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Posts Tagged ‘AKC Master hunt tests’

We have kept this blog up for more than 10 years. I know that there are others who enjoy reading it. But we also use it as a kind of diary, to help us remember what happened to which dogs when.

So as I have with Carlin’s other hunt test passes (Junior and Senior), I thought I’d create a post that lists Carlin’s scores for the Master Hunter Upland spaniel tests he took and passed, earning his MHU title. Each test is represented in a table, and each table includes the scores given by the two judges for each category.

Master Hunter Upland pass 1Northwest English Springer Spaniel Club – August 20, 2016

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt   Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 9 | 9 N/A 8 | 8 6 | 6 7.67 | 7.67
Bird finding 9 | 10 8 | 9 8 | 8 6 | 7 7.75 | 8.5
Flushing 8 | 8 N/A N/A N/A 8.0  | 8.0
Trained 8 | 8 8 | 9 8 | 7 6 | 6 7.5  | 7.25
Retrieving 9 | 8 9 | 8 8 | 8 7 | 8 8.25 | 8.0
Overall average 7.83 | 7.88

 

Master Hunter Upland pass 2Northwest English Springer Spaniel Club – August 21, 2016

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt   Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 8 | 9 N/A 9 | 9 8 | 10 8.33 | 9.33
Bird finding 9 | 9 10 | 9 10 | 9 10 | 10 9.75 | 9.25
Flushing 8 | 9 N/A  N/A  N/A 8.0  | 9.0
Trained 6 | 6 10 | 8 7 | 9 6 | 6 7.25 | 7.25
Retrieving 9 | 9 10 | 9 10 | 10 6 | 8 8.75 | 9.0
Overall average 8.41 | 8.77

 

Master Hunter Upland pass 3Mount Rainier Sporting Spaniel Club – September 2, 2016

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt  Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 10 | 8 N/A 8 | 7 10 | 7 9.33 | 7.33
Bird finding 10 | 7 8 | 9 7 | 7 10 | 7 8.75 | 7.5
Flushing 10 | 9 N/A N/A N/A 10.0 | 9.00
Trained 10 | 10 6 | 7 7 | 7 8 | 6 7.75 | 7.50
Retrieving 10 | 10 10 | 7 8 | 8 7 | 6 8.75 | 7.75
Overall average 8.92 | 7.82

 

Master Hunter Upland pass 4 – Puget Sound English Springer Spaniel Club – September 3, 2016

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt   Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 9 | 9 N/A 10 | 10 8 | 8 9.0  | 9.0
Bird finding 9 | 9 10 | 10 10 | 10 8 | 8 9.7  | 9.25
Flushing 10 | 9 N/A N/A N/A 10.0 | 9.0
Trained 9 | 8 8 | 10 10 | 10 8 | 8 8.7  | 9.0
Retrieving 10 | 8 9 | 10 10 | 10 9 | 9 9.0  | 9.25
Overall average 9.2  | 9.1

 

Master Hunter Upland pass ? – Clumber Spaniel Club of America – September 4, 2016
We don’t have any records of passing this test. In fact, we are sure he failed it. He over heated, and instead of delivering his second bird to Russ, he took his bird to the shade and laid down. He was not called back to the hunt dead or to the water portions of the test.

But when I called the American Kennel Club in early this month to straighten out some other mistakes on Carlin’s AKC Points and Awards page, the AKC said they show a pass at this test for Carlin.

“Really?” I asked, “I don’t think so.” I asked the nice lady there to check her records again. So she did, and then she replied that she’s sure he passed. They even had it down as Carlin’s 5th qualifying score for his MHU title. She was a bit embarrassed that the certificate hadn’t been sent out yet, and was glad I’d called her so she could make sure to get it sent.

About 5 days later, an MHU certificate arrived, dated September 4, 2016. We just didn’t get it until May 8, 2017. We could have stopped there and accepted the title, but it didn’t feel right. So we entered him in more tests to make sure Carlin could really do the work. And he did.

