-a pictorial account of a VJP

by Jeffrey H. English, DVM

The Site: Thornville, Ohio, 12 April 1997, at the Buckeye Game Club, a little piece of heaven just east of Columbus, owned by our host, Andrew Wolfe, and home of the Wolfswiese kennel. Our test coordinator, and the one who made everything work. was Bob Worrell.... As usual, Bob and his associates did it up right, ensuring that excellent meals were served up in the comfortable clubhouse., planting birds, providing all the behind the scenes legwork that - if done right generally goes unnoticed by the test participants, but is critical to the success of the test.

6:00 am: The group is gathered in the clubhouse for breakfast... nervous test participants, judges, and several of us observers.... Renewing old friendships, embellishing old lies, passing on unsolicited advice on dog training techniques... a typical bunch of drahthaar enthusiasts. The weather is rainy and windy.... Rather suggestive of Germany, actually... it promises to be a difficult day for locating rabbits, and the soggy weather does nothing to salve nervous jitters concerning pointing work on damp quail.

6:30 am: The judges (senior judge Bryon Beaton of Birmingham, AL-, Alexander Graeber, of Monroeville, NJ; and Robert Seeger, of China Township, MI) meet to go over registration paperwork, check vaccination status and plan test strategy. The handlers have come from far and wide: Kevin Barr from Indiana, Ron Nichols from New Jersey, Bob Secoura and his son Seph, from North Carolina (eight years old & already an accomplished handler, Seph may well be the youngest handler to take a dog through the VJP), and Jack Hicks from Virginia. It does our hearts good to see that Ron Nichols, a veteran drahthaar man and in fact the senior judge for the test tomorrow, appears to be as nervous as the rest of the handlers... No one is immune.

7:00 am: The judges provide a briefing to the handlers, questions are addressed, and the test begins. The first evaluation is of field search... A major advantage for the observation gang is that the field search is conducted in the hunting fields directly behind the clubhouse... as it is raining hard off and on, we follow the path of least resistance, lounging OD the Second floor porch, sipping Bob Worrell' s coffee, and watching the soggy handlers ind dogs working the cover.... Not a bad life, actually.

Seph Secoura and Astra vom Meisenhaus

Mr. Seph Secoura (8 years) and Astra vom Meisenhaus (11 months), after a successful field search. The new L.L. Bean poster child.

Our peaceful respite came to art abrupt end, as Herr Seeger made his entrance and announced " Ve vill now begin the rabbit tracks.... You observers vill get sticks und meet us outside. Come, ve get started!" Well, ve did get started, and proceeded to spend the entire morning, on into the early afternoon., bashing through the wet fields and marshes, swatting at brush with our sticks and trying to flush rabbits for the dogs to track. It was only raining occasionally now, just enough to keep you thankful for your head-to-toe rain gear... the rabbits were few and far between... ducks and geese aplenty, and the occasional pheasant bursting from cover.... A good day to be afield (isn't any day?).

Flushers watching a track
Judge Alex Graeber (far right) and soggy bunny flushers watch as a DD works a track. The gentleman in the orange hat is our netmeister, Todd Hedenstrom.
Judges convene a hasty meeting, ("Bob, don't they have any *%#!!! Rabbits in Ohio ?") while handlers look on...
A judge's meeting
Bob Secoura and Ace vom Meisenhaus
Bob Secoura launches Ace vom Meisenhaus on a bunny track... water on the lens makes for a somewhat artsy effect. don't you think'? (hey, no one else was foolish enough to take their camera out there!)
Handlers awaiting their turn, while another handler works his dog. L to R: Seph Secoura and Astra vom Meisenhaus; Barry Pickens and fancy stick; Bob Secoura and Ace vom Meisenhaus; Ron Nichols and Dux vom Steinweg.
Handlers waiting thier turn at tracking
Eventually, enough rabbits were flushed to allow all the dogs the opportunity to show their tracking prowess. A collective sign of soggy relief was breathed by all, as we headed back to the clubhouse to replenish our depleted nutrient reserves and try to dry out. Bob Secoura had to endure just a bit of playful ribbing (much to the amusement of young Seph), regarding his sighting of "a swimming bunny"... Sure, Bob, so you want a chance to have your dog do a "search behind the bunny"? You and Jimmy Carter.

Following another magnificent pig-out session at the clubhouse, handlers hit the fields once more, for the pointing phase of the test. Much to everyone's relief, the weather had cleared up for the most part by this time, and the dogs put on a good showing.

Ron Nichols and Dux vom Steinweg
Ron Nichols moves in on a classy point by Dux vom Steinweg... Ron was smiling when he came out of the field...
Herr Seeger works on a score... "Ummm, dog very good, but handler nicht so gut..."
Herr Robert Seeger
And then the field work was over. Dogs were brought up for examination of coat, bite, and basic conformation, then the judges retired to their table in the clubhouse to go over their scores and arrive at a collective decision, while the weary handlers waited anxiously for the news. At length, the judges emerged from their chambers, and the scores were read, to abundant applause from the gallery and other handlers.... A good day, some fine dog work, and the first leg of the journey completed successfully. And then on to the local restaurant, for more fine food, spirits, and camaraderie. A fine day indeed !

A successful VJP testing group
The players: L to R: standing in back, judges Alex Graeber; Robert Seeger; Bryon Beaton. In front: Jack Hicks & Anna vom Meisenhaus; proud papa Bob Secoura with Ace & Seph with Astra vom Meisenhaus; Kevin Barr & Axel vom Meisenhaus, Ron Nichols & Dux vom Steinweg.
Text & photos by Jeffrey H. English, DVM

Last modified June 7, 1997. Copyright (c) 1997, Jeffrey H. English

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