In that regard, we were successful in all three areas. In a lot of ways, the highlight was my run with Rogue. Happily I had found another spot in the Phelps WMA (where the trial is held) that I could run the two monsters free, using Jozsi as the role-model for following directions and coming back -- and to get Rogue used to my kinds of squalling* and gesticulating. I should also mention at this point that it rained all weekend. I mention this now because when I mentioned to Kim how well Rogue had run, she was surprised that she'd even really wanted to hunt with the weather being what it was. But the monkey was hunting for sure. After a quick dash to meet the other puppy in her brace, she had had enough and wanted to get to business. In what seems like the majority of puppy stakes, clubs will run the little dogs on a course that has already been used for another stake but don't put any additional birds out. Puppies (dogs between 6-15mos) don't have to find birds to place, but if a puppy can show its intensity by demonstrating something resembling a point, it can't hurt. She had three false points on hotspots, ie. where birds had been (which I and the judges knew from having seen the previous stake), with nice style. That a puppy, especially a 7mos old, would not have the experience to distinguish between a hotspot and a live bird is no penalty. In any case, I continued my now-tradition of running out of course and we looped back to try and find an actual bird in one of her last hotspots. Bearing in mind that she is 7mos old, petite, and could easily have found herself braced with another much bigger dog, her 3rd place was well-earned. The judges said some very nice things about her. And I will run that dog anywhere -- watch out world!
*'squalling': thanks to Dale at LoBank for this word to describe the caterwauling that handlers will do to keep their dogs aware of their location.
Did I mention it was raining all weekend? Add a novice rider, a couple of rolling hills, stream crossings, and mud and, to be honest, we did okay in our Open Derby run. But it was also clear that Jozsi has the legs, lungs, and most of the bird manners to do this horseback thing with some success. He had three finds, a stop-to-flush (if we were being charitable) and something that approximated an honor. He handled well, but was hampered by a combination of factors that meant his handler was not up with him where he belonged -- and so he tended to run loops to the side rather than continually drive forward. I'll probably blog on these more, so stay tuned. But he is a madman and can cover ground. So, while I am disappointed for him, all in all we did just fine. Sadly, rain prevented too many pictures -- and however dumb it sounds, to be comfortably riding a strange horse back to the clubhouse in the rain and muck while roading your dog in his harness after his run felt pretty cool.
Postscript: in my haste, I forgot to mention that one of the highlights of meeting the folks at Conestoga was also meeting Jack Sharkey, owner of the legendary AKC quintuple champion Chartay, as well as Don and Angel Brown of Dobrocat Vizslas.
I should also mention that I met the dignified and eminent Broad Run Blaze, winner of the 2009 Conestoga Vizsla Club Hunting Dog Stake -- and both her parents, Amber and Luke.