May 13th and 14th was the Northeast English Cocker
Spaniel Club's annual
Training Day and Working Dog test weekend which was held this year at
Perry's Hedgerow Kennel in Royalston, MA. Committee members for the
were Karen Fremuth, Meg Skaggs, and Cortney Oliver. Pat Perry gunned for
on Saturday and he and Fred Tambling gunned on Sunday.
We were blessed with near perfect weather for the event. Saturday was
training day and dawn brought a thunder storm, but by starting time the
weather was cloudy, cool, and damp with a light breeze. The rain held
day, giving very pleasant conditions for the dogs if a little bit chilly
the humans! Most of the dogs participating at training were new to birds
and field cover. The birds of the day were bobwhite quail. Turnout for
weekend was excellent with approximately 18 dogs participating in the
training and 14 running in the test.
The task of the Working Spaniel is to seek out game (questing),
in a back-and-forth manner (quartering) that thoroughly scours the cover
front of the handler. Once scent is located the dog must zero in on the
and put it to flight (flush). Exposed in the air, the gunner can then
shoot it. The dog must make note of the location (mark) where the bird
and then find the fallen bird and retrieve it back to the handler. The
must demonstrate boldness to the gunshot, handle the bird kindly so as
damage it, and bring it within reach of the handler. Dogs that handle
in a rough manner such as tearing, crushing, or otherwise ruining it for
human consumption are called "hard-mouthed" and this is a very
We started out with a quick demonstration by Karen Fremuth and her year
bitch, Mia, to show what is desired in the working dog test, after which
participants were split up into two groups.
The morning was spent on a sparsely covered field surrounded by
getting novice dogs introduced to birds and birdwork and some control
Common problems encountered were retrieving and especially the recall.
Happily, most dogs were quite enthusiastic about the birds and several
Following the introduction to birds, the session broke for lunch and a
buffet of sandwiches and potluck salads was set up by Cortney Oliver,
including a Good Luck cake brought by Helyne Mederios, who also brought
another one festively decorated for Sunday's event, and fresh oysters
generously provided by Cortney!
Following lunch we all gathered at a tiny pond to introduce the dogs to
retrieving birds from the water. This proved to be the downfall of
dogs as the pond had a sudden drop that many found quite disconcerting.
Besides that, it was COLD! There were a few, though, that couldn't get
enough of the water, to the amusement of their owners! Some of the dogs
later taken to another pond where the drop was more gradual if rather
and that proved helpful.
The last task of the day was introducing the gun. It is very important
that the dogs be keyed up on the birds before the gun is introduced, as
precaution to avoid causing gun shyness. The dogs are encouraged to make
enthusiastic chase on a thrown or flying bird and a blank pistol is
the dog is in hot pursuit. Those dogs who showed no hesitation at the
were then safe to shoot over.
Training wrapped up around 4:30. It was a VERY full day!
Saturday evening everyone participating was invited to get together at
King Phillip's Restaurant where we enjoyed dinner and drinks. Afterwards
hung around at the hotel drinking champagne until word that Helyne's dog
Calvin (aka Ch. Graecroft Calvin's Blue Jeans) had escaped his crate and
managed to consume large quantities of dessert, including Sunday's
cake! He spent the night waddling around looking like he swallowed a
ball and worrying Helyne and Cortney.
Sunday morning we had sunshine and the day warmed up quickly although it
never became oppressively hot. Deb Spadaro set up a screened tent for
food and drinks, and it seemed everyone with a chair had it out by the
We spent the morning running the land portion of the test. Our English
Cockers were joined by a Field Spaniel and an old-fashioned field-type
American Cocker, both of which did an admirable job. The field in use
the test was a gentle hill with moderate cover and nicely varied, mostly
light weedy cover patched with laurels and low bush blueberries and
small shrubbery, with a scattering of trees, and pocked with deep mossy
puddles. Woodland surrounded the field. We had sunshine and a light
breeze all day. Chukar were used for the test, which was judged by
Schroeder. The dogs had little trouble negotiating the new cover and
demonstrated excellent use of nose and boldness to the thicker brush and
little problem locating the birds. Control, marking and retrieving,
continued to be a weak point for many dogs, albeit problems easily
by more experience and training.
Following the land portion of the test we all gathered for a cold buffet
lunch and then we broke camp to drive to the other side of the preserve
the water work. The pond used this time was gravel bottomed and with a
I am happy to report that Calvin the Cake Consumer, despite his
indiscretion of the night before and being 10 years young, had a fine
Perhaps it was the sugar high.......?
The day ended with the awarding of ribbons at about 3:00 pm., just in
for many of us to make it to our moms' for Mother's Day!
Many many thanks to Theresa Schroeder for coming all the way up from
Maryland to judge this event, to John Schaffer helping everywhere we
him (marshal, bird thrower, etc) and to Pat and Holly Perry for use of
grounds and all their help which kept the day going so smoothly!!
The qualifications were awarded as follows:
FaeryTail's Magic Moments - "Chandler" (Orange Roan Dog)
O: M. Bartholomew & J. Schaffer
Ashbrook Sweet Banshee Magic -"Banshee" (Blue Roan Bitch)
O: D. Spadaro
FaeryTail's Magic Carpet Ride -"Elmo" (Orange & White Dog)
O: M. Bartholomew & T. Deyette
Beauty-Madonna vom Ehrhornsgrund - "Mia" (Blue Roan Bitch)
O: K. Fremuth
Ch. Graecroft Calvin Blue Jeans - "Calvin" (Blue Roan Dog)
O: H. Mederios
Carry-On Han Solo - "Han Solo" (Orange & White Dog)
O: M. Skaggs
Ashbrook Devil's Advocate - "Taz" (Black White & Tan Dog)
O: T. Deyette
Wickford's Lilly Gamma Girl JH - "Lilly" (Field Spaniel Bitch)
O: C. Coniglio
Dungarvan Harmony's Spirit JH - "Spirit" (American Cocker
O: N. Cacchio