Terry Drinkwine Outdoors!

Fly Fishing, Grouse Hunting and Fine Bird Dogs Spoken Here!

Category Archives: About Seamus

The sentry!

Crouched over the arm of the loveseat, head rested on his front paws, Seamus is the lookout for … no – sentry, of the Drinkwine household. His field of view of the street is the corner that leads to the park, school and general route of dog walkers. DSC_0271 - Copy

At times only his eyes move, but when he perks up – almost snapping to attention – without looking, I know someone new, or someone with several dogs, came into his view. If he lets out with a low growl, I know he’s watching to see if they’re going to mark his curb, tree or snow pile. If he barks …they did.

This is Seamus’ routine every morning, right after sharing bacon with his human whom he’s trained not to wait too long to fix it. It’s his way of weathering the confinement of down state living, waiting for spring.

I can read his mind when he finally settles down and takes his morning nap. He dreams of being at the cabin, running free, no leash, marking every tree, bush and anything else stationary, on the first run of the trip. It’s the King Seamus’ realm – and he’s back.

Soon … soon!




Category Archives: About Seamus

Hey, I’m here too!

I swear that dog understands every word I say. After a rather long line of predecessors, Seamus seems to have embodied all of the good traits of those that came before him …or, I’m slipping into dotage and letting my mind run amuck with interpretations of looks, sounds and, my conscience.DSC_0002

Seamus doesn’t want for much; he expects things. Take the frozen yogurt made with bananas, “She Who Must Be Obeyed” prepares for him in small cup-like containers she freezes both at home and at the cabin. If he doesn’t get it daily, he becomes so impatient he makes a nuisance of himself until I put him outside or give in. (You figure out which usually happens.)

Almost every morning, I wake up to his staring at me with his face about a foot from mine. If I close my eyes after he sees them open, he inches closer and strokes my face with his paw until I respond. Then its fifteen minutes of being scratched and rubbed until he inches his way into a position that lets me scratch his backside. Every morning.

“She Who Must Be Obeyed” turns our house into a Christmas Village, complete with artifacts collected over 45 years of marriage. Everything from a Christmas Tree to stockings hung on the mantel (Seamus has one too), to poems written by family members. There are things hung on every door, figurines on every table, a Nativity setting with handmade figurines and lots of lights strung everywhere.

Seamus likes it all. He sniffs, nudges things with his nose and grabs things when he wants someone to pay attention to him. He never breaks anything, he just grabs an item and runs through the house until he’s caught, then rolls over on his back, exposing his belly, waiting for a scratch.

He knows when he’s being talked about and he knows when he’s being ignored; and we learned a long time ago, life is easier when he’s included in some way.

I guess, that’s as human a characteristic there is.


Category Archives: About Seamus


The sunset over Lake Michigan was beautiful last night. The wind was out of the NNW and the lake was churned, making whitecaps that rolled in and covered the beach Seamus and I were walking on. The odor of decaying vegetation that’s always there when the lake reclaims the shore was evident as well as the smell of dead grass and ferns from further up toward the tree line. Seamus was having a ball: I was grinning just watching him go through his routine of exploring every smell along the water’s edge and over the dunes.

bonasa umbellus

bonasa umbellus

It was a good end to a great day of hunting in an old covert where we usually found woodcock. Today, there weren’t any …but there were a couple of grouse. The little Britt was in his glory. He covered terrain that was once a farm field with furrows that must have been ripe with corn and were now impediments to walk over because of being covered with tall grass that hid depressions filled with water- thank God for waterproof boots. Tag elders dotted the once open field and cedars created a buffer for the Jordan River. Seamus found the grouse in the swampy cedars along the edge of the field.

It was also an “ah-ha” day. The two-track ends (or so I thought) in a clearing that’s almost a small lake. This time, walking around it, I thought I saw tire tracks on the other side and decided to check it out. Sure enough, there was another two-track that led to a power line with a narrow access road that led to a paved county road. Someone had used the power line to get to the two-track and stopped at the water’s edge just as I had done on the other side. It was a good find and an easier way to get to the woodcock cover – at least when they’re in.

