIRDDOGRESCUE.ORG
Training a once abused and neglected Pointer or Setter takes an enormous amount of patience and care. Only a selected few get the opportunity to work on birds, and we try to let many adopters work their dogs on birds in our annual photo shoot in the spring. All dogs are introduced to birds on check cords and they are never exposed to any gun fire until they are ready. We give the dogs a lot of praise and encouragement and in most cases instinct takes over and their natural hunting drive comes back. At this time we do a lot of hands on positioning and scent training, taking our time to let the dog have the most positive experience his first time back on birds. We also let a lot of dogs chase the flying birds to also build up their confidence and desire to hunt. It is quite the accomplishment to see once frightened dogs gain their confidence back and discover the joy of what they were bred to do.
Oxford was going to be raffled off at a Quail Forever Benefit in Missouri when a member suggested it was not a good idea and took him home hoping to get him into a rescue program. After contacting IBR, Ox was put into our foster care program. Ox has the perfect Pointer temperament- bold and birdy in the field, sweet and cuddly in the home. His adopters are thrilled with their new family addition.
Buckaroo was rescued from a shelter near Clinton, IL. He is now in a safe pet/hunting home.
Bella (left) was rescued from life confined in a cage 24/7. Lucy was abandoned at a high kill shelter in MI. She needed a mastectomy and recovered for many months in foster care prior to finding a wonderful home in Canada.
Digby and Serafina Ballerina (next frame) were both rescued from a place called Boat Mountain, Arkansas. In February of 2006, Illinois Birddog Rescue was alerted to the urgency of 30-40 pointers and setters living in deplorable conditions on that mountain. Most of the dogs were tied to barrels and were fed garbage to survive. Most were over and interbred-,were malnourished and full of parasites. The result was smaller sized birddogs we affectionately called Hobbits.
Sera is missing most of her front teeth and it took months of rehab and TLC to get her healthy. Her foster family eventually adopted her and she was quite enthusiastic the first time we introduced her to live pheasant. In spite of their past, both Digby and Sera have sweet and gentle dispositions.
Trapeze was born on 11-03-2001. She is one of 9 Setters that a breeder in southern Illinois wanted to surrender to the local dog pound when he decided they were too old to breed or weren't sellable. These dogs were kept out in small kennels all their lives without any proper vet care or socialization. All have been affected with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and all needed to be treated for intestinal parasites upon arrival. After months of TLC in foster care, most have found wonderful loving homes. Very new to the rescue, Trapeze happened to be in town when we conducted a fall training session and showed her years of neglect didn't affect her hunting abilities. She has a great little nose and is very staunch on point. She is also Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB) registered.
Buckwheat was brought into the rescue in 2002 with a litter of 6 puppies that were abandoned at the door of a Missouri area rescue. At a young age he showed he had good scent pointing abilities and good prey drive. While he could have some bully in his mix- he went on to finish his Juniors Hunting title in the AKC and he still enjoys working in the field as often as he can.
Suzee-mother of the Winnie the Pooh litter-came into rescue after giving birth to her puppies in a shelter in Southern Illinois. Five of the puppies survived and months later Suzee was treated for Erlichia and heartworm disease. Her adopted dad has hunted over her during pheasant season and she not only backed her Setter companion but retrieved to hand.
Pooh Puppy aka Rowan- the biggest of Suzee's pups- was raised in the IBR foster care program. Prior to adoption and while he was a Derby, he ran in a FDSB Walking Trial as well as an AKC Field Trial.
Bosco's owner threatened to shoot him had we not pulled him in- he was 9 years old. He was eventually adopted by his foster parents and has competed in a few AKC Hunt tests passing with flying colors.
Elton was brought into the rescue from a high kill shelter just outside of Cleveland, Ohio the fall of 2007. He was a very sickly dog with a chronic hiatal hernia condition. Later on it was discovered he was also fighting a tick borne illness called Lyme disease. While he was treated with antibiotics for several weeks, he still struggled with his stomach condition in foster care and the decision was made to do a Gastroplexy to try and help relieve his discomfort. Fundraising efforts began to help pay for the expensive surgery and Elton had a much better quality of life. We think he must have been someone's hunting buddy as he had a good nose and scent pointed upland birds just beautifully. Handling quite well off leash- Elton was just a joy in the field. Elton passed away in foster care after complications from a possible brain tumor in early 2009. His loving foster mom was with him through the end.
