a registered VDD kennel
First of all...I want to give a HUGE shout out to the organizers, land and leaseholders (Revierinhaber), the judges and all those that helped put on this year’s Hegewald. This is an enormous undertaking...on both days there were 30+ teams of judges, as well as many helping in the fields and at the water. Can't say enough about how thankful we all were to these folks and Group Ostfriesenland/Nordoldenburg should be proud of their success.
I arrived 6 days early and stayed with Olaf’s breeder, Antonius Kohues. Although Olaf is out of our own Katja, the litter was bred by Antonius because there was no interest in the breeding here in the US. I know he wanted the breeding for himself as well, but I am very happy he set Olaf aside for us. I worked Olaf some in the water and in the field. There were also a few hare on Antonius’s property. After Olaf’s first hare track, Antonius said we didn’t need any more. Yes the dog had nailed it for 250-300 yds, but I was nervous that one hare track wouldn’t be enough…however, I took his advice. For the last several days, I had him on a long lead and we practiced “halt” when a hare or roe deer would run…had fun doing some directional drills…and looked for pheasant on the farm. The day before we left for the registration, I took Olaf for a walk off lead in the early evening. I came around a corner to find him hard on point on a roe deer 75-80 yds away. I was able to whistle him down and snap him on the lead…..I felt we might be ready. Again, thank you to Antonius and his wonderful lady Regina for the hospitality and great company.
Registration was not just about the paperwork but more of a huge meet and greet…almost like a homecoming for some and the start of a new adventure for others. Margaret and I saw a lot of the faces we have met over the years in Germany. The sense of excitement and expectation was palpable. That evening there was a buffet after which the water and field assignments for the two days were passed out. I found our starting number and referenced the group assignments and locations. Dan Ritter explained to me how it was all going to work and I was now doubly thankful I had rented a car with navigation.
I got up at 5:30 Thursday, grabbed a quick breakfast and drove the 25 miles to the meeting point. We started Thursday the 19th with water in the morning and the breed show evaluation in the afternoon. Weather was good..45 degrees and a little light rain in the morning. The dog had no issues with the water sensitivity or the blind retrieve. We had prepared for blinds out to 100 yds, so the distance wasn't an issue. However, the duck wasn't in the water but resting on the heavy vegetation along the edge. So I sent him on a line downwind of the bird and he zeroed right in on it. The water for the duck search was narrow and long...maybe 40 yds by 200 yds. There was very thick vegetation all around with some lily pads. Olaf was dog # 6 so there was plenty of scent on the water, not only from the test ducks but from wild ducks that had also come off the water. I sent him on a line to the far shore where the judge indicated the duck had gone. He veered upwind when he got to the far side and worked 30-40 yds along the shoreline but then turned and went downwind for 70-80 yds. I could see that he had picked up scent. He then spent several minutes in a small area trying to figure out where the duck had gone. Turns out that all the previous ducks had gone through this little channel. After quickly sorting out a few false leads, he went up on shore and disappeared in the heavy cover. We could hear him working away from us on the opposite shore. He paused in an opening right in front of the judges and went hard on point. He released and disappeared again. We could hear him in a backwater. Several minutes later, he reappeared with the duck, very much alive, and made another nice delivery. So far so good...
The breed show was a cut and dry affair...judges pointed out some flaws in his conformation as well as how his coat could be better....I agreed with all of it but was happy with 11/10 which was about what I expected. I felt like I had walked, trotted and run the dog for a half hour…over the uneven ground in the field. At the end they asked me just to let him off the lead and watched him move freely as I called him back and forth across the field. They suggested I enter him a second time when he is more mature, feeling that he might be able to improve his evaluation.