Cleo and Jim with some ribbon bling
What a weekend! First and foremost Cleo passed the final two legs of her AKC Senior Hunt Title. We couldn't possibly be more happy or proud with her performance. She ran really well both days even through some crazy situations (which I will get into shortly). With this title complete we can now focus on her Utility Test this coming fall and then next spring we will work towards her Master Hunter Title.
Cleo on point in the bird field in today's test
Over the past several months Jim and I have learned so much working through this title. In hindsight we ran her in her first couple of tests before she was ready. With her being our first hunting dog and us being newbie handlers we learned as we went along. There are huge differences between Senior and Junior Hunter not only for the requirements for the dog but also on a handling level. There are so many small nuances to handling that if you've never experienced running in that level of a test you learn them by doing it. Sometimes you learn the hard way. A seasoned handler knows how to keep their dog out of trouble, has the forethought to look ahead and see problem areas, knows when to ask to collar the dog, and keeps their cool when the wheels come off the cart. In the end its a game and its important to not forget it.
Cleo's GWP brace mate from Saturday on point
The weather the entire weekend was touch and go. Yesterday is rained and misted all day making it a really tough day to get decent photographs. It also makes for a long day especially when its cold outside. Cleo's run on Saturday went smooth until the gunners missed her first flushed bird and she had to do it all again. The nicest part was watching the gunners blast away and her never batting an eye. Our brace mate had DNQ'd so they brought in another GSP to put on point so Cleo would have an opportunity to honor. Which she did well. The other GSP was CH Pointsetter Shoot For The Stars SH, Call name Piper. Cleo had ran with Piper down in Delaware a couple of weeks ago. She is handled by Bruce Shaffer of Almost Heaven GSP's in Springfield, WV. Cleo also had a very hard retrieve but handled it wonderfully.
Piper on Point
Another pic of Piper doing her thing
Piper and Bruce after she earned her SH title yesterday
Yesterday compared today was a walk in the park. We were once again paired with a handsome GWP who was 14 months old. Both Cleo and the other pup ran big. We worked our way through the back field with little issues. Jim did a great job of keeping Cleo out of trouble and we were feeling great by the time we hit the bird field. Little did we know it would be a stressful disaster.
Cleo's brace mate today....love that face
Cleo on point in the bird field
Cleo's entered the field and quickly went on point. Jim positioned the gunners, flushed but no one shot!! We all stood there and watched the bird fly away. The judges yelled for the gunners to shoot but by the time the safety's where off the bird was too far away. So Cleo had to do it all over again. They put out another bird, Cleo found it, Jim positioned the gunners, he flushed, they fired and Cleo held. Perfect right? Then Jim released Cleo and she went in for the retrieve. As Cleo closed in on the shot bird her brace mate knocked its handler down in the most dramatic fashion I have ever seen and took off after Cleo. When it got to Cleo it ripped the bird out of her mouth and brought it to its handler.
Cleo's retrieve gone awry
The judges had never seen anything of the sort so they decided that they would put another bird out for Cleo and we would have to go through the whole scenario again. Three's the charm right? Meanwhile if Cleo messed up on any of the retries she would fail. Talk about stressful. Jim watered her before her next run and I'm pretty sure he had a quick come to Jesus speech with her. They put out another bird and we went through it all again. The other handler literally laid down on top of his dog. Lucky for us three times straight Cleo did wonderful. She stayed steady and retrieved to hand. Yay Cleo!!
Cleo bringing her bird to hand to Jim!
Aside from our dramatic final brace the entire weekend was a great time. We had a blast hanging with Bruce on Saturday and with our friend Rafael on Sunday. Raf ran one of his Llewellyn Setter's today for the first time ever in a hunt Test. His setter ran a senior hunt brace with a Spinone which was interesting to watch since I have never seen a Spinone run. They definitely beat to their own drum. See below for some pics.
Caleb on point
On the go!
Overall it was a great weekend. This coming Wednesday we get our long awaited puppy from Nobelles Kennel in Ridgewood, NJ!! Yay!! I can't wait. So not only will we have our goals to work toward with Cleo but we will have a NAVHDA Natural Ability Test and a AKC JH title to work towards for the new pup. So stay tuned next week for puppy pics and be sure to find us and like us on facebook!