Jacob was surrendered to a shelter in Evansville, IN when his owner could not afford to feed him when the gasoline prices escalated the spring of 2008. Further research showed Jacob was out of Ryman English Setter lines- bigger boned and closer ranging. Jacob decided to show the classic Setter "set" with the pheasant hen.
Mazie was surrendered to the rescue because she had terrible allergy issues. We changed her diet to a more natural raw based food and she improved almost immediately. She was adopted by her foster family in Michigan.
Oliver, wearing all of his "Pointer Bling" proudly, was brought into the rescue at about 6 months old from a high kill shelter in Scottsburg, IN. A gangly puppy, he has grown into an amazingly reliable hunting companion. His daddy, who was a novice Pointer owner, took his time and trained him to wing and shot resulting in a few successful FDSB walking field trials. Oliver is now the complete hunting package- a pointer and a retriever. He has also hunted in South Dakota during pheasant season. Oliver also has his AKC Canine Good Citizenship and he also trains in dog agility. Given time to mature, Oliver is one of IBR's best success stories. Oliver is our cover dog featured with Rusty.
Ivy (FDSB registered name Ivory), was brought into the rescue at age 5 after her owner stated she would no longer hunt. Ivy is also the daughter of National Champion Miller's True Spirit. While she had a few field trial wins under her belt, she was over bred and was in terrible shape physically after living in the cold on concrete all her life. It took months for the sores on her legs to heal and it also took her a long time to trust her new human foster parents- who eventually adopted her.
A year or so after she came into IBR she ran in a few AKC hunt tests with much success and she also competed in a few FDSB walking trials. Sadly, in the spring of 2007, Ivy was diagnosed with Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome which eventually caused her to lose her sight. While her adoptive family was most concerned about training her to get around her home and yard safely, she was still eager to point and hunt birds! Today, Ivy gets around just fine and still trains on birds with her adoptive brothers Oliver and Ewan. However, she does all of her hunting at the end of a check cord to keep her safe.
Good Boy Roy was placed in our rescue after his owner suffered a severe stroke. He guarded his former master until help arrived and was frightened for months while in foster care. Learning to trust his foster family and his new foster dog companions helped Roy build his confidence. Eventually his new foster dad decided to give him a permanent home. These days, Roy is a constant fixture hunting in the woods at the local dog park. He is also a crowd pleaser any time we have the opportunity to train him on birds. Roy is an Illinois rescue.
Rusty and Oliver on a nice pheasant find. *Editors note- I planted that bird hoping we would have a nice tree line photo! Well done boys!!
Many Pointers and Setters are borne with natural backing instincts. Often it is a training issue as once one dog establishes point- the other should honor that dog. For hunting safety reasons- having both dogs steady on point before the bird flushes keeps them from getting in the line of fire. We have rescued many dogs over the years that have buckshot imbedded in their bodies. It takes a lot of time and patience to train a dog without natural backing ability to honor his brace mate. There is nothing more spectacular than seeing a pair of dogs working the same bird in unison.
Phoebe (right) came from an overcrowded shelter in Owensboro, KY. Audrey came in from an overcrowded shelter in Robinson, IL. Both girls were adopted by women who learned more about Setters and enjoyed working their dogs on birds.
Billy and Alex. Billy was brought into the rescue from a high kill shelter near Nashville, TN. His owner surrender papers stated he was gun shy. Billy's adopted mom put an AKC JH title on him.
Laser and Will on a pheasant find and on a retrieve (next page).
