Traning Archives

What was the best Hunt Test dog you’ve ever judged?

( published in Spaniels In The Field – summer 2003 )

At a Minnesota Hunt Test, I was asked, “What was the best Hunt Test dog you’ve ever judged”? Without hesitation, I replied Art Roger’s little female, which I judged with Harry Henriques near Cincinnati, Ohio a number of years ago. Unfortunately I no longer remember the little dog’s name, but their performance made a lasting impression on me.

Over the years, I have had the privilege to witness a good number of great running dogs. As with people, each dog had their strong points. Some ran better on the land and some performed better on the water. Some had great style, while others exhibited a wonderful nose. On a dog verses dog basis, I’m even sure some could have outperformed Art’s little Springer. But on that particular day, the team of Art and his little dog were tops in the field. What made their appearance so memorable was the inherit trust and understanding between handler and dog. Even after so many years, I can still see the two taking the master field and running the course almost as one. Art gave the minimum amount of commands (start and release) and seemed to know exactly what the dog would do next. Likewise, Art’s dog instinctively knew exactly where Art wanted her to go and what he wanted her to do next. I’ve seen some fantastic dog work over the years, but not a team so perfectly in sync with each other. They raised the bar on that day and I’ve been trying to obtain that same team goal ever since. I never asked Art how he accomplished that feat that day, but I assume it was spending hours and hours together hunting, training, and just being a big part of each other’s lives. I noticed that when my Tyler was in his prime and he was my only hunting and training partner. Tyler developed a sixth sense of what I was wanting from him. We would come to a promising looking thicket and we just seem to know what the other was going to do. We spent literally hours and hours together training and hunting together and it showed. My other dogs never really formed the same bond. When they came around, we always had too many dogs, not enough time, and plenty of other distractions. Just like anything else in life, you need to give it your full attention to fully realize your goals. Of course Tyler had another element that made him special. Tyler always had a great desire to please. Perhaps that was the common denominator that allowed Art and his dog to achieve that perfect partnership on that day. I don’t believe every dog has it to the same degree. I know my other dogs never had Tyler’s desire to please. Not that they weren’t very good dogs and in many respects were even better than Tyler, but for sharing a great adventure together, none have come close to Tyler. Even though I’m older now and supposed to be wiser, I still have too many dogs and not enough time. I believe spending as much time together will help develop that special bond. Whether it’s training, hunting, or just doing everyday chores, involving your special canine companion will certainly lighten the load for both of you. I look forward to a time when I can devote most of my time to one dog and develop that special bond Art and his dog had. Anyway, that is still my goal, but until then I’ll just keep working at it. I Think I’ll grab Tyler and go hunting.

– Ron Haag