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Portland Labrador

Porter's Master Hunter Tests

Greater Pacific Northwest Retriever Trial Club - August 2008 Test

This was our last chance to get a Master pass this summer.  It was a goal that I was hoping we would achieve, but get a pass or not, I had enjoyed training Porter, he got his Senior title this year, and a Master pass would have been the icing.  That said, it wasn't needed for me to know he's a great dog and his biggest detriment is...oh yeah...that "green as a tomato worm" he's got for a handler...me. 

The first series was a land triple with a double blind.  The two birds are coming out of a flowerpot between 2 o'clock and 3 o'clock and the other bird is a shot flyer at 12 o'clock.  I can't recall the exact order.  I am pretty sure the right hand bird (left to right from flowerpot blind) was the first bird down, but can't recall if the flyer was second or the go bird.  Either way, Porter picked up all three birds without causing me too much angst.  :)
The first blind was past the fall of the flyer, at about 11 o'clock from the line.  The second blind was under the arc of the middle bird.  Porter got both blinds without too much trouble and I was feeling pretty good. 
On to the second series!
The second series was a water double, with a bulldog on the way back from the left hand bird.  The first bird down was across a corner of water and would test if the dogs were cheaty or not.  The second bird down was across the canal at 12 o'clock from the line. 
When the dog was on it's way back from the left hand mark, a shot is fired and a diversion bird (bulldog) is thrown.  The dog must ignore it, return with the mark, and then go back for the diversion bird.  Since the dog is sent from a different spot than where the bird was thrown, it is not counted as a mark and you can handle with no detriment to your score.
Porter came to the line, watched both marks fall, and was sent for the left mark.  He got it and was on his way back when he got "bitten" by the bulldog.  The bulldog was a hand throw and some were a few yards to the right of the dog, some a few yards left of the dog, but Porter's was one of those few that were a yard or two right in front of the dog.  Porter's diversion bird landed directly in front of him with a splash and before I could even inhale to blow my whistle, he had switch birds and we were done.  Bummer.
While I would have preferred to NOT be out, I knew coming into Master Tests that we were a little early in our training and we would run into concepts that we hadn't trained on yet.  While we had done work with diversion birds, we hadn't done anything with an in-your-face bulldog.  Of course, Murphy's Law made sure that we had the one that landed in Porter's face.  Porter didn't know to NOT grab the bird.  Of course, over the next six months we revisited this concept multiple times and now he will come back with a bumper in his mouth and ignore a fresh shot flyer bouncing off his nose.
On a bittersweet note, we ran as test dog in the third series (a water triple with a shot flyer and a double blind) on the platform pond and he did well enough to have passed (if we weren't already out, that is).  He did good on the marks, one whistled the first blind, and the got a little loose on the second blind.  I asked the judge if we would have passed and he said the dog did fine but he would have marked D.A.H. on his judges sheet (that would be Dumb Ass Handler, in case you didn't know).
So, I felt that Porter and I were clearly ready and able to run Master tests.  And after another Winter of training and Porter getting older, we could hit the ground running in the Spring...

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