There have been a few posts elsewhere on the Forum recently giving erroneous definitions for the various forms of selection so I thought it would be an appropriate time to bump this to the top ,From North of the Border:
SO much snow to shovel that I missed the start of this discussion-but here’s my thoughts.
History of Selection (in brief)
In the good old days “selection” meant ‘sending your dog on the first retrieve for a bird other than the last bird down’ (go-bird). The test that really got this idea going was the indent in which you had a short retired in the middle and the flyer last bird down longer on the outside. This has been called the McAssey Test (John McAssey). This kind of selection became known as Primary selection and Rex Carr was one of its early proponents.
Primary selection has always been controversial because of the difficulty of pulling off flyers. Dogs reliable in training where not always reliable at trials (hmm –no kidding!) Often a lot of pressure was used. Interestingly in Canada, where all birds were dead, Primary selection was much easier and more often seen.
Secondary selection occurred when the handler selected which bird was picked up second. Usually, this meant the flyer was picked up first as a go-bird and then the next shortest bird was picked up. Again this was often that short retired bird with a longer one to go and after a longer one. Because this pattern was the most common, it became convention to call Secondary Selection, “picking up the short bird second”. In reality, it is secondary selection occurs when the handler selects which bird is retrieved second. One can even talk about tertiary selection when the handler selects which bird is third (as might be needed in a quad).
Eventually, Rex Carr abandoned primary selection because dogs AND handlers were unreliable at doing it. It wasn’t reasonable to pursue with all dogs. Later, he pursued picking up the short bird last. Dave Rorem trained extensively with Rex in the early 90’s when Rex preached this approach. Dave adopted Rex’s philosophy and later coined the term “Ideal Selection” which today he defines as “getting any bird at any time”. Of course, because Rorem has pursued picking up the short bird last after one or two longer birds, now some people think Ideal selection is short bird last (just as some thing secondary is always short bird second).
Why do dogs over-run short?
1. We train so much on this in formative years-Short-long ad nauseum in Derby-teach that punch bird, get that long retired-force back-drive long!
2. Experienced dogs love flyers-ever notice short birds second as flyers are relatively easy? (Hint-great way to train short retireds). Dogs know when short birds are dead-they may be less certain that long bird was dead. Rex said to me: He wanted that long bird-he was hoping it was a flyer!” Note: Canadian dogs often primary select to short birds on their own when never exposed to flyers.
3. Visible birds are easier to remember than retired- a long visible is more attracting than a short retired-duh!
4. Dogs that have run long naturally are comfortable running long again because they have just been successful doing that.
What do I do?
For Chris: I say “Never says Always but Never say Never!”
I train over and over on being able to take a short bird after a longer bird. In day to day training this is usually second for clarity and simplicity although it could be done second, third or 4th. Is this secondary-yes! I am always selecting which bird is second in training. Is it tertiary –sometimes it is also. Is it ideal- yes because I’m deciding which bird next. I occasionally train on Primary for control reasons. Enough that I could do it in some trial situations.
In a trial, I “usually” go with my dog’s strengths- what is he best at? Because of my training, I often feel comfortable digging out that short retired second but not “always”. PS. I have both won and lost a National in the 10th by going contrary to my training. Four times the decision has been which bird to take 3rd when there was a middle and a long retired left.
There is always both Science and Art to handling! Knowing when to go with the dog and when to not go with the dog is the Art!