Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Traditions and Myth

Traditions are damn near impossible to overcome. Myths may be worse. Either way, they get in the way of things changing for the better most of the time. Combine a tradition and a myth in one problem and it gets very complicated and even down right messy if you are hunting hogs with dogs.

Now I am not down on tradition per se, for instance of fathers taking sons hunting and fishing to satisfy that age old practice of providing meat for the family. It is great.

And the tradition of running the hounds, and hey the more dogs the better. I love to hear a yowl echoing through the woods, day or night. And it is even a lot of fun to identify specific dogs by voice alone.

Where do myths come from? Is it some opinion by someone who doesn't really know anything about what they are talking about, but it sounds good and a lot of people jump on it?

Of course we have a tradition of running hounds(plural). And when hunting hogs a few people seem to want to chase hogs so they can enjoy the thrill of the chase. But I am hearing a lot of frustration about not being able to stop a hog. Looks to me like this is one of two worse case scenarios, in that the hog tires out and then when the dogs stop him, there are too many dogs and the result is a lot of injuries to the hog or dogs, or the dogs tire out and lose the hog.

The bad part of chasing hogs with a pack of hounds is the hog almost always runs like crazy. In essennce running too many dogs, and especially open mouth ones causes running hogs.

And when the dogs do stop him often times the dogs are well burnt out, and the hog stops where he can use the environment to his advantage of causing harm to the dogs because the man is a long ways away, which gives the hog an opportunity to also start killing dogs.

This is very likely because a pack of dogs think they have enough help to take him. And quite possibly, they will overwhelm and kill the hog sometimes before you get there. But if it is a smart, tough, old killer hog who ain't got old for being stupid, he will kill or seriously injure one dog at a time, for several reasons. 1. There are so many dogs, that they can't get out of each others way in a bay, and when a dog is in the hogs face and being charged, if he runs into another dog and is blocked from escape, the hog can catch him. 2. If there are a lot of dogs at the bay the best or lead dogs get too confident and believe they have enough help and get too close or worse they catch something that has great skill and ability to kill.

The first time, I watched Maurice get cut, the hog knocked him down, stood over him and cut his belly right between the ribs and his belly button. When I looked at the injury later, it looked like a surgeon had worked on him with a scapel. Luckily the tusk had been chipped or dubbed, and didn't cut too well.

The myth here is that we are hunting a really big dangerous animal and thus need a lot of dogs to overwhelm the hog. The reality is if we have the right dog, we only need one dog to stop, and keep the hog bayed, until we get there. And I know it does not seem logical, but one dog has a higher survival rate, by his self. And ideally when we run a good dog we should have some young 'uns along for training purposes. And by young I mean 1-1&1/2 or something that hasn't fired off yet and can hunt on their own. What most people call a help dog, or started dog.

Problem with this reality is most people operate in the tradition and myth of a pack of dogs and have never tried to hunt one dog at a time. Hell, I still want to turn 'em all out! I like it! And give me a couple of beers and I want to drive home and get the rest of the dogs and turn them out to. Yah we bad!

But here is what happens when hunting with only one dog on the ground: If the dog is close to the hog, there is not much sound or scent of dog around and the hog is a lot less likely to break and run as fast. So it becomes a lot easier for one dog to stop a hog, if it is the right dog.

If it is the right dog, it will be silent on the track, fast, and gritty, and have a good nose. Ideally it will be a silent on the track dog and not drive the hog with his voice. Typically Catahoulas are silent, like a wolf. Gritty like a bull dog, and thus no fear when it comes to stopping a running hog. And as fast as a Greyhound. But not only fast to overcome the hog in a chase, but also fast and agile to dodge a charge from the hog once bayed.

I don't think we should call 'em hounds because a Catahoula is technically a cur. I also don't like calling them Leopard dogs either, because they don't all have spots, and as far as I know, we don't hunt Leopards with 'em!

Now what I am getting at here is; call 'em what they are and handle them the way they are bred to hunt.

TOO MANY PEOPLE WANT THE DOG TO CONFORM TO THEIR WAY OF DOING THINGS. BUT WHAT IF THE DOG HAS A BETTER WAY? Has it ever occurred to you that your dog knows more about hunting than you will ever learn, and maybe you should try learning from him?

AND WHAT IF THE DOG IS SMARTER THAN YOU? Can you swallow your pride and consider that if you take your puppy to the woods enough, and give him enough time, he will learn to hunt without you teaching him?

A couple of weeks ago I had some boys drive down from north Louisiana who had some well bred dogs that were right at a year old and wanted to get some dogs from me because they were ready to give up on their dogs or maybe hoped my dogs could help get their dogs out and get 'em started.

