I just finished two days of 10 braces of National Shoot to Retrieve Field Trial Association runs. I'm worn out and about $600 lighter in the wallet. I did have a good time and my two Brittanys, Cap and Ruby, did very well, although not well enough to place. I'm pleased with both of them, and I don't see any flaws that can't be fixed with some patient reminding in the training field at home. Here's the rub. I'm constantly reminded, and I've been doing this over 20 years, the transition from the field to NSTRA is not instantaneous. In fact, some dogs cannot make that transition. I can spot that problem early on and not expect that particular dog to perform at that level, but, by and large, I expect all my dogs to gain their championship in NSTRA. The dog shown below, Bo, had no problem at all and was great at both.
|Bo and Me Winning the 2001 Quail Unlimited National Championships- last bird, last brace, last day.
I find myself asking, "Why am I here, waiting to run a 30 minute brace, when I could be in Idaho, or Montana, or North Dakota?" Then, I ask myself, "Why are any of these trialers here?" Obviously, the vast majority of them have jobs during the week that pay the bills, put kids through school and food on the table. I'm sure their spousal unit is much appreciative when payday rolls around and my brace-mate has managed to get to work on time throughout the week and not drive off in to the sunset in search of South Dakota pheasant or New Mexico Scaled Quail! So field trialing, AKC or NSTRA or UFTA or whatever, is a great way to play with your dog and still keep a foot in the modern world.
|Bo and Me sitting next to Coon Creek in AZ
My wife made the comment to me the other day, "You are so happy in the pictures I see of you taken when you are hunting!". I never thought of it. I guess I am. How could one NOT be happy when the big decision of the day is where to open the dog box and which dog starts the day. The number two big decision is, Where do we eat lunch?