Tuesday, May 8, 2012

busier than heck

There's nothing like a good bird-dog addiction to keep you busy -- and April was another good example.  Mid-month, I hosted a training day for a bunch of friends -- including son-of-Sally, Jackson, and son-of-Jozsi, Judd, as well as Scotch, PJ, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  This picture is of Judd throwing a really nice point during what was only his second time working birds.  It was great to have a bunch of young dogs and watch them figure out what they had been bred for.

We then held our CVVC Spring field trial at the end of the month, for which I served as the chair.  It was my first time chairing a trial and thank heavens for a good group of folks behind me.  In an effort to minimize some of our costs, we elected to run it as a two-day trial and still managed to run 100+ dogs in the course of 48hrs.  On the one hand, it was a little frustrating not being able to accept all the entries received for our Amateur Walking Puppy stake, but on the other, it was truly exciting to see two large Puppy stakes with a bunch of first-time trialers trying their hand at the sport.  Hopefully everyone had a good time running their dogs even if it probably felt a little frustrating to be the last stake of the trial run in the later afternoon on Sunday.  Hopefully, they also came to understand two of the weird quantum physics phenomena of field trialing: on the one hand, even if you don't have many dogs to run, the trial will fill the entire time allotted; on the other hand, even if you do have a ton of dogs to run, your brace won't come soon enough.

After an exhausting weekend of seeding courses, filling bird bags, and marshaling volunteers (all of whom I greatly appreciate), it was especially rewarding to read the placements for that 14-dog Amateur Walking Puppy stake and to hand over the blue ribbon to my friend, Kim Barry, and her exciting puppy, Zoom, who is out of Kyler and Rene Blakemore's very handsome Dual Champion, Remington.  As you can see in the above picture, our club has a special trophy for the highest placed Vizsla in our Amateur Walking Puppy stakes in memory of a much beloved, much missed club member, Saul Himmelfarb.  The Open Limited Gun Dog stake also has a rotating trophy in memory of another lost-too-soon club member, Patrick Cooke, the owner of the great Yogurt.  Yogurt is an aunt to our Jozsi through her mother, Shaker, and so it feels especially rewarding to announce that Jozsi won the OLGD stake for 2 retrieving points towards his FC.  A big thank-you to Dave Margolin for taking the picture of his successful retrieve.  After a lovely long cast, he had a stop-to-flush, then quite literally a limb find -- a bird 4ft up on a branch -- which he handled beautifully and then hunted and searched like a madman for the remainder of his brace.

What follows is not to brag about me or my dog (in part because it's based on a compilation of several observations) but to hopefully encourage folks to think about what they're doing when they're trialing.
  • Your dog needs to point a bird to place, but one spectacular find might trump a half-dozen ugly finds;
  • If your dog finds a gazillion birds, then it simply doesn't have time in a 30minute stake to really demonstrate speed, range, and/or confidence;
  • As a handler, you're putting on a show for the judges -- and whether you are or not, try to make it look like you and your dog are working as a team;
  • If your dog has faults, then don't give it the opportunity to demonstrate them by trying to show its strengths instead;
  • At some point, you will probably have to make a tactical decision about what is better for your dog's performance: if my dog has already had positive finds, does it make more sense to take an unproductive at the end of a stake rather than try to flush one more bird that might run or fail to fly or flush back into your dog's face?
  • AKC weekend stakes might only be 30minutes long, but everything else being equal the dog that finishes looking like it's just warming up should place higher than the dog that looks like it's happy to be done.
This past weekend I was out in central PA at the GSPCA National Amateur Gun Dog Championship held at Warrior's Mark Wingshooting Lodge -- I think largely because I can ride a horse and am a fairly good shot.  For the first 30min series of the championship, every dog with birdwork had to demonstrate a successful retrieve -- with the first chukar encountered shot-on-course where possible.  Maybe because it was an amateur event, maybe because it was a single-breed championship, but the atmosphere was very supportive and encouraging.  For me, despite the slight pressure to shoot birds absolutely dead, it was a great opportunity to meet a bunch of new folks and to see a bunch of very nice dogs.  It was an honor to shoot birds for all the dogs and especially those that made it through to the second series (which was a 45min brace with all the birds being pop-gunned).  And while congratulations go to all the dogs that placed, it was very nice to see that Greg Nicholson and Greta took a 4th place and that our dear friends, Jen & Dennis Hazel, won the 2012 GSPCA NAGDC with their fabulous little dog, Raven.

May will hopefully be fairly quiet -- although I have just committed to hosting another training day.  June will be busy with three judging assignments on back-to-back weekends, two field trials and one hunt test.  In between all of that, hopefully we can keep working on breaking Jake and keeping Jozsi on track to finish up his title sometime soon.


Kim Barry said...

Great write up, Andrew! What a great month for everyone!

Mike Spies said...

Andrew - I liked your list of field trial tips/advice.

One of the options when you have run your race and shown the dog well and then have a gnarly find, is to NOT call point or go ahead of the dog, instead, collar him and take him on. If you tell the judge what you're doing and he is worth his salt you may not suffer at all. You might go up in the judges' esteem.

Ken and Janet said...

Very nice writeup Andrew. I concur with all your tips!
Hope you have a good Summer, if you have any time we'd love to host you in the Dakotas for a bit of fun running your dogs.

Jan said...

Thanks for writing an excellent blog. It's helpful while being interesting. Hoping for another training day, possibly in the fall?

Dale Hernden said...

Hope you have a great summer Andrew. Ever want to try fly fishing so your busy all summer too, rush right up to LoBank. Your always welcome.