The land and water portions of Freighter’s second Junior Hunt Test were fairly straight-forward. In a Junior Hunt Test the single marks are set far apart from each other, usually at a 90 degree angle to one another. The land test was in a bowl-shaped field which required the dogs to go down a slight hill. There were mowed areas and some heavy cover, but the marks did not fall into the heavy cover, (or at least they were not supposed to). The wind was kind of swirling, but the test was set so that if the dogs got behind the mark, they could catch the scent and be pulled back toward the mark.
The dogs that had trouble on that first mark either did not drive out far enough through the medium cover or they got up on the ridge of the hill and never went back down into the “bowl”. Some gave up the hunt and came back to their handlers. Most dogs did fine on the second mark, but a couple just could not come up with it.
Freighter had a hunt on both of these marks. I do not think he has ever seen a field with quite so much going on. His first mark was right on the edge of a clump of heavy cover and his second was partially in the deep cover. No problem he marked both but got a bit out of line driving down that hill. The thing about hills, they can throw off an inexperienced dog’s depth perception and in a field like this with a lot of clumps of cover, they can all sort of look the same. But Freighter stayed with it and found both marks. The judges really liked the way he stayed with the hunt since he is so young. Unfortunately since the dogs were down in that “bowl”, I could not get any pictures of Freighter on land.
The water was very straight forward with a mark right and left in open water. Easy right? Not for a Chessie puppy. One thing that made this test a challenge for a dog like Freighter was that to get to the starting line. The dogs had to walk a long distance to the line and right past a gunner. This can bring up their excitement and stress levels. A young dog like Freighter doesn’t always have the maturity to deal with this situation and his handler said he was yawning quite a bit in the holding blinds and was a bit wild when the guns were going off. Plus now he has done a couple of tests so he knows that quack-quack-bang means a duck for him.
He did nice on the first mark. Hooked a bit on his return but did fine. But that last bird. Well let’s just say that is where work time turned into puppy play tine and all kinds of mischief! He was very slow returning to his handler and did not give up the bird as easily as he had been giving them up. He passed but we would like his return to be much cleaner so we scratched him for the test the next day. We will work on his return over the winter and finish up his title next year.
I got a few pictures of his water work from where we were watching far far across the pond.