It's cutting them loose and having the pack run the rabbit until it gives up and goes in a hole or gets caught. And although the dogs usually don't catch it, they run like they want to. Just me and my pack of hounds, in any condition, on any day, in the roughest places I can find . . .

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Difference of Opinion

At the end of the cast, two dogs are tied. It's up to the judge to pick the winner based on hunting and handling. Anyone that has ever run in ARHA Little Pack has been involved in this situation. There is no explanation in the rule book to help the judge. This is entirely his opinion. Some of the time the decision is obvious. Most of the time you could easily find reason to pick either dog.

I was recently involved in a situation like this. It was in a cast that had a lot of barking with two dogs minusing out and being removed from the cast. A third dog (blue collar) was just about to get a minus when my dog and another dog jumped a rabbit and they finally had a chase. Going into this final chase the score was Yellow = 50, Red = 25, Blue = 0.

The chase started off really hard with the dogs pounding. My dog (red collar) had the first three checks. The dogs had a long breakdown but we had a marked line. There was a lot of barking around with dogs starting to get the check, then turning around and coming back. There was no clear forward progress for a few minutes but a lot of barking.  Finally, the yellow collar dog made some progress and was awarded a check. The chase ended at a loss as time expired so we caught the dogs and headed for the trucks.

When the judge read off the score, he had two dogs (yellow and red collar) tied with 75 points/three checks each. Here are the different perspectives from the cast.

The judge picked the yellow collar dog. He said both dogs hunted the same but towards the end, the red collar stood around for a little bit on the checks. He picked the yellow collar dog as the winner based on that.

The handler for the yellow collar dog was upset because he felt he should have been awarded two more checks. He felt like his dog should have been scored checks each time it made any progress. According to the rule book, this is technically right, the question is what is forward progress.

The handler of the blue collar dog was upset because he felt his dog should have been awarded at least two checks on the last race. He definitely barked the most, and his owner felt he should have been scored for what he did.

As the handler of the red collar I was fairly confident that I had won. As a judge, I would have minused the blue collar at least once for pulling dogs out of the check area and probably the yellow collar as well. I will admit though, I am biased. I hate mouthy dogs so I am especially critical when dogs are barking and not making forward progress. I did appreciate the fact that the judge took his time scoring and made dogs earn their checks. I saw my dog stop in a path once on a check and just look at the other two dogs when they were barking. I know he was wondering what in the heck all that barking was about.

I think this cast shows what makes beagle field trials so difficult for participants. 

The judge is a good judge, was fair to everyone in the cast, and made a decision based on what he felt was right. 

The handler for the blue collar is very inexperienced with dogs and field trials. He knew when he heard his dog and he wanted scored. 

The handler for the yellow collar has a nice dog and I really think all the barking in the cast had her a little scattered. He knows from running her that usually when she opens up, she has the rabbit. Ironically, he scores less checks than any judge I have ever run under, but expected his dog to get scored in this chase.

In no way do I mean this to be critical. I hope it shows the challenges that judges and handlers face in so many casts. We all have different opinions. We all have different likes and dislikes. We all view situations based on our own preferences. Field trialing is tough.

I still think I should have won though.  :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cole for a Present

Logan Elm Cole
Everyone knows the old joke about getting a lump of coal in your stocking for Christmas. Although I have often deserved it, I've never had it happen. Lately though, I feel like I got an amazing present of another kind of Cole. And this one was totally unexpected. 

Cole and his sister, Poppy were born three years ago. They are out of Logan Elm Hot Head X Fox Creek Blue Belle. Cole has always been kind of an extra dog. I would run him some, whenever I had room or needed a dog to fill out the pack. He has tremendous energy and grit, but never really set himself apart in any way.

Over Christmas I had a couple dogs that got cut from the A team and a couple go on injured reserve. Cole hadn't been run much all fall, but these circumstances bumped him up into the starting lineup. He didn't have the best start, running pheasants a few times the first day, and barking around when he shouldn't. He was at the make it or break it point. Mr. Tri-Tronics and I had a few stern talks with him over the next few days. Of course he started to pout and didn't want to hunt much.

After a couple of weeks, I started to see some real progress. Then something just clicked. He had one day rabbit hunting when he jumped 6 rabbits. Since then, it has been all good. He just keeps running more and more rabbit, getting checks, and jumping rabbits. He has been amazingly consistent and because he has so much energy, he can do it for as long as I want to run.

I wish I could say I knew it was going to happen, but I just plain missed it. I had no idea Cole could become a special kind of dog. I really liked both of his parents and like his sister, but I just didn't expect this out of him. I guess that is why this Cole is the best kind of present.

Tonight, it was 80° when I started. The dogs still have a heavy coat and got hot, but they hung in there and ran well. With the sudden switch to warmer temperatures in our area, it seems like the rabbits haven't adjusted yet. They will run about two circles and head for a hole. Cole jumped five rabbits. ARHA, UKC, PKC, running dogs, or rabbit hunting, it doesn't matter. That makes him the winner.

I ran Cole, Meg, DK, Dancer, and Defender.

P.S. David, the order doesn't always tell it all but some times it does and this is one of those times.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Talk With Dennis After the 2016 World Hunt

Me:  Congrats there Mr. Big Shot!

Dennis:  What?
Logan Elm Dennis
2016 ARHA Reserve World Champion

Me:  2016 ARHA World Hunt Reserve Champion

Dennis:  So?

Me:  You did a great job. I had so many people that said nice things about you. You made the World Hunt a blast for me.

Dennis:  OK

Me:  Didn't you have fun?

Dennis:  I spent almost a week in the trailer.

Me:  Yeah but you ran great. In one cast you beat a World Champion and Reserve World Champion. People know your name.

Dennis:  Does that mean I get more girlfriends?

Me:  I don't know. I'm talking about the World Hunt.

Dennis:  Let's talk about what matters like more girlfriends.

Me:  Placing at the ARHA World Hunt matters a lot to me. We worked hard for that.

Dennis: We worked hard? Seriously?

Me:  Welllllll, good job.

Dennis: Just get me more girlfriends. I like the way they smell.

I had a great time this year at the World Hunt. Even though Dennis wasn't too impressed by it all, I was. The running this year was much better than last. I saw several casts that really smoked. The friendship and sportsmanship was the best. On every cast that I handled or spectated, everyone seemed to have a good time.

Overall the Logan Elm dogs ran well. Tony ran great but didn't have a lot of running. Cole was in an awesome cast of dogs that smoked a rabbit for 45 minutes and caught it right at the end. DK's cast didn't have much running and by the time he settled in and started to take over, the cast was over. Congrats to his littermate brother, Big Meadows Shine owned by Dennis and David Kennedy which was Reserve World Champion in the Open Class.

As anyone that has ever attended the World Hunt knows, it takes a lot of things to go right for a dog to place. In fact, a lot of the times when a dog doesn't place it may not be due to the dog. That's what makes it great when a dog makes it through to the end.

As long time Kentucky beagler. Frank Fulks said, it takes five things to happen to place at the World: 

1. Luck
2. Good judges
3. Good running
4. A good dog
5. A lot of luck

I feel really lucky as I look back at this year's World Hunt. It's impossible to describe how much the friendship and laughter means. Conversations in the clubhouse, in the campground, out on casts, and at dinner after long days in the field make this such a special event. Seeing friends from near and far make the World Hunt the highlight of my year. I can't wait for next year.