For the past several weeks I’ve had a vole making swiss cheese out of my bird run. After trying the “mothball in the hole” method without any luck (the vole just dug up the mothballs), I resorted to the “flood the vole” method of pest control. It must have quite a set of underground catacombs because I ran the water for about three hours without the holes filling with water.
The following link to an AKC news article was submitted by one of my blog followers and I was kind of delinquent on getting it posted. If you or someone you know would like to attend the hearing on laws restricting debarking, ear cropping, tail docking, and dew claw removal scheduled for Marck 27, please do so. According to the AKC article:
These bills have already passed the Senate, and the House overwhelmingly approved companion measures last week. All who reside or participate in dog events in Maryland are strongly encouraged to consider attending the House Judiciary Committee hearing and contact the members of the committee.
Friday was a long day of therapy visits with Sophie and Elvis, and one I hope not to repeat anytime soon. The day began with my annual review and I brought Elvis into the office with me rather than leaving him in the truck to wait. After checking out the offices and saying “hi” to the workers, he stretched out on the floor and went to sleep while we did paperwork.
Elvis did very well with his morning visits and has become quite comfortable riding in elevators. Both he and Sophie started blowing their winter coats, so spring must be around the corner.
I brought Elvis home after his morning visits, ate lunch, and then called to verify my afternoon therapy visit. Many of the residents were planning on attending an activity, so we decided that I would start my visits early, allowing those attending the activity to visit with Sophie. That decision put me at the scene of a one-car rollover on the interstate highway.
I stopped to assist and without going into detail, the driver was ejected from the vehicle and was in bad shape. My old cell phone had an emergency medical app, which unfortunately didn’t get transferred to my new cell phone. A lady who witnessed the accident called someone on her cell phone and they relayed medical advice to us; we carefully rolled the victim over and another person began CPR. Soon after that the first State Police officer arrived and we repositioned the victim so that the officer could begin working on him.
He asked if there were any other victims, which we hadn’t considered, so I began looking around the brush and immediate area while they worked on him. Other officers, Search and Rescue volunteers, and the ambulance quickly arrived; in a few minutes they had him loaded in the ambulance and left. After giving a written statement, I was free to go and once again on my way to our afternoon therapy visits.
Sophie did well in what turned out to be a long visit with those residents who did not attend the afternoon activities. By the time I turned in my paperwork for the day’s visit and returned home, it had been a long 8-to-5 day.
Doc was braced with another Spinoni for his final test of the weekend. We were originally scheduled to run in the 6th brace but due to a conflict, the order was changed and we ended up in the 2nd brace. Both Spins ran the back course well, and Doc seemed to me more comfortable braced with another Spin.
Approaching the end of the back course, we crossed a thin line of sagebrush and Doc began working it. He froze in a solid point and I called “point” to the judge, he acknowledged it, and I moved in to flush. Unlike the hot spots that had been causing Doc problems in other tests, this time there was a real bird hiding in the brush. I flushed the bird, shot, and the dogs gave chase. I was able to call Doc back and since we hadn’t yet entered the bird field, was able to wet him down in the water trough.
We entered the bird field and where the breeze was against us on Saturday morning, this time the breeze was in our favor. What little breeze there was, completely died at times so I tossed bits of dead grass in the air to try and gauge its direction. During the hunt, Doc came onto several more hot spots until finally hitting a beautiful point on an actual bird. I flushed, shot, and Doc has his second point of the test.
Time was called soon after Doc pointed his second bird, and with that, his first four tests were in the books.
Sunday’s hunt test started where Saturday’s ended, and Doc overcame my handler errors by holding an incredible point for approximately 4 minutes. For Sunday morning’s test, he was braced with a beautiful little liver-colored Brittany.
Doc went on a solid point soon after entering the bird field and I began beating the brush for birds. Even though I kept an eye on Doc, it wasn’t until the judge call out, “You’re dog’s moving!” that I looked and saw that Doc was on the hunt again – once again, he went on point after coming onto a “hot spot”.
The Brittany did go on point with a bird, however the bird ran out of the brush and up the hill without the dog or handler seeing it. I wasn’t taking any chances and went after it. The judge later told me, while having a hearty laugh about it, “if you see a bird running, at least TRY to fool the judge that you didn’t see it. Loop around and come back or something, but don’t make it so obvious.” Regardless, Doc was confused by the bird running in the open and didn’t know whether to point or chase it so he did neither.
Time was running out and the last thing I wanted was for Doc to go “no bird” two tests in a row. However Doc singlehandedly passed the test when he hit an intense point in the middle of an opening that had no cover and just a thin layer of grass.
