Before we get to dogs: the only accurate thing I predicted about the Paris-Roubaix race was that it was very difficult to predict. If you read my previous post, you have recognized this already. I just didn't think Tom Boonen was having much of a season this year -- but he broke away with Alessandro Ballan and Fabien Cancellara and then outsprinted them in the Roubaix velodrome like the Paris-Roubaix winner of 2005 that he is.. Dan made up around 600 pts on my lead over him in the Cobblestone Fantasy Cycling League. Not good.
Saturday: I took the boys back to visit Tom Mackin at TMT. Good thing I packed a short-sleeved shirt. It was insanely warm with the weather topping out well over 70degsF. The wind was light and squirrely, puffing anywhere from SW through N -- and the cloud cover was scattered. In short, scenting conditions were terrible -- as clouds cleared, scent would get burned over quickly and what little patches there were would get wafted in a variety of directions. Momo has seen enough birds and is delicate enough on his feet to handle this; trying to get Jozsi to staunch up over birds in launchers was not especially successful. Momo's retrieve, though, was starting to look reliable.
Sunday: After spending the night at Mike + Kim's, we trogged over to Fullflight to try to work on some specific skills. Momo did a nice honor for Kyler, and was a good set-up man for both Cedar and Kyler to honor. Jozsi also set up a couple of very nice points and even held them long enough to get his check-cord straightened out... running chukar were about as much as his predatory mind could take though. And for one bird that refused to fly, I turned him loose to grab it. Which he did à toute vitesse. He takes no shit from no bird. The other Momo highlight was that he seems to be entirely passed blinking on live birds, as evidenced by me shooting at a bird (but knowing I'd missed), but with its heavy landing presumably adding up to it being downed in his mind, Momo headed out and promptly fetched the live bird to hand, almost without command.
Ella has developed some issues, though, which seem to revolve around blank pistols. I'm not sure it's even gunfire per se, but she blinks on the birds she's pointed when the pistol comes out. It's a tough situation for Rich + Adrian. Having said that, putting her down with Momo and, whether it was a competitive streak or her sensing his enthusiasm, she was definitely getting psyched. This final pic is of Adrian about to kick up a chukar for Khumbu to chase. As you can see, he has a great first instinct to point -- and now just needs lots of enthusiasm and bird-exposure to get him ignited. The trick, as ever, is not to either try or hope for too much on a given occasion. This doesn't mean that Rich and I should aim low for our dogs, but rather not try to project too much on to them and move too quickly.
As Bob Seelye said back in early March, though, you can get one new skill solidified, but then other previously established skills sometimes go wonky. For Momo, that means that he isn't steady once the shot is made, but takes off to go get the bird -- the challenge here is that what happens if we miss a bird while hunting or, in a hunt test situation, if we have to use a blank pistol? So I need to try and set up something in the woods around here to get him staunch until told to go. And with his speed-freak prey drive, Jozsi would benefit from the same thing. Time to start thinking. But it has made me think about why I'm trying to cram hunt test weekends in... and so, I think, for now, we may just go to Falmouth next weekend, see what happens, and then train for May and do some more tests in June.