If you remember my notes to prospective handlers from a couple of weeks ago, I will reiterate the following: "there only two kinds of scores: qualifying and not-qualifying." And while we squeaked it, Momo was awarded his final qualifying leg towards his Senior Hunter title. He rocks.
What was interesting was the conversation with the judges afterwards. The thing I thought he might get nixed on weren't the things the judges had an extended conversation about as to whether or not to qualify The Mominator. One of the reasons you have two judges is because some rules still require interpretation -- and two brains generally think better than one. One of the ambiguous statements in the AKC rules regarding 'honoring' (where a dog that encounters its bracemate on point 'honors' that point by stopping and remaining still until the other dog has retrieved its bird) in the SH level is that "a Senior hunting dog must see or acknowledge that its bracemate is on point before it has been cautioned to honor" (my italics). And so, while we would all love our dogs to recognize their bracemate on point 20 yards away and stop on a dime without command, that's both an ideal set of circumstances and arguably within the expectations of a Master Hunter. One of the challenges for all judges is that, paradoxically, while it's easy to score a perfect performance, it's not so easy to score a barely passing performance. And the judges expressed concern that Momo hadn't really acknowledged his bracemate before I'd "whoa'ed" him. But they passed him all the same.
And here's a gratuitous picture of one of Kyler's puppies, the Dark Blue Boy... if we could have three, he'd be on my shortlist. All three of the pups were at Flaherty and I'm sure there'll be some pics to post in the future of them each taking their turn at carrying a recently deceased quail in their mouth.
I have to admit that I was arguably more nervous in this heat because I was even more eager just to get the SH title out the way -- in part so I can concentrate on the hunting season and on entering Mr. Enthusiasm into some field trials. And when I saw that they were putting out chukar for the Master and Senior braces, I was pretty nervous after all our recent training experiences with the wee grey sprinters. And so, after one flushed under Momo's nose and it started running around in the open, I took the opportunity to give it as wide a berth as possible. In any case, Momo did what I expected of him and asked him to do -- but the real gem of the whole brace was that when his bird was flushed, it was cleanly shot, and he stood where he was told. And waited to be sent for his retrieve. I was so pleased with him. Training seems to be paying off.
And once again, it was a good showing for Team Widdershins... Kyler had a great run for her third leg of her SH. The upper picture is an artsy pic of of Kim walking her heat. Hopefully there'll be good news to report tomorrow afternoon. (Incidentally, I will be running Momo in his first MH heat tomorrow with the expectation that this will be a great training run. Planets could come into alignment -- but we should be able just to have some fun. Wooohooo.) The second picture is of the Team Vizsla -- Northern MA chapter support crew.
My good friend, Bob, came out to watch his first hunt test -- and it was a huge turnout with 6 braces of MH, 8 braces of SH, and 21 braces of JH. He got to see all kinds of dogs -- Portuguese Pointers, English, Irish, and Gordon setters, lots of German Shorthairs, and of course vizslak. Happily we had beautiful weather. So, I think he's hooked.