Will came from IBR's first rescue litter borne in foster care. As his mother was malnourished and carrying 13 puppies, she needed to be rushed into surgery for an emergency cesarian section to deliver the last of her puppies. Will was borne puppy #6 and was the last of his litter to be adopted. He is the only one of his litter that went to a professional trainer and he goes pheasant hunting every fall. While being a wonderful hunting companion, Will is also a spoiled family pet.
Many Pointers and Setters are natural retrievers. This is not always the case however- and consistent positive recall training will help make a confident birddog enthusiastic about bringing back his prize to his hunting companion. Padme Has natural retrieving instincts. She was rescued from a shelter near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Her foster parents eventually adopted her and hunt over her and her adopted brother- Alex- every season.
Alex was saved from a high kill shelter in Memphis, TN. His owner surrender papers stated he wasn't winning enough at field trials- most likely because he doesn't have the ideal 12 o'clock tail carriage on point. The first time a bird was shot over him, he retrieved to hand. After months in foster care- his boldness on birds and desire to hunt allowed him to be adopted by an avid pheasant hunter. Their first Pointer, his new daddy also put an AKC Junior Hunter title on him- not an easy feat as most Pointers (including Alex) are big distance hunters and the bird field wasn't nearly as tempting as all the irresistible tree lines in the distance. Both Alex and Padme have also taken over the sofas!
Bronson Riggs (Pointer) and Bogie (Setter) came into the rescue very frightened and in poor health. Bogie's past exposure to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever wreaked havoc with his immune system. After several months in foster care, we were pleasantly surprised how well both boys enjoyed bird work while overcoming their gun shyness. Eventually Riggs and Bogie were registered with the AKC and handled by their foster mom, competed in the Juniors Division of a few pointing breed Hunt Tests. Both boys passed and have a few ribbons towards their Junior Hunter titles. Riggs came in from a high kill shelter near Mt. Vernon, IL; Bogie came to us from a high kill shelter near Shelbyville, IN.
Gypsie also has natural retrieving instincts. She was a breeder surrender from Central IL. At 10 weeks old, she felt that Gypsie didn't have the stuff to make a good field trial dog. While Gypsie did place in a puppy stakes in the FDSB with her adopter- she has turned out to be quite the little hunter. She and her adopted brother- Rusty- hunt every season.
Rusty- saved from a high kill shelter near Clinton, IL- is the complete hunting package. He was the first Pointer that we placed into a pet/hunting home in the early years of IBR. Annually, his owner takes him for long hunting excursions in the Dakotas, working on sharptails and prairie chicken. My favorite quote from his owner came in an email a few years back- "Rusty makes me proud every time I put him on the ground. I wish I could have him until my days are done."
Laser (rescued from a shelter near Holland, MI) is our photographer- Yukiko McFarlings adopted Pointer. An avid hunter, her husband joined her in their admiration of the breed and gave him his forever home after they fostered him for a short time. Since then- Yukiko has taken some of the most breathtaking photos of our rescued dogs working in the field.
When my Pointer Westleigh was 9 months old, I knew he needed a buddy. I looked in the paper and saw FDSB Setter pups for sale. There was one little black and white female left and I took her sight unseen. Thelmalou is my first Setter and the reason IBR has rescued and saved so many worthy English Setters. Over the years, my foster dogs have learned so much from her; she has helped them build their confidence in the field and personally she has just been a complete joy as my team mate in field trials and dog agility. T-Lou is a huge part of the IBR success story. Westleigh's Lil Petunia JH, AX, AXJ aka Thelmalou
NATCH Nasas Big Silly JH, AX, AXJ, CGC photos by Lisa Spakowski Westleigh, Wubs, Wubbies- champion of my heart- the inspiration behind Illinois Birddog Rescue. Joy Joy Joy-that was my Wubs. For eight years my life was perfect- it was heaven-- so much fun. It was a privilege- truly- to have been a part of Westleighs life. I will forever be grateful for everything he gave me- his never ending zest for life, his enthusiasm, his athleticism, his magnificence, but most of all, the tangible feeling that even though he has left this world, I can still feel his presence every day. Thank you Wes.
A couch is a terrible thing to waste… Buckwheat, Thelmalou & Westleigh