There were several sagebrush about 50 feet in front of Doc, and the hillside past that was covered with sagebrush. I began searching the sagebrush for the bird but had no luck in finding it. The judge called out “four minutes”, and with Doc still perfectly motionless on point, I widened my search area. I was becoming more desperate as time ticked off and when the judge called “one minute”, I knew that Doc was going to fail his second test.
With no more than a few seconds left in the test, I gave up and turned the test over to Doc. Looking at the judge, I threw up my hands and shook my head in resignation, then told Doc: “track”. That was the release he was waiting for. Doc charged forward and flushed the partridge, which had been sitting only about 15 feet in front of him all that time. Caught out in the open, the bird crouched down and if I did see it, I thought it was just another rock. I took my shot and the judge chuckled a little, telling me that he was judging it as handler error because Doc did exactly what he should have done: stay on point until released. That earned Doc a perfect 10 in the trainability category and he had just passed 2 of his first 3 tests.
Doc’s second test was almost back-to-back with his first. He was in the last brace of the morning and the 3rd brace of the afternoon, however we broke for lunch before his “morning” test; therefore he was finishing the morning test while the first brace of the afternoon was out. The afternoon test was set up in a deep draw that caused me problems last year. The winds there are fickle and sometimes swirling so it can be difficult to judge them.
For this test, Doc was braced with a Vizsla. It was cloudless and becoming hot, so we were planning on taking the dogs to the watering trough before going into the bird field. The dogs had a different idea and headed straight into the bird field. We still had an opportunity of calling them back until Doc went on point about 75 yards out. The judge told us, “you’re hunting now.”
I was about halfway to Doc when he broke off his point and resumed hunting – he had been pointing a hot spot where a bird had been. Several times during the test, Doc went on point with what turned out to be more hot spots. The birds must have been runners, because Doc became birdy and tracked for 50 yards or so before losing the scent. The Vizsla’s owner told me that her dog had also tracked several birds without finding them.
Time was called with neither dog finding a bird, so neither was able to pass the test. Regardless, I was happy with the way that Doc hunted; I personally would rather fail a test by not finding a bird, than to fail a test because of mistakes my dog made. As for mistakes by the handler? Well, that would be another day. Sunday, to be exact.
Doc entered his first Junior hunt test Saturday morning and hit the course like a pro passing 3 of his 4 hunt tests. For those who are unfamiliar with AKC pointer hunt tests, the hunt test was set up as follows:
Dogs are tested in braces of 2 with the top or “A” dog wearing an orange reflector collar and the bottom or “B” dog wearing yellow. Hunt tests are timed, and the Junior hunt tests were given 20 minutes – 10 minutes in the back course and 10 minutes in the bird field. Dogs are not only judged in the bird field, but in the back course as well. Occasionally birds will find their way onto the back course which can be a nice bonus. The bird fields were square and approximately 300 yards on each side, and 4 Chucker partridge were planted for each brace.
Dogs must receive at least 5 out of 10 points in each of 4 categories: pointing, hunting, bird finding, and trainability. A dog must go on point and hold its point until the handler flushes the bird and shoots a blank pistol; thankfully, in Junior hunt tests, dogs are not docked points for chasing the flushed bird unless they totally ignore you, so here’s where I’m particularly lenient.
In his first hunt test, Doc was braced with a Brittany Spaniel. Through much of the back course, the pups will generally follow each other and maybe play a little, but they quickly settle down to the business of hunting. Water troughs are placed at the start of the back course and bird field so that the dog can be watered down, which is critical when testing on hot days as this weekend was.
The back course was uneventful and we entered the bird field with the wind to our backs, which was not good. This forced us to work our way around to the back of the bird field and then hunt back into the wind. Doc went on point several times but they were “hot spots”, that is, where birds had been planted from earlier tests.
Both dogs were hunting back into the wind when the Brittany went on a solid point. Doc was returning to check in with me when he hit the scent and did a beautiful job of honoring the Brittany’s point. Doc then repositioned himself and went back on point, still honoring the Brittany. The Brittany’s handler moved in and flushed the bird, we both shot, and both dogs were off chasing the bird.
That was the only bird we’d find, but it was enough. After the test was over, the judge who was judging Doc was highly complementary of his maneuver with the Brittany. From where he sat on his horse, he could see the Chucker start running. Doc repositioned himself to stay on the bird’s scent yet still honored the Brittany’s point. Doc scored straight 7’s in his first hunt test, a huge relief that his first test was a pass.