 

Master Hunter Upland pass 5Missouri Headwaters Gun Dog Club – May 20, 2017

Ability Land Water Retrieve Hunt   Dead Water Blind Average
Hunting 9 | 8 N/A 10 | 8 9 | 8 9.33 | 8.0
Bird finding 9 | 8 9 | 9 10 | 9 9 | 8 9.25 | 8.5
Flushing 9 | 6 N/A N/A N/A 9.00 | 6.0
Trained 9 | 8 9 | 9 10 | 9 9 | 8 9.25 | 8.5
Retrieving 9 | 7 9 | 10 10 | 8 9 | 9 9.25 | 9.0
Overall average 9.2  | 8.0

 

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Sunday’s master spaniel test was tough. The Missouri Headwaters Gun Dog Club did a fine job putting on a test with the conditions presented to them. But still it was tough, particularly on the Juniors and Masters.

There was very little breeze. It was hot. In fact, we drenched Carlin with water every 10 minutes or so, just to keep him relatively cool.

Juniors went first — only 1 dog passed. Seniors went next — they had 4 qualifiers. Masters went next, and they were hard hit, with only 2 dogs qualifying.

Carlin was 4th in the Master running order, and as we walked the course, we watched the other dogs fail one by one. Some dogs just couldn’t find any birds. Other dogs found birds, but then weren’t steady and broke before being sent for the retrieve. One dog flushed a bird, but then couldn’t find it after it had been shot. One dog read Tooey’s playbook, and ran off the course after a flyaway. But Carlin, an Irish Water Spaniel, and Dennis, a cross-eyed, 9-year-old yellow Labrador, did well enough to get their hunt deads and then go to the water.

It took quite a while for the first three dogs to fail. And by the time Carlin was called up, we were nervous, he was amped, and it was getting hotter and hotter.

But when it was Carlin’s turn, it took him less than 5 minutes to find, flush, be steady, and retrieve two chukars, and then nail a 65-yard blind retrieve (no ducks this time).

Carlin returning with his 2nd chukar

So, it was on to the water. As in Saturday’s test, the Master water blind was held first. And because Carlin was the first of two Master dogs to go on to the water test, he was the first Master dog to do the water blind.

This blind was at a 45 degree angle to the slough’s edge. If Carlin were to go straight to the bird, he’d cross the first channel, just touch the tip of a small island, and then cross the 2nd channel to the slough’s edge on the other side. What he did was to swim to the tip of the island, get out just there, and stop to look back to Russ for directions. Russ gave him a left-hand back cast. Carlin crossed the 2nd channel and climbed half way up the bank to retrieve the pheasant. Which he picked up and delivered directly to hand.

Then, Russ and Carlin went back aways from the water to wait while the Junior and Senior dogs did their marked water retrieves. Carlin tried to get a better look, but it wouldn’t have done him any good. The Master water retrieve was in a slightly different place and angle than the Senior marks.

And again, that tense moment. Would Carlin break at his water mark, and blow the whole test? The gallery was rooting silently for him. There was actually no talking while Carlin did this mark.

The bird landed in some pheasant-colored reeds on the far bank of the slough. Carlin swam right by it, got up on the bank, and thought for a moment about going over to where the blind retrieve had been. He changed his mind, though, and turned around, saw the bird at the water’s edge, picked it up, swam it back, and delivered it to hand.

The crowd clapped and cheered. The judge said to Russ, “You can breathe now.” And so it was done. Another Master qualifying score: average 9.33 out of 10!

Good job, boys! May 21, 2017

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To get an AKC Master Hunter Upland title, a dog must pass 5 master-level spaniel tests. By the end of 2016, Carlin had passed 4. So we loaded up the car, and trekked 450 miles to the headwaters of the Missouri River in Three Forks, Montana to see if we could get that 5th pass at the test put on by the Missouri Headwaters Gun Dog Club on Saturday, May 20th.

The setting was the Missouri Headwaters State Park where Lewis and Clark camped in 1805, at the confluence of the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin Rivers. With all those rivers, the grounds were flat and lush, covered with still-green, calf-high grasses and dotted with native shrubs, some low at 1 foot, some reaching 10 feet tall. This all provided dense cover, challenging dogs to find birds and obscuring those dogs from the the vision of their handlers and judges from time to time. Often, you could see bushes rustling, but not actually see the dog making them move.

Russ and Carlin started 5th in the Master test, after the Juniors and Seniors had already run. Even though snow had fallen only three days prior, the weather was warming up fast by the time of his run. We wanted to make a good show of it, as Carlin was the first Irish Water Spaniel most of the folks had ever seen, much less watch one run in a spaniel test.

