When it comes to dogs and kids there is something special going on. Dogs are non judgmental therefore they can’t criticize and they are unable to correct. Whether a child is reading to a PAT dog in a school library or being a junior handler the unconditional feedback the child receives can only make them feel better about themselves. Their confidence and self esteem will grow. They learn about positive reinforcement and responsibility. The dog can introduce a child to those important life skills.
The junior scurries set up at the Hampshire Show on May 5th was a unique and exciting challenge for the next generation of our gundog scurry and working test handlers. I observed many youngsters taking part in the scurry and retrieves. All of them were young, dynamic and full of enthusiasm. Some of the youngsters simply went in for a fun challenge with their family pet and others went in to experience the test environment and put their training into practice. It was a joy to watch and great entertainment for the crowd of spectators. I did see some very promising youngsters taking part in the event and each displayed a bond between dog and handler which was unique to watch. Thankfully, these events offer an opportunity for the youngsters to shine and for the experts to recognise the potential of a growing team. The variety of the tests gave an exciting challenge to the youngster and their dog. Two of the young handlers who competed on Sunday were my daughters, Jessica and Ella. It was the first time I've seen them both in a test environment and I have to say I was very excited for them!Jessica, age 9, won the junior straight retrieve using the latest dummy launcher. The dummy was sent out about 80 yards. Ivy marked the dummy from her position at the start line and the timer was set as the dog was sent out. Jess used the hunt whistle and Ivy picked the dummy and retrieved it nicely back to hand in 51 seconds. Jess was delighted with her 1st rosette, bag of St Johns dry dog food and a dummy. She wasn't so impressed when she realized she had to carry the bag of dog food all the way back to the car park!
Ella, age 11, won the junior retrieve multi pick up challenge. The course consisted of a 5 dummies being thrown out. 3 were marked and two were blind retrieves. Collective time for all dummies is the time recorded. As in all classes the stop watch is stopped and started as each dummy is collected. Ella's handling was calm and clean and she completed the challenge in 88.41 seconds which gave her first place for the juniors. She also completed the dummy launcher retrieve and came third with a time of 64 seconds. As Ella won the junior pick up with the fastest time she has been invited to the junior finals at Sandringham in September.
She also completed the dummy launcher retrieve and came third with a time of 64 seconds. As Ella won the junior pick up with the fastest time she has been invited to the junior finals at Sandringham in September.
As a member of several gun dog clubs in the Dorset area I'm so thankful the trainers and members encourage and welcome junior handlers. Extracurricular activities are important for all the family. I feel life is about more than just school/work and as a mum I try to help my girls find a balance with their lives. Being part of the gun dog community helps develop their sense of purpose. They create bonds with their peers and other junior handlers and become part of a new community where they learn about their own talents, interests, strengths, and limits. Following their test at the Hampshire Show I asked them if they were proud of their achievement. I think the pic below answers this question...