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approached." So much for dog 13!

Dog 25 was Smokey. We started near the end of the first course. He is a big dog and a very powerful puppy. Luckily, he has the nicest line manners. A child could walk him to the line with no pulling or tugging what so ever. After the usual instructions, I cast him off into all the right moves: big loops, big finds, and big retrieves. Taking a runner from the centre of the course to the centre line, this series proved to be the most exciting. In the second series, Smokey failed a retrieve, but we exited the field gracefully knowing that my pup has a good future ahead.

Mac had a good solid second series, deserving to be called back to the third series. But first, the Limit Stake.

"The retrieve was long, but he made it look easy as he quickly returned with the bird."

I decided to run the limit stake on the same field as the open and just re-staked the course. With wind blowing, I cast Mac, dog 1, off. With nice big loops, he ran a good crosswind pattern. He winded his birds, producing two nice retrieves. I felt good about that run and felt he would be the dog to beat. I came back with dog 14, Smokey, and cast him down wind. As I watched him make his turn, I felt that he was really pushing hard and making some wonderful moves. Just as I started to settle in to the good feeling you get when dog and handler are one, I hear a voice call softly, "Gerry, Gerry!" Itís Barry Noland, the judge. I hesitate, feeling this will not be good. As I turn to look backÖthere it is in all itís glory. I canít ever recall seeing such a big pigeon. Pulling out my lead I called in Smokey and walked off the field. Two in one day! Crap!

This trial has to keep moving, so I brush myself off and get everybody to the third series course where gunners and planters are waiting.

Mac is the first dog up. Both Jamie and Pat greet me at the line and welcome me to the third series. Again, Iím instructed to cast off my dogÖ and off he goes. Iím thinking if I pass another bird Iíll just die. Mac works the up wind side of the course and quickly gets into a bird. It moved a bit, but Mac moved in and flushed it beside a small tree - blinding him from the full flight path. As he was sent for the retrieve, Jamie remarked that he was totally blinded by the tree. He started to move closer to investigate but quickly raised his hand, indicating that the bird had been collected. Both judges agreed that another bird was in order and I cast Mac downwind. Again, he worked the up wind side of the course. I left him alone for a bit and was just about to force him downwind, when he suddenly indicated the presence of another bird. This time the bird headed for the raspberry bush with Mac in hot pursuit. I could see the bushes moving. My gunner began to raise his gun in anticipation of the flush. The bird busted out of the cover taking the same path as Jasperís bird on the day before. It was downed at almost the same location. We couldnít see Mac, but I knew he was sitting. The retrieve was long, but he made it look easy as he quickly returned with the bird.

Mac didnít place, but did end up in the top 5 dogs of the day. I was told, later, by both judges that he was so close to a placement that the judges were splitting hairs to determine fourth place. It was the fact that Mac worked the up-wind side of the course and that I neglected to force him over which made the difference of getting a placement or not.

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