- As a judge……..
- As a handler/trainer………
- As a dog………..
From a judge’s point of view it is two-fold. The handler must be seen to have enough control over the dog to be able to direct him to an area in spite of any distractions on the way and then get him to establish a hunt in that area to come up with the bird. The dog must be seen to be responsive to the handler’s whistle and hand gestures, go out with style and enthusiasm, and use his nose to guide him to the fall once in the area.
From a handler’s point of view it is the culmination of hours and hours spent on many repetitive lining and handling drills which started when the dog was a pup and will probably continue until the dog is in his 4th and 5th year. It is, in the case of the team that has done all the preparation and proofing necessary for the level of competition they find themselves in, the incredible feeling of total focus and communication between you and your dog that makes a successfully executed blind retrieve the ultimate and most satisfying game you can play with your dog.
From the dog’s point of view it is knowing exactly what is required of him when the two of you walk into line for a blind. He will be watching from signals from you to indicate where he must look and in which direction to go. It is the only time when his natural ability to retrieve the bird take second place and he understands this. It is his confidence and trust that you will guide and direct him to where these natural abilities can take over in his final hunt for the bird. This attitude does not develop overnight but takes (dare I say it) years to build. In a young dog, confident in his ability to mark a fall, establish a hunt and find the bird without any help from you, this realisation has not yet penetrated and I know how frustrating it is to send a young dog out to a blind only to have him wildly hunt an area the size of a rugby field, totally ignoring any whistle commands or hand signals you might be making from the line. Take heart – the penny does eventually drop, and when it does all the seemingly mindless repetition of drills and exercises you have been doing in training all falls into place, and you have a good “blind” retriever.