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than ninety days prior to the test dates. The answer is simple; it involves preplanning and verification of the requirements for a sponsor. Judges must be AKC licensed, there must be ducks and decoys for the master level, the proper paperwork must be on hand for the sponsor, written approval must be given by the AWSC, and other specific organizational matters must be in place. This realistically precludes allowing for ‘on the spot’ decisions to hold an RCT as some have implied that they would like to see. AKC clubs must apply for approval to hold an AKC test at least four months (120 days) ahead of the event. Requiring those who are willing to hold an RCT to apply for approval three months in advance (90 days) is a very reasonable requirement.

considered intimidation of the dog were wrong. Kneeling beside your dog is NOT, in and of itself, intimidation.” There is nothing in the rules that says kneeling beside your dog is intimidation and there is nothing

The matter of using only AKC judges for the RCT continues to be brought up by some members.AKC spaniel and retriever judges are qualified to judge these tests and, because a dog that passes an RCT earns an AKC title, they will be the only judges that can be used to determine RCT passes of any type. Now, let’s move on to some concerns about the actual rules.

During the RCT that was run in August there was confusion over whether or not the rules allowed for the handler to communicate with the dog. At least one judge felt that communication with the dog, as the birds were being thrown, was not allowed in the rules. There is nothing in the rules that states dogs cannot be communicated with as they are running the test. There are a number of areas in the rules that state a handler shall not intimidate a dog in any manner during the test and each judge has the ability of determining just what intimidation is and what it is not. Apparently this judge wanted to avoid any possibility of verbal intimidation by having the handlers be silent as the birds were launched. Put plain and simple, this judge was wrong in making this determination. Steps have been taken to clarify this point and all future judges and handlers will be given the following instruction with the rules:

Unless otherwise noted, the handler is allowed to talk to the dog in a quiet manner throughout the running of the test as a means of directing, reinforcing, or supporting the dog’s actions. It is important to remember that this test is an attempt to simulate a hunting situation and, as in a hunting situation, all verbal communication with the dog should be done in a manner that would not disturb a normal day’s hunt.

Handlers should feel free to communicate verbally with their dog, however, constant nagging, shouting, or harsh tones could lead toward a lower than desirable score.

One handler who ran in the August RCT has said, “The judges’ assumption that certain actions were to be

AWS Nighthawks Rupert and Paul Rylance at Vergas, MN - June 2001 hunt test (Susan Rylance)

in the rules that says a handler cannot kneel beside the dog while running the test. Many of us do this or something similar, like sitting on a bucket, in actual hunting situations. For those dogs that have been trained to mark birds off of the gun, kneeling or sitting beside the dog helps it to mark and to retrieve the bird in a more efficient manner. If anything, this type of action should be encouraged rather than penalized. The judges were wrong and handlers will be allowed to kneel, sit, or stand as they run their dogs in an RCT.

A variety of questions or concerns have arisen on the issue of bank running and there will be an attempt to clarify to everyone just what is expected. The first thing that must be noted is that as you go up the ladder in degree of difficulty, from Junior, to Senior and finally to Master, you will be given less leeway in just how much bank running is acceptable. Here is a brief look at what is contained in the rules.

Junior level: A dog that runs the bank to enter the water shall be marked down. Use of the bank upon returning to the handler is of less concern with the Junior dog.

Senior and Master level: A dog that runs the bank to enter the water shall be marked down.

At least one AWS handler that ran in the August RCT has attempted to somehow infer, through the actions of the judges, that the rules indicate bank running is an automatic failure. There is no place in the rules that says a dog that runs the bank at any level will be failed or that indicates where the judge may score for bank running (i.e. Style, Trainability, etc.). The desire is for the dog to not run the bank at all but we all know that there will be times when a dog is going to do just that no matter what we

American Water Spaniel Review


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