Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Take to the Field
By Karla Deithorn, AKC Subject Matter Expert and former Earthdog Representative
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (PBGV) owners gathered the weekend of Oct. 21-22 at the Cabarrus Beagle Club in Concord, N.C. for a weekend of rabbits, raffles, food and fun sponsored by the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Club of America. Some exhibitors arrived Friday to 'warm up' their hounds informally for the weekend's hunt tests. Saturday was reserved for nine packs in the Hunting Instinct Test and a passel of puppies for the Novice Learning Experience. Sunday there were 3 packs slated to run per hour, each in the Scored Hunt Test.
This is the third year I have attended this event at the Cabarrus Beagle Club. The PBGV Hunt Test Committee has been working many more years on developing a hunt test based on the French tradition in order to preserve the strong pack instinct and voice in these little French hounds. Those two traits that set them apart from the other scent hounds.
In the Hunting Instinct Test, the hounds are judged for a half-hour in the field. The handlers were asked to keep their hounds no further than one or two uncut sections in front or to the side of the judges. Rabbits were plentiful, and, if one was flushed, the hounds were called to it. There were many excellent working dogs in the Hunting Instinct Test. "CC," a bitch owned by Grace Allen, did an outstanding job of flushing a rabbit then working a twisting line through heavy cover. Her booming deep voice called the pack to her. "Louie," a dog owned by Ralph Hattox, also opened and helped carry this line through two more sections. I was pleased to see the whole pack stay in the area, struggling to work out a very tough check. Another pack had the help of "Valerina," a bitch owned by Julie Shannon. Valerina pushed her way through the thickest cover I saw all weekend. The pack tried to hark in to her but had trouble getting into the cover. When Valerina bolted the rabbit, the whole pack was off and running.
One of the problems I had as a judge was the novice handlers who were encouraging their dogs and getting them too excited. I had to scold a few to stop talking to their dogs so they could hunt. But, in the end, it paid off! One bitch, "Iris" owned by Mary Fluke, did a spectacular job with her pack. She got on a line and found out what the rabbits were all about. She did a wonderful job the entire half-hour of busting through cover and working lines.
I was very pleased to see how much progress this breed has made in the field over the past three years. But the best was yet to come. On Sunday, for the Scored Hunt Test, we had three packs. The first pack rocketed off on a rabbit almost immediately. "Muddy," a dog owned by Pegi Shriver declared the line in his great booming voice. One of his pack-mates was more interested in playing and pushed Muddy past the check. In seconds Muddy knew he had lost the line and came back to his check. Unfortunately, he squeezed through the fence where the rabbit had escaped, and his pack-mate followed. They ran it down the fence line on the outside and into another thicket, where Muddy was eventually persuaded to come to his owner. We continued judging the pack, minus one, who had taken off on her own. Muddy and his pack-mates had a couple more great runs before their hour was up and, in the end, the pack was all there for the last few rabbits.
The last pack, though, was the highlight of my day. This pack of Nancy Terhune's little "Abby," "Apollo" and her old bitch, "Phoebe," along with Phyllis Lindquist's "Abby" and "Bobbe Jackson" and Lynn Rowell's "Ellie" was a pack I would have been proud to run for any visiting Frenchman. They started out with a rabbit at the top of the hill. The whole pack was cooperating on the checks in the tall cover. While Phyllis's Abby was still on that rabbit, Apollo took off with his booming voice on one he flushed next to the line. Abby couldn't compete with Apollo's voice, and the pack harked into him. I was positioned where I could see Apollo and little Abby carry the line across the clay on the hillside, carefully marking each track with voice. The rest of the pack harked in, and the fun began. For a full hour we had a pack of PBGVs in full cry. It was awesome!
I think back to just a few years ago when the PBGVs I saw in the field often didn't voice. Many could not carry a line through a single check. And some would not even go in the cover. In a very short time this breed has progressed to show me some outstanding pack instinct along with booming voices and superb scenting ability. Keep checking the PBGVCA website for the upcoming spring events. If you like pack hounds, you will LOVE PBGVs!
Thank you to Beverly Reeves Childs and Joe Rowell for the GREAT pictures!
Test Sec., Kim Turbyfill with two of her hounds and Beverly Reeves-Childs' dog, ZZ Tux on right.
Judges Shirley Knipe and Roger Mayer compare notes on the pack.
PBGV working a check.
Muddy shows what a real hunting PBGV looks like and why that coat is tousled.
PBGV do not hesitate despite fierce briars at the Cabarrus Beagle Club.
The open white markings on the PBGV make them visible in the heavy cover.
PBGV have a very strong pack instinct and one dog opening on the line brings them full tilt to the pack!
A PBGV pushes through the cover for the rabbits.