Join Date: May 2011
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
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I judged junior again last weekend. It is a place about an hour south of Anchorage. I have run dogs there before. I have also judged 2 mock hunt tests and I've trained there. So I was pretty familiar with the location. It was Turnagain Pass.
My co-judge had not judged junior in a long time. She mainly judges master tests and runs only field trials. So she left it up to me to set up the tests. We ran water then land. Unfortunately the show labs and the show chessie had to be dropped on water. Getting into the water for show labs has become a real problem, and the show chessie was just about as bad. There was one show golden I did have to fail, but it was not the dog's fault. The owner did not know how to encourage her to get into the water, she is a very young dog. Anyway, when he walked to the water edge next to her, I told him to encourage her, and he did finally, so she went and got her bird. We ran the water marks from the same point into 2 different ponds. People didn't like that they weren't able to walk to the water's edge to run their dogs. I thought it was to their advantage to run farther back up on the higher bank so the dogs could more easily see the birds land. So we had some complaints. We asked the test committee to allow the dogs not in contention, to run on the land, to be able to run after the dogs in contention. Which they let us do.
So off to land we went. The dogs that passed water, all passed land. The dogs that didn't pass water, didn't pass land either. So it doesn't sound like my water test was the problem. It was really a training issue. So each dog not in contention, my co-judge and I took the time to work with each handler to run their dogs and understand how to communicate better with their dog. How to line up the dog, how to whistle, when to whistle, how to encourage the dog, and when to ask the gunner for help. It was really nice to make it a training opportunity for everyone.
The moral of the story is, get your dog in the water a lot. Make it fun. Throw a bumper. Get the dog out on different size water, don't use just a puddle. Make sure your dog can enter water down a bank and exit up a bank. Make it fun for the dog. Then when you go to a test, your dog will be able to run their water marks. Most of the dogs that didn't pass, should have passed had they been exposed to water more.
Oh and make sure your dog has picked up a duck before going to a hunt test. We did have one dog pick up her first duck. She did fine, but the owner did not tell us she had never picked up a duck before. Funny thing was, it was someone I had trained with several times. The dog was fine picking up her first duck.
Next time I judge junior, which is next month, most of the people I judged on Sunday will be running under me again (or not). Many are people I've trained with. Most of them I know well. So I'm crossing my fingers that I can pass everyone. I really wanted to pass everyone last weekend also.
I do have to say for anyone setting up a hunt test, make sure you have good gunners. I hated having so many "no birds". The gunners couldn't hit the dang ducks. Telling a new handler/dog that they have to get back in line is really tough.
~ Stacey with Lucy and Riot, missing Hunter, Reilly, Tiger and Pennie
Wiseman Wildfire Grayling Fish On CD RA JH SHU WC "Lucy"
Thistle Rock Kicking Up a Fuss CD RA WCX ** "Riot"