Russ sent him off with a “Hunt it up!” Carlin quartered the field easily, stopping to circle and investigate the many clusters of shrubs. In pretty short order, he flushed a rooster pheasant on the right side of the course, which the gunner knocked down about 40 yards away. Carlin was steady to flush and shot, and when the judge tapped Russ’ shoulder, Russ said, “Take it!” Carlin ran to where he’d seen the bird fall, but the bird wasn’t there. We in the gallery saw the bird flutter another 10 yards away, with Carlin on its tail. He grabbed it up and delivered the live bird to hand.

One bird down, 4 to go.

The next bird was a chukar, which Carlin flushed up on the left. Once again, Carlin was steady to wing and shot. The gunner knocked that bird down into heavy cover, which proved no trouble for Carlin. He delivered that one to hand, too.

Two down, 3 to go.

This club decided to hold the hunt dead test immediately after a dog qualified in the flushing part of the test. So Russ and Carlin hid behind one of the shrubs while one of the judges placed the dead bird about 65 yards off the course in a patch of low bushy cover.

Russ lined Carlin up in the direction where the judges indicated that there was a hidden dead bird. Carlin started off in that direction, but then veered 30 degrees off to the left of the line into another area of dense cover, and started to hunt. Before Russ could whistle-sit Carlin in order to handle him back to the area where the dead bird had been hidden, Carlin flushed a duck out of the cover where he was hunting. Without even thinking, Russ blasted the whistle and Carlin slammed his butt to the ground. Every one watched the duck fly temptingly low over the hunt test course, while Carlin kept his butt on the ground. Every one was stunned. No one knew there was a duck there, except Carlin.

So then, Russ called him in about 15 yards, did another whistle-sit, and then with a right-hand back, spun Carlin around in the direction to the original dead bird. He picked the chukar up and promptly delivered it to hand.

With that done, the gallery broke into amazed applause. Flushing ducks is not usually part of the hunt dead. Three birds down, 2 to go.

For the water series, the test moved over to a slough near the Madison River, about a mile away from the land work. Working in the river might have been nice in the Fall, but this is Spring, and cold water was rushing too fast in the river.

The Master water blind retrieve went first. Only 4 dogs made it to that point. The 50-yard retrieve started on the bank of the slough, went across some water, across an island in the slough, across another channel, and up a steep rocky bank.

Russ lined Carlin up again and sent him. Carlin did a flashy launch into the water, swam to the island, and began to search the island for birds. Russ handled Carlin back over to the spot where he had first gotten onto the island, had him do a whistle-sit, and then a back. Whereupon, Carlin turned around, launched himself into the second channel, and swam straight to the spot just below the rooster pheasant. After picking up the rooster, he made the return trip in a straight line, and handed it over. Very clean. We are very grateful for our friend’s help and access to the quarry pond that we practiced in last week — the two scenarios turned out to be almost exactly the same (except the quarry pond blind retrieve was longer.)

Four birds down, 1 to go.

For the final test, a marked water retrieve, we moved farther down the slough. Juniors and then Seniors went first, which left us as the second-to-last dog to run. So many tests have been failed at this point, where the dog has done everything beautifully up to this point, but then breaks, going after the bird before being sent. And Carlin and all the Master dogs were getting amped. They couldn’t see anything, but they could hear the shots, splashes, and whistles.

When it was Carlin’s turn, he was definitely dancing at the bank, waiting to go get his bird. The judges said, “When your dog is ready, give us the signal, and we’ll call for the bird.” Russ took the leash off. Carlin parked his butt. Russ raised his gun, and signaled the judges that they were ready. The whole gallery at this point is thinking, “Sit! Sit! Sit!” No one wanted to see Carlin break.

The bird was thrown, the gun shot went off, and still Carlin sat. The just tapped Russ’s shoulder, and still Carlin sat. Russ waited three beats, and still Carlin sat.

Finally, finally, Russ said, “Take it!” and Carlin leapt into the water in true IWS style. He went straight out and straight back, and delivered the soggy chukar to hand.

Five birds down. Five Master qualifying passes. Realta’s Carlin O’Whistlestop RN MHU CA. With this pass, he’s the 4th and youngest IWS to earn this title.

