Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

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Should clubs have the option to use artificial game at Retrieving Trials ?

Poll ended at Sun 15 Jul 2018 11:58 am

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Total votes : 43

Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Peter Butterfield » Fri 06 Apr 2018 11:58 am

Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Is it time to start allowing the use of artificial game, eg Dokken (plastic) ducks etc, or dummies perhaps at Retrieving trials?

I’d like to see where the retrieving community currently stands on this.

For sometime I’ve heard the suggestion bandied-about but have never noticed a real attempt to adopt the idea for Retrieving trials. Personally, I think it has some merit. I’m not suggesting a blanket change, but rather, providing the option for clubs to substitute real game with common artificial equivalents on some or all stakes or runs if they choose to.

Cases For this that I’ve heard often include that it would alleviate pressures on clubs to source and store game; create a greater ambit of equality in competition, and would be more ’politically correct’.

Cases Against often include preferences to keep the sport closely tied to traditional hunting practice, utilising all of a gundog’s natural abilities, and assessment aspects such as hard mouth etc. amongst other things.

Something to consider lately are the practicalities of maintaining reliable supplies of game that are often difficult to source. Costs are also rising and generous soul/s in every club are donating their refrigerators for storage and footing the bills of spiralling electricity costs for our benefit. Of course there is also precedence with this practice in RATG and ANKC would not be the first organisation to adopt it for retrieving trials ...but let’s not go there!

Above is a poll to anonymously indicate your personal preference on this matter. Please tick a box even if you don’t feel strongly about this. Also feel free to discuss as well if you have a particular point of view.

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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Ron Jackson » Sat 07 Apr 2018 7:07 am

Thanks Peter. Yes, with the condition of including some cold game at each level. Also given the recent 3 day trial in Qld the cost of $825 for birds, entry fees would need to rise if costs cannot be reduced.
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Wendy Michalk » Sun 08 Apr 2018 5:11 pm

In my experience using frozen birds ( which seems to be the norm these days ) is anything but ideal, especially in our hot climate. Artificial game would solve issues such as decomposing thawed birds over the course of the trial & would insure greater equality for all competitors. In an ideal situation good quality birds would be easily available at a reasonable price when needed & every trialer would be happy to collect, dispatch & deliver their clubs birds. However this is not what is happening & artificial game at some levels would make the job of organising trials a much easier task for those who are repeatedly called on for this job.
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Prue Winkfield » Sun 08 Apr 2018 6:07 pm

Yes provided cold game is used as part of each stake to assess hard mouth. As far as i am aware soft mouth is a fundamental requirement for every gundog breed. As members of ankc we should " breed primarily for the purpose of improving the quality and/or working ability of the breed in accordance with the breed standard ". Trials assist in assessing potential breeding stock just as conformation shows do.
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Wendy Michalk » Sun 08 Apr 2018 6:33 pm

I should add I do agree with both Prue & Ron some cold game should be used through out the trial to test for hard mouth. I believe it should be used in all stakes at some point not all breeding dogs make it to All Age before being bred,also it would be heart breaking to get to All Age standard to find the dog marks birds.
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Paul Towning » Sun 08 Apr 2018 6:55 pm

Hi all
I am in favour of using Artificial Game in Novice and Restricted with the use of cold game in at least one Run and cold Game in all All Age runs. As Ron J stated the cost of birds this Easter weekend was $825 which all birds were buried (I know as I had to dig one of the hole`s).
It would also allow clubs to go Public in what we do with demonstration`s at various events (fairs etc).
It also make`s financial sense for all clubs to go this way and believe that we could promote our sport better to the wide community.
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Ron Jackson » Tue 10 Apr 2018 7:28 pm

FROM CATHIE: For me, it's simply a 'cost and efficiency' factor. Not about 'changing' to artificial game entirely, for the sake of it.
We definately need to keep 'game' as part of 'who ANKC is' .Therefore, an article of game needs to be kept in at each level. It would not be fair to those who have gone before us and gained titles, to NOT test on cold game, at EACH level.
From a 'non-handler' who has observed and served for 40 years.
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Amand Golle » Thu 12 Apr 2018 6:33 pm

In relation to the recent discussions on the subject of “Artificial Game” to be incorporated into the National Sport of Retrieving with Pure Bred Gundogs, “Hunting Dogs”.

