Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fourth Qual ribbon in a row for Laddie

Laddie competed in another Qual yesterday, and again completed the trial and came home with a ribbon, this time Reserve JAM in a field of 17 entries, six dogs finishing.

I'm guessing anyone who's interested knows what a typical Qualifying stake is like, but just in case that's not the case, here's what Laddie had to survive in this particular Qual:

Series A.  Land triple with flyer as go-bird.

Series B.  Land blind with line running "behind the gun" of the previous stake's flyer station, though all of the equipment had been removed (thank you, judges).  Suction of duck scent a significant factor.

Series C. Water blind.  Line to blind had no landings until far shore, but went past a point on the left, then an island on the right.  The island was surrounded by shallow water, which can be major suction to pull the dog onto the island and around to the back.  That would put the dog out of sight, technically "out of control", and generally results in the dog being dropped (happened to one of the nine dogs who made it to that series).  Note that judges expect handler to "challenge the blind", which I decided in this case to mean that you might get dropped if you played it safe and kept the dog well away from both landings.  Instead, I let Laddie roll toward the point, then stopped him and cast him around it when he got fairly close.  Additional challenge on this blind was that bird was planted at top of dike, so dog had to push thru reeds at water's edge and up hill, without getting diverted to planter's holding blind behind reeds on right side.

Series D. Water triple with honor.  Though no gunners retired, the test dogs and 3-4 of the working dogs who got to the fourth series, including Laddie, never saw the middle throw.  They watched the long throw on the right, then for some reason turned to the short left station to watch for that throw.  Gunfire was not enough in those acoustics to draw their attention back to the middle gunner when he threw.  To deal with that situation, you had to run the middle mark, past the island, as a blind, as either the second or third retrieve.  If you were lucky, you wouldn't have to handle, and the dog would swim past the island to the blind.  In Laddie's case, he thought I was sending him to the island and I did have to handle, hence the RJ rather than, perhaps, a placement (none of the placements handled).

As you probably know, distances on field trial retrieves are generally considerably longer than other US retriever competition venues.  The water blind yesterday, for example, was around 210y, with 180y swimming.

Laddie now has ribbons in four successive trials: RJ, JAM, JAM, RJ.  Not bad for a Golden (all the placements in yesterday's Qual went to Labs).  Also not bad for an amateur owner/trainer/handler (three of the placements went to pros).   Even one FT ribbon is precedented, to my knowledge, for a dog trained without physical aversives.


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