Sage Monkey

Sage Monkey

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Preparing for the NAVHDA Utility Test: Water Work and then some

Today we spent allot of time working Cleo and her two favorite brothers Bruin and Griz on water work in preparation for the NAVHDA Utility test this fall. Jim and I showed up a couple of hours early today to get some field work in because Cleo is not only working towards a UT title but is working towards a Senior and eventually Master AKC Hunt title. Her first leg of the AKC Senior test will occur in about a month. Cleo needs more time honoring. So today we started our work off with some pigeons planted in traps and using two dogs to have them honor each other.

Today we used pigeons during training for a number of reasons. One reason is because they are not game birds. The dogs will point them but if we make a mistake its much more forgivable because we don't hunt them and they won't be used in a test. Another reason is because they are strong fliers and the dogs can not catch the birds. When the bird flies off and the dog will stand there which is the begining of the steady to the flush.

Below are some pics of 20 week old Maggie working with the pigeons/traps. Maggie is a full blood sister to Cleo.
The pigeon being fired out of the trap
   Maggie watching the pigeon fly off.
Maggie did a great job in the field today. She uses her nose and its apparent she has lots of desire. At 20 weeks old she had nice easily noticeable points. Way to go Maggie!!

Next up we ran Cleo and her sister and litter mate Brandy through the fields. Taking turns having one dog point and then bringing the other pup up to honor.

Cleo on point
 Cleo with her sister Brandy backing
Brandy on point
Mike keeping Brandy steady
 Cleo honoring Brandy's Point

Popping a pigeon
Bob ran his DK Dog Sadie through the fields with Bruin so they could get a little time working backing as well. I just have to say that Sadie is an amazing dog and watching her work a field is a real treat. She is a hunting machine!  Below are some pics of her at work.  

After the field work we headed over to a pond to prepare for the water work portion of the NAVHDA UT Test. Today we were focusing on "Search for a Duck". This portion of the test grades the dog's ability to find a wounded waterfowl. Per the NAVHDA website the duck search, "tests use of nose, cooperation, desire, perseverance, and stamina. Of significance is the fact that it places the dog in an environment where the handler often cannot physically follow the dog or even see the actual situation, thus requiring the animal to rely on its own initiative and intelligence in going about the task independently." Jim and I watched this last year at our NAVHDA NA Test and they basically want your dog to search for a minimum of 10 minutes. Retrieving the duck is not required. If the dog does retrieve the duck it has to be to hand.

Above is a picture of Cleo on her very first duck search/retrieve. Her first time out she did great. She found the duck and brought it to hand. But from that point on her performance went down hill. She started to play with the ducks when she got to them. Her drive to find them never wavered tho. She clearly showed she would search for them until her dying moment but she failed to bring them back to hand. To be honest it was frustrating. But it was her first ever duck search and to expect her to knock it out of the park on her first shot is unreasonable. She did well and will improve because she works hard and she loves being in the field. I have no doubt that she will get it. In boxing I have a beloved coach named Ray Velez and he says a fighter can have "flashes of greatness" and she showed that today. More time on the table and more force fetch and Jim and I have no doubts she will get it. With that said, below is a video of her taking off on a search.

Griz did a nice job today in the water. He had no issues finding the birds but he would bring them just short of hand. Below are some pics of him in action.
Griz searching
Still searching
Found that duck!
Go Griz!
Bruin also did a nice job today. Below are some pics of his duck search. Bruin also has such great desire. I'm pretty sure he would still be out there looking for a duck if you let him!!

After the searches we did a duck drag for Cleo and a duck drag for Griz. Although both dogs searched well they both still need to work on retrieving to hand. On land they had no issues which means it may just be having an issue of applying what they know on land to being on the water. Here are some pics of Cleo's duck drag.

Some pics of Griz's duck drag:

Baby steps. It's April and we are testing in September. All of these dogs have made tremendous strides in the past few weeks. At this rate we will be good to go come fall. Besides, we are learning a tremendous amount along the way. We brought home some ducks so we will be working with Cleo all week. Below is a video of her from when we got home this afternoon and we were finished unloading the truck. She loves those ducks and I can't help but feel the sky is the limit.

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