We went home that night and I was not sure he would be able to physically run the test the next day. I suspected he would be "stove up" from all the exercise the day before and would be too tired to go. This morning when I got up, he was dead asleep on his bed, calling his name finally got him up. He seemed in good shape and was waiting out by the door ready to go. When we came into the field today, the scent conditions were better. When I cast him out to "huntem up"- his pace was much faster and his quartering pattern was much better. It was like this old rusty dog had remembered the game and how it was played. He got his three flushes and retrieve and we were out of the field looking okay. Not perfect, but maybe good enough. The water series had two marks. One duck landed in the water and the other mark had the duck landing on dry ground. He would have to swim across the pond, climb out of the pond and pick the duck off the ground 10 or so feet back. Years ago this would have not have been a big deal, but it had been a long time since he had done this, and now much older there was a good chance he would not be able to do it. The birds were thrown and I sent him for this duck on land. He was looking good till he came to the pond bank and he started looking for the bird short of the land. After waiting to see if he could figure it out I decided to give him a cast to the bird. One toot on a whistle means sit/stay and turn and look at me. Since he was in the water, when he heard the whistle toot, he turned to see where I wanted him to go. I gave him a right "angle cast" and yelled " back", he turned right and climbed up on the bank and found the bird! He swam back across the pond delivered the bird and turned and stared out where he knew the other duck had fallen. The duck had floated 10 or so feet left of where it had landed so I had to "no" him off the original line of the fall and send him 10 ft to the left. He trusted my line and started swimming in the new direction. He made a few loops looking for the bird and finally scented it and picked it up. Two down and the "blind" to go. He was sent from the same place we had been, but this time he and I had to stand in some shallow water for him to take a good line to this blind. I cast him out and away he went, about 15 ft out, I blew the whistle and once he turned to look at me, gave him an " left over cast" , he took the initial cast but then started fading back right. (Most dogs will try to square back to the bank when they are swimming at an angle to the bank). Three more casts and we had our bird! Final part of this series he must honor another dog retrieving the ducks in the same test. I was nervous, since at this point he was pretty jacked up and ready for more ducks! (Not bad for a 12 year old dog!)The shots were fired and the working dog jumped in the water to get his birds. Peat stayed by my side, but he was ready to go! We were excused by the judge, our test was over and he had done good! Going on his instincts and those years of training had all come back to him to help him complete this test.
When they called his name out for earning an Upland Hunter Open pass, I can not say how grateful I was that he had come through one more time. I prayed this morning that he would have a good day. No expectations for a pass and ribbon, just that he would have fun and I would get a glimpse of the dog I had competed with many years ago. My prayers were answered and for that I will be eternally grateful! This evening, I sit in my office with my old warrior laying at my feet. We have been in many battles together. Today was one of the most fulfilling conquests we have ever made! Happy for today's success and sad because I know it was his final test.
Edited by sacsr, November 17, 2013 - 07:46 PM.