When I asked if they were willing to give the dogs a year or more to fire off, they replied: "Most people from where we come from, git rid of a dog if it don't hunt by the time it is a year old".

Where are they getting this stuff?

I don't expect anything from my dogs before two years old. Especially if they are gung ho baying in the pen by three or four months and they get out with the older dogs when we ride out behind my property, I like to keep them out of harms way until a year and a half or two. If they are bred to hunt, you don't need to train them.

But for some reason there is this great myth that hog dogs need to be trained to be a hog dog. In my opinion if they are not born a hog dog they will never be one.

In fact when it comes to my dogs, I like to keep them away from hogs from about 8-10 months to about a year and a half. Let them be bored! when they get to the woods they learn real quick to find a hog if they want to bay one.

WHAT I AM GETTING AT HERE IS THAT THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF CONFUSION REGARDING CATAHOULAS! And unless you can get into this dogs mind and learn from them, you will be very lucky, or most likely will never be satisfied with owning or hunting one.

Do you want the greatest dog ever bred for hog hunting to hunt for you? Then consider that the tradition of running a pack of hounds does not apply here, because they aren't hounds. And the myth of needing more than one dog, that doesn't apply either because if you have the right dog, they not only do just fine by themselves, they do better than they do with a pack.

And what I am hearing from all the people I know who are in the know is that they have given up trying to teach people how to hunt with a Catahoula, because either it is a waste of time trying to teach someone who wants to learn, because people ask for help over the phone, and there is only so much that can be learned by just talking. Or worse, the person is an upstart who just got into it six months ago and has to learn the hard way because they think they know it all, already!

Now one of the old timers who hunt regularly with one of the dogs he bought from me and raised as a pup that was finding its own hog before it was a year old, confesses he struggles with wanting to turn out too many at a time, just like I do. Hell it is fun to see a pack of 4 or 5 young dogs running with the old dog, but boy that can be dangerous if you run into the wrong hog.

So if you have a really jammed up great Catahoula and you don't believe you should hunt only one or two at a time I feel your pain. I been there and done that.

In fact I can remember the first time I was told to run Maurice by his self "because he was a one dog situation". I refused to try it. That didn't make no sense!

It wasn't until my dogs showed me again and again, they could do it alone.

There are great advantages to running one or two dogs, if you have the right dogs, unfortunately, most people never try it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Versatility Of A Catahoula

Here is a link to a website for J Cross Catahoulas.

Now I am not endorsing these folks, and as far as I know, I have never met them personally, and frankly, would like to, based upon what they have done with their breeding and day to day working service of NALC registered dogs.

I have put their testimonial below the link because it is a great description of the working versatility of Catahoulas for penning cattle, and hunting hogs.

So many people want a dog to do one thing and one thing only, and the rest of the time, leave the dog tied up or kenneled and get no socialization. This drives a Catahoula nuts!

If you can haul your dog to work everyday and give them a wide variety of outlets for their energy, not to mention being with you everywhere you go, you will be amazed how much they can learn and work in your program.

It drives me nuts to deal with the public who it appears about 90% of the time want to buy a finished dog, meaning they want to invest money, and no time and expect the dog to work for them. I don't care how good the dog is, if they don't know you, they will need a warm up period which may be a few weeks or perhaps months to come around.

But if you spend time like these people do at J Cross Kennels, you will be amazed at what you can acheive with a Catahoula.

Best way to build a relationship if you are not a breeder and trainer, is to buy a puppy and give it time!

I have actually watched people spend thousands of dollars on well bred and well trained dogs, and the dog was less after coming back because the "new owner" did not know what they were doing.

Now these folks at J Cross pen wild cattle for a living. If they don't have a relationship and a handle on their dogs and horses, what they are doing on a daily basis would not be possible. In one word: Teamwork between man, horse and dog, can get the job done.


Below is from their "about J Cross" page:

J Cross Catahoulas is a dream we're seeing come to reality. We took an ordinary pack of "cow dogs" to a show for fun....and BOY! What a ride it's been. It's been a lot of fun showing to earn 16 championship titles with our personal dogs and 6 earned by dogs we have sold - hopefully, there's more to come.

At J Cross, we use our dogs penning cattle, hog hunting and competition cowdog trials and hog baying, the same ones we lead in the show ring. The versatility of the Catahoula breed is uncanny, we hope to continue proving that through generations to come. The desire to please, the willingness to give and the determination to complete a job and know it's well done, that's what we want to see today and tomorrow. Thank you for visiting our site. If we can ever be of service, we're but a phone call away.

