What’s great about being a dummy thrower?
Debbie Lusty from Andover enjoys helping out at tests and being a dummy thrower. “It enables me to be an integral part of the event and I feel involved rather than just watching from the outskirts. Debbie loves spending the day in the countryside. “I’ve been made to feel very welcome today and I’ve learnt a lot from watching each dog in turn.”
Peter Leyden from Ringwood enjoys watching the dogs work. “I learn a lot from watching the dog and handler in a test environment. Sometimes I pick something up and go home and try it out.
James Langton from Wimborne said. “It’s great to help out as I’m fairly new to the working tests. I’ve enjoyed being a dummy thrower as I get to watch the handlers work their dogs in different ways.”
As a dummy thrower did you make any observations from your test?
“Not trusting your dog!” says Debbie. “For my test it was a fairly simple blind but some of the handlers used the whistle to encourage their dog. There were several occasions where the handler could have left the dog and it would have easily found it. Heel work is interesting to watch. Some handlers are watching their dog and others are more confident and observing what is going on around them.”
Nicola Farmiloe enjoys helping out. She noticed a common pattern occurring in her test which involved two blind retrieves up a hill. “Many of the handlers were sending their dogs off quite far to the right. There were only a few which went straight up the middle and picked. I was positioned at the bottom of the hill and there wasn’t much wind but you could see the dogs changing direction as the wind picked up at the top of the hill.”
Pete has been competing for 8 years. He’s familiar with the test environment and still feels the pressure. “You always want to throw a dummy the same for every dog so there’s a bit of pressure to get it right every time. Sometimes there is the odd one which I’m not happy with but it comes with practice!”
James a gundog handler admits there’s a bit of pressure to get it right on the day. “ I was placing blinds in my test so it was a lot easier for me!”
There is no doubt that volunteers have an important role to play as they provide stability to gundog clubs and they are vital for tests and training days to run successfully. Debbie, Pete, Nicole and James want to give something back to our sport. Their positive approach to the role reflects what they have gained from the day. Time spent helping out on a test or training day provides a fantastic opportunity to socialise with like minded people and obtain a greater understanding of the working dog environment.
It’s clear our sport wouldn’t survive without them.