How to Camouflage a Golden Retriever… (GRCN Working Test – Morton Grange, East Harlsey)

Instead of my normal spiel post-working test I have delayed my update as I have been pondering on how best to put what happened into words. So here it is, let’s call it the day Stormford Alter Ego, found his Alter Ego.

Findlay as he’s known to his friends is known as a Show Golden (however to be completely honest a Goldie is a Goldie be it working or show – and that is only further proven by his behaviour in the test). He’s 5 years old and his owner/handler Heather only started training him in the ways of a working dog all of 12 months ago, although it may have been less than that?

This was his first or shall we say virgin run at a working test. The Wednesday before the test we had him out and did various runs with him as a last session before the big entry on the Sunday. He worked a treat, the only blind he missed was one that we’d set out and forgotten where we’d placed it and didn’t send him far enough back for (we were in the totally wrong area). Anyway this brought our hopes for Sunday up, he was under total control, he could find anything we dropped (bar that one) and he was working a dream… This was to be a curse.

He was entered into the Novice test and his first test was to be one we had never really thought of! It was a double (blind to a shot, and a mark) so Heather was a little bit nervous on her ability to get him to turn for a blind, but she set him off and got him to go for the blind. He was on top of it and then ’poof’ he vanished…

The ground at Morton grange is a variety, there is woodland, crop and open grassland all on banking sides with some nicely placed ponds and streams. Now if there is one thing anyone who owns a retriever will know, they love water. Findlay is no exception.

The blind was set just up from a pond. But this isn’t a clean pond, it’s practically a bog. He started the day a beautiful shade of cream gold and came back, well, looking like he was trying to fit in with Labrador’s that were looking on with anticipation. He looked a right state,  but not one to give up Heather sent him for the mark, but he was so weighed down he was struggling to run anymore so she called him and was scratched from that test. [0 points]

On to the second test. Now this one I couldn’t see past the hedge at but he successfully retrieved the dummy although he was again tempted by the water down the hill. But Heather managed to keep him in sight and handled him to the mark. [15 points]

Test three, test three, you’d think third time lucky… guess again! Now to tell a little bit of back story, heather has what some would consider a small holding so she has, or had, Hen’s, Ducks and Geese. She had to get rid of the Geese though as sadly the dogs were obsessed with them… Findlay in particular.

Test three was situated right next to a pond with, yes, Geese swimming on it. But not to be undeterred she walked the dog to the test. This was a blind to shot running down what some would say is a nice tunnel of trees and fence on one side – a straight run down to the blind at the end. She sent Findlay down the tunnel and told him to ‘get on’ so he did right into the pond after the Geese. Now to be fair as a gundog owner your dog should never go past game… Findlay was just doing what he thought he was meant to – retrieve a Goose…

Ten minutes passed with the dog and the geese swimming up and down the pond (that dog has got stamina!) I proceeded to run to the other side of the pond to attempt to call him from there. He looked, once, when I got angry and shouted and swore at him, then he carried on after the geese. Even some of the other competitors walking to the test got involved as we all tried to break the dogs distraction from the geese. The recall whistles failed, shouting his name failed, throwing sticks failed, but finally we had success – The dummy thrower shot the starting pistol and threw a bottle into the water which broke his attention long enough for the geese to get far enough away that when he turned to look at them he realised his task was impossible. He then swam to the edge to see Heather and had to be air lifted from the water as he was so bogged down he could hardly get out of the mud on the embankment. Honestly though that dog looked the happiest of all the dogs there that day, as embarrassing for Heather as it was he had the most fun. And let’s be honest it can only be up from here right? [0 points]

“Where’ve the Geese gone?” (Courtesy of D. Rose of Gaytonwood)

You’d think that she would call it quits now. Nope, he went on to run the fourth and final test. This one was no where near water and was a walk up to heal with a blind dropped behind and a mark thrown ahead. Blind first, then mark. He walked up to heal lovely and went back for the blind and only once tried to turn back for the mark but he handled well and got it. So we turned and he was sent out for the mark but I think by this point not just Heather but Findlay himself had given up, he looked drained and was so weighed down by pond weed and general filth that he hadn’t the energy to run. So he was called back in and that ended his first working test day. [15 points]

So Heather went to find a tap to clean the dog down and go over everything that had just happened.

Hindsight is a marvellous thing, but Geese, who could have predicted that? All in all though, I think everyone had a good day out and Findlay provided the entertainment. But if nothing else we know where we have to do work to get him up to scratch for next year, he will run again!!

And for all of those who want to know, Results:

1. Pebbletoft Primrose [Souter Romulus at Pebbletoft x Moscargrange Barley at Pebbletoft]
2. Georgas Gemstone
3. Braidenvale Carravagio of Woodsprite
4. Pebbletoft Pepper [Souter Romulus at Pebbletoft x Moscargrange Barley at Pebbletoft]

1. FtCH Tweedshot Mango [FtCH Craighorn Bracken x Tweedshot Estelle]
2. Merryway Hazel of Pebbletoft [Holway Banjo x Pebbletoft Harmony of Merreyway]
3. Whitehouse Flyer
4. Vermuyden Eleanor [Moscargrange Amos x Dealminster Zara]

1. Holywear Blackthorn [Dukes Wood x Birdsgreen Amazing Agatha of Holywear]
2. Meadow Fern Goldie [Woodsprite Typhoon x Sunkissed Kate]
3. Farnjo Cocobolo Carys [Lansdown Boy x Aspendale Mythical Melody]
4. Claravale Wild Rose [Saxaphone Express x Claravale Jeanie]

NOTE: I lost my running order so if any names are incorrect, or I’ve missed off or got any parents wrong I apologise, I checked out as many as I could find online.

4 thoughts on “How to Camouflage a Golden Retriever… (GRCN Working Test – Morton Grange, East Harlsey)

  1. Findlay is famous! I’ve heard that story from two different sources as I was supposed to be entering the novice that day with my yellow Lab (if she hadn’t come into season!). Seriously feel for you – I’ve got the T-shirt when it comes to dogs and ponds….!!

  2. I think you have been extremely kind to Findlay and myself! Although he was called all the names under the sun that day I think its the most fun he and I have had together in a long time, and it’s amazing how his story has travelled throughout the doggy world!. What will he do next year!!!

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