Monday, December 8, 2008

hallelujah... that's over... when does the spring season start?

I just wrote a post for Living with Bird-dogs reflecting on our first fall trialing season, but wanted to dedicate this post to my own Derby lunatic: Mr. Enthusiasm, Mr. 200mph. He is a possessed dog who I have been told by judges places as well as he does because he also handles really nicely. He's a dog that wants to work with you.

I figured that I'd enter him in both Amateur and Open Derby to see, as much as anything if a) he had the jets (YES), and b) if running the second stake would make him a little calmer (NO). His Amateur stake went out around 9:30am and he was off to the races. He had a total of three finds and a stop-to-flush – and was forgiven grabbing another running bird that the other dog chased in front of him. His final point was a thing of beauty – especially because the light was catching his fluorescent flash collar – and because we had to come through a small break of trees into a pine glade and there he was, standing tall, pointing a brushpile with a quail underneath. (This picture is from last Thursday; we had gone up to Flaherty to see if we could hunt a couple of extant quail for Momo and to try and do some training drills with Jozsi in the wide-open spaces.)

His second stake went out around 3:30pm – and he left us for dust. Again, he knows to come around and check-in, but maybe because the start of the Open course was the same as the Amateur course, he knew which direction he was headed in. He still patterned nicely across the main path, but he was off. He pulled up in his first point almost as soon as he turned into the main part of the course and I had to call the judge up just in time to witness the bird flush wild; within two minutes, he had pointed his second bird and stood miraculously still while a quail, literally, ran under his nose. He was looking calmer till… I collared and heeled him over to the other side of the course and turned him loose, literally on top of a quail I hadn't seen. He grabbed it, mouthed it a couple of times, but gave it up without bolting. But I knew I'd just probably given up the reins. He ran like a madman and found another bird in the same copse of pines that he'd found his final bird from the day before. He held almost perfectly, but marked the bird down and despite being cast off in a very different direction took a long, looping arc back around towards it, only to stop-to-flush it. I managed to get him away from it once more and sent him off into the hinterlands to hopefully (fruitlessly) search and not find any more birds to drive him crazier. It is a roller-coaster with him.

After reading a bunch of opinions, I had also been experimenting with how much to feed him, when, in what ratios, and settled on the following:

  • on a single-stake day, and assuming he's running before lunchtime, I have been getting him out loose for 15-20mins to clear his intestines first thing in the morning and then feeding him a half-batch of food with a half-batch of Glycocharge;
  • on this two-stake day, I did the same thing first thing in the morning, and then immediately after he'd finished his first stake fed him the same combination of solid food and Glycocharge again.

My rationale was to give him enough calories to run and not have to stop to poop the whole time he was running – and without the solid food mass that might give him stomach torsion, bloat, or anything exercise-related like that. (Over the last month or so, I have also been slowly increasing the amount of Glycocharge I've been giving him to minimize any digestion issues he might have from a new food source.)

And we came out well, all the same. He won Amateur Derby beating out 11 other dogs – and took second in Open Derby, which was an 11-dog stake. We've had a very fortunate fall of trialing: 2 Amateur Derby wins, one 2nd and one 3rd in two Open Derby stakes – and he ran beautifully but birdlessly in his first and only horseback stake.


All of his successes are in no small part due to the 'silent partner' in his family -- my wife, Meg, who diligently takes both boys out to run first thing in the morning and is most often the one running them in the afternoons. Both boys stay in great shape because of all the exercise (and love) she gives them.


He's my first dog that makes me not able to sleep because I'm thinking about how he runs and how he desperately wants to find birds. But as one of his judges from this weekend, Ken Kohles, told me, a fellow who actually judged him in both Amateur and Open Derby, he is also a dog "that wants to be broke." Ken judged him in two stakes in which, in my estimation, he ran much hotter and much bolder than he'd run before – in part because he now knows the game, knows when and how to test his independence, but nevertheless still keeps coming around to check in before his next search-and-locate mission. I am officially hooked. And Jozsi can't believe his luck.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Sounds brill. I don't understand everything you say about the actual hunting but the way you say it makes it seem really exciting!!!

All those rosettes too. Well done


Vigo said...

sounds really exciting! Vigo is just starting her training, she's really steady and very keen, so hopefully we'll enter a few working tests next year. she's no 200mph yet but a double taker (two dummies in one mouth, yep!)


Stepahnie said...

Andrew, Meg, J & M,

Congrats on the great success in the Field Trials! They definitely like to see those dogs run big! Nice to see you have good control also - that's soooo important! Baron's proud of his nephew and so are we!

BTW, 14 pheasants and 1 woodcock this season for Baron. Not bad for an old man (11.5 yrs. old)!

Stephanie, Manny, B,R & B

Anonymous said...

What a thrilling year! You and J and lucky to have each other.

And... if you're interested in trying other supplements, a lot of friends of mine who's compete in venues where they need a lot of stamina use Volhard's Endurance with excellent results.

Andrew Campbell said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments.

Anna: I don't understand everything that happens either! Which is why I make a lot of 'stupid' phone calls. But it is really exciting.

Vigo: thanks for coming by. We look forward to keeping up with your adventures, too. Good luck!

Janeen: I swear we still love to come by and visit Smartdogs as often as we can. It will be more often now... at least till spring. Thanks for the Volhards' link. I remember their being mentioned in the New Skete book -- and their motivational approach is a nice reminder for those of us trying to get the most out of their dogs without quelling their spirits and keeping it fun for handlers and canines alike.

Steph: you have great dogs, too. But it's time to start hunt-testing Benny (the Cairn Terrier).


Mike Spies said...

Now you are hooked. Hope the Spring season rewards you - just keep the dogs sharp over the chilly season.