Cooper, Tooey, Russ, and I went out for the Oregon Hunting Retriever Club‘s picnic test last Saturday. We all had a great time, and the dogs did a good job (subject to their usual challenges). Cooper got every bird or bumper he was sent for. In this test, I ran the 4 marks as singles. One mark landed in the water, and the other three required the dog to run through the water and onto land to get the bird.
Cooper picked up and brought back every mark. But, true to himself, Cooper wanted to break and tried to do so — to go out after the bird before I sent him. I knew he was going to do this, so I held a leash around his chest at the line to prevent him from leaving early. He’d get up and strain against the leash. When he finally sat, I sent him for the birds.
There was also a water blind and a land blind. He did a pretty okay job on the land blind. Going straight has never been his strong suit, but he let me direct him to the mark with whistles and hand signals, adding a few off-route flourishes of his own invention. But, like all the marks, he brought his bumper back to hand.
The water blind was a bit more challenging. Although he’s always been willing to jump into any water to retrieve a mark, lately he’s been unwilling to go into the water when he can’t see what he’s going after. So, the “judge” tossed a bumper into the water when Cooper couldn’t see him do it, and since Coop was able to see the bumper floating in the pond, he went right in.
I don’t have any photos of Tooey, but she did a fabulous job. She also did the 4 marks as singles, and unlike Cooper, who “cheats” by going around water from time to time, Tooey trotted straight to the mark and back at her usual methodical pace, through mud, water, shrubs, whatever. Her one failing here, resulted from the fact that one of the marks was an already-dead pigeons that had gotten wet. She hates wet pigeons, so though she picked it up and brought it mostly back, I wasn’t surprised to see her drop the pigeon about 10 feet away from the line and then refuse to pick it up.
But, wow! When she saw the guns come out for her live flyer, she really turned on. When I sent her out after that bird, she actually ran out across the field, straight into the water, and onto the land where the bird fell. She picked up that pigeon, and brought it directly back at a pretty impressive pace.
We also did a very short land blind — maybe 30 yards. Tooey hasn’t done a blind in a hunt test situation, but she did go straight out where I sent her, so I was pleased. In fact, I was thrilled with Tooey’s performance. Now, if they’d only had ducks instead of pigeons, she’d have done a perfect job.
While Tooey and I were waiting for our turn, the gunners missed one of the pigeons, which flew off as fast as its wings could take it. When Tooey and I arrived back at the car after our turn, I was amused to see it sitting on the lift gate of my minivan. I don’t think it liked my being this close, and flew off just after I snapped the photo.
All in all, we had a great time. The dogs were thrilled to be out working, I enjoyed handling the two of them and then helping to launch one of the marks, and Russ got in some gunning practice. Since we’re not practicing for any hunt tests, it was all for fun. And it was sunny, too. I can’t think of a better way to spend an April Saturday.