Ride along to a NC Poodle club retriever trial, sit behind the duck blind and see what and who makes training for a Working Certificate possible!
QUACK AND SHOOT EVENTS!
Vickie Haywood, Dog Sports Editor
There are dogs events of all kinds across our great nation most weekends. Some are very large with entries over 3000 dogs, some are small with entries under 500. Most are AKC or UKC events but we have many other sponsoring organizations such as obedience, rally, conformation, agility, weight pull, Total Dog and field trials of every kind from setters to retrievers. More recently there’s dock diving, barn hunt, fast cat, and lure coursing...and TRICK dogs!!
What they all have in common is that some group of fanciers put this together for your pleasure. I have often remarked that so many people attend these various events but few actually know anything about how they came to be and what goes on behind the scenes. They would be amazed at the hard work that goes into making a successful field event and the sacrifices made by the dog club people who make it happen. I'm just going to throw out an example, telling on myself actually... and that's a duck call in my mouth.
Four weeks ago, I was stricken by a particularly vicious virus that turned into acute bronchitis-bronchial pneumonia. I was a very sick puppy for more than 14 days... 2 trips to the ER chest x rays and breathing treatments. 2 changes in antibiotics plus prednisone made me sick with GI issues. I turned the corner after the second round of medications but was utterly exhausted from it all...BUT my poodle club had an event coming up and I had a job to do. We are a small group and all our members are necessary to pull off these events but not every member has the ability to take time off from work. So I tried HARD to be what my members normally expect from me but sometimes the old body just refuses to cooperate...
Enter Working Certificate weekend in the wild and woolly boondocks of Snow Camp NC. We call it hunt test weekend... It really is not a hunt test at all but an instinct test, the low end of the rung of a testing ladder for our poodles. Poodles were bred to be water retrievers and breed instinct is part of true breed type that Poodle breeders and pet owners work to preserve.
Hunt Tests are where a lot of Poodle people start, to see if their dog can learn to take directions, is willing to find and pick up dead ducks, do so both on land and water, and deliver them to their handler just because we ask them to. From this low end beginning, many dogs go on to much higher training in formal events, some progressing to Junior, Senior and Master Hunter. My club has done this 23 times under Poodle Club of America rules.
So 5:30 am comes and I drag my pitiful self out of bed, exercise the dogs and climb into my car with equipment for the needs of the next 2 days. and drive off into the dark with the Garmin for directions as this is a place I have never been. Within an hour I am lost in the wilds of some county north and east of where I began! After making wrong turn after wrong turn I eventually arrive at the Hunt Test destination ... but by then I had a more imminent problem. I had taken a pain pill for my arthritis and was having an allergic reaction in the form of hives and itching...
That meant trying to obtain some antihistamine... in an RV park in the middle of nowhere! Eventually some was procured and eventually the itching subsided.
Over the next few hours, dogs were tested on land retrieves and then we moved on to the water. Yours truly was assigned to a duck blind on a hill overlooking the water where for the next few hours we quacked and shot and flung dead ducks out of wingers for the poodles to jump in and bring back! JOY!!!
Except not so much for me... after the illness that ravaged my body and the antihistamine for the pain meds...I kept falling asleep in the blind.
My blind mate would kindly wake me up when my time to do my thing was coming so I was getting little naps of about 4 minutes, then QUACK QUACK QUACK, fire gun, reload (poppers not real ammo) snap a few pictures, fall asleep in the sun. Repeat...
We finished up and had lunch and gave out pass awards. Then I began my trek home, another 2 hours behind the wheel and let me tell you it was a struggle. On top of everything else, I chose Turkey for my lunch (and we all know what turkey does...can you say lethargic?) and it was all I could do to get somewhere to purchase a Mocha Latte to get me home AWAKE!!!
Call Sunday a repeat, same getting lost but without the pain pill. I used a pain patch instead and I was not required to sit a blind but did have my duties as Duck Master to do. All in all one of the hardest weekends I have ever done for the love of poodles. Admittedly not done to my very best BUT I showed up!
I’m telling you this because my experience is NOT unique. Every weekend I am sure I could find a story similar to mine - some dedicated soul who went above and beyond call of duty to make sure they did their part for a dog club so that the people who paid the entries to participate had the weekend they expected. Dog people giving so that others had the opportunity to earn a point or a major, or gain a pass to a title.
Believe me, WE know how much is spent getting to and participating in these events but you the exhibitor need to recognize the same - the sacrifice and expense that is made to create dog shows, obedience trials, hunt tests and field work for your pleasure.
So next time, make sure you take a few seconds to thank a club member for putting on your favored event or better yet JOIN a club or group and give YOUR time to see that what you call your passion will continue to exist.
For my club, our WC WCX weekend is the time we get to see our beloved poodles begin the journey to becoming the breed they truly are...retrievers!!! The absolute joy of living the genetic makeup in action!! Yeah, quack and shoot and retrieve. Try it sometime!
Go to our facebook page to see many more pictures of our Central Carolina Poodle Club working retriever WC WCX weekend.