Team “Flabulous 3” WFRG team competition 28th of Jan 2023

Philip with Shadow Birgitte with Rumi & Frans with Jason photo kindly taken by Silvia Reinders
Team cap

Last autumn Philip asked me if I wanted to join him forming a team for the WFRG/GRV team competition in Oostvoorne. Later I joked with him that he might have bought a “cat in sack” as Rumi can be a bit unpredictable in competitions when in her hormonal stage. But nevertheless we had a team as Frans agreed to join with Jason and therefore we had a A B and C representation.

Our first post was a terrible start. Philip arrived late as he had to stop by the vet’s – Shadow had a sore paw due to a removed nail that was irritated. The vet concluded that moving would be a better medicin to get the irritation solved by the body itself. Jason got the first mark on shot in the forest and missed the mark on the field – we had positioned ourselves poorly and Jason got confused by our moving around. Rumi was send for a cast in the forest after Shadows retrieve and came back empty mouthed with an eye filled with blood. I did a quick check and send her on a blind that was returned. She was not in her best cooperative mood – I guess the irritation in her eye did not help.

Luckily Marinus Rooseboom (Orweja judge and veterinarian) was also in the ground and after rinsing Rumi’s eye we found the damage to be in the skin only and not in her eye. My stress levels were already climbing through the roof at that time.

2nd post the dogs were left to watch the previous team. Rumi’s speciality is to “count and remember birds” so this was really not in our advance – 6 retrieves – helpers all over the field – cold game in front of us on the grass. When I had to begin the blind cast passing two helpers – through some trees ending in a doorway of two dots of forest.. it cost a lot of handling.. but she ended up where I wanted her and she did not find the dummy. What a disappointment. Then I had to recall her passing one dummy and 2 doves in the field. Managed well – who would have thought. The second retrieve – a blind in the forest she missed too. She did not want to go searching in the forest – can you blame her with the eye experience?

I must say a team competition adds elements that one cannot predict on beforehand. Handling strategy as a team – coaching strategy – what is working for the individuals- reaction of the dogs on each other – time slot – lots of distractions – which plan B is chosen if a dog misses a retrieve etc etc. Even though we have trained together for a couple of times this was quite a thing to do in my experience.

When a competition goes worse than expected there are a couple of options to take. One can get really frustrated or you can choose to let go and fall back on doing your best. It is a mental game that takes practice and no one succeeds at once. I used this competition to practice resilience and patience and at the same time fighting as a lioness to keep Rumi in control.

Flatcoated retrievers have a reputation of being clever and filling in the blanks before a handler can even think of which blanks are present, some individuals have a strong mind of their own making it difficult to gain compliance. It was actually really interesting to see from a breeding perspective how the nuances are. Shadow for example is a very obidiant dog who thinks on beforehand and is relatively easy to convince of a plan B. He is not the fastest but he will not waist energy on a task he does not believe in. Rumi is a bit the opposite – she will run towards whatever she thinks is an option – feeling no harm in doing so. These characteristics are evenly valuable- they just ask different handling skills. This makes the breed so special in my eyes – so many different qualities mixed in one breed.

Many flatcoated retrievers are used as game dogs above competitions as the breed traits can be challenging in today’s requirements of control and obedience.

Rumi is being used for both – this does not favor the last and the amount of condemning words I have received is enormous. But I still would rather mentally “fight as a lioness” when she has these days than turning to violence in order to demand better control. It is a choice and on weak days I daydream.. what if I had done good obedience basics in gundog training with her from the beginning? What difference would it have made? Some say all the difference.. some say it is the character of the dog etc etc. Opinions are different-I will never really know I think.

So a lot of words on the less attractive parts of our team work.. Rumi did actually show a lot of quality in my eyes when looking in depth.

✅steadyness went a lot better than before. ✅ drag she did very accurate and ignored the water mark. ✅she kept working under my pressure and handling – did not go completely self sustaining

Philip and Shadow were the “rock of the team” – reliable and good for 90 points!

The rest of the day our team grew and luckily Rumi was able to do a bit better than how we started off – some of the blinds were actually a lot further way and more difficult than we are training at so that fueled my optimism.

Philip was absolutely our ground with Shadow who calmly and steadily got all his retrieve back.

Jason and Frans had a rough start too but boy did they grow together. The retrieves were far beyond c level and Jason’s adventures nature went from being loose headed to focusing more and more and the dummies kept coming back to the hand. Our hilarious moment on the last post when Fran’s’ mobile phones kept ringing and he was distracted-Jason remained steady while the other team was working. Bravo – so proud of them two!

Me enjoying Fran’s and Jason’s moment of contact and perfect delivery of Shadow.

Thank you Philip & Frans for our team experience

Thanks to Silvia Reinders for all the great action shots – thanks to WFRG & GRV – helpers and volunteers for a great start of the 2023 season.

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