It was a good day for Seamus, and that means it was a good day for me.


Category Archives: About Seamus

If Seamus could talk!

DSC_0398You’d have thought he was cooped up for a month. From the time we left the cabin until we arrived at our first covert, Seamus went nuts in the car. Standing on the console of the Jeep, his bell ringing between barks and yelps as he looked from side to side then out the windshield, he did everything he could to get me to drive faster. He was geeked.

This wasn’t the first hunt since opening day, but it was only the second since family matters demanded “She Who Must Be Obeyed” and I (Seamus too) attend. So with a two week layover, finally, we hit the field.

The first stop was a clearing with patches of poplar and fruit bushes that looked interesting. It was surrounded by an orchard and had plenty of deer sign. Ringing the entire 20 or so acres were pines,

We entered the field from the low end and Seamus immediately began to quarter, then, picking up scent, he honed in on a small batch of poplar with a ring of some kind of berry bushes around half, The closer he got the more intense he became and finally went right through the bushes into the middle of the stand. The leaves hadn’t turned yet – not like on the maples – making it difficult to see if he went on point. But all of a sudden, two grouse grabbed air to go skyward and head into the pines.

He didn’t want to leave that spot, making me think there might be another bird, but finally he moved on and I followed.

Two more patches of the same composition later, we reached the other end of the clearing and met a wall of pines. They were walkable and I went down the middle as Seamus darted from side to side, nose sniffing for scent. Suddenly he froze on point, nose pointing to a small seedling at the right edge of the tree line. I walked in and a grouse burst from beneath, grabbing for air. He headed toward the clearing so I swung the 20 from left to right when bonasa umbellus decided to turn and head deeper into the pines.

Seamus just took it all in; he hadn’t heard a shot yet and from the momentary look I got from him, I knew he called be a dumb-shit! Ok, I’ll take that.

The hunt was a good one; Seamus worked well, but there were no woodcock. Next hunt would be along a feeder stream along an abandoned farm.


Category Archives: About Seamus

“Old Guys!”

If it’s true that every dog year is equal to seven in human years, then Seamus and I are almost the same age. While out-thinking myself, that little tidbit stuck in my mind and I haven’t been able to shake it.26792_105433709491307_6511273_n

It’s not that I think of myself as too old to romp the out-of-doors, In fact, I feel better than I did when I was in my 50’s. But when I apply the years to Seamus, well, my prejudices come out about “old age,” especially when I see him run up and down slopes, through brush and bog and do it until I call him off …and the reason I call him off is, I’m the one that’s tired.

Dogs have that constant energy that comes from doing what they do naturally and liking it …if fact, loving it – and doing it without thinking about it. A good example is when I approach a briar patch I look for a way around it unless there isn’t a way that will let me check the contents. Seamus, on the other hand, goes right through it checking out all corners, especially if he picks up a scent. He doesn’t think about the briars and barbs, he just charges ahead and deals with the affects later.

The other thing that separates a dog from a man is the live and let live attitude getting older bourdons you with. Seamus is just as willing to find bonasa umbellus today as he was as a pup and expects me to do my part. (I only bring up the live-and-let-live part because I need an excuse for my poor shooting.)

Young or old, as long as the enthusiasm is there, it’s all good.

See you in the woods.


Category Archives: About Seamus

Doc Baker Says …

Nutrition can be a very complicated topic.  What is the best food to feed?  How much food should you feed?  What brand should I purchase?  The answers to these questions can be very confusing and change quite often.

Pet food comes in basically 3 types; dry (6-10% water), semi-moist (23-40% water), and canned (68-78% water).  All dog foods consist of 5 main components. Carbohydrates provide energy and aid in gastrointestinal function.  Proteins make up some components of enzymes, hormones, a variety of body secretions and structural and protective tissues.  Fats supply energy and increase the palatability of foods.  Vitamins and minerals are also necessary in a well balanced dog food.  All of these come together to form a complete nutritional package necessary for all dogs as well as every living mammal.  Water is an obvious necessity.  At rest, 2-3 parts of water are required per part of dietary matter.

