Here's the deal (sorry its long):
1st series of the Junior hunt test.
This is a hand thrown live cock pheasant flyer with 2-12 gauge gunners.
Distance to fall 10 yards
Distance line to fall 45 yards
Distance line to waist high grass cover 10'
Cover 30" tall thick field grass
Dog heads straight to the fall and then 5 seconds later stops then does a tight hunt around the fall goes back to the fall and returns to the line. When the dog pops out of the cover which is 10' from the line the handler sees that the dog has returned without the bird and quickly puts his hand up and gives the command fetch. By the time the handler has time to react, the dog got to within 3 feet of the line before turning around. Dog returns directly to the fall waits a few seconds, handler again repeats the command fetch 3 times and the dog then briskly returns to the line dragging the bird back a few inches above the ground by the birds only wing. The dog is unable to lift the bird up to the handler with the hold of the wing and tries to reposition the bird. Judges and handler see that the bird is turned inside out. From the neck to the tail there is nothing but jagged bones sticking out. Looks like a thanksgiving turkey four days after the feast with a head one wing and a few tail feathers. Judge 1 says "grab it quick when she lifts it up off the ground, she doesn't have much to work with". Dog is able to grab the one wing again and handler is quickly able to grab the bird. Handler turns the dog around to tackle the next mark and the judge 2 states that the dog is DQ'd for blinking but the handler can run the next mark if he wants to. Handler asks for a "no bird" on the condition of the bird and judge 2 states that the rules state that blinking is an automatic DQ and is not up for discussion. Handler can speak to the judges after the land series. Handler runs the next mark and steps on the bird. Perfect 10.
While the handler is waiting for the land series to end he discusses the issue with a pro and a master's judge. He breaks out the rule book and finds the sections that he thinks are relevant.
Section 7. In marked retrieves, if a dog, after having
been sent to retrieve, (1) returns to its handler before
finding the bird, with or without having been called in,
except in those cases of confusion of the dog as to
whether it was really ordered to retrieve; (2) stops its
hunt; or (3) fails to pick the bird up, actually leaving it
after finding it, it shall be sufficient cause, unless there
exist in the opinion of the Judges valid mitigating circumstances,
to grade the dog “0” in Marking or Perseverance.
Unusual Circumstances, “No Birds”: If unusual and
unplanned circumstances occur during the course of a
marking test, the Judges can ask the handler to handle
the dog, or otherwise compensate for the unanticipated
occurrence. The absence of competition allows more
flexibility for judges.
Each Judge shall be at liberty to call a “no-bird,” and
independently, when, in their opinion, a hazard or an element
of danger exists, or the test conditions are altered
to the point that the test becomes something else. Ask
yourself whether the altered situation still presents a reasonable
opportunity to evaluate other abilities.
Many situations will occur that cannot be specifically
addressed in the Regulations or Guidelines. In these
instances, Judges must draw on their experience to
arrive at fair decisions.
(4) Every bird retrieved, and delivered to the handler,
shall be inspected by one of the Judges. Failure to inspect
retrieved birds must be catalogued as carelessness, and
as an undesirable practice. It is unfair to the dog whose
abilities are being evaluated—not only in respect to the
question of “hard-mouth,” but more particularly, since it
may furnish the explanation for a slow pick-up or some
other oddity in the dog’s pick-up. Any unusual condition
of a bird shall be brought to the attention of the Judges.
After the land series, the handler politely discusses the issue and judges 2 refers back to chapter four section seven item 1 and interprets that the last part "unless there exist in the opinion of the Judges valid mitigating circumstances" only refers to part 3 and not parts 1 and 2. Judge 1 then states that this is a handler error that the handler should have stopped the dog while it was returning and not have waited so long. Handler states that the dog was not visible until it broke through the cover and that this is a junior test and the dog should be judged and not the handler. Judge 2 said this is enough and ended the conversation the dog blinked and that's that. Handler stated that the dog didn't blink since she did return with the bird. Judge 1 says that if the dog had returned and quit that the judges would have then gone out to view the bird and would have given a "no bird". Handler pleaded and said let the dog run the water marks and then evaluate the entire day. Judges said no but the dog may run the water since she is here and paid the money.
Dog runs the water marks very well and moves from the 1st line to the second line for the second mark off lead (always wanted to do that!)
Walking back to the car judge 1 says to the handler that this was a case of very bad luck.
My opinion is that if the judges thought that the dog truly blinked that they should have told the handler to pick the dog up then at the time of the action and not allowed her to complete the series. If they had done that then they would have seen the condition of the bird and reacted.
My last comment is, are there no provisions for review of a decisions made in the field. Can this be?
PM me if you feel uncomfortable with the on the air opinions as I am finding out that judges don't like to comment on other judges (even when they think there is a problem).