I could not decide which dog instead of Paika to take with me until the very last moment. Bernie or Billy? I run Bernie on rabbits quite often, and he is very good. And it has been a very long time since Billy ran in field trials as we have been using him mainly for blood tracking. I really could not decide. I even printed entry forms for both, Bernie and Billy, and when John asked whom I was going to take, my response was that I would not know until the very last minute. I was leaning towards Bernie, but John thought that Billy was a better choice. When I finished packing my car and put Quenotte and Tommy in their crates, my choice became clear - it was going to be Billy.
There were three trials, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and a field champion stake was large - 34 entries on Sat and Sun, and 31 on Monday. Thanks (not!) to the luck of draw on Saturday Billy ran in the first brace. I prefer not to be in an early brace, but I was really impressed with his run and thought that he had a chance to be called back in the second series. In the end he was called back 4th and climbed all the way to the first place. Then he went to win the Absolute run (equivalent of High in Trial)!
On Sunday Billy did very well again, was called back second in the second series and ended up first and the Absolute Winner again. His line control and check work were very good. On Monday he had a great run in the first series as he brought the rabbit back to the gallery, but he was called back only 6th. He ended up NBQ, which is equivalent to the 5th place.
This was a pleasantly surprising weekend. Many years ago as a young dog Billy finished his field championship very quickly with three first places, but we almost did not run him at all as a field champion. With as many dogs as we own, we have to make some tough decisions who is going to be used for blood tracking mainly and who will be run at field trials. Billy is seven years old now, and his main field experience comes from blood tracking, which I am sure really sharpened his skills of working a scent line.
Billy is a great companion; he is easy going and has a heart of gold. He travels extremely well, and we had a lot of fun together. The weekend in Batavia provided an excellent bonding experience, and I am sure he will be coming with me to more field trials in the fall.
More about Batavia field trials in the next post.