Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back!

There are several reasons for the long blog hiatus. The most important one is the fact that we were seriously hit by the global financial meltdown and things have come to an almost total halt here. One project has been cancelled entirely, the other one postponed, with no foreseeable re-start right now. The old villa, where I am living, will be finished in small steps and several items have been seriously cut down. However, taken as a challenge, it may be turned even into something positive. I will write about that later.

Another reason was the gundog trial season. After the Derby in spring, which is a mere test of the dog's genetic predisposition, it became obvious that I have hit a gold mine with that dog. At the website of the CanAm Deutsch Kurzhaar Klub (VCDKK) the German gundog tests are explained quite well, with a specific focus on the German Shorthair Pointer:
The Derby Test is a breed test along with a natural ability test. It is used to determine the puppy’s inclination in the most important field categories and to assess the breeding values of the puppy’s parents. This test serves its purpose best when on one hand the training and preparation of the puppy are sufficiently advanced to show his natural abilities, but on the other hand, the handlers influence does not overly cover or mask the puppy’s natural ability. From past experience, testing on the spring field best shows the dogs natural abilities regarding the acuity of nose, finding ability, a systematic scent-oriented and keen search, as well as pointing and relocation of feathered game.

The Derby training will be most successful when the puppy’s passion for rabbits and their tracks has been sufficiently restrained during winter and early spring so that its attention can be introduced to game birds when they start pairing in spring before nesting. Therefore, Derby does not require work on the rabbits track. However, an occasionally-shown manner of hunting and occasional very good work on rabbit track will be noted. Requirements for a Derby are large fields, containing a sufficient number of game birds. The parents' breeding values are easier to recognize by testing as many littermates as possible.

Beatrix, Barno and Byörn vom Moosbach at their Derby trial, two more littermates were tested as well, all ended up within the "first prize" range.

At that time it became obvious as well, that I had found myself in the situation of a not terribly competent driver who had ordered, in a fleeting mood of dash, a Golf Diesel, but was delivered a Ferrari. The breeder saved my sorry ass and trained the dog for the Solms, the equivalent to the HZP, the autumn breeding test of the gundog umbrella organisation, and the next step on the way up. He led him at the test as well. From the AmCan-website:
The Solms Test is a breeding test, an addition to and expansion of the spring Derby test. The purpose of the test, similar to the Derby, is to establish the level of the dog’s natural abilities in regards to suitability and future use in versatile hunting and breeding, as well as determination of the parents' breeding value. Particular attention is paid to mental stability. The young dog's training for practical use in hunting in field and water must be essentially completed by this time. The judges must be particularly careful to determine natural abilities that often are masked by the completed training.

Required for proper execution of the test are: large fields, containing a sufficient number of game birds and rabbits, and containing sufficiently large water area with ample reed growth. The recognition of the parents breeding value and that of the contesting dog is facilitated by testing as many littermates as possible.
Byörn (second from right) with four of his Moosbach B-litter mates, one from the Y- and two dogs from the A-litter. Another first prize! (A first prize in this context does not mean that the dog actually "won" the test, but that he ended up within a defined (high) range of marks.) Next to him is his litter sister Beatrix vom Moosbach. You could wear her as a trinket at a watch chain, but WOW! That little dog has the heart of a lion!

In the course of the training for the Solms, it turned out that Byörn was good enough to participate in the master-test for gundogs in Germany, the VGP, only three weeks later, a trial to which most dogs are exposed only a year after the Solms or HZP, if that young.
The Verbands-Gebrauchs-Prüfung (VGP) is the JGHV [i.e. the German gundog umbrella organisation] utility test. This two-day test is a comprehensive evaluation of the performance and capabilities of a fully trained versatile hunting dog. Rubrics include work in the field, water and woods. In addition obedience and cooperation are of utmost importance. Blood tracking is also an important part of this test. Dogs successfully completing this test are highly revered by hunters that hunt with versatile hunting breeds. VCDKK Kurzhaar Handlers are encouraged to make their dog’s successful completion of the VGP a personal goal.
Björni passed this test once again within the "first prize" range, his watch chain trinket sister Beatrix did not just that, but ended up as "Suchensieger", i.e. she got the highest total score PLUS the highest marks in the most relevant subjects of the test.

Richard Matt, the breeder of the peerless "vom Moosbach" dogs with Byörn and Beatrix at the VGP. Two VGP dogs, just 18 moths old, healthy and happy and at peace with the world.

Björni is retrieving the heavy fox over the obstacle, one of the make-it-or-break-it points at the VGP (they hate to retrieve the stinker), his leader/breeder watching to take it from him. The standard of obedience and cooperation those dogs have to meet is stunning.

Next weekend, I will lead my terrier in his "forest" utility test. That is a test not under JGHV rules, but by the state. It has no breeding implications but is a matter of legal requirements, insurance and all that. We have opted for the "forest" subjects, which include firstly tracking down, flushing and driving wildlife towards the guns, and secondly blood tracking. Blood tracking implies a 400m track that was laid the day before, quite a tough thing to do for a little dog who hasn't been bred for that purpose. General obedience and "Schussfestigkeit", i.e. proof that he isn't bothered by gunshots, are tested as well. If he doesn't pass, it will be due to my incompetence.

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