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Shorthairs Afield
The German Shorthaired Pointer, as the name suggests, was developed in Germany - a country of widely varying terrain, and with a long tradition of putting game on the table. The breed's exact year of origin is a bit vague, but by all accounts it is a relatively recent blend of hunting dogs, and was most likely established sometime between the mid-1600s and the early 1800s.

Shorthairs are known to be one of the most versatile hunting breeds, and can be trained to point, retrieve, trail, and even take down game. When speaking of the German Shorthair, one author writes:

"... British dogs are artists full of initiative, French dogs are shrewd hunters, and German dogs are the elite troops!"
    -- Jean-Michel Lepeudry, in his "Hunting Dogs from Around the World"
Though the qualities that make the GSP a versatile hunter are instinctive, creating a field companion that will truly perform for his human hunting partners takes careful training. The photographs below, taken during training sessions, help illustrate some key exercises that are used to polish field-worthy GSPs. Training time in the field also helps to enrich the relationship between dog and master, and while usually challenging, such work is invariably joyous and rewarding for man and beast (if not always for the birds!).
Click images for a better view.
Bill and Ash
Bill working with Ash on point.
Brenda and Briar
Brenda helping Briar understand
the meaning of the word "whoa."
Rich and Briar
Rich and Briar finding a bird.
Matt and Saga
Matt with Saga on point.
Backing exercise.
Pictured here is a group of folks
teaching their dogs to "honor a point."
Often, dogs are hunted in pairs
(termed a "brace"), so in order
to utilize each dog's found bird
the second dog must "back" the
first dog's point (i.e. the second dog must
come to a point upon seeing that the first has
found, and is pointing, a bird). Not only
is it a courtesy to the other hunters
(both man and dog), but while shooting
over dogs it is prudent to make sure
both dogs in the field are holding still (on point!).
Group at McKee-Beshers
Training session at McKee-Beshers.
From left to right John, Matt, Mary,
Leesy, Angela, Steve, and Bill.
Sadie on point.
Sadie on point. Notice that her
head and tail are held high in the
desirable style, making her
more visible to the hunters,
bracemate and even a judge.
Dogs in waiting
Meet some of the dogs.
From left to right: Sadie, Saga, Ash,
and in front is Rusty the Vizsla
who lives on the lovely farm pictured here
in many of these photos.
Brenda, Briar, and John
A "bird launcher" is an electronic training aid
that allows the trainer to contain a bird
in a known location while teaching
the dog to remain on point. Here
John is giving his assistant the signal
to remotely launch the bird while Brenda
lets Briar know to stay on point.
Click to enlarge - follow the line from Briar's
view directly to the bird launcher (bottom center).
Launching the bird
Again, working with Briar
and using the bird launcher.
Click on the picture to see
the pigeon, in the upper right corner,
that has just been launched.
Saga on point.
Bird's eye view of Saga on point.
Backing exercise while shooting.
Here the dogs are "honoring the point"
while the bird is being shot.
Teaching your dog to "back" also
ensures that your dog won't
steal or disrupt the other dog's
work in progress.
Group at McKee-Beshers
Steve, John, Matt and Mary.
In the background to the right
is Angela, Bill and friend.
Saga on point.
The pictures above only illustrate a fraction of what goes into training a great pointing dog. Stay tuned for more pictures and captions.

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