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Historical-Shooting Dogs and Shooting Dog Stakes


Was believed written immediately following the very first regional field trial by the Magyar Vizsla Club of America in 1954. I think ???? the author is Charles Hunt. This appeared in VIZSLA NEWS. I believe this to be two pages from a 1954 VIZSLA NEWS. I am VERY disappointed with the condition of the fifties VIZSLA NEWS from The Hunt Collection. dlb


Shooting Dog takes in field trials probably have more gallery judges than any other particular stake; and the individual gallery judge usually has a different conception of performance as do his fellow fence rail observers. Possibly the fact that there has been so little written on the subject, or open forums of discussion, accounts for the diverse ideas on what does constitute a first place Shooting Dog.


It may be beneficial at least for clarifying our amateur members to read the opinions of various veterans and how they rate gun dogs. With that thought in mind we have asked several judges to give us their opinion on what constitutes a good gun dog.


What, then is a good gun dog ? And what is the difference between an Open All-Age and a Shooting Dog ? Actually, an Open dog should be a good Gun Dog; meaning that the basic duty of any pointing breed is to work cover and find birds, point steadfastly until the flush and remain steady at shot. Otherwise the fundamental purpose of field trials is lost and open stakes become a cross country dog race.


It is difficult to draw a fine distinction between the two but generally, in today’s classification, a Shooting Dog is not as wide and fast as the Open, adapting himself to the terrain and progress of the hunter on foot. And, instantly, let us add that geographical custom needs consideration; while in many states birds are hunted on foot, in the south and on the prairies, birds generally are hunted from horses. For our purposes, the broad generality of “close working” will suffice.


What is a good Shooting Dog ? In my opinion, a good Shooting Dog handles well. He is responsive to signals, voice, whistle, hand and is happy to obey. That means he is well in hand at all times.


This swing right, left, come in, go out, whoa, is of utmost importance, not so much for the impression on judges but basic preservation of his life. Today there are comparatively few wide open spaces; the majority of hunters today are confined to one or two farms and it is a rare farm that is not bordered by paved roads scorched by fast automobiles. A whoa; a short whistle for “stop”, an arm gesture can save a loved and valued dog. In short; manners. Too, there is the unequalled pleasure of working with a dog that responds well.


Bird work. How well and thoroughly he searches. Intelligence shown in working cover; that is, winding cover, testing the air for elusive scent. Finding and holding on birds. He doesn’t necessarily have to strike a classic pose, just so he points and is steady to wing and shot. And steadiness means holding until the signal for retrieve is given.


And there is the manner, the spirit, in which he makes the retrieve. Happy, elated, quick. And the return to hand without cajoling or threats or pleading. He comes in with his find, sits and gives up the bird unmarred without teasing or struggle.


Perfection, yes. But not all difficult to attain if the owner will give a few minutes daily for yard work.


Range: possibly speed and range. Speed, after the first few minutes working off excess energy, should be adapted to that of the hunter, handler and the terrain. Type of game has bearing on this too. Range may mean 50 feet to 300 feet. The important qualification is the arc or swing from side to side, searching, seeking for game. For birds may be in the hedgerow or in deep grass or quietly feeding on the field edge. He stays out front; doesn’t cut in back. He stays in sight, not over the hill.


Fast dogs are likely to overrun birds and the slower, methodical fellow finds birds. And it is the game found and downed and the slower, methodical fellow who finds birds. And it is the game found and downed and bagged that counts. So, I would say it is the quality of the work, the unflagging zeal to search out and find birds that counts.


The average hunter today, athlete or armchair executive, simply cannot keep up with a wide, fast dog. Usually birds are not found in the first thirty minutes but after an hour, or hours, of steady plodding. Nor can the average hunter get off a clean shot after running a half mile to flush birds, if the birds are still there.


Perfectionist, yes; however, we have to set our sight high to come even close. Dogs being dogs, and humans being human; good days and off days; there seldom is a dog that does everything just right every time. And I think we would get bored with the perfect dog for it is his unpredictableness that gives us the great wallop in working a dog.


Over the years I have heard Clare Wildner repeat over again; “By the time a dog is made, he’s dead or almost dead.”


Anyway, watching your dog and his brace mate from topside on a horse, up close, those are the general points I look for.
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