I wish to take this opportunity to reflect of “Years gone by”.

Back in 2007 this proposition was suggested in Qld that because the usage of birds could be banned, we should consider using “Artificial Game” etc.

My Wife and I were active in competing and judging Nationally at that time and we were participating in the National Retrieving Championship in Victoria, conducted in 2007.
We decided to conduct a democratic survey and seek the opinion of those who were entered in this Championship.

I submit a copy of this result which only those who were entered and competing in this Championship could participate rather than whoever wished to comment on the very important issue, for the future of our beautiful sport of retrieving and testing of Pure Bred Hunting dogs.

The result of the survey was
67 against the use of Artifical Game and 2 for the use of Artificial Game.

State by State – Vic 46, NSW 9, WA 6, Qld 5, SA 2, ACT 1.

The active triallers responded by saying, should the skies fall in and we can no longer test our dogs on relevant game, only then we will consider our options.
In the meant time let us continue as we are until the “Gloom and Doom” occurs.

May I suggest that such a survey be conducted in Victoria once again in 2018 with those who are currently entered in this National Championship without others who may wish to have their say for other reasons, whatever they may be?

Kind regards from Amand and Georgina.
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Joe Vella » Fri 13 Apr 2018 12:29 pm

Hi Peter thank you for your post.

I am one which will not be taking part in your quest to introduce Artificial Game into the ANKC Retrieving Trials for Gundogs as we currently know them through participating in your survey and I suggest there may be others which may feel the same way as I do which may put a question mark over the accuracy of the result.

I was taken aback a little as I read the posts from our friends in Queensland quoting the cost of Game to clubs and in particular the club which conducted the Easter weekend of trials at Allenview Queensland in order to justify a possible change to the ANKC Rules in order to introduce the use of Artificial Game at ANKC Retrieving Trials for Gundogs.

As you are aware i was present at the Easter weekend of Trials at Allenview and I competed as well as judged dogs over the weekend. The trials were conducted very well by the club and it was most enjoyable to participate.

With regards to the cost of Game at Retrieving Trials I must point out that clubs are supposed to be Non Profit Organisations and as such Clubs should be conducting Trials and setting the Entry Fees in order to recoup the full cost of running the event plus a little more which will go towards the conduct of the next event.

The Easter Trials in Queensland were well supported and I cannot believe that the full cost of conducting the event was not met through the Entry Fees over the weekend. Clubs set the entry fees to cover all the costs involved in the conduct of any event.

Handlers are paying in excess of 2000 Dollars for puppies and some up to 3000 Dollars. I don't believe that handlers are complaining about the cost of an Entry Fee to compete in Retrieving Trials to cover cost as well as to maintain the conduct of Retrieving Trials for Gundogs as we currently know them.

Game availability is not in the short supply as supporters of Artificial Game would have us believe. In past years in Queensland there was a trialler by the name of Bob Lodder which did procure Game for most of the Trialling events in Queensland till his retirement from the Retrieving Game, Amande and Georgina Golle did the same for a lot of years and in the present Jake Christiansen is doing the same and he supplies not only to Queensland but also to NSW when he has an over supply of Game. To each of these people we should take our hats off in recognition of their efforts but mind you these people did/do not wait till the day before the trial to go out and purchase game for the event.

Cost of Game and Lack of Game are some of the excuses put forward by supporters of Artificial Game to enact change to the Rules.

What needs to be said is that there was never a problem in the conduct of Retrieving Trials in Queensland and lack of Game and the Cost of Game did not come into it until, for whatever the reasons were at the time a split of factions occurred in Queensland. Ever since the split occurred Queenslanders have been trying to get a foot in through the door every time the ANKC Rules for the Conduct of Retrieving Trials for Gundogs come up for review with regards the inclusion of Artificial Game into the Rules for Retrieving.

We who believe in the true abilities of our Gundogs should not contemplate supporting such a change to the Rules as this would most certainly will result with dogs who's abilities have not been fully tested and with dogs which would have hidden faults, to name one very important fault, Hardmouth. Retrieving Trial Rules insist Judges must check the Game immediately after the dog delivers it to it's Handler at the end of every run as dogs may not damage birds during the first Run but may do so during every other Run. If supporters of Artificial Game are successful in their quest, we will most certainly end up with lesser quality dogs becoming successful at Retrieving Trials which in reality is a false result. Retrieving Trials will become haven for such dogs.

