Storm earned both her AKC Junior Hunter title and her HRC Started Hunter title over the last couple of weekends.  However in true Chessie fashion, Storm passed them with a sense of drama!

Storm Bringing Back her Bird
Storm Bringing Back her Bird

The first test on Saturday was an AKC test set up in a level cut grass field.  There was a smallish island of trees about 75 or so yards out.  The first bird was thrown next to a small clump of grass.  Most dogs didn’t have any issue with the first mark.  A few of the birds landed inside the clump of grass, but still the dogs were able to find it.  There wasn’t much wind on this day so the dogs didn’t get a lot of help with the scent.   The second bird was thrown in front of, and to the side of, a tree.  For some reason many of the dogs were drawn through the trees and far behind the mark.  If the dog made it behind the island of trees, there was a big field  for them to run around in.  All the handler could do was to hope the dog circled back to find the bird. Some handlers were forced to direct (or handle) the dog to the mark.  Luckily Storm is a good marker and she went directly to both birds.

The drama came in when Storm went to pick up the birds.  Over the summer she has started to pick up her birds up very slowly. She has also developed a case of the dropsies.  While these can be forgiven at the junior level, it won’t fly at the next level.  Plus it creates drama for her handler and for some of us in the gallery and makes us quite nervous.  🙂  We plan to do a lot of drill work with her over the winter to reinforce her fetching and holding.  Despite her dropsies she passed the land part of the test and was called back to water.

Here is a video of her land marks.  The gallery was a quite a distance away so Storm is a brown streaking dot.   It is a bit hard to see her in the video so click the icon to make the video full screen.  You can see how the test is set up and there is bonus commentary from the gallery. 😉

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPAF_J-_1yM]

The water test that afternoon was fairly straight forward.  It was a rectangular pond with a mark right and left.  The first mark required a long swim.  Storm went right to it, but on the way back she decided that she would bust through heavy cover on the bank rather than swim all of the way back to her handler.  More drama!  Luckily she didn’t drop the bird and her second retrieve was fairly uneventful….so she passed!  Only one more leg for her JH title!

Sunday First Land Mark
Sunday First Land Mark

The next day the land test was quite interesting.  It required the dogs to run down a hill and into a partially mowed field with tall weeds and lots of goldenrod.  The handler was also required to sit on a bucket to send the dog about 40 yards for the first mark and about 75 yards for the second.  I was too far away to get pictures of the dogs, but I was able to get a picture of the field.  (In all of the pictures, the orange arrow is approximately where the dog is when sent and the red arrow is approximately where the bird  lands.)

Storm did fairly well on this test despite all that was going on in that field.  Again she was not as crisp to return as we would have liked, but she did fine.  So on to water…..only two more retrieves for title!  The water portion was held in what is referred to as a “stick pond”.  This means there are a lot of dead branches and trees.  Storm’s first mark went a bit astray and landed not far off the bank.  No problem for Storm because she has someone (me) who often throws her marks astray.  The second mark was just off a submerged tree.  Storm marked it well, but on her way out found a submerged log and just-couldn’t-resist climbing on top and balancing like a circus animal with all four of her paws on the floating log.  Of course when she jumped off, she lost the bird in the  splash.  She had to swim around, past the floating log and find the bird.  Finally she returned to her handler and she earned her Junior Hunter Title….despite the drama!

Sunday First Water Mark
Sunday First Water Mark

The next weekend was a set of “Started Hunter” tests.  It was difficult to get any pictures of dogs running these tests.  I was able to get a picture of  how the land test was set up was on Sunday, (which was very similar to the JH test a week earlier with areas of cut grass and weeds).  I also got a blury picture of Storm streaking back with her bird.  There was less drama than the previous weekend, however Storm did decide that she needed to pull a few feathers out of her first bird of the weekend before returning it to her handler.  Drama Queen!  A bit of drama not of Storm’s making happened when her first mark on Sunday landed behind a shrub. This is usually called as a “no bird” in HRC tests, but it wasn’t on this day and Storm was sent and went right to it (almost making a 90 degree turn) and scooped it up and brought it back.  She did drop it on the way back, but that was only because she was running so fast!

Storm finished the weekend by being awarded her “Started Hunter” title.  In HRC when a dog titles they dump water over the handler.  On the day Storm titled, the judge decided that dumping water was not enough….it was such a nice day, why not push the handler in the lake!  Yep, Storm’s handler had a nice dunk and for a minute, I thought Storm was going to join him!  HRC really is a fun set of tests with lots of laughing as opposed to the more formal AKC Hunt Tests.

HRC Started Land Test
HRC Started Land Test

Storm has one more test for this season.  She will be running in the Working Dog stakes at the Chessie National Speciality.  It is similar to the “Started Test” but with some live shot birds. Thunder will also be running.  He will be trying the next level which requires double marks rather than single marks.   Hopefully both will do well and there will be lots to tell from the Specialty, but no drama!