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Day 2: same club and same location as yesterday, but different judges. Saturday’s judges knew Carlin, as we often practice together at Scatter Creek, Washington. Having a personal relationship didn’t hurt his cause. But the judges on Day 2 were relative strangers. They were known to have sharp pencils and had lots of experience running and judging accomplished dogs. So we were not expecting to be given any slack.

On Sunday, it was a good 10° cooler and since we now running as the 4th dog of the day, we got a cool start. Carlin put up his first bird at mid-course, and then sat while the gunner dropped it down further down the course.

Carllin quarters at full speed through tall grass

Carlin quarters at full speed through tall grass

The judges tapped my shoulder for a release, and upon my release to Carlin, he zoomed straight out and straight back with the bird delivered to my hand. Text book awesome.

Carlin heads out to pick up a pheasant

Carlin heads out to pick up a pheasant

We continued up the course where Carlin caught the scent of a bird near the edge of huge cluster of Scotch broom and blackberry brambles. He circled the cluster and then dove in to root out a bird.

The brown spot in the center is Carlin forcing out a pheasant from heavy cover

The brown spot in the center with a pink tongue is Carlin forcing out a pheasant from heavy cover

It flushed, the gunners missed, and I had no idea where Carlin was because I was on the other side of the cover. So were the judges. Was he steady? Apparently so. I called him in back, and as soon as I pulled broken-off pieces of blackberry vine out of his topknot, we were done with the land series.

Carlin takes a break while the judges record their scores for his last flush

Carlin takes a break while the judges record their scores for his last flush

For Sunday’s hunt dead test, we were the second dog to run. Only 4 out of 9 dogs running masters qualified on the land series and made it this far. (We were dumb struck by our good fortune.) A cross breeze had come up, and so I lined Carlin up downwind for this 5 minute test and he nailed the bird in under a minute. On to the water . . . .

Same scenario as yesterday, but now Carlin knew that there was not a bird across the river next to the bird handlers. I got him to focus on the bank directly across from us and I sent him with a “Back” command. He immediately cut left and ran the near bank and refused to enter the water.

WTF? I pleaded with my whistle, hands, and because I was under the observation of 3 judges, I limited my verbal commands to skip the traditional 4 letter words. After about 3 minutes of running up and down bank ignoring my commands (a very bad thing), he jumped into the river, swam across, grabbed the bird, swam back, and handed it off like nothing unusual had taken place.

I leashed him up while the judges conferred, gesticulated, shrugged, etc. for several long moments. Finally, they said they would let me try for the water retrieve to see if he altered their opinion. No pressure. Carlin sat at my side, the bird went up, the shot report came across the river, the bird hit with a splash while Carlin calmly sat and watched. The judge tapped for a release, I sent Carlin, and off he went, straight out, straight back, bird to hand. More judges conferring, scribbling on their score sheets, gesturing. To be determined.

Well, once again, his stellar land work and marked water retrieve saved our asses and Carlin passed another Master test. Other than this water blind debacle, his scores were mostly 9s. We looked at the score sheets later, and noticed that the Trainability score for the water blind had been scribbled out and changed. Perhaps that change put his Trainability score just enough so we did not NQ.

To celebrate, three of us decided it was time to go swimming in the Luckiamute River. Both Tooey and Patrice were troopers in the heat and fully enjoyed Carlin’s Master passes from the cool of the water.

Back into the Luckiamute river for the love of water

Back into the Luckiamute river for the love of water

Patrice and Tooey washing away the tension of watching Carlin's first Master passes.

Patrice and Tooey washing away the tension of watching Carlin’s second Master pass

IMG_2646

Two Master ribbons

Life is good. And we do it all again in two weeks.

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We can’t say we were really looking forward to this last weekend. Carlin was entered in his first Master level spaniel hunt tests, but the weather forecast had the temperature soaring past 100° F for both days. And our training sessions leading up to this weekend were revealing a few possible gaps in our performance. Carlin (we) have improved in some areas, but are still sketchy in others. That combined with the fact that Carlin is a hot blooded dog who easily overheats, we were not primed for a successful weekend.

On the other hand, the hunt test grounds near Monmouth, Oregon are very familiar. The first time I was there was in December 2013 with the Mighty Coop. The high that day was only 9° F. In the photo below is a toasty Cooper and his birds, but with me bundled up with layers of long underwear, and topped with insulated overalls. Notice that I was wearing two hats, one with ear flaps.

