Keaton’s Journey to Master

Keaton and I finished our Senior Hunter title in July 2008 so it has been 2 years since we last played at a Hunt test. We were originally just planning on running as a test dog to get us back in the hunt test arena .The Hunt test was being held by my hometown club, The Backwater Retriever Club . It is the only AKC Retriever Club in Indiana and the grounds are about an hour North of Fort Wayne.
I decided with the encouragement of training buddies to just enter and “see what we have”. What’s 73.00 anyways?
It was held in mid-april after a long, cold winter and minimal training during Nov-Feb.The number of Master entries was large so they had it split into 2 sections.
We had great supportative judges, Blake Lemish and Chris Cornelius. The weather was cool, overcast and windy. Keaton was fired up and I was a trying to stay warm. The trip through the holding blinds was gearing Keaton up and I was too nervous to notice the one in charge was NOT ME!
It was a delayed triple. The marks were tight and the go bird was a flyer. They called us to the line. ┬áKeaton had “given me my walking papers” . He remembered this game so who needed me. The first bird goes up and he moves in front. Then the flyer is shot. He makes a break for the bird. Stunned, but not completely, I am able to get him back without picking up the flyer. That was it-we were out without a single bird picked up.
At a hunt test, you can NOT talk to your dog once you signal for the birds. At master, unlike senior there are NO controlled breaks. What a valuable lesson for me. 1.keaton needs a good controlled run before getting to the test 2. Train coming in and out of multiple blinds 3. Go and work on more steady drills.
I also got the opportunity to run as the test dog for the next series. I turned it into an “expensive training day” and worked on his steadiness and manners to the line. I also had the opportunity to watch alot of dogs and handlers run which was very helpful.
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