The Journey Concludes

The last time we talked about the journey towards a title that my dog and I were on I said that the next attempt, after our failure at the Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area in Virginia,  was going to be with the Sandhills Pointing Breeds Club in Jackson Springs, North Carolina.

  My dog and I went to a test in the fall. We met some wonderful people and enjoyed some nice conversation with a lot of bird dog people. Our turn came to run and I was pretty optimistic about our chances. I was really surprised that my dog developed a “cat walk” instead of a run during this test. This combined with the fact that he didn’t want to turn up into the bird field meant that he went birdless again. I was pretty surprised and upset. So I was on the verge of saying that this was our last attempt because he has gone bird less in two tests.

 I decided that I was not going to worry about the title anymore and just hunt with him. That is exactly what we did. We chased wild birds in the area and in new spots that we never went to. We went to the few preserves that we have shared with you already. Somewhere in the middle of the season he started to handle really well. At the preserves he was finding the birds pretty fast and holding them until I got there. This improvement got me thinking that we should try to finish and not quit on something that we had started. This, to be honest, was more for me than him because the pup doesn’t know one way or the other if he has a title or not. It was bothering me that he didn’t do well when I know that he is a better dog than we had shown our last two times under the judges.

 As the season was starting to wear on I start checking the AKC website to see when there are some tests at Sandhills. In my research, which sounds harder than it is, I find that Sandhills and the Greater Charleston Weimaraner Club were running tests back to back over one weekend. I decided that we were going to run in three test in the one weekend. It was we were going to get all three or we were not going to get the title but either way this was the last time I was going to attempt this with my current hunting partner.

 After the formalities of entries and money are taken care of it is time to go to the club and get ready to run. We arrive mid morning in time to check in and watch a few braces. I go to the truck get Cash out of his box and put the yellow collar on him because he is the bottom dog on the brace sheet and he is running with another setter.

We make our way to where we meet the judges. One of the judges is the judge that we ran under in the fall. I am not really worried but it will be nice to get a little redemption. As we make our way to the break away we get last-minute instructions and tell us to let them go. Cash immediately starts that catwalk thing that he has been doing since the last time we were here. He moves like this down into the back field until I can get him turned and then he starts to move out. I am relieved that he got into a run. We start to head up into the bird field and he gets a point. I flush and shoot the gun and he chases and I call him off and now he is running flat-out like he usually does. We get two more birds and the judges call time. I collar the dog and move off the field.

 This club is pretty efficient about getting the scores to the secretary and she does a wonderful job in getting them recorded and rosettes ready to be awarded. That being said by the time I get Cash watered and in the truck the secretary is coming out of the building with a rosette and score card for Cash and I. He gets all eights and now we are halfway to the goal. I am happy and feeling good.

Cash’s first rosette

Everyone breaks for lunch and it is barbecue chicken and the clubhouse has two long tables for everyone to sit at. It is a little cramped but it makes people have conversations and be social. Lunch was quick but it was full of laughs and conversations.

  In the afternoon we don’t have to wait all day for our brace. We go through the same routine as the morning and are running under two different judges this time. Cash was the topic of conversation amongst the judges because of his catwalk because the judge say “ this is the dog they were talking about” This time he is moving quicker and gets into a run a little quicker than last time. We do the back field and head up into the bird field. Time is ticking by and we haven’t found our bird yet. At about the twelve-minute mark he goes on point. I flush the bird and am pretty relieved. Time gets called and I start to make my way back to the truck. We stop and talk to people and before we get to the truck the secretary comes out with another rosette for us. The scores are two sevens and two eights. Not as good as the morning but he did get the pass. Now we are only one run away.

  We have the rest of the day to relax and even take in a senior brace to see what they are about. I make arrangements with the caretaker of the property from the club to set my truck under their pole barn so I can set my tent up in the back and stay on the property overnight. He says no problem so at the end of the day I pull the truck in and set up camp for the night.

 The next morning finds us up early. We pack up camp and pull out of the pole barn and have breakfast before anyone shows up. I am feeling a little anxious about our run and decide to take him for a walk at the end of a cord and listen to the world wake up. The birds that weren’t killed the day before start sounding off and there is one in the field that we are walking in. So before the sun comes up I get a point at the end of a cord. Nice way to start the day.

 This day doesn’t start as smooth as the one before. The Greater Charleston Weimaraner Club had a few people show up late and then some people scratch. All the organization goes out the window and Cash and I are asked to run first. I say no problem and we get ready to run. We make our way to meet the judges and are receiving instructions when the field marshal comes up and says that the original first brace is here and they are going to go. So we go back to the truck find the new running order and discover that we are now the last brace of the morning when we were the in the middle originally. No big deal we just have to wait. So we wait and watch people run their pups.Then the time comes for us to run.

  We get our instructions, move to the break away and turn them loose. Cash starts at a trot and then I turn him and he takes off the way he usually hunts. It is nice to see him run and hunt when he is moving like I know he can. We start in the back field and he goes on point. I get the judges attention and then flush the bird.  I call him off the chase and as he moving towards the bird field. I feel the pressure off because he got his bird and now he is hunting and handling really well. On the way to the bird field he retrieves three dead birds. One to me and two to the judges. They were  impressed by that and even commented on it.

 In the bird field he is hunting hard but the brace mate has found a few  birds before him and he is not finding anymore. So we continue and just as the judges call time Cash goes on point. The other dog comes over and tries to steal the point. This is alright because time is up. We collar our dogs and then head out of the field.

 We are heading back to the truck and get caught up in a conversation outside the main building. The secretary comes out with a rosette for us and I am pretty excited. This is the last run that he needed to finish and now we are here. His score card is three nines and one ten. The best scores of the weekend. Judges even compliment him by saying that he is a nice dog. The secretary after learning that this was his finish comes out with another rosette congratulating us on the new title.

 After calling the wife and sharing it with her and describing the final run we head out to make the drive home. During the drive home I start thinking that I am glad that I didn’t give up on getting this title and that we finished what we started and what we need to do over the summer to get ready for Senior Hunter next year.

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