RBIS and adventures in birddogging

The first weekend of July is the UKC Washington Classic show series at Argus Ranch in Auburn, WA. This year I took only Casper, with the goal of winning the Total Dog award – this is given when a dog qualifies in a performance event AND wins a competitive placement in conformation, at the same show on the same day. As the only Kooiker entered, that means Casper had to earn at least one group placement over at least one dog, and qualify in Rally (the only performance event offered on the day we went). Casper as usual exceeded my expectations and even though I was limping and not showing him well, he showed himself, and earned himself a Group 1 and a Group 2 in the two Saturday shows. In between, we ran to the Rally ring to run through it quickly, and we qualified in our first round, which finished his URO1 title and was sufficient to get us to Total Dog, so we bungled the second run where it didn’t matter! Then it was back to the Best In Show ring, where I had no more expectations, but the judge loved Casper and to my surprise awarded him Reserve Best In Show! At the end of the day, the UKC reps called the five Total Dog recipients into the ring to name off our accomplishments, which was our proudest moment of the show. It was also a very nice atmosphere with lots of supportive fellow exhibitors.


This weekend we did a Kooikerwalk on Saturday, then on Sunday, I took Casper to a Hunting Retriever Club training day. At first glance this is a bit insane, because Kooikers are not retrievers, nor does anyone hunt with them! But I’ve been wanting to give it a try, but had reached the point where I couldn’t teach him any more at home (since I didn’t know what I was doing anymore!). We had a great time – I can’t speak more highly of the welcoming club members who not only were not annoyed by my showing up with a non-retriever, but who were happy to give us individual instruction, lunch, and birds to take home – entirely for free. Casper was not sure what he was meant to do when he first met a dead duck, and he was extremely focused on it, except he would not pick it up, and barked at it quite a bit. We went with our friend and her 5 month old puppy, and after both dogs did the same thing in their first bird session, we went to go work with bumpers and feathers out in the field. The dogs competed for the thrown bumpers, so retrieving them became a good game, and they figured it out after that. In our second go-around with the birds, both eagerly retrieved bumpers with duck wings tied to them. The trainers were really encouraging and said this was great progress for just a single day. They then said we could take both a pigeon and a duck home – they’re a little ripe so they’re in the freezer for now, but I am excited to get Casper desensitized to them and willing to pick up both.

In the last weeks, Casper has also been helping me move the chooks around in the backyard – they’re scared of me so when I go to photograph them, they plaster themselves against the opposite edge of the coop. I use C’s eendenkooi-work commands to move him round the coop and stay on the other side, so the birds are pushed further towards me out of fear of him! Clever boy can do a bit of everything!


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