Yesterday was probably the wettest Saturday of the year raining from early morning till nighttime. Strong winds caught us too and I had planned to participate in a working test in Lochem organized by the Golden Retriever Club Nederland. I was the first time Flatastic Red Strength “Lotte” was out in a competition on her own. Up until now I had entered both siblings in exams but for workingtests one can only bring one dog of ownership.
In the Netherlands the working tests are seperated in two styles (all on dummies):
1) the official Orweja Working test called OWT. These tests qualify for the IWT in the end. Here dogs must be completely quiet and very obedient and they must work very direct – not searching to wide or show too much own initiative. This style of working suits dogs with a lot of Will to please and handlers who like to train the details. The tests are judged by judges appointed by the Orweja organization specific for these tests. Levels are starters novice and open.
2) retriever working tests arranged by the breed clubs according to their conducts. These test are supposed to reflect a more practical oriented hunting situations- however the trend is that the challenges are becoming more a reflection of the imagination of those who design the tests than actual hunting situations. Nevertheless the competitions are often variated with lots of different accents including walk ups driven hunts marking searching and waterwork. The judges are appointed by the retriever breed clubs. The levels are C, B1, B2 and A (C being the lowest and A the highest). Here faults as sound and poor obedience will not result in failure necessarily but severe distraction in points. To obtain a certificate one must have at least 60 points according to most retriever breed clubs. This means one may “miss” one retrieve and still pass if the point are high enough.
Lotte and I had a nice day together – luckily the weather did not bother her a bit. Her coat kept her warm and dry and she did not hesitate to swim when given the chance. She was however a little bit distracted by the fact that she is in the middle of her phantom pregnancy. At times she looked at me as if she had no idea what was going on and I had to repeat cues which is very unusual for Lotte.
Unfortunately we missed our first retrieve – a sprayed dummy dragged in an open field with a cast from the forest with a gunshot fired alongside the forest in opposite direction of the placement of the dummy. That was simply to difficult for her to comprehend. She searched really well but not in the “right” place. I can certainly not blaim her – this situation reached far beyond our present training. I am right in the middle of teaching her to follow the shooters direction precisely and not the opposite. No sweats – the second retrieve from a free search was back within seconds.
The rest of the day was full of challenging retrieves – a partner walk up with shooters and driven hunts with semi blinds. Casting blind over water with distractions from a dummy trown earlier in the water alongside. Oh boy this test was really on the high end of what may be asked in a B1 level test.
I am very proud of Lotte that she managed to keep up with the high level – and I have a lot of new inspiration to bring to my training.
Thank you Josine and Mathijs for the layover and taking care of Kaspar and Rumi during the day. They had a marvelous time and it was lovely to be with you and Ragne again.