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  • Writer's pictureReyna Bradford

Junior Hunter Wannabe (Written 6/25/20)

On my list of pipe dreams is the possibility that Butterscotch might eventually be able to compete for AKC hunt test titles.

Hunt tests are trials that attempt to simulate the skills and challenges a working retriever would encounter on land and in water. There are different levels in which a dog and handler can earn various titles, the first of which is a Junior Hunter, or JH, a degree that can be added to a dog's registered name.

Scotch loves to play with toys and he loves the water. So today I took him out to the front yard to introduce the game of fetch.

Of course, we've played with toys in the house before. But there are always two or three other dogs who get in the way, snitch the toy, bounce off the furniture, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

This would be just me and Scotch, one on one.

Until you get your dog working with real birds, the primary item that hunting retrievers actually learn to retrieve is called a bumper. It's an oblong, cylinder sort of thing with a rope handle at one end. Bumpers are fairly bulky and have some weight to them, just like a real duck would, and I've seen them made of hard plastic or canvas stuffed with sawdust. Either way, an essential feature of the bumper is that it floats. Both the dog and that bumper will be spending a lot of time in the water.

I haven't had a water retriever for a while and so have no bumpers on hand. But I did unearth a cylindrical toy made of felt-type material, which I thought might do in a pinch.

I showed it to Scotch, got his attention on it, and then flipped it out about eight feet. With no hesitation, he lolloped right to it, scooped it up, and brought it straight back to me. I had sort of expected this.

But the best part was that, having come back to me, he sat down square in front of me, just like a hunting retriever should, with the fake bumper held perfectly, one end sticking out of each side of his mouth.

I was totally excited. It was the cutest thing. He didn't do it like that every time, but each time he returned his toy, he did sit (at one angle or another) and wait for me to take it from his mouth.

I think Scotch wants to be a Junior Hunter.

Goldengreene's Scotch on the Rox JH does have a nice ring to it.

I don't know if we'll get that far, but I do have a feeling that we'll have fun along the way.

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