Local retriever club’s first test is a hit
RIFLE – The first time’s a charm. At least that’s what the Western Colorado Hunting Retriever Club (WCHRC) thinks after holding its first ever hunt test in Rifle this weekend.More than 160 dogs from as far as Louisiana and Oregon and as close as Rifle and Silt came to run tests, hoping to move to the next level or just gain some experience. Started, seasoned and finished tests were available for dogs.The event was so big, Mark Lanier, the president of the national Hunting Retriever Club, came all the way from Baton Rouge, La., to help judge and see how the new club was doing.
“It is outstanding. It’s a great effort. This club did a really nice job,” Lanier said. “For their first test, it was unbelievable.”The WCHRC, which is based in New Castle, is only a few months old and is quickly gaining popularity. Nate and Melody Berhow, of Silt, just joined the club last week.”I’ve been looking to getting into it more, and it’s nice to find a club that is interested in it that you can join with other members and other people and to train with instead of trying to on your own,” said Nate, who has been training hunting dogs for several years. “It’s hard to train with just one person. It is good to get with a group and train and see new dogs and other trainers and get more input.”With most of the dogs in the tests being Labradors, the Berhows felt a little out of place while running their English springer spaniel, Imus, through the started tests.
“We are kind of the oddballs here,” Melody said.”We are the only ones here with a spaniel,” Nate added. “But it has been really fun, pretty interesting.” On Saturday Imus passed a started land test, one that simulates dove, pigeon, pheasant or other land bird hunting. During the started test, each dog is expected to find two marks, which are dead ducks launched into the air by a catapult. The dogs must go about 45 yards to find the marks and must search through a lot of cover, like bushes and shrubs, to find them. On Sunday, Imus failed a started water test, which simulates a duck hunt. The Berhows were still really proud of Imus, though, especially considering he had never run a water test before.
No matter what dog was running a test, everyone was on hand to cheer them once it was completed. With the dogs competing against a standard and not each other, everyone wanted to see the dogs find their marks and bring them back. “They are not competing for first, second or third place. They are competing for pass or fail, so everybody roots for everyone,” said Linda Collins of Salt Lake City. Most of the dogs did succeed over the weekend, but more importantly, the dogs and their handlers enjoyed being able to run hunting tests in their own backyard.”We are just thrilled to have somewhere close to go,” Melody said.
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