Ace is my champion NSTRA (www.nstra.org) trial dog. Once I tune him up after a hunting trip, he makes the transition to the field trial game very well. We've been working the last two weeks on the little things that make a good trial dog. Today he showed me something I've never seen before in a field trial and only rarely in any situation.
We came off the starting line and Ace sprinted 30 yards and locked up! I flushed the bird, shot it and he made a good retrieve. "Good boy" I said as he handed me the bird, "Let's go!" and he turned and started looking for more birds. He handled well and listened to me. In the back of my mind, I was thinking he looked very good in his ground coverage, hunting objectives and working with me. He nailed another bird within a minute and I flushed it up and shot it, as well. The bird landed perhaps 50 yards away and he was on it only seconds after it hit. I watched as he picked it up, turned away, dug a hole, put the bird in it, buried it and trotted over to me, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Sorry, boss! I couldn't find the bird."
We went on to take a second place today- by 10 points! That (zero point) retrieve would have been about 85-90 points and it cost us another First Place!
Arghh! Just when you think you have them wound up pretty tight....the string comes loose.