Months ago, when I first became a member of the Bluebonnet Poodle Club they were already well along in their planning of the Poodle Club of America Regional competition.
Sheree Melancon - who is the only current member of the club who actively participates in hunting events - volunteered to chair the WC/WCX test. After the remaining events were scheduled, and my participation in any performance events was ruled out, I volunteered to serve as Secretary for the event.
Bear in mind - I knew almost nothing about hunt tests, but I did know Sheree and knew that she would need help. At this point, I made it clear to Sheree that I would do whatever she needed - except to touch those Damn Dead Ducks - hereafter to be known as DDD. No problem - NOT!!!
Sheree did all of the planning and preparation, while I prepared the catalogs and mailings to the participants. I joined the hunting poodle group on Yahoo and began learning about marks, blinds, line manners and things I never even heard of.
Before I knew it, the morning of the first day of the event arrived, and Sheree and I were meeting at the site at 6 A.M. - not easy to do when the marquee lights at the property are not turned on, and it is so dark you can't see where to turn!
Judges, handlers, dogs and workers begin to arrive, and the judges go off to decide on the test. Meanwhile, everyone who knows me is commenting on my lovely camouflage outfit - $40.00 at Wal Mart. Hey, if I am going to be near those DDD, I don't want to ruin good clothes!
The judges have set the test, and the workers are given their assignments. What - you want me to THROW those DDD. Oh well, just smile and say ****.
Vicki, one of the judges, was kind enough to give me a crash course in duck tossing, and Sheree had a pair of gloves that went above my elbows. So, before I knew it, I was behind a blind preparing to throw bird #2 for the land portion of the WCX.
First dog to the line was Sheree's male - Bounce N Deaux Ray. He passed his WCX this year in Maryland and has his JH. The judges signal for bird #1 and I stand in the blind waiting for my signal to throw DDD #2. Suddenly, I hear Sheree - DEAUX RAY, NO!!!! So much for that WCX test, as Deaux Ray showed everyone how not to do it!!
Next was Bric A Black Jack, who successfully retrieved both of the land birds, and we were in business.
From my vantage point behind blind #2, I really couldn't see the course, but just see each dog as they came to collect the bird I had thrown. I understand it was about 50 yards from the line, and the first 45 or so were mowed grass, but I was to throw it into the heavier cover. The fifth dog failed to find my bird, and I was sent out to retrieve it - thank goodness for those Wal Mart boots. I took a lot of kidding when I had trouble finding that bird, I have no idea how some of the dogs were able to locate it!
Along came dog #7, CH Kallista's Silver Sails Aloft - otherwise know as Jib, the miniature poodle. Suzi and I had emailed back and forth and had spoken on the phone, so I was exited for Jib to participate in the event, and I was looking forward to seeing Jib work.
However, I did not really see Jib work on the land portion, as the grass in front of my blind where I had thrown the DDD was taller than Jib. I saw him enter the cover, the cover moved and out came this little dog with the big duck in his mouth. Jib was the 7th dog to run the WCX and five of the seven were to go on to the water portion.
The WC portion of the test was completed in short order with all three dogs being passed on to the water phase.
The pond had some pretty steep banks on the far side, so we were positioned on the far right side of the bank, and we were to be the memory bird this time. We switched gunners and I had a practice throw to get the DDD into the water, and we were off again!
Again, I did not have a very good view of what was occurring as the angle of the banks of the pond and the setup of the blind did not allow me to see the dogs retrieve the birds. I do remember seeing Mi-Ste's Meant To Be Bill come to the line. He just froze when Dennis told him to sit, and you could see him watch both of the birds land. Dennis sent him for the first DDD and then for the second. Success!!! Bill passed his WCX.
The next dog to run was Sherees' female - Leap N La Tee. Sheree has told me in the past that she did not expect La Tee to pass this WCX, but was giving it a try. La Tee went for the first water mark, and got a little confused. The fact that Sheree and I had intended to put up cones to block the traffic on the road and never did - that did not help La Tee one bit! The lady on the bicycle got an extra sniff, and La Tee got called back. No WCX today!
Next we had Mi-Ste's Zeke Wheel of Fire. Brenda tells me that she has some things to work on after this test - all I know is Zeke Passed!!!
Last in the WCX water portion was Jib. Both marks were in the water and Suzi sent him to get bird #1. Jib went for bird #1, and after a massive effort in the reeds, he returned the bird to Suzi. Now all he had to do was get the memory bird - just a few feet in front of me, but out of my vision. I heard Suzi send him, and waited for the splash - no splash - oh well, maybe he is too small to make much of a splash. So I peer out from the blind - and there is no dog in the water.
That is because he has run around the pond and is coming within just a few feet of me to go down the bank to get to the bird. Steep bank - little dog. He jumps in and goes for the bird. Gets it and Suzi calls him to bring her the bird. Instead, he makes a U-turn in the water and brings the duck back up the steep bank.
Then, he stops and turns to look for Suzi. He is looking right at me, and the sight of this little guy with the water logged duck that is twice his size is one I will not soon forget! Off he goes - around the bank again! Trips on a hole, flips over, drops the duck, jumps up, shakes, grabs the duck and heads off for Suzi again.
By this point, all in attendance are on their feet cheering the little guy on. Way to go Jib - miniature poodle - big heart - WCX!!!
In all, the WC had two dogs pass and the WCX had three.
Day two, different land portion, and a much bigger gallery of observers. Word had been spread about how much fun we were having - and about my lovely camouflage outfit!
The judges for this day had brought some helpers, so I didn't have to throw ducks. That was good since my arm was sore from the previous day of DDD throwing! Instead, I was assigned to monitor the traffic cones. Never let it be said that Sheree and I make the same mistake twice!
This time I was able to watch more of the test, and was thoroughly impressed. Deaux Ray, Zeke and Bill repeated the successes from past WCX tests. And, La Tee - when not faced with the lady on the bike - also passed. The guy in the Ford Diesel pickup truck may never be the same again, but La Tee Passed!!
That made a total of two dogs passing the WC on day two and four dogs passing the WCX.
Last event of the day was a puppy stake. One of the puppies - Max - belongs to Linda Thompson, a friend of mine, and is out of Grace Blair's Cosmic line. Sheree let him sniff the DDD and if he could, he would have picked it up. Instead, Dennis cut a wing for him, and the puppy stake began.
Sheree says to everyone lets demonstrate so the puppies and handlers know what to do. She gives Deaux Ray to me, walks a distance, throws the bird, and tells me to send my dog. Deaux Ray goes out nicely for me and retrieves the bird, turns to Sheree to bring the bird to her, and then realizes he is to bring the bird to ME!!
He returns to my side, heels beautifully, and presents me with a Damn Dead Duck. Where are those elbow length gloves when I need them?!!!
So, when all was said and done, I had a great time, and I touched a DDD!!!