a registered VDD kennel
The real hoot came in the field on the second day. It had rained lightly over night and there was a moderate wind from the northwest. The area had produced a lot of hare the day before, such that the dogs were done with tracking by 11am. However, the hare didn’t return to these fields as expected and it was slow going. By 10am (having started at 8), Olaf had not yet tracked his first hare…but he heeled and remained pretty calm as other dogs did get their chance to track. Just as the head judge said that we would be next, a hare jumped right in front of us. I managed to “halt” Olaf to the ground and cover his eyes, but the scent was coming right at him and he was “wired” from the git go. I led him to the “Sasse” (where the hare had started) from the downwind side, and he immediately took the track at hypersonic speed. He jumped a drainage ditch, ripped across a dirt, freshly disked, field, through a heavy patch of weed and low brush cover and disappeared. The next time I saw him he was streaking down the edge of a green grass field 600 yds away. I was blown away….second hare track the dog had ever down and he was nailing it. About 8-900 yds out he lost the hare….searched a few minutes and then came running back to find me.
About an hour later he did the same thing on a second hare…..which ran 6-700 yds and through a neighboring barnyard. Again the dog nailed it….every direction change, at top speed, only this time he opened up in a nice steady “tongue” as he ran. The judges later commented on this loudness as being what is hoped for…not over excited…just steady and persistent. Again he came back directly on the run a few minutes after the loss.
Around 1pm, the judges announced the scores for the track and two dogs got a 12….Olaf was one of them. Now I realized we had something pretty special going. I felt the search and pointing would show his strengths, but I put that out of my mind because I didn’t want to get complacent.
The judges took us to fresh ground…there were just acres of grassland with hedgerows or ditches surrounding the open areas. When it came my turn, I released him and was prepared that the judges might not care for the bigger search that Olaf usually puts down. Indeed within a few minutes, he was covering the entire pasture left to right…but we had some luck….he stayed within the boundaries set by the deep drainage ditches. I continually walked away from his casts, such that he shortened up realizing that I would be walking away from him. The judges fired the two required shots (looking for gun sensitivity). Again some luck…Olaf turned toward the gun and raced in front of me looking for a fall…I should have thanked the gunner. For the US, his ground search would be termed a close working dog…80-100 yds left and right…and I knew that most judges would be looking for a closer working, active dog. I was prepared to lose a couple of points…but then we had some more luck. Olaf’s next field search was in heavy weed and grass bordered by scrub trees and water on one side. He chopped his search down to 40-50 yds because of the heavy going and because there was a lot of scent (pheasant).
He pointed hard in front of the judges and then relocated on a moving cock bird. The head judge asked if I could pick him up so that another dog could be brought from the other end of the line to work the bird. I held up my hand, “whoaed” the dog and hooked him up. 30 minutes later he did the same on another pheasant…pointed and relocated and I hooked him up. He didn’t find any birds on his next chance but a roe deer did jump in the field ahead of us. He didn’t see it jump but he sure did get wind and started to accelerate. I hit the whistle and he dropped to the ground and I hooked him up. The last opportunity to point game came along a long hedgerow. Again right in plain view of the judges he “snapped” a point and then relocated very carefully as if something were moving in the hedgerow. The judge on the other side called out “Kanin” (cottontail) and I was asked to try to get the dog snapped up. I hit the whistle but this time he was real slow getting down and I had to hack him a bit till I could get to him and put the lead on. The pheasant were harder to find this day and the judges spent a lot of time making sure every dog got multiple chance on wild game. Indeed one dog that was not as prone to point was given 4-5 searches and was largely the reason that we were walking until 5:30 that afternoon.