What a day for the “Kahill Girls” on Norway´s National Day. Both Makenna and Mocca gave off their best and were rewarded by becoming first and second best dogs in the blood tracking competition organised by the Åland Retriever Club.
The Finland experience started on Saturday when I had to lay two tracks one an Open Class Track and the other a Winner Class Track both to the Finland rules. Fortunately I was helped by a very nice and knowledgeable lady who used to be a judge. The tracks were laid using compass bearings and the track lengths measured using a Garmin hand held GPS unit.
On Sunday the test started with Makenna and the other dogs tied to a tree and a shot gun fired. Makenna never moved, barked or whimpered, but stiffened ready for action and looked into the air ready to mark the fallen bird. The comment from the judge was “that was a promising start for a good hunting dog”
The competition track for Makenna was the most challenging track I have ever seen. It included forest, rocky ground, open fields with growth up to 1,5 meter high, swamp, marshy ground and a forestry access road with water around 20 cm or more deep all the way. At the start we had to wait for the track layer to set his Garmin. Makenna turned and gave him a look as if to say there was no need to bother, just follow me. From the start she knew instinctively what she had to do and just got on with the job. Just as well really because the leader is not allowed to help the dog in Finland. The blood break corner was set in water sodden ground but Makenna performed perfectly, How she managed I will never know, perhaps the track layer had smelly feet!!!!! The third sorlie was set near the front of a tree behind which was the skull of an animal. Makenna marked both and carried on. Nothing escaped the critical eye of the judge who commented favourably. The track eventually turned onto a forestry logging road and for 600 metres or more we sloshed along with no dry ground anywhere. The track had no marks what-so-ever and I was convinced we had gone wrong. Trust your dog was the only thing going through my head when suddenly Makenna stopped, I stopped and the judge stopped. Makenna had found the kill,. It had originally been placed on a piece of marginally higher dryish ground, but animal activity had dislodged the leg such that it had become partially submerged in water. It was not until the judge shook my hand and told me I had an excellent hunting dog that I realised we would manage a first premie. Makenna took 33 minutes to complete 1.4 km of track that was set in very challenging conditions. The time according to the judge was very good given the conditions. Makenna lost a point on the last leg because she decided to jump out of the water and continue on slightly drier ground. The judge made particular note of Makenna´s ability to go straight to the kill across terrain that was virtually un-trackable. What a dog – she really is “Simply The Best”.