I read the Shooting Times over coffee this morning, and one particular item in the letters column caught my eye.
How lovely it was to read of the person that had adopted a working springer called Woodey from a rescue centre, and successfully trained it as a gundog.
The dog, like so many abandoned springers, had been sent into rescue because the owner couldn’t cope.
Excluded from competition
How sad it was though, to hear of the new owner’s disappointment after successfully training the dog, when they discovered that they would never be able to compete with Woodey in any gundog Working Tests or Field Trials
This is not the first time I have come across the extreme disappointment of someone that discovers that all the hard work they have put into training a gundog can never be recognised with any kind of competitive award.
Pedigree papers required
The fact is, that any dog entering a Working Test or Field Trial associated with or approved by the Kennel Club, must be a purebred registered pedigree gundog. As far as I am aware, there are no exceptions.
Competition dogs are potential breeding stock
I can understand the Kennel Club’s reasoning behind restricting entries into Field Trials to dogs with a registered pedigree.
Many trials are already oversubscribed and the object of trials is to select the best dogs from which to breed the next generation of gundogs.
Though I am not sure that this is so relevant when it comes to tests
Exclusion from training days
What did seem unreasonable, is that Woodey’s owner was also refused a place on the Kennel Club’s novice training day. These training days are a new kennel club initiative presumably intended to encourage people to train their gundogs.
Lack of training in young gundogs, especially spaniels, is a welfare issue as it leads to increased abandoment of working bred dogs.
I do hope that the Kennel Club will review this policy of exclusion so that more people can have access to these days.
Rehabilitation of working spaniels bred spaniels is often best achieved through specialised gundog training. Yet all rescue centres, as far as I am aware, have a rule that they do not pass pedigree papers on to adopted dog’s new owners.
The object presumably being to prevent unscrupulous people adopting dogs just to sell them on. It seems unlikely that this rule will be changed.
The Gundog Club
So for the time being no pedigree papers equals ‘no entry’ into Working Tests and Field Trials.
Fortunately for dogs like Woodey and his owner, there is an alternative. Whilst Working Tests and Field Trials are run under the Kennel Club’s jurisdiction, Field Tests are not.
Gundog Field Tests are run by the Gundog Club as a part of it’s Graded Training Scheme.
No pedigree papers are required by participating dogs and the scheme is ideal for dogs like Woodey to mark progress during the training process and to give his owner a sense of achievement.
You can find out more about the Gundog Club’s Graded Training Scheme on the Gundog Club website.
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