ere's an assortment of pictures from the weekend. We were up at the PANE Field Trial at Flaherty, giving Mr. Enthusiasm his last run of the spring season. We knew we had the first brace of the morning at 7am and so got to the field nice and early to arrange for horses and locate my trusty scout, Dennis. So the first picture is of the sun clearing the trees while horses chomp their breakfast.
The conditions were almost too good to run a dog: relatively dry air, cool temperatures, and a breeze. I say too good because I could feel it gusting -- and gusting makes pinpointing birds a little harder for the dogs and makes the birds on the ground a little squirrely and less likely to stay put.
This bird, on the other hand, could hardly be called squirrely. It might have been completely lovestruck mad -- but this grouse kept wandering out of the treeline and circling a complete string of vizslas and German Shorthairs, driving them sufficiently crazy to merit the pro whose dogs they were to kennel them up and resolve to try and chase said grouse into a new neighborhood. It was a monster bird -- and yes, I took this picture from about 6ft as it ran around a horse trailer.
We headed out on our brace at about 7:15am and Jozsi broke away like a madman. We've been working on phasing out the handsignals that can be convenient for foot-handling and translating them into hollers and calls -- and he seems to be getting the hand of it. Even though he runs hard and is beginning to nicely extend himself in front of the horse, he has a great handle. Sadly, though, he only had 15mins of glory... in a 30min stake! He had found two birds already before he cut into a swampy area and, as Dennis later relayed, but which I guessed from watching a bird pop out, he then located a third which started running in front of him. He relocated once, then it flushed and then he broke to chase for a few steps. While his stop-to-flush is normally pretty reliable, this is still pretty good progress for the wee madman. But his time was up. Nevertheless the judge really enjoyed his 15mins and was very complimentary about his range, his responsiveness, and his general state of being 'broke.' He was actually a little surprised that Jozsi was still eligible to be a Derby dog.
Which brings us to this picture from this evening. Once again, I stacked him on a lower set of benches, maybe 18" high and a little rickety, and made him stay while I taunted him with two quail hooked up to flight limiters. Arguably the best training moment was during his first stack on the benches when he tried to step forward to get in on a quail that was flapping on the ground -- and the bench tipped. I then re-set him gently and taunted him some more. (I stake out the other dog near the benches so he can see the other and hopefully pick up both the good behaviors and the corrections second-hand.) After rotating Momo through a session on the benches (in which he did great), I then put Mr. Enthusiasm up a second time -- and he stood rock still for probably three minutes or more while I flapped the birds in front of him, around his head, and then ultimately picked them up and put them back in their pen. They both really are good, good dogs.