|The Old Man and Logan Elm Dennis|
One thing that always makes it fun to go to a field trial is when your dog runs like you know he should. At the 2015 ARHA Little Pack World Hunt, Dennis made it a blast for me. At only two years old, I knew he was too young to be competitive on such a large stage (around 700 beagles), but they way he had been running I decided to give him a shot. By the time it was over, I was glad I did.
He ran the first time in the third round on Thursday, the first day. When I cut him loose he acted like he had spent a couple of days in the trailer. He stood around, ate some grass, peed on 5 or 6 bushes and really just got me aggravated. Finally he got bored and decided to go hunt. His cast had one hard chase in particular that lasted about 20 minutes and I heard him in there a lot. By the end of the cast, he was moving on to the next round. He didn't run great, but sounded good for his age and experience.
Dennis didn't run again until Saturday morning. He sat around in the trailer while they ran the first rounds of the Champion and Grand Champions on Friday. When we cast the hounds on Saturday, he acted ready to go and was gone as soon as I cut him loose. It took this cast about 10 minutes to get a rabbit. He opened first and I thought he might have a jump but only was scored a strike. They dogs ran hard for about 40 minutes. When the chase ended he was in second place, 15 points behind the leader.
The dogs had one more chase and with about five minutes left had a long check. One dog was hacking around trying to backtrack. Twice I saw Dennis start towards her. He kept trying to work the other way down this gravel road. Finally, as all the other dogs got clear down the hill on the backline, he worked far enough down the road to get the check. This was the best minute of the hunt for him and he ran well for the rest of the cast, which had no more checks. This check gave him the cast win.
Sunday morning, Dennis started out in the semi-finals. This was a cast of great dogs, great handlers and true sportsman. I got really good judges, Matt Glomski and Jeremy Rice. Dennis ran like he was at home in this cast. I was pleased that he controlled the track, getting a lot of short checks and keeping the race going. This was the best pack of dogs I saw at the World Hunt this year.
After winning this cast, Dennis went straight to the finals to compete against two other dogs for the title of World Champion. Chris Holstein was handling an eight year old female and Frank Fulks had his five year old female. This proved to be the undoing for Dennis. Unfortunately, his age and lack of experience caught up with him. Within minutes I could tell he was shot. He just lacked the intensity needed to compete. Physically he was still strong but he just didn't have the maturity to hang in there. Congrats are due to Coalfield Kennels on their win. Their dog earned it.
Looking back at the ARHA World Hunt, I am pleased with Dennis. He did better than I could have ever hoped. Very few two year old dogs manage to accomplish what he did. He will get a few days off and then we can just go run for fun. No more field trials for us for a while.
Picture by Jeff Allen at 2015 World Hunt