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Norway in 2010

Norway – A place of Dreams

What does anyone do when they reach a milestone in their life? For me it was to further my passion for bird dogs.

An opportunity came about when we sold a Pudgey puppy to Espen Farkvam & Marthe Austvik in Trondheim, Norway.

And so…..the dream begins.

I called my friend Leslie Green and asked her if she wanted to have an “experience of a lifetime” with me. So, two women began a journey of learning new language, new culture and new friendships.

We wanted to experience what the Norwegian/Swedish field trials were like. All I can say is AWESOME! INCREDIBLE! BEAUTIFUL! BREATH TAKING SCENERY! These are just a few ways to describe what we saw. The people were genuinely passionate about the sport and their dogs.  Everyone we met was gracious and kind. Even when we “Flatlanders” had rough going climbing to where the trial would begin, the true sportsmanship of the competitors and the judges shone through.

Field trials in Norway and Sweden are all on WILD BIRDS. The start of the trial began with the “drawing of dogs”. There were approximately 100 people there at that first trial. Chosen dogs would then compete that day. The Gun dogs would go to one location and Derby dogs going to another.  We would arrive at the grounds and then proceed on up the mountain to the chosen location where birds had been seen. Rugged, but beautiful country. The terrain was difficult to walk at times, as the ground was like a high alpine tundra, with natural springs in many areas and rocky in other areas. The cover was lichen and low growing plants that reminded me of juniper bushes. The trial lasted about 9 hours.

We were going to be on the juvenile course or in the US, the Derby course. All of the dogs that would be competing that day were on the course. When your dog was to be judged, you would go to the front and the judge would explain the direction you were to take. Each brace was judged for about 15 -20 minutes. Then throughout the day there would be several more series of 15- 20 minute heats, a process to choose the best dogs of the day. So for some dogs they may have been in four series. After each brace the judge would explain and comment on the dogs and who would be next. All the competitors and their dogs would follow until it was their turn. Exceptional behavior for the dogs we saw.

Not only was the terrain hard for humans at times, but try being the dog. Compared to our American trials, where our dogs only run for about 20 minutes for Derby and 30 minutes for the Gun Dogs at a weekend trial. These dogs to me were athletes! Try taking a young dog and ask him to walk at your side while they watch birds flying and other dogs running around hunting and then be asked to have good manners! Impressive! Pointing the birds can be difficult as they become “Wind Washed” from being “jumped” several times. However, that did not stop a lot of these dogs from doing a great job!

The quality of the dogs we saw for their intensity, desire and drive were similar to what we have in the US. Physically, I really liked what I saw in the dogs in Norway and Sweden. I am a believer in the Dual Gordon Setter. A dog that is bred to hunt and be structurally sound to be able to perform as a bird dog.  I myself prefer females to be 40-50 pounds and males 50-60 pounds, not too much bone density to hamper them from moving soundly and have the endurance to hunt all day.

In comparing American AKC Field trials versus Scandinavian Field Trials, both venues have good things and bad things. However the thing that I most like about Scandinavian trials was that they were on wild birds and the sportsmanship of the people in attendance was sincere. There are many “games” people can play with their dogs, for me it must be about bird dog and not one that just “plays the game”. There is nothing I love better than seeing the dogs doing what they love to do and do it with such a passion that warms my heart.

I am very grateful for our hosts taking the time to show us their world, their family and friends. Even more grateful for the opportunity to see some truly great birds dogs!

I am looking forward to learning more about these bird dogs from a country I have grown to love. I hope that I will be able to return and see more wonderful dogs and maybe even bring some back with me.  I saw all of the qualities that I like in dogs on our trip. What Leslie and I saw, was all about the dogs…bird dogs. These dogs don’t play the game; to me they are real bird dogs.

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