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Thread: Opinions Wanted

  1. #1
    Senior Member D. Province's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Houston, TX

    Question Opinions Wanted-Judging Question

    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).
    Last edited by D. Province; 10-27-2009 at 11:40 AM.
    D.J. Province
    Ebonstar Over Moon River JH

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Ken Bora's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Burlington, Vermont


    If it was a truly blown up bird in a started test then yes absolutely the judges have the discretion to give you a no bird.
    Do not read this as they must, but they can.

    Opinions you asked…. Mine is…….
    I do feel the dog blinked the bird. Just from your sketch.
    Were all the birds blown to bits? Were choke tubes checked and changed? Sounds like this one bird was shot very close.
    I would have (and yes my butt has been in the chair for started tests, it’s NAHRA junior) stopped the test, walked out and spoken with the gunners, made sure they had open or cylinder or skeet chokes and asked them to let the birds range out a bit. Then I would have given you a rerun but on the walk back I would ask myself why the club gave me a field with waist high grass to set up a land series for young dogs in????

    Oh for your last question, I guess in theory you could take your exploded bird and a piece of paper and pen and put a complaint in writing and tell the marshal to assemble the committee as you had a formal complaint in writing to present. Then hand the assembled committee your duck and piece of paper. I would not expect miracles here as I have had to retrieve maggot crawling garbage before and seen them hang it up for the next rebird. But at least then you complaint would have to be included in the event package sent to AKC.

    "So what is big is not always the Trout nor the Deer but the chance, the being there. And what is full is not necessarily the creel nor the freezer, but the memory." ~ Aldo Leopold

    "The Greatest Obstacle to Discovery is not Ignorance -- It is the Illusion of Knowledge" ~ Daniel Boorstin

  4. #3
    Senior Member D. Province's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Houston, TX


    A committee member was at the series and I think disagreed with the call. They asked me to ask for a committee meeting to help. When I did this the judges said that the only acceptable reason I could ask for a committee was for a misconduct issue and that this wasn't the case and my request was denied.

    During a DQ'ing infraction should a judge have the handler pick the dog up or let the dog continue and then inform the handler?
    D.J. Province
    Ebonstar Over Moon River JH

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  6. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    As i agree with with Mr. Bora. As well IMHO, you both had rights and wrongs. Personnaly, I would had let you rerun. Now, from here and WE ALL have had unfortunate tests, just use it as a learning tool as there will be many,many more positives that will come your way. Stick with it,don't get discouraged. These HTs are like golf. You'll have good days and you'll have bad days. Have fun!

  7. #5
    Senior Member dnf777's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Western Pa


    My question is: as handler, do you feel that your dog had a chance to adequately see the mark? Ten feet from waist high cover for a mark 45 yards may not afford much of a view? I assume it did, since it looped the bird, and eventually retrieved it. Technically, that's dqs under 4-7, unless the bird is so bad....see below.....

    Not sure I understand the comment about if they would have DQ'd you and NOT let you run again, they would have seen the condition of the bird. Whenever in that series they saw the condition of the bird, they could have decided to offer a re-run, correct?

    I think in that case, I would have shown the bird to the judges as soon as I saw its condition and asked for a rerun. If told no, I would thank the judges, respect their decision, and get an early lunch. After all, we're simulating hunting, and I don't want my dog deciding on the condition of game in the field.....that's my job!
    God Bless PFC Jamie Harkness. The US Army's newest PFC, but still our neighbor's little girl!

  8. #6
    Senior Member HuntinDawg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Atlanta, GA


    I am not a judge and it is impossible to say what should have been done without being there and seeing the bird, etc. But, it is very odd that they let the dog continue the land series. I've never seen another mark thrown for a DQ'd dog. And allowing the dog to run in the second series without actually being called back is very very strange. I've never seen that done to my knowledge and is not what the AKC HT rule book calls for.

    The fact that the judges went ahead and threw the second land mark and especially the fact that they allowed the dog to run the water marks (unless it ran them as test dog or set up dog) is highly unusual and says to me that they did think there were some mitigating circumstances. Again, unless dog ran water as test or set up dog, which is completely different.

    If you feel you got screwed by the unusual circumstances and the rule interpretations by the judges, just be glad it was "only" junior. It would be a lot harder to take at a higher level where ribbons are a lot harder to come by. Who knows, maybe your dog even learned something. If your dog did indeed blink the bird because of the condition and then you made the dog retrieve it anyway, maybe it learned that it needs to pick up the bird no matter what (maybe). If the dog learned something like that then it wasn't a wasted entry fee IMO.

    Good luck to you and your dog in the future.
    HRCH UH "Boomer" MH
    UH HR "Hunter" SH (RIP)

    "When you go to a test or a trial, your dog should be underwhelmed." ~ Evan Graham

    "It is unreasonable to expect a dog to be more precise than you are." ~ Rex Carr

    "You own what you condone." ~ Mike Lardy

  9. #7
    Senior Member Howard N's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Anchorage, AK


    If the dog blinks a bird and comes back to the handler, I'd say he wasn't a junior hunter that day. From what you described that's how I may have judged it.

    I didn't see it so I don't know what I'd have done.
    Howard Niemi

    You really gotta be careful about how high a pedestal you put your method, your accomplishments, your dog on. There's usually someone who's done more, somewhere. And they may have used a different method than you did! Chris Atkinson 2013

    get your dog out and TRAIN! caryalsobrook 2013

  10. #8


    The condition of the bird is not the issue as stated above when hunting I not the dog decide what is unfit game. With that type of cover you had to handle when you saw your dog so as long as your dog did not come back to heel ok handle. With three fetch commands over the bird and the coming in to the line the judges could very well drop you for this. I have a limit of ten on fetch at the line or in the field but that is me.

  11. #9
    Senior Member D. Province's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Houston, TX


    The question I guess is, is it a blink if the dog retrieves the bird with the handler's help? Or is the dog confused if it is really supposed to retrieve the bird in that condition.
    If a dog blinks, is that and automatic DQ?

    Now that I've had time to review the situation, I think that the dog did blink but it isn't an automatic zero as judge 2 claimed it was and that the circumstances for the blink should have been looked at and the dog should have been judged accordingly. Lower on perseverance for leaving the bird but higher for train-ability for taking direction getting the bird. I think the dog should have passed the series but should have been watched to see if this was an isolated incident based on mitigating circumstances or a problem with the dog.
    Last edited by D. Province; 10-27-2009 at 01:46 PM.
    D.J. Province
    Ebonstar Over Moon River JH

  12. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Shelburn, In


    Unfortunately stuff happens. Dogs are expected to pick up blown up birds in the field so it would stand to reason that in a test set up to evaluate hunting ability a dog would have to pick up a bird that was SHOT up.
    This is simply the opinion of a hunter with no real knowledge of competitive retriever games.

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