We passed the field stage, and the hunt-dead stage, but failed at the water retrieve. She went into the water, swam to the bird, nosed it then turned around and came back to the shore.
Now that I have THAT out of the way:The weather was picture perfect for a spaniel hunt test; misty-rain, wet dogs and waxed cotton.
The field consisted of a rough section, maybe 3-5 acres in area. Two gunners on either side, and a couple of chukka salted throughout the length. If I had to critique I'd say:
- The guns were not having their best day. I can imagine how it feels to miss that first bird knowing that everyone is watching you, not to mention that the dogs performance is hinged on your performance.
- The field was the same for all the stages: junior, senior, and master. This means that the field was a probably a bit saturated with both dog and bird scent. (TO BE FAIR-the weather predicated this decision, and I don't question the judges. It's a critique, not a criticism)
We worked the entire field with no finds. I have to say-she looked great and I felt good about the way she was covering the ground. Everyone, including the judges, thought she was running really well. But like I said, no finds. Maybe it took her running the field to work out a little energy. The judge called us back to the beginning and she ran the field again and came up with her two finds in textbook fashion:
I drove away from this test dejected. After all, we didn't pass the water retrieve. I could physically feel my body collapse a little when she refused that bird. I'm quite certain my family thought that I would go into a deep depression if we didn't pass this test. And maybe I would have a few years ago. But I'm a dad now-and I don't want my daughter to think that failure is when or why you quit anything. I want her to know that failure just shows you where you need to work on something. It's good to have failures occasionally, as it keeps things in perspective. Emmie's made that retrieve MANY times when we were in the field. I would have no qualms about taking her to the exact same pond, shooting a duck and know that she would retrieve it.
So what to do?
I'm an instructional designer and an educator. I see a performance gap and I intend to close it.