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.