By Owner Cristi Theriot:
What a weekend. Two blue dogs and myself loaded up in a truck and drove 13 hours to Missouri. NAVHDA Test was in Huntsville, MO. Saturday was the day of competition for the other levels. After all the dogs finished, I was able to take Covey for a run in the bird field. I was hoping she’d get a sniff of a Chuckar. She had never seen or had that scent. That fun run was great exercise for her to get that edge off. She was acting weird during the day, so I thought it was from the long car ride. Got to the hotel that night…drops of blood was on the hotel bed. To my horror she was now officially in heat. Very glad that hunt events allow you to run bitches in heat. Your dog just has to be the last dog so that the scent does not distract the others.
Sunday morning has finally arrived. I probably needed something stronger than coffee that morning. The day is scheduled to be Hunt, swim, and end with tracking. First dog on the line for the hunt portion was at 7:30am. The damp grass was perfect for holding scent. Cool crisp air allowed the dogs to stay cool. Staying cool allows the dog to use their nose instead of panting. Remember the fact I’m the last dog now?? 11:30am was dry, warm and no air. Everyone is now wearing t-shirts because its so hot. The ground is so dry you can wear tennis shoes in the field!! I brought two bottles of water for Covey when it was her turn.
As we wait our turn, I found a few chuckar feathers to which I let Covey play with. Judges wave us to the start. Heart is pounding. Held only by her collar, I release Covey with the command “birds.” We barely took 10 steps and she points. The judges chuckle and say thats empty, but nice point. Up pops a chuckar. I knew there was one, cause I TRUST my dog. I saw her body language. “Boom! Boom” Gunfire- Not a problem. Head Judge says, “This is going to be something. Three birds in less than five minutes.” I just smiled. I heard comments the entire hunt about how intense, the speed, the range she has is remarkable. She ended with same amount of speed and range as she started with. That shows she is fit and conditioned nicely. Covey got so many birds that they ran out of room on their judging paper. They seriously said that out loud. We ended that portion with Lets Chase Covey. Oh yes, my dang dog would stop just out of reach. She knew we had to stop hunting and she wasn’t done! Took about three minutes for us to catch her.
Next test is the swimming. The judges immediately started the swimming portion right after Covey’s hunt. Covey had just enough time to cool off (twenty minutes) then it was her turn to swim. We get to the pond which was in the middle of our hunt field. Yes, the same bird field we just finished running in!!!! Of course I dont even think of that fact till later. She swims after her first bumper with ease and confidence. I catch her, and toss another bumper. She goes to it, but she keeps watching the judges behind us. Her feet didnt leave the ground on that one. I throw a third bumper and Covey takes off across the field and begins hunting. Yes, my dog is probably two hundred yards away pointing and jumping birds. Thank goodness she never caught a bird. After finding three birds in ten minutes, we’re able to get her to come back and swim. This time the judge grabs a dead bird and throws it in the pond. She swims and gets the bird. As I’m about to reach for her, the judges surround us and she bolts with the bird in mouth. The head judge takes another dead bird and uses it as a lure to call her back to us. With all this said, I have NEVER EVER had this issue with her. I’m blaming this on her coming into season this weekend. Also, I believe the fact the pond was in the Bird field. The other dogs had hours to rest and calm down. She was still on a bird high. (yes, I’m making excuses for bad behavior. But is wanting to hunt a bad thing???)
After a short lunch break for humans, we’re headed out to another field. At this point, I honestly think we failed our test due to bad behavior. I kept a small hope. Now we have to track a pheasant. In my mind, I’m worried about Covey taking off , catching a bird and playing keep away from us. I’m thinking of backing out ,because I don’t want to allow my dog to develop this bad habit. A bad habit is not worth one title. A bad habit can absolutely set back your training for months and possibly years. I consult the judges, and the judges replied with “We are prepared for her this time.” Not sure what that means, I’m going to trust the judges. Remember, they are supposed to be there to help and want to see every dog be successful. With just my hand on the collar, I down Covey. She drops down and I show her the start line feathers. When I feel her pull hard, i release her. Heart in my throat, Covey takes off in the direction of all the previous tracks. I’m not cry baby but dang these NAVHDA test are making me one. I can feel my eyes welling up. I blink them back and take a deep breath. The judge beside me, pats me on the back. He tells me to relax and give her time. She looks like she is hunting, air scenting and having the best time. She never plays around- she is serious in what she is doing. Just not doing what we want her to be doing. after what feels like forever, she comes running back to me. To my joy, she does not come to me but hits the start line scent. Apparently this pheasant took a huge jump at the start. It didn’t leave a heavy scent path. She gets the path, and all business. The pheasant is never found. That’s not a bad thing in my eyes. Remember I’m worried, she’ll get the bird and take off with it. The judges tell me to call her. I call her and she comes to me wagging her tail. I leash her up and just want to sit on the ground and love on her for giving it her all.
End of the day…. Judges gather us around for the reading of results. Head judge steps up and says, “I got good news and bad news.” Last time I heard that, was at the NAVHDA test in Texas. Where I heard “Everyone passed but the weims.”
I was already thinking of the long drive home. Also, how I want to train so that Covey can earn her UT title. That will show them just how good she is. I believe in her that much. Judge smiles and says, ” Everyone passed. Bad news is not everyone got a prize 1″ I looked up from my seat and saw the judge who told me to relax in the track test. He is looking at me and smiles when he sees my surprise. I was so shocked!!!
- Use of Nose 4
- Search 4
- Pointing 4
- Swimming 2 (they used a bird so that’s an automatic prize 3)
- Tracking 2
- Desire to work 3
- Cooperation 2
- Total 90 pts Prize 3
I don’t care if it was prize 3 or 20. I just care that we passed.
Remember those tears from that tracking portion? I sat in my truck and cried tears of joy. I gave 100% of my all to prepare us for this test. Covey gave me 100% of her all. We can’t help that she came in season. The judges gave me lots of training tips. They also made me promise to go after Utility and to look into field trials. Now we have to survive heat cycle, and make new goals.
Covey, Blue Rivers First On Point, NAIII
Cooper, Cmt Working Man Blues, JH, RAE, Ax, AXJ, OF, NAP, NJP, CGC