I returned from a trip to Arizona on Wednesday and found a surprise in the mail - a book sent by John Yates' widow, Donna Yates. The book is Wolfspeak - the collected works of John Yates - vol. 1.
John was a friend, a writer, a breeder of English setters, a trainer, a contributor to Field Trial Magazine and this blog, founder of the American Sporting Dog Alliance, and a good man who fought the good fight until his death from cancer on September 15, 2009.
John helped me get Ted started and we ran dogs together in Oklahoma, then continued our friendship through frequent calls, e-mails, and work on issues confronted by the ASDA.
I did not know that Donna was working to assemble and publish John's writings until this book arrived. I started reading immediately. I'm impressed. Here's a small sample of John's bird dog wisdom on unproductives:
Unproductive points are the bane of many field trial dogs and have cost many good dogs placements. An unproductive means that a dog is found on point, but the handler cannot produce a bird. They are also called unproductives or barren stands.
While there is no written rule about unproductives, the rule of thumb for most field trialers - and most judges - is that one doesn't hurt you, two hurt a lot, and three are fatal.
All pointing dogs have unproductives on occasion, and most dogs will have an occasional bad day with several. When this happens, a handler simply shrugs and figures that his or her luck will even out at next week's trial.
Other dogs will go through a period during their development when they are prone to unproductives, but will grow out of the problem with patience and time. These dogs also are not of great concern to a trainer.
The dogs that we have to worry about are the ones that consistently have a lot of unproductives.
Our first job is to figure out why, then how to deal with it.
Figuring out why is the hard part. That is because trainers often don't know what has happened when a dog is found on a barren stand, and because I have never yet met a trainer who had a decent nose compared to a dog.We simply can't smell what a dog is scenting.
Thus, there are no easy rules for dealing with unproductives. To handle them effectively, there is simply no substitute for experience that will allow a trainer correctly interpret a barren stand. WIthout the the perspective gained by understanding, it is likely that a trainer will do the wrong thing at the wrong time...
To get the rest, get the book - $16 on www.createspace.com or on Amazon.
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