Three-legged German Wirehaired Pointer Tess Still Hunts with the Best of the Pack
Way to go, Tess! What a girl!
Thanks to The Associated Press for this article.
Loss of Leg Doesn't Stop Hunting Dog
By DAVE KOLPACK 4 days ago
CASSELTON, N.D. (AP) Pheasant hunting season brings out the best in Tess, a 5-year-old German wirehaired pointer who became a national champion despite the loss of one leg. "When you let her out of the truck, she's hunting from the second she jumps off that tailgate. Just like that," said the dog's owner, Keith Kemmer, snapping his fingers.
"She never quits. The other dogs, by the end of the day, they'll come up and lay by the truck. Not her."
It was Kemmer who accidentally ran over the dog's right rear leg with his pickup about four years ago. He said he was devastated, not only for the dog's suffering, but also because she had shown great promise as a pointer.
"I thought about it all night long. Should I put her down?" Kemmer said. "Then I thought maybe I could make a pet out of her. A house pet."
Tess still qualifies as a house pet. She's the only one of Kemmer's three hunting dogs who gets to come inside. But she's also developed into the prize-winning hunting dog that Kemmer envisioned when he got her.
Tess still had stitches from the amputation when Kemmer let her tag along on a pheasant hunt. His other two dogs, who were still in the puppy stage, had trouble finding a downed pheasant. Kemmer gave Tess a chance.
"Within five minutes, she had it," Kemmer said. "She hadn't yet learned how to balance and she couldn't retrieve. So she just stood on the pheasant."
That's when the training began.
Two years ago she registered a perfect score in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association's premier event. Only 100 out of about 4,500 dogs qualify for the competition. Tess was one of only 32 dogs to become a versatile champion.
Nate Larson, a dog trainer from Isabel, S.D., said many hunters in the area have heard about the story of Tess.
"You cannot train that into an animal," Larson said. "Obviously that dog came from stock ... that had just plain heart. A lot of dogs in that situation would have quit on you."
Kemmer jokes about his dog's celebrity status.
"She's kind of a showoff. She shows up on test day," he said, smiling.
Kemmer said she's even better out in the field, where she should be this weekend during North Dakota's pheasant hunting opener. Her best skill is finding birds and pointing, he said.
"A lot of dogs point at like a hot scent or where birds were," Kemmer said. "When she points, 999 times out of 1,000 there's a bird there. And 995 times it's going to be a rooster."