This past weekend I had entered Titan in a hunt test held by Marshbanks Golden Retriever Club of Michigan. All he needed was two more passes to get his Junior Hunter title but this time around I was going to be his handler, so for me this would be the first time I ran a dog at a hunt test. I thought oh thank goodness I have been to many and watched that should help, ha… I could have been to hundreds and it still would not have helped. Being the handler is a whole new beast!
So Saturdays test went very well and the weather was pretty good in the am. Although I was nervous he nailed his birds every time. Now on to water, by then the skies were pretty ugly and then they opened up and said time for a bath! Thankfully we ran right before it hit. I believe all the dogs passed that day. The marks were really not that challenging…so I thought oh we got this!
My friend Michelle had said “oh just wait you will be more nervous on Sunday because the title is on the line”. And me being the optimist said “oh now that I have done this I will be fine”. I must have been dreaming or confused because let me tell you the judges on Sunday truly challenged the dogs.
The land went pretty good so I breathed a sigh of relief, I knew we passed. In fact, all the dogs passed for land. Then came water…let me tell you I know my heart must have stopped several times.
I line him up for the first bird, I had noticed the bird was not always falling in the water like the test dog had been. So I get him all set give the judge the signal we are ready…bird goes…lands right in the reeds…sigh!! I could not see it but I knew where it was, I was sure Titan saw it go down…he is sent! He went towards the fall and then veered away then back, then got up on land…his nose in the air the whole time. Meanwhile since he is really hunting but can’t seem to pin it down the judge is behind me saying over and over “bird go to the left” finally I turned and said “I can say that to him” she said no you go to the left and line yourself to the bird so he swims that way. So I did and still he just couldn’t seem to get it. He would look at me and I was helpless, I thought I don’t know what more to do but then he found it! Retrieved to hand and we moved to the second bird.
Now this bird landed where it was supposed to but it was a sinker! It hit the water he swam that way but I could barely see it and I guess he didn’t either. Again he is swimming so close to it and then up on land, back in the water determined to find that bird. I thought oh no this is it we are done, we failed! Finally, the judge said “we can’t even see that bird anymore it sank so we are calling a no bird and we will let you run him again on a different bird so call your dog in”. Uh yea right, this dog was trained not to return without his bird. So I called him and coaxed him but he would not give up the hunt. Meanwhile they are getting the pickup dog to come down to go out and get it however, Titan had different plans, before the pickup dog could even get down there he located that elusive bird and brought in to hand.
This boy has perseverance plus!! The judges even complimented on this and said he gets a high score for that. They both came over and said “now breathe, it’s all over and he did good you are fine” which otherwise means we passed. Sooo I sat in my vehicle watching the other dogs very calmly knowing we passed and not worrying until the end if they were going to pass us or not.
When all the dogs had run they tallied their score sheets and handed out the ribbons and we had that extra special one with ours…the title ribbon.
It was a great learning experience and one I hope to continue with. Our judges were great the whole weekend, very encouraging and helpful. Marshbanks club put on a good test.
We did get a few shots of us with our trainer and very good friend David Keehn from Dusty Rose K-9 Trainers.
So last but not least I leave you with the best blooper photo I have seen in a while. We could not have staged this if we tried. I have captioned it but feel free to share how would you caption it??
Tina and the Brown Dogs