Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pitt Stop

April 24, 2009
Pitts, GA

On the road again, a trip through Georgia to the coast. Our first stop after getting off I-75 is Pitts, GA, where everyone and everything is still asleep.

Pit stop near Pinehurst, GA.

Early Dog Gets The Bird

April 18, 2009
Jersey, GA

The sun rises over Buckeyes Plantation, at the beginning of a NAVDHA training day.

First Duck Retrieve

April 18, 2009
Jersey, GA

At the NAVHDA training day today, Tessa got to retrieve her first dead duck. Different texture, feel and smell then a dummy but she didn't hesitate much.

Here is our new friend Tip, who looks very much like Tessa, bringing back a duck she had tracked through the woods. She brought it back the long way, along the dirt road. Earlier that day, we braced Tip and Tess during the quail hunt.

The Long Down

April 16, 2009
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Practicing the long down. 10 minutes today while I was walking around the park. Afterwards, more play, and some rest.


April 16, 2009
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Dog Park No. 3

April 14, 2009
Sandy Creek Park, GA

On the prowl again at the dog park. This corner holds something special as she always goes nuts here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Easter Sunday

April 12, 2009
Easter egg hunt

"My rock."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes

April 12, 2009
Juliette, GA

After our visit to Andalusia, we headed to Juliette, GA, where the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" was filmed. It's kind of a ritual for me to take all my dogs here at some point or another, although I am always bothered by how clogged up and busy this place is any time I go, Easter weekend or not.

My hobo bird dog was fascinated by the tracks and where they might lead. I promised to take her on the road to see the ocean soon.

Juliette is a popular destination for motorbikes and as loud as they are, Tessa was not bothered by them. This line of Harleys extended around the bend down Main Street. The Whistle Stop Cafe is in the background.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Good Dog Is Hard To Find

April 11, 2009
Milledgeville, GA

After being really tied up with training, NAVHDA and kind of in a rut otherwise, it was time to hit the road for some sightseeing. We stopped at Andalusia, Flannery O'Connor's farm near Milledgeville. The author lived here from 1951 until her death in 1964 and found inspiration for many of her stories at the farm and surrounding area. While at Andalusia, O’Connor completed her two novels, Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), as well as her two collections of short stories, A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge published posthumously in 1965.

After visiting the house, I took Tessa for a walk around the grounds which include a pond and a really nice nature trail along Tobler Creek.

Tobler Creek Trail

Evening Walk

April 7, 2009
Sandy Creek Park, GA


April 4, 2009
Jersey, GA

When the NA testing was over and attention shifted to the more extensive UT test, I took Tessa back to the pond for a much deserved swim.

During her water phase test, I really did a good job underpresenting her water abilities. I tried not to throw the dummy past point where the water deepened sufficiently for the dogs to have to swim, even though that point was very close to the shore. As you can see, she swims way out to bring back the dummy, but I didn't want to push our luck during the testing, especially after seeing her track going worse than I expected. So all the dummies landed too close to the shore and I had to repeat my "girlie" throws until Tessa finally was able to swim to them. I imagine she was quite annoyed with my pathetic throwing skills. Fortunately, the judges saw that water was more of a problem for me than for my dog!

NA Prize II

April 4, 2009
Jersey, GA

Tessa took the Natural Ability test today, and got Prize II with a score of 87.

The score is not as high as I know it could have been, and her track was definitely sub-par , but Tessa scored high enough in each category to qualify for Prize II; given her lack of training and both of our inexperience, I am very proud of my girl.

The NAVHDA Natural Ability test is designed to test, well, the natural hunting ability of young dogs of up to 16 months old. Its name, suggesting that no training is needed as just the instinct is tested, is misleading. In all fairness to the dog, some training, conditioning, awakening of those instincts should be done. We did plenty of conditioning but had only one training session with game birds, two weeks before the test. Ideally, I should have trained her for another three months and entered her at 1 year old but this was the last test within reach for us before she hits the age limit in October, so we went for it. The test was booked, but there was a last minute cancellation, and after a mad dash for the required paperwork, we were added to the schedule.

Water Phase
  • Nose: 3 x 6 = 18 (max 24)
  • Search: 3 x 5 = 15 (max 20)
  • Pointing: 3 x 4 = 12 (max 16)
  • Desire: 3 x 4 = 12 (max 16)
  • Cooperation: 3 x 2 = 6 (max 8)
  • Tracking: 2 x 2 = 4 (max 8) Bummer!
  • Water: 4 x 5 = 20 (max 20) Yay!


April 3, 2009
Sandy Creek Park, GA

As I learned the next day, everybody had been furiously training for the upcoming NA test, whereas we took it easy at the park.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dancing With The Stars

March 29, 2009
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Tessa doing the happy dance last Sunday at the park.

We were walking and running around, playing, when suddenly she slammed to a dead stop along the fence on the left, and froze into a very intense point, the kind you see on those paintings of bird dogs, one paw pulled up, lean forward. Just beautiful. She held it for about 30 seconds, then went for the search. I have no clue what she had picked up, but she went nuts for about 15 minutes thereafter, trying to get over the fence and climb the trees.

This is half dance and half point. It's amazing how well she negotiates those roots on two legs but I doubt that we will score any extra points with NAVHDA for the rhumba point.

Life After NAVHDA

March 22, 2009
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Life just doesn't seem the same after our first exposure to NAVHDA training and the land they use. Sandy Creek Park seems so small, our conditioning work so pointless (no pun intended), and obedience, what a bore! But, this park is what we have easy access to, the conditioning work actually did yield some results, and the obedience is absolutely necessary.

We will now find a way to alternate visits to this park with more serious field training involving birds, guns and a lot of land.