The might Coop chillin' with his birds

The mighty Coop chillin’ with his birds

But back to Carlin and a hot hunt test put on by the Northwest English Springer Spaniel Club.

We started the morning with the field work. We were running last in the Masters, and so we got to start around 9:30 a.m. and in the mid 70°s F. Watching and waiting behind the 8 dogs ahead of us got on Carlin’s nerves, especially when he saw a bird fall and he was not called for the retrieve. And it got on my nerves with basic performance anxiety, as this was my first attempt at handling a dog at the Master level.

Carlin stays focused while we wait our turn to run

Carlin stays focused while we wait our turn to run

The field was thigh-high grass interspersed with tall groves of Scotch broom and blackberries. And it was uphill. Carlin put up his first bird within seconds, but the gunner missed it with both shots. As the bird flew away over the trees, I was so happy to see Carlin sitting and watching intently (steady to flush and shot). A fly-away is often a weak link for a dog, but Carlin did me proud.

I called him back to continue our run. Unfortunately, I did not cast him off in the opposite direction, so he immediately took off in the direction of the fly-away that he had watched and carefully tracked. Oops. A few whistles and a verbal comment got him back on course and hunting again. As Carlin and I rounded a large clump of Scotch broom, he put up another bird. The right hand gunner knocked it down as it glided downhill into a another clump off the course.

Carlin stayed steady, but the judges, who had still been behind the Scotch broom, could not see if the bird had been hit or was down. I made another mistake by saying that Carlin could find it rather than taking a pass on the retrieve. He just sat there while I chatted with the judges.

After a bit, they said go for it. So with the release command, off Carlin went. But it wasn’t a slam dunk. He took a good line but cut left about 80 yards away. I was thinking I really screwed this up by being over-confident in his ability. But he cut back right into the clump and after a long 30 seconds of my heart in my throat, he came trotting back with the bird and delivered smack into my hand. The gamble paid off, and we were onto the next series after the Seniors and Juniors finished their land series.

It was 1:30 p.m. by the time we ready to run our turn at the “hunt dead” series, and the temperature was now a balmy 103° F. We waited for our turn in the shade of some big maple trees, but when we came out to run we were hit with a blast furnace of sun and dead air. We had 5 minutes to find a dead planted pheasant about 65 yards out, and with me directing Carlin with hand signals and whistles from the line. He did it in just over 3 minutes. I immediately threw this hot dog into a stock tank full of water, where he relaxed and drank his fill.

So we qualified to run the water series. For the water work, the order was reversed, starting with Junior dogs and ending with Masters. Being we were the last Master in the queue, we were the last dog to run for the day. The water work started with a blind retrieve across the Luckiamute River, about 50 yards away, followed with a marked retrieve into the river.

Well, when we got to the line, Carlin locked on to the bird handlers and ignored my direction to the blind. He jumped in and swam about 45° off course, swimming about 80 yards downstream to the bird handlers. He struggled up the steep bank, did not find a bird, and so he looked back at me to tell him what to do next. I whistled him back into the water, and now he had to swim about 50 yards upstream to find the low bank on which the bird was hidden in the grass. He was spent, but at 5 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock, he found it, swam back, and delivered it to hand.

Did I mention the 5 minute limit? Even though we’d gone passed that, the judges let us proceed to the water retrieve, which was launched and shot by the very handlers that distracted him on the blind. So back into the water, cross the river, and back with another bird. Oh well, I was thinking, nice try.

At the ribbon ceremony, the Juniors got theirs first, next the Seniors, and then the Masters. No ribbon for Carlin. And then the surprise. One of the judges mentioned that they were a Master ribbon short, so the secretary went and got another orange ribbon. It turns out that the judges were impressed with Carlin’s persistence and not giving up after that long swim, so  they decided to be flexible on the 5 minute limit. And considering how he smoked the land series, they gave us the benefit of the doubt and awarded Carlin his first Master pass.

Carlin shows off his Master ribbon where Cooper showed off his pheasants. The sweat on my brow is from the heat and the anxiety of watching Carlin's water blinds.

A tired Carlin shows off his Master ribbon in the exact spot where Cooper showed off his pheasants in the first photo. The sweat on my brow is from the heat and the anxiety of watching Carlin’s water blinds.

Tomorrow is another chance for another ribbon, but no matter how tomorrow turns out, today was sweet indeed.

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