I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment, so last year I entered as many hunt tests as I could consecutively run in order to get 500 points on my dog and receive the coveted "Free" HRC 500 point jacket. I nearly wore out a truck driving all around Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee chasing ribbons and points. In September of last year I reached my goal and my dog "Jack", HRCH 500 POINT CHAMPION Spann's Quacker Jack (please note that I have added the underlined portion to the official prefix to his name) earned his 500th point at the South Mississippi HRC Hunt test. We had a blast at the hunt test, use the search function and you can find my thread regarding the event. Anyway, as I sat there in South Mississippi on that beautiful Fall afternoon, immediately after Jack's 500 point run, I could hardly hold back the tears. It had been a long, tough journey to reach this milestone and the accomplishment seemed almost bittersweet. The only way to fight back the tears was by looking to the future with visions of several days afield with my faithful companion, performing like a finely tuned machine, and I would accompany him, my chest all swelled up with pride, almost to the point of bursting the zipper on my "Free" HRC 500 point jacket that I would most-surely wear on every outing. At that moment life was good.
Ever heard of the rocket/feather effect? Gasoline prices are but one example: prices skyrocket and then drift back down like a feather. Well in the dog games we sometimes encounter the rocket/feather effect. So it took me a couple of weeks after Jack's 500 point run to finally drift back down out of the clouds and fill out the required forms to get his 500 point certificate and my "Free" HRC 500 point jacket. That's when I discovered, much to my surprise, that the "Free" HRC 500 point jacket is not currently being offered!!!!! This news took the wind right out of my sails! It was almost like winning the lottery and being paid with an IOU! It appears that the HRC has chosen a Committee of members to choose a new and improved jacket and at some point in the future they will get the "new and improved" jackets out to those who have earned them. I have my fingers crossed and I'm hoping for the best however, I don't remember the last time I received something for free that was "new and improved".
I only reason that I escaped severe depression over the jacket was because my dear friend "Fishduck" had encouraged me to enter a Master hunt test, and I did so, therein lied the majority of my dog training/ hunt test-related thoughts at the time. So I arrive at the Master HT and I am marshaling a flight, no problem, been there, done that. THEN I'm asked to shoot flyers!!! Heck I would kill more ducks if I just threw rocks at them! Talk about putting pressure on a guy. I agreed to shoot flyers, despite my lack of marksmanship. I actually shot pretty good and me and the other shooters only let 2 ducks escape. Now, since I was going to be shooting flyers, and not marshaling, the judges were kind enough to let me run my dog first! AND Fishduck was kind enough to let me run his dog, Rose, as the test-dog. Rose is a very accomplished and extremely talented retriever. Rose was very impressive. 3 clean marks and one whistled the blinds. It was like driving a sportscar, fast, responsive, eye-catching, etc. As I walked Rose back to the truck to get Jack, I received many comments such as "you have a really nice dog", "Oh I wish my dog was like your dog", "your dog did great", "wow you set the bar awful high", etc. As I thanked them I was thinking "oh sh!t, this isn't my dog BUT my dog is next!!!" So Rose goes in the box and Jack comes out. As I got closer to the line Jack just got wilder (so many tests in so little time, with very limited training between, had only fueled the fire within this uncontrollable beast). I had qualified for the race in a finely-tuned Ferrari and forced to compete in the main event with a Corolla with loose steering, bad brakes and a stuck throttle! It was awful. As I returned to the truck I received NO comments on MY dog. In fact people cleared my path much like Japanese running from Godzilla!
Oh well, I feel better now. I have frozen all Winter without a jacket and I've entered another Master test. Life is good.