Sunday, July 12, 2009 — Beaver Dam, WI
History was made today as the first Airedales to ever enter a Spaniel Hunting Test got the breed off to a successful start. Airedales became eligible to enter the Spaniel Hunting Test program on July 1, 2009. It didn’t take long for Mark and Karen Werner of West Bend WI to take advantage of this new opportunity. Mark has been hunting with the family’s Airedales for a number of years and does all his own training. He has never been to a licensed Spaniel Hunting Test before Saturday. Mark and Karen felt like their dogs were pretty good hunters so they decided to give it a try. Unbeknown to them, they would have a cheering section as other Airedale enthusiasts showed up to witness the occasion and cheer them on. This was perhaps a little more than they had bargained for.
First up was Tesa (Strongbow Tesa of Wingate) in the Junior Test. This was the first hunt test for Mark and of course the first for the two family dogs, but to the dogs and handler it was just another day in the field. Tesa was drawn as the number three dog in the Junior test, so Mark didn’t have much time to be nervous. When the time came to run, the gallery had grown to about everyone who was at the test, all crowding behind the Marshal to watch. After the Judges instructions, Mark was given the OK to start. With a “Hunt’em up” the Airedales long journey of 20+ years in pursuit of participation in the AKC Hunting Test program came to fruition. Let the fun begin! Mark and Tesa put on a good performance after overcoming a bit of the jitters. Getting into a pattern, Tesa had two nice finds on planted pheasants. She made a nice retrieve to hand on the first bird. The second bird was a flyaway because the gunner was unable to shoot. Tesa was called back to heel nicely and her field work was done to the satisfaction of all, including the Judges. Tesa had no problem with her marked water retrieve. “Qualified”
Next up was Hannah (Hollytroy Han Rules Wingate) in the Senior Test. With ample time to get nervous, Mark and “Hannah” were called to the line. As instructions were being given by the Judges, the gallery swelled behind the marshal. This was one of the largest galleries I have seen at a Spaniel Hunting Test. After Mark’s “Hunt’em up” Hannah quartered the field with a strong hunting pace, in a nice pattern, making good use of the wind. Hannah indicated her first bird and was making a downwind loop to better locate the bird when the bird volunteered and was flying away. Mark blew his “sit” whistle and Hannah sat and looked at Mark just as the gunner took his only shot. He knocked the bird down a bit far and over a hill out of sight. When the shot was made Hannah turned and looked at the bird as it went down and then turned and looked at Mark as if to say “are you going to let me get it”? Mark called her name and over the hill she went. Because of the length of the fall and the fact that Hannah only had a glimpse of the bird, the gallery buzz was that she would not be able to locate the bird. A minute later, back over the hill she came with the bird and made a nice delivery to hand. Mark cast Hannah off again. She was fired up and hunting with even more purpose. Hannah found her next bird with a nice trail and flush. Mark sat her down with the whistle. The bird was shot at a nice distance. Hannah was released for the retrieve, which she made quickly and returned the bird to hand. Nicely done. It was the first time I’ve heard a gallery clapping at a Spaniel hunt test. Hannah’s hunt dead test and marked water retrieve were handled like a normal day in the field. “Qualified”
Mark and Karen are to be commended for the time and effort spent in training their two fine dogs. It was a pleasure to witness these Airedales as first timers in the hunting test program and unexpected ambassadors for their breed.
Spaniel Field Representative