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Yah, but can he deliver for the test?

The check went out yesterday. We are committed. Manny’s NAVHDA Utility Test is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 7-9. What a way to celebrate our wedding anniversary! (Thanks in advance, honey, for letting the dogs and me head north the next day.)

We in the west have fewer NAVHDA chapters than our compadres east of the Mississippi. So, we have fewer tests. But most of us are used to epic drives, and this will be no exception. We’ll test at my chapter’s home grounds, near Chehalis, Washington … five hours’ drive on a day when there are few state troopers pointing radar guns at you.

Advantage: I know the grounds pretty well. Disadvantage: The ranch was also the site of our Natural Ability train wreck a year ago. At least there is nowhere go but up.

The test grounds boast lush fields, a stretch of woods to test Manny’s ability to tighten his range in thick cover, and a tailor-made pond with plenty of brush to hide a duck for the all-important search portion of the test. The owner’s home overlooks the whole scenario from a tree-covered promontory, and you know he’s got to love watching so many versatile dogs, so often. I often sneak halfway up the hill on which his place reposes to watch other dogs course what may as well be a hunting amphitheater.

Every test is nerve-wracking. When you’re playing on your home field, the bar is raised another notch. Luckily NAVHDA is populated by supportive colleagues who love their dogs – and other peoples’ too.

Get in. Hold on. Fasten your seatbelt. Pray for benevolent judges.

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