In February 1993, we began breeding for Catahoulas with an extreme working drive for our own personal use. Our need for a dog that can find cattle in the woods and bay for extended periods is the sole driving force for breeding, as we use our dogs in our daily business penning cattle for the general public. It is necessary to have a good tempered dog that is "hot" enough to stay when the cattle are rough and soft enough to bay when the cattle are already dog broke. We soon learned that not only are they exceptional cow dogs, but they can excel in any endeavor.

We began hog hunting and found that the same cow drive we'd bred for produced excellent hunting dogs. From there, it snowballed. Justin, my son, became interested in competition hog baying. In August of 2002, we formally named our kennel and began offering for sale a few pups with the J Cross name.

Through selective breeding of proven working stock, we have been able to not only do the day to day work, penning cattle or hog hunting, we've been able to show that it is possible to breed one dog for all jobs. While we immensely enjoy showing our catahoulas in the different venues, and are mightily proud of the titles they've earned, we refuse to hang our hat on just a title. However, it is with great pride that we announce, EVERY J Cross Catahoula shown to date has earned NALC Championship points in some venue, without exception.

We've borrowed this quote from our Canadian friends at Cross Check Catahoulas, simply spoken, it says volumes.

"Pedigree indicates what the animal should be. Conformation indicates what the animal appears to be. Performance indicates what the animal actually is." - Anonymous

Friday, September 3, 2010

Catahoulas Are Very Misunderstood

I am a breeder, and at de la Houssaye's Catahoulas, I make my best effort to match dogs with the right people and vice versa.

I think this is another myth, and very similar to the myths about pitbulls.

Catahoulas are aggresive.

I don't know where this comes from. Protective, yes and can they be a threat, yes. But judging how I hear so many stories about Catahoulas being aggresive, I wonder could it be, because of the rarity of the breed, most people don't know a Catahoula from a cross bred dog.

Worse yet most people do not know how to communicate authority, through voice tone.
And in my opinion, voice tone, is the most crucial form of communication,
in obedience training. And if you are not the boss, they step up and you have to play by their rules.

Below is a link to a forum where someone asked a question as to how to train a Catahoula not to be aggresive.


Judging by the answers to this question, I am not surprised to hear so many people who call me about buying a dog, have so much misunderstanding about the breed in general.

If this forum is an example of the "information" people get off the internet about Catahoulas, no wonder there is so much concern in people about owning one.

I do make my best effort to screen my customers, who want to buy a Catahoula, because they like the way it looks, or if they "just want a pet", but I had no idea there was so much problems with Catahoulas being misunderstood and not properly handled. until I read this forum.

Here is one of the "answers" and it makes me wonder if this was even a Catahoula.


I don't know what to tell you except BE CAREFUL!!! My daughter was attacked 4 days ago by one of these dogs. The owner told her to play ball with it and everything was fine. However, he didn't tell her not to go near his cage. She did and he viciously attacked her. She has broken bones, and an infection that isn't going away even with antibiotics. Apparently the dog has attacked several other dogs as well. My daughter is on a competitive gymnastics team, and competitive cheer team. She is now done for the season. Also the hand she writes with is mangled. She worked all of last summer at a pet salon and is well trained in the proper handling of dogs. I thought it was just that dog, but as I read, these dogs just suck as house pets. I am suing their asses off, so protect yourself, and don't let it near humans!!!!!!!!!


Because I have never heard of anything like this ever happening with a pure bred Catahoula, I have to wonder if maybe it was a Pit Bull cross or worse, maybe a Rottwieller cross.

At any rate there appears to be a growing interest in Catahoulas, and judging by the publics reaction in this forum, we breeders and owners of Catahoulas need to be aware, of the challenges of educating the public at large as to the realities of well bred dogs and also the responsibility of proper raising and handling of these great working dogs should someone want one "just for a pet".

I have to wonder if the owners anxiety and expectation of pending trouble, while walking the dog in public is actually more of an influence in the dogs behavior than genetics in the breed.

A Catahoula is very sensitive to its masters vibes and body language.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Myths vs. Reality

If you are just getting into hog hunting and think you are going to find a good finished dog for a price you can afford, I have one thing to say to you: good luck.

Many people who are new at this operate under gross assumptions, myths and illusions, thinking if they can just find a good dog, they are hunting hogs.

I want to write this post to dispel some of the myths I have uncovered along the way, and maybe help you get your hog hunting going. It appears sometimes myths are passed on from person to person, and other times we assume things based upon logical conclusions that we know nothing about. I know I have suffered personally, on both accounts.