Raw food diets as well as strict people-food only diets can present all kinds of difficulties.  It is advisable to stick with the name brand dog foods.  These large companies spend thousands of dollars to make sure that the dog foods they produce meet all the nutritional requirements needed.

Well intentioned dog owners often give supplements.  Supplements usually are not necessary for a healthy dog that is feed a high quality dog food.  Nutritional supplements should not be given unless they are needed to manage a specific condition such as arthritis or dry skin.  All supplements should be discussed with your veterinarian to ensure that they are the correct ones needed for optimal results.

Pet food labels can be very difficult to interpret and can be very misleading.  The items required on all dog food labels are: name, weight, analysis of protein, fat, moisture, fiber, list of all ingredients in descending order of weight, manufacturers name and address, the words “Dog Food” and a statement of the nutritional adequacy or purpose of the product.  Below are factors useful in suggesting pet food quality.

Moisture                                 Fat                          Protein

Dogs (maintenance)                    <75%                                 >8                           15-25

Growth/Reproduction       <75%                                 >17                           >29

Physical Exertion             <75%                                 >23                           >25

The fats and protein numbers are listed on the label as percentages of dry matter.  The < sign means less than and the > sign mean greater than.

These guidelines are very basic and don’t take into consideration things like age or disease problems.  Your veterinarian should always be consulted about the proper feeding of your dog.

Some food items should not be fed to dogs.  These include chocolate (can be very toxic, especially unsweetened baking chocolate), onions and garlic (can cause anemia), grapes and raisins (affect the kidneys), caffeine (heart and nervous system changes), and artificial sweeteners such as xylitol found in sugarless gum which can be very toxic.  Other foods not suitable for dogs is a topic for another article.


Category Archives: About Seamus


I’m nine years old. I think that means something to humans, to me it’s just another day of not being able to move as fast as I used to. I hear him tell his friends, “He’s nine, slowing down a little, but still chomping at the bit to hunt.”26792_105433709491307_6511273_n

He’s right about my wanting to hunt, it’s something I can’t help. It’s like my brain is programed to make me put my nose to the ground and follow something that smells interesting; a scent, he calls it.

It’s getting toward the time of year when things begin to get ripe. Grass isn’t as fresh as it was last month; ferns are thinning out and the groundcover is easier to get through. I think this is where the “nine years” come in. I never used to think about how thick groundcover was, I just used to follow my nose. But lately, if I can follow my nose without getting scraped and scratched …well, as long as I find what I’m looking for. Grouse season, he calls it.

Days are cooler now, but it takes longer it to get light. Humans have this thing about waiting for it to get light before they go outside, they don’t seem to realize I have to pee no matter what it’s like outside at six …something he should know something about since he’s up at four doing the same thing.

I’ve known him my whole life, at least as far back as I can remember, and he’s come a long way. He’s given up on my not jumping on his bed after he turns the lights out and, as long as there aren’t any strangers in the room, he doesn’t say much when I jump up on a chair to look out of the window. Though to this day, he still tells people how he chose me over my brothers and sisters that day a long time ago. He still hasn’t figured out that I chose him.

He has figured out which food I like best, and gotten used to making one extra rash of bacon in the morning. I can even hurry him up when he sits, sipping coffee while I’m waiting for him to start the bacon. I seem to have an effect on him just by sitting in front of him, looking him straight in the eye with my head tilted to one side, ears slightly perked. He tries not to let it affect him, but before long, he’s up, taking the bacon out of the refrigerator.

As I look back, I could write a book about my nine years with him. On second thought, why make him feel bad …he hasn’t been the fasted learner.



Category Archives: About Seamus

Ear Problems!

Dr. Baker says …

All dogs have the potential to have physical problems. Some breeds have more problems then others. Brittany Spaniels are a durable breed and have no more hereditary difficulties then other hunting breeds. Yet, one of the most common problems seen by hunters, trainers and veterinarians are related to the ears. The term for external ear problems is referred to as otitis externa. The dog’s external ear canal is “L” shaped. The vertical canal connects with the outside while the horizontal canal lies deep and terminates at the ear drum.

