Sunday, May 01, 2005

Weekend Getaway, The Final Chapter

Saturday morning was a repeat of Friday with the added bonus of fog. I had to be at the field trial grounds by 8:00 am. I left the hotel a little after 7:00 am, this left me plenty of time to get there and swing by Krispy Kreme for a doughnut (Ok two doughnuts). I knew there was one not too far from the hotel and I could easily get to the highway from there. As I drove up I saw the Hot Light was on. Wahoo! Fresh doughnuts and a milk to go! I knew that an excellent breakfast was being served at the field grounds in the club house (aka: where couches go to die), but I really wanted a doughnut and I didn’t have to be a good example for my children.

The field grounds are owned and maintained by the Maryland Beagle Club. The grounds have three large fields that are securely fenced, several puppy pens (small areas chock full of rabbits for introducing puppies to field trialing) and a club house. The club house is a large simple structure. It has two bathrooms, a fireplace, lots of long tables, a kitchen and the walls are lined with a huge number of couches. It looks as though club members donate their old couches to the club house when they get new furniture. The kitchen is under the jurisdiction of the Ladies Auxiliary, a lovely group that people. I always visit with them when I’m there. They prepare breakfast and lunch both days and a dinner on Saturday. The prices are reasonable and the food is tasty.

Entries close at 8:00 am sharp. I arrived in plenty of time and I only entered John. The forecast was for afternoon thunderstorms and Sydney was still not herself. At 8 am a last call for entries was made. This was followed by roll call (of the dogs’ names) and then the bracing of the dogs. There were three stakes Open All Age Dogs (male dogs), Open All Age Bitches (female dogs) and Field Champions (male and female dogs that have become Field Champions of record). John was entered in OAAD. Through a random draw the dogs are paired up in each stake and the running order is determined. John ended up in the first brace of the OAAD stake.

Dog in hand I went down to the running grounds. The OAAD stake was to be in the back field that is entered through the lower field. The fenced areas average 8 acres apiece and are stocked with rabbits. There are mowed lanes dividing the field into manageable sections. The beaglers had recently bush hogged the grounds and eliminated some of the larger patches of wild rose. The sections between the lanes, however, still had plenty of cover for the rabbits. People line up along one of the lanes and beat the brush within the section to flush out the rabbits. At this point the more experienced dogs strain against their leashes, eager to go. The two judges keep ahead of the line of beaters so as to better spot the rabbits as they pop out. When a rabbit is spotted a cry of “Tally Ho!” is heard. The judges’ then consult with whoever flushed out the rabbit (which has hightailed to a location far away in the field) and the brace is brought up to the scent line. The dogs’ handlers are instructed on how to direct their dogs and where to release them. The dogs are introduced to the scent line and are then set free.

John had a lovely run. He put his nose down and looked to be working the line. When the judges had seen enough they told us to pick up our dogs. I was able to round him up quickly and slowly made my way back to the car. After both dogs were checked on I headed back to beat brush.

I enjoy beating brush. It is a serious workout and it is fun chatting with all the other people. After awhile we all get rather silly.

Once all the braces are run (first series) the judges then called back the best dogs for second series. Three braces were announced and John was in the third one! This put him at Next Best Qualifier! Points are awarded to first through fourth places. Next is NBQ, which is kind of like an honorable mention. I was very excited! If he did well he could even move up.

In the end he only defeated his bracemate and held onto NBQ. He was a total dweeb in third series and we were done. That evening I was awarded his ribbon and a very nice crate blanket for John.

John and his field trail winnings. Posted by Hello

You have to admit the ribbons for field trials are much nicer than dog shows. I refer to my dog show ribbons as my $20+ bookmarks. The field trial rosettes are much more impressive.

Just before the end of the field trial, when they were doing the runoffs between the winners of the stakes for Absolute, the thunderstorm hit. It was a loud booming affair with torrential rain. It was decided that Absolute would be run in the morning at 7:30 am.

Sunday morning dawned clear and bright and Sydney was back! She was ready and eager to go, full of vim and pep. After a snafu at the hotel (they almost overcharged me by $100) I was back at the grounds. I only entered Sydney, because John was probably going to be a dweeb again.

Sydney did a good job, but was easily distracted. I also handled another dog, Scarlet, for someone else. She is a dark red standard wirehair dachshund. With both of the girls the judges were happy with my releases. I guess on Sunday I had become a professional field trial handler. After both girls were done I went back to beat brush. It was hard finding the bunnies. We didn’t finish first series until about 12:30. Neither of the two dogs I handled was called back for second series. I stayed to finish the job. We were down right punchy by the time we finished the stake at 2:30. I was starving and I got almost hysterical when I flushed out the last rabbit. I was very happy when one of the handlers thanked us for beating the brush for their dogs.

When we crawled back to the clubhouse the Ladies Auxiliary served us our lunch. Baked chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans never tasted so good. I deliberately snagged my cake before I sat down with my lunch. There were only a few pieces left and I wanted my cake. After lunch I socialized a few friends and headed home. The DC traffic gods smiled upon me and I made it home in about 3 ½ hours.

So now y’all know how I like to spend my weekends.

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