If you are operating under the myth or illusion that there are a lot of good dogs out there for sale, and you are going to buy one and it work first time out. Go here and look: www.baydog.com. Oh there are a lot of dogs for sale, and I see a lot of top names in there, but based on reports I have gotten from so many people who buy my dogs, there is a lot of trash being advertised on the Internet. Now just because there is one or two of the top names on the papers is no guarantee of hunt. They may have bred a great dog to trash, and big surprise: gotten trash.

The old timers have told me of people bringing trash and paying $500-1,000 stud fee to bred their dog, and then complaining, that the stud didn't produce hunting dogs. Well what do you expect? You bred it to trash!

So here are three myths rolled into one: if the dog is a registered Catahoula, and comes from hunting stock, and it has top names on those papers, it will hunt hogs.

I have customers who have hog dogs that came from me that are so amazed how fine these dogs are compared to what they had before. So I asked if I could list them as a reference, and they are concerned someone may come to their house and steal em. So they have asked me to not mention their name here. One of which I also asked if he would refer his hunting buddies as customers to me, and he said no I can't do that either on account of he don't hunt with the crew he used to hunt with before he got my dogs. Because they want to run a pack of dogs and don't understand what a good dog is because they never had one. And every time he runs with them, they put too many dogs on the ground, and guess whose dogs get cut up? Problem is, if they go hunting hogs without him, they don't catch hogs.

Another guy, advised me that he and his friends in the past bought dogs until they found a good one, and have gone through sometimes 20 and 30 dogs before they got a good one, that was, until he started getting dogs from me.

And because the dogs he bought from me, would start before they were a year old, and hunt as a one dog situation, he doesn't have nearly as many injuries as he did when he ran a pack of dogs with his friends.

Now almost every top breeder I talk to tells me the same thing: they have almost given up on selling their started and finished dogs to the public at large as hog dogs. Why? To quote most of them; "Because hog hunters are morons." And people, I want to tell you, I have heard it again, and again, and again. Years ago, the old timers were telling me they quit breeding because they were fed up with dealing with the public.(meaning the morons) Now I don't want to offend anyone, but if the shoe fits, wear it. And don't get me wrong here, if you are just getting started hunting hogs I don't want to make it sound like it is an automatic indication of a low IQ!

Please bear with me, I have been trying to figure out how to bring up the subject of the moron hog hunters a politely as possible, becaue I hear this from all the top breeders.

Like how they spend hours on the phone screening and trying to educate people about how smart and unique Catahoulas are.

I actually hope to make the situation better by educating people along the way, newbies and old timers alike, but as they say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But that is a stereotype. And I am getting on in age and always trying to learn as much as I can, so maybe by opening up discussion about some issues here we can all learn something along the way. Me included!

I have learned from my dogs and I have learned from people a lot wiser and more experienced than me. But interesting to note how I learned from the morons along the way too. Learned what? How not to do it. Not all hog hunters are morons, and to say that they are, is to stereotype, and I hate when people do that.

Now I have a problem with stereotypes, like if you are a white, male, and from the south, you are racist, sexist, and stupid! Or if you are a redneck, you are inbred, uneducated, and immoral, or all Christians are hypocrites, all Muslims are terrorists, all blondes are dumb, and all politicians are crooked. Well maybe the last one fits. ;-)

But the problem here, for someone just getting into hog hunting, is to find someone who has good dogs, who knows what he is doing, and can help the newbie find a good dog, or raise a puppy right, get well started, properly trained and then properly handle that dog in the woods, is damn near impossible. What is a newbie to do? If you are just getting into this, best advise I can give you is: don't get in a hurry.

I have people calling me from all around the world, Europe to Australia, telling me the same thing; they talk to a lot of people and no one is straight up and honest about the harsh realities of breeding, raising, training, and hunting Catahoulas on hogs, like me. I have been very fortunate to have been around great dogs most of my life, and since going to the Uncle Earls in 1996, meeting and befriending a lot of really smart, common sense hog hunters.

C Arrow Patch, NALC registered, and top stud in my yard.

Now some of us have no doubt lucked out, and found good dogs for cheap. It does happen, consider that I bought Patch at the Uncle Earls for a hundred dollars, and he after being a yard and porch hound pet for two years, found hogs the first time we went to the woods, all on his own. Of course, there were hogs there! But he didn't honor Bobs bay, Patch went and found his own hog at the same time Bob was bayed up. Wow! And what was that? That is foundation bred. I have the papers on him to prove it. Generation after generation of proven hunters, on the top and the bottom, and what do you get? A hunting dog who was never trained or started, and the first time he went to the woods at 2 1/2 years old, he found his own hog. And then his children and grandchildren, same thing.