Ear problems can be placed into a number of categories. The most common include parasites, foreign bodies and ear infections. Breeds like the Brittany Spaniel that have floppy or hairy ears can be prone to otitis. Their activity in the field with exposure to grasses and moisture increases the possibility of developing otitis.

Signs of ear problems can vary from dog to dog. Parasites (ear mites) are rare in older animals. Foreign bodies (grass awns, etc.) usually cause substantial immediate discomfort. Finally ear infections can be the result of allergies, excess bacterial growth and or yeast.

Treatment depends on the reason for the problem. Field treatment should consist of flushing the ear with warm water. Some people use a diluted white vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 5 parts water). Other materials like alcohol, peroxide or mineral oil are not recommended. Cotton balls or soft tissues are great cleaners. Try not to use Q-tips as they can damage the lining of the ears or push material into the lower part of the ear canal. If improvement is not noted your veterinarian should be consulted.


Category Archives: About Seamus

The Brittany


First of all, let’s clear up the confusion in the breed’s name. Back in the 1980’s the name Brittany Spaniel morphed into just plain Brittany. It was deliberately done to differentiate the Brittany, which is a pointing dog, from the spaniels which are flushers – most notably the Springer Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel. Old habits die hard and a lot of people still refer to the breed as Brittany Spaniels. To me, Seamus is a Brittany.

The Brittany and German Short-Hair, were introduced to North America from Europe. That is to say, the Continent of Europe as opposed to the British Isles where traditional bird hunting breeds originated. The Brittany was developed in Brittany, a northern section of France, hence the name.

The Brittany is often confused with the Springer Spaniel, the main differences being the Brittany points and has a cropped tail. The breed’s colorings are liver and white, orange and white or a brownish, almost black, spotting of the entire body and face. The common traits of all Britts are their tenacity, loyalty and stamina, all combined to make one great hunting machine.

Seamus is the second Brittany I’ve owned and I’ve come to love the breed. Aside from their shedding (their coat needs lots of grooming unless you give it a field cut) the only other characteristic that needs care is their propensity to have their feelings hurt. It sounds like a cliché, but it happens vary easily and you’ll know when a Britt pouts. A Britt hunts a lot better once he gets over his hurt feelings.

They are a healthy breed but because their ears flop and cover the opening to the ear canal, they need care to avoid infection caused by parasites and other things. Hip dysplasia can also be a problem and should be checked for as well as knowing if the strain the pup came from has a history, which is a good reason to deal with a reputable breeder.



Category Archives: About Seamus

Don’t Tell Me Dogs Don’t Connive!

Don’t tell me that dogs don’t have the ability to connive. This morning began with a paw inching its way toward my face until finally I felt a rough pad dragging across my face. Startled, I snapped at him and pushed him away. He got the not so subtle hint and jumped off of the bed. Thinking I had resolved the situation, I buried my head in the pillow and dozed off.

There are different types of sleep: some nothing more than putting in your time with your eyes closed, but when you wake, you’re still tired; others, you’re so at ease, every muscle is relaxed. I felt relaxed and had visions of standing in the Jordan, casting my 5 wt. bamboo to cooperating brookies jumping at the chance to take one of my hopper patterns.

Without opening my eyes, I realized there was this weight inching its way toward my head. Then, that rough pad of a paw again touched my face. This time I just laid there to see what would happen. Three times the paw touched my face; each time the touch was more deliberate than before. Finally, getting frustrated, Seamus nudged me with his nose in rapid succession until I stirred. He knew he had me.

Things developed from there: First came the whining for bacon; then a complete breakdown of decorum as I packed my gear bag and brought out the rod tubes from the closet. It was all he could do to keep from yelping as I apparently didn’t move fast enough for him.

The first trip to load the Jeep had him dashing out of the front door. As soon as I opened the hatch, he jumped in, sat there staring at my every move. It took several more trips to the car, but he didn’t move. There was no way he was coming out of the car. I had finally understood what he was telling me and he wasn’t about to let me backslide.



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