Sunday, April 20, 2008

no skin left on my teeth...

... but plenty of feathers on both of the boys'! To Jozsi's credit, while I would still love him to be slightly less crazed in his pursuit of bird-scent (and slightly more attentive to me), he actually did very well, if not better than the day before -- stopping when whistled after chasing flushed birds, not bumping any birds, holding his points, and dropping when told. Numerically, this didn't translate -- and perhaps the judges thought all my whistles to him meant he was more lucky than gifted... but as we say, in hunt tests, scores don't matter. It's either 'Q' for qualify or not. And Mr. Enthusiasm scored enough for a second qualifying ribbon.

Nevertheless, he's young enough that I haven't seen him do enough to feel entirely confident that I know what's going to happen in a bird-field. And if you want a sense of what it's like trying to handle a track-star like the Evil Genius, check out this great pic of him in flight. I think I'll go see a cardiac specialist.

Momo also had a good enough run to acquire his second leg of his Senior Hunter. He was braced with a lovely GSP, Sally -- who was awesome. She was really great -- and, again while scores don't matter, I hope she got some great ones because she really looked the part (and frankly looked like she was ready to go to Master). Sadly, I have no pics of her -- but if folks go to the Mayflower GSP website, I think there'll be some there shortly.

Sally found the first bird, in the back-course, and I called Momo to honor -- being in the back-course, the handler fires their blank pistol. Once they got in the bird-field proper, we had a double point -- but because Sally got on point first, Momo had to honor her through her retrieve. With all the crashing around as handlers, gunners and judges organized themselves and Momo's nose about 18" from the bird, it flushed. With him not having moved, it was no foul on The Mominator. He then found his next bird in the same spot that Kyler and Kim found 'the bird from hell' yesterday. (Kim has posted her version of yesterday's events here on her blog.) And so we danced around from one side of this line of small cedars to the next trying to get the quail to flush. But as it ran, Momo would relocate. It finally flushed, but was missed by the gunner. (Sally may have found and retrieved another bird... I don't remember.) So back we came again trying to find Mominator a bird, in part so Sally could honor him and he could make a retrieve. Happily, he did. I almost literally punted it into the air with my foot, the bird went down, and a fiendishly happy Momo headed out to bring it back.

Here are the boys mugging me while I tried to get them to pose for their picture. My hat is in mid-air, their ribbons are about to come off, my face is enjoying a microdermal abrasion treatment.

And again, while scores don't matter, judges will often use them to signal areas to work on. And so Momo got a just barely passing score on pointing after all his movement on 'the bird from hell' -- although as the judge (who turned out to be a friend I'd only known 'virtually') asked during the test and mentioned afterwards, sometimes hunt tests and dogs who hunt are slightly at odds. Which is to say, if you have a running bird when you're hunting, having your dog relocate its point to alert you is a good thing. But in a hunt test it's less points in the 'Pointing' section -- which means they have to be made up elsewhere to keep your average at a qualifying level. Nevertheless, while his retrieve now appears to be solid, it was at the expense of his staunchness -- and so we'll need to work on getting both boys steady-to-shot, if not steady-to-fall (ie. steady till the shot is fired, the bird down, and the dog then sent to retrieve).

Thanks to Valerie + Jeff at Mayflower for organizing a well-scripted test and getting great flying birds. Thanks also to Mark, Stephanie and Ann for loaning me a blank pistol at various points in the two days... with the city's licensing requirements, I can't own one without a full-scale New York City pistol permit! We will now spend May training before trying to finish up their respective tests so that, hopefully, their proud but anxious father can go into them feeling a little more confident of the outcome.


Quixotic Bicycles said...

Thats a lot of dog on your face!

Glad the weekend went well for you and the boys. Mmmm... nap time.

Kim said...

Congrats to Team V bronx division! Hopefully we will be able to pass another one soon too! We missed being there today, it was a strange weekend only doing one test day!

Rocket said...

You guys are great hunters! How much are lessons?

And I agree with Quixotic Bicycles that is a lot of Vizsla on your face.

ELLIE and SACHA said...

Hi from us ginger girls in Dorset.............we have just found your blog after you had visited us back in March.

Salisbury Plain is a wonderous place but we only get to go there about 2 or 3 times a year but as you know its a vast place to explore (when it's safe to do so !)

Well you guys are awesome at what you are learning and we will now follow your adventures with great interest.

We will definantly add you to our blog friends

Ellie and Sacha xx

Brisztow Jones said...

Yey! I wuff you guys-- two Q's for SH titles... I am sooo jealous.....

Brisztow Jones

mdmnm said...

Love the photos!

Andrew Campbell said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments and support. When I first ran Momo in JH I was spoiled by having a dog who, at his age and experience, should and did cleanly qualify. Taking him up a level and adding Mr. Enthusiasm to the mix (at just 11mos, I might add) while both dogs were JUST meeting the standard has been a little anxious. We may have a found a new training area for May so, hopefully, by the time the next pair of HTs comes along in early June, I'll be slightly less of a basket-case.

Rocket + Brisztow: all it takes is a clear vision of what you want your dog to be capable of and as many birds as you can get them in front of. I know my initial challenge with Momo was recognizing his potential, but not really knowing what I was training towards. And I am grateful that he has worked through my own lack of certainty.