Simon, a grandson of Patch and the legendary Maurice.

I have also brought him hunting to places where we found sign, and found no hogs, and the people I was with who were judging my dogs for sale, thought there was something "wrong" with the dogs, meaning he was "no good" because we didn't find the hogs.

Here is another myth I have seen people operate in again and again: if there is fresh sign, a good dog will find the hogs no matter what. And if the dog didn't find hogs, they reject or get mad at the dog.

There was fresh sign there, like an hour or two old, and I advised him the hogs went the other way, he argued with me, and we continued in the direction he wanted to go, and ran into his neighbor about an hour later, who confirmed my position on the hogs, they had crossed the road in front of his house about three hours earlier. He then challenged my judgement once again, claimed that if the dog was any good he would have followed the hogs and not us.

I believe this guy does not understand a long range vs. a short range dog. And a short range dog will usually follow the hunter and not the hogs, if the scent is weak, and thus the hogs are not close or short ranged. A long range dog on the other hand, will follow scent several hours old and hang with it for hours to find the hog. There is a catch here, you better have a tracking collar on that dog.

He then drove several hours to Texas, bought long ranged dogs and soon after, lost them for lack of a tracking system. Not too smart!

So what I am getting at here is that there are great dogs out there and for someone just getting into it, it is damn near impossible to luck out and find a good finished dog, at a price you can afford, and then know how to handle that dog. And from talking to people who have responded to my advertising, about 95% of the people shopping for a hog dog, want a finished long range dog. Problem with that, is most people fail to grasp that the dog hunts not only because of genetics, but a relationship with the hunter. A finished dog no matter how good, may need a warm up period of a month or several months before really getting out and hunting for a new owner.

Worse than that, is assuming that papers on a dog, will make it a good dog. Period!

Here is another myth, papered dogs are good purebred bloodlines, that will find hogs.

Let me let you in on a secret; them papers don't mean nothing, unless you have the right names on it. And if you are just getting started, it may take you years to figure out who is who. And some of these dogs on the papers sold for 10, 15, and 20 thousand dollars ten years ago, but got bred to trash along the way. Now if the person doing the breeding is diluting instead of building on a strong foundation, and always looking for better dogs, time after time, this may not be good dogs in spite of having a few of the right names there.

Here is another big myth:

OK papers or not, if it comes from parents that hunt, it must be a good chance that the cross will work, so buy one of those puppies, so the puppy you invest years, and hundreds of dollars in, will most likely hunt. Often those investments don't work for one of two reasons, either it is not a good foundation bred cross, or the hunter is expecting too much, too soon.

Which brings me to the last myth we'll get into in this post:

If it is going to be a good dog, it should be baying a hog in a pen, early on.

I have a puppy that was well bred, raised right, and in spite of being around about 50 other pups and big dogs baying in a pen, she never, ever, bayed in the pen. But before she was a year old, I took her to the woods, and she hunted her ass off. Where is this coming from? How about she is a granddaughter of Bobalou and Ruby, on the mothers side, and great grand daughter, of Two Diamonds Cutter crossed with Camp-a-While's Abbey on the daddy's side. Who cares if she bays a hog in a pen? She hunts!

The pen has a lot of myths associated with it, but we won't get into them here, but let me say this:

The pen really does help with some dogs, but if a dog doesn't bay in the pen, don't write em off until you hunt em. Because you may be expecting too much, too soon, and in the wrong place. The pen is a good place to start a pup, train them to survive in the woods, and evaluate progress, but never assume you are training a dog to "hunt" in the pen.

I have had people call me to train their dog because it wouldn't hunt. They wanted me to get the dog started. So I asked about the breeding, and when he told me, I said; "Wow, this dog comes from the best out there." Then we discussed, what the dog was doing and not doing. Come to find out, because the dog never bayed a hog in the pen, so he never took it to the woods to see if it would hunt!

Guess what happened when he took the dog to the woods, it hunted. Considering it was two years old, I thought perfect timing.

So look if you are just getting into this, try to find someone who hunts regularly, and also try to hunt with as many people as possible because there is no one set way to this, and basically, every hunt is different. The more people you hunt with, the more chance you have of discovering what is right for you. Because of terrain variations, climate, and every hog, like every dog has its own peculiarities, all these combinations work out to make hog hunting, the fastest growing and most interesting sport in America today.