Wednesday, August 13, 2008

FC Sure To B

By High Energy x Belmor's Classic Lady

Bred and owned by Jim D'Amico, NJ

In Jim's words....

""Bee" showed great style and animation from an early age. She did well in her puppy and derby seasons, placing about 80% of the time. Her one fault as a trial dog is her desire to hunt, for she wants to check every likely piece of cover. (italics mine) Her 'lucky' trial is TarTan where she won her first puppy points in 1985, her derby points in 1986 and finished her open championship in 1988 by winning firsts in Open Gun and Amateur Gun. Bee is well on her way to her amateur title with two majors, one a four pointer. She has run in several American Field Championships and though she has not yet placed, she has received fine comments on her attractive gait and lofty style on game."


Jim D. knows Gordons, and gundogs in general, and I find it interesting that he would comment on the age old question of whether good trial dogs make good hunting dogs. I've seen trial dogs picked up because they were actually hunting likely cover, instead of staying on the course and seeking distant objectives. Man often does not plant birds where a hunting dog would think birds should be. And, therein lies the rub..
It's true that a smart dog knows the difference and can make an adjustment on the fly, but dogs that smart are not the norm. Dogs are very much creatures of habit.. they tend to do the same things and perform the same way in similar situations.
Pure trial dogs have difficulty adjusting to the woods. Pure hunting dogs have difficulty adjusting to the FT format..
Dogs that do both?? Well, here is an animal that can be pure dynamite in the field. But, it's often pretty rare... Trialers are usually trialers, and hunters are usually hunters, and it's often a case of "never the twain shall meet."
I get the opportunity to work with a number of trial dogs that are rejected for one minor fault of another. They, more often than not, turn into "brag dogs" for the owners lucky enough to get their hands on one of these dogs. And for good reason. They're well bred, have the necessary genetics for handling and biddability, and can raise the hair on the back of one's neck with their animation and style!

Where do I fall in the mix??

Somewhere in the middle. I'll never be an avid FT person, but that does not mean that I don't like to run my dogs from time to time in local FTs. But, I'll always be a hunter first. I cherish my time alone in the woods with a shotgun and a Setter, each of us doing what we were born to do.....

1 comment:

  1. Bill: sadly, especially with the diminishing numbers of both wild birds and field trial grounds, field trials (like hunt tests or NAHVDA versatility tests) will only ever approximate real hunting conditions. The dogs that do well in such events may therefore only handle wild birds approximately as well.

    As to whether successful FT dogs necessarily produce better bird dogs in general, I think the answer can perhaps best be answered in reverse. If you want a hard-hunting dog with drive and intensity, you're more likely to find one drawn from dogs that are successful in events that value such attributes, ie. field trials. Of course, the dog is only half the equation -- and I've blogged about whether most folk can actually handle such 'Ferraris' of the dog world.

    In any case, as you know, I appear to have a potential Ferrari on my hands -- so we're contemplating entering a few open trials this fall. Hopefully, you'll be able to watch Mr. Enthusiasm actually hunt sometime this fall.

    all best