Friday, October 31, 2014

‘Dakota’ among top dogs

For a 15-month-old dog with no professional training and little experience, “Dakota” put in an impressive performance during a hunting skills test.
The Small Münsterländer, owned by Mike Gurski, tied for first place during a natural ability hunting test Saturday at Four Brooks WMA in Liaca, Mn.

Conducted by the Minnesota chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA), the test gauges hunting dogs’ abilities to track, search, water work (i.e., fetch a dummy in the water), and point, as well as its desire (eagerness to hunt) and co-operation.
Gurski said “Dakota” scored perfect 4s in all categories except for pointing during an exercise where the dogs had to track a live pheasant in tall grass, where “Dakota” scored a 3.
“Her handler kind of screwed up. I was the handler,” admitted Gurski.
“The first bird you come up to you can’t say anything,” he explained. “You have to let the dog see what she will do, and I ended up saying, ‘Whoa.’
“And the guy said, ‘Well, that’s a scratch, I have to start again.’ So I only had 10 minutes left to find a bird.
“She found a bird and pointed at it,” noted Gurski. “But if I wouldn’t have opened my mouth. . . .
“I should go to training instead of the dog.”
Gurski said he hadn’t really participated in hunting dog testing before and was impressed by “Dakota,” especially since they can’t train in wildlife preserves such as they have in the U.S.
“Just the day before, we went chukar hunting at a pheasant farm and she did well,” he remarked.
“[Though] not as well as normal dogs because she didn’t have any real experience.
“She had some nice points, and I think she would have done really well if she would have had some training there,” added Gurski.
Minnesota NAVHDA test secretary Todd Rockhold told Gurski that “Dakota’s” tracking “was just unbelievable” and “picture perfect.”
“He said if he had a video of it, that’s what he’d show people because she’s got a lot of intensity and a great nose,” Gurski said.
Gurski also said he’s proud of “Dakota,” who tied for first with two other dogs and will be getting a plaque in the mail for her performance.
“I was quite happy with that,” he enthused. “You’ve got professional trainers down there that have their clients’ dogs; rich people who don’t even train their own dogs.
“It was good to win because these guys are professionals.
“Americans takes things seriously—it doesn’t matter what they do, they take it serious and that’s a compliment,” added Gurski.
“They don’t do things half-assed.”
Gurski said he’s considering taking “Dakota” on to further testing in Minnesota later this year.
The Small Münsterländer is a rare breed. There’s only about 2,000 of them in the U.S.
It is a versatile hunting-pointing-retrieving dog breed that reached its current form in the area around Münster, Germany.

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