In conclusion I say these Doken ducks/Artificial Game don't fly, they certainly don't quack and don't propagate their own species but most of all I have searched numerous Game cooking books for recipes to enable my wife to cook one of these things and found nothing. This would be funny if it was not so serious but it is in fact a correct assessment of Artificial Game.

I hope this foolishness about fully testing Gundogs through the use of plastic Game is just some ones idea of a bad joke. Guys you cannot cannot be serious.

Our Game will never reach the heights of which it is capable of reaching if we keep on introducing rules to accommodate the lower quality lesser dog.

Joe Vella
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Peter Betteridge » Fri 13 Apr 2018 4:57 pm

My experience of the Nsw triallers attitude to artificial game has been overwhelmingly positive I think 90% of triallers in Nsw would welcome the option of using artificial game we even had a prominent trialler and judge state that they were prepared to purchase the artificial ducks and rent them out for a nominal fee to the clubs until she got her money back. having the extra option makes sense to almost everyone In Nsw we have been unlucky in the past to have had a raft which has not endorsed the position of the vast majority.
I strongly support the option of artificial game let’s hope common sense prevails.
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Joe Vella » Fri 13 Apr 2018 8:29 pm

Hi Peter,

Even If I had dogs and I don't and never will which will not pick up all of the different Game species which is presented to them or dogs which may have Hardmouth issues I would still not try to change the Game of Retrieving to suit the faults in my dogs or my inabilities to correct them. For me this would be grossly unfair and disrespectful to the Handlers and their dogs past and present who have achieved so much and in doing so improved the Game to the level it's at now.

I can understand that certain people such as yourself and the prominent judge which you make mention of who happens to be a very lovely lady have not the temperament to train a dog for the field, one which you would shoot over and therefore the requirement to fully test such dogs is not needed.

Rather than to try to ruin the game of Retrieving I suggest that you and the lovely lady should endeavour to create a new discipline one which would be recognised nationally through the ANKC to conduct trials just how you guys would want them to be. I am sure you would have the support of most people if not all around the country.

If the rules were modified to accommodate Artificial Game, the ANKC Retrieving Trials for Gundogs will cease to be as the full testing of a Gundog can only be achieved through the use and application of Game species and no other way.

Then If you guys are successful in the demise of the ANKC Retrieving Trials for Gundogs as we currently know them then you might as well start running Chihuahuas in competition as the modified version would result in being nothing more than a Retrieving trial which any breed of dog may be accepted to compete.

Joe Vella
Joe Vella
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Peter Betteridge » Fri 13 Apr 2018 9:05 pm

Wow joe
What a post
I will let others decide as to its level of rationality
Peter Betteridge
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Joe Vella » Sat 14 Apr 2018 6:38 pm

Hi Pete,
Good one we will do just that as there is nothing irrational in my post but the truth hurts at times doesn't it and people do get upset don't they.
Joe Vella
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Russell Whitechurch » Wed 18 Apr 2018 3:41 pm

I wouldn't have a problem with Club's having the option to use artificial game at retrieving trials.After many years obtaining pigeons for clubs i know it is now going to be even more difficult to obtain pigeons due to the roto&pmv viruses which has had a big impact on the pigeon population
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Re: Artificial Game in Retrieving Trials

Postby Paula Davidson » Wed 18 Apr 2018 8:37 pm

Very good point Russell.
The scarcity of pigeons also means that we are often getting below par pigeons, some the size of sparrows and having been frozen and maybe even re-frozen, they are often very "soft" - ideal for causing hard mouth. The reality is that no one goes shooting pigeons, so saying they are used in our Trials to test dogs ability for soft mouth on 'real game' is fallacious. Dogs might be hard mouthed on some soft pigeons, not on other fresh pigeons and not on 'real game' of ducks. So does this disprove the intent, namely that using defrosted pigeons is nothing like testing a dog for a soft mouth on real game?
Also, probably even more importantly, the Animal Rights movement is growing more powerful by the day and, it seems to me, that it is only a matter of time before we are seen on National TV, unnecessarily killing birds for our sport. It might get very ugly indeed. I know that I for one would not want to be seen in that view.
I think the use of artificial birds is a great idea and will bring more people into the sport who may otherwise not wish to be associated with it. It's a great idea moving forwards.
Paula Davidson
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