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We had received a couple of good frosts and one day, during the previous week, we awoke to a slight sprinkling of snow. Such was not the case today…fog…thick fog! Our gun Captain felt it was unsafe to commence and as a result the trial was delayed for almost two hours. This gave Jamie and me ample time to discuss what we would accept throughout the course of the day. On retrieves, we decided to send dogs on all fallen birds. If such a retrieve should be ungodly long, we would take the handler and walk up half ways or so, in order to assist the dog in such a retrieve. "No different than I would do if I were hunting!" commented Jamie. We agreed to judge the degree of difficulty on retrieves and score them accordingly. I also discussed with Jamie the patch of heavy cover on the second course, asking if he felt we should take up the dogs and start up on the other side. We looked at the area and decided that it is a tough piece of cover but we should work through it and mark dogs according to their ability to handle different types of cover.

The fog finally lifted leaving a slight haze with absolutely no wind. "This will no doubt be a problem for all," I thought.

The first dog was cast off and produced two quick birds that provided a couple of retrieves and I thought that this might not be so bad after all. I was soon proven wrong. It was very quiet on Jamie’s side of the course where his first dog ran a good distance without producing a bird. When we got to the end of the first course and the second course was being planted, I asked Jamie how the scenting was on his side of the course. He turned and looked at me with despair and said, "What scenting?"

We moved on to the second course.

As we approached the heavy cover, I watched as dogs struggled through it hearing comments from some of the handlers voicing their dismay and frustration as the temperature climbed to 24 degrees C (This is Canada EH!). "Too late to change things now," I thought as we forged forward.

Dog 22 was called to the line. I gave the handler my usual greeting and told him what I expect and require of him and his dog. It wasn’t long after he cast off his dog that he got onto a runner. He closed in on it quickly - driving it into the air. The retrieve was a medium distance. The bird was quickly collected and brought to hand. We then changed courses and headed for the "dead zone". Jasper hit this stuff with out missing a beat, running gun to gun making nice, comfortable loops. At times, all we could see is the grass parting as he ran. Then, all of a sudden, his pattern changed as he moved forward for about ten meters (Canada EH!) and out burst a nice cock pheasant heading over the centre flags. The bird was dispatched just past the centre of our brace-mates course as I looked to see if Jasper was still sitting. I couldn’t see him for the high cover so I tapped Tom, the handler, giving him permission to send his dog.

Through all the cover, Jasper had a good line on the bird and marked it perfectly. All we could see was the grass parting to where the bird had fell, stopping for a brief second, and then returning in our direction. As he approached, we could see that he had collected the bird and a great sigh was given by the both of us as Tom handed me the bird. I scored the dog knowing that this was the performance to beat. Before the next dog was called up I turned to the gallery and said, "There! It can be done!" For those of you who know me, you know I say what I feel, no matter what. And just because I am judging I still had to say it. Not another complaint was heard for the rest of the day.

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