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Posted on 05/09/2011 in Full Circle.

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Jed Nichols

This month I was torn between a couple of different topics I felt needed to be discussed in this column. It really could have gone either way. One of the topics could not have had better timing, you might say, yet it would have required more time to put together properly than the deadline would allow. About the time I was having these thoughts, a long-time UKC Beagler called me on the phone to run a few things by me and around the end of the conversation said, “Hey, when are you going to write an article about when and when not to award recoveries?” So here it is.

I know that some people have a very clear understanding of this procedure. For the sake of the newcomers and those who are still a little unsure, however, I’m going to start at the top. When the dogs are struck in and trailing a rabbit, then become quiet (not barking), the judge needs to start the clock on the dogs. When one minute has passed on the clock without any of the dogs opening (giving tongue), every dog that is struck in on that particular track is to be considered in a check, otherwise known as a loss, and is to be minused 20 points in the losses/recoveries column on the scorecard. At this point, the judge should notify all handlers that the dogs are in a check to avoid any confusion. In the case of a split track, the judge is to keep times separately and run a check clock for both tracks.

The first part that we have covered here, the “loss”, is a pretty basic procedure. This next part, “the recovery”, is where it is possible to have a misunderstanding as to what a recovery really is. Is it the first dog to open up after the dogs have gone into a check? A lot of times no, but can it be? Yes, without a doubt it may be the first dog to open, but that is not always the case. A dog can open its mouth after a minute-long check for a number of reasons, and this is where you just have to go by the rulebook and use good old-fashioned common sense. I will do my best to break it down into a simpler form.

The rulebook says that the first dog to open honestly, resulting in reasonable forward progress is to be awarded 20 points for recovering the loss. What does that mean?

• “Honestly” is defined as truthfully, sincerely and genuinely. In other words, the dog is not just babbling around in the check area.
• “Reasonable forward progress” is defined as a track that is runable by the majority of the pack or when it is obvious to the majority of the cast members that a dog or dogs have recovered the track to a runable state. This will no doubt be different on a 20-degree February day than it will be in the third week of April, but nonetheless, it is necessary to award a dog with a recovery.

A dog should not be awarded a recovery if it opens 3, 10 or 20 times resulting in another immediate loss that has gone no where or only a few feet, or even several yards for that matter, without moving the track forward (a part of the track that has not yet been run). The dog that can pick up the track and advance it back to a runable state is the dog that is doing the work necessary to recover the track and should then be awarded 20 recovery points.

This can be achieved in many different styles and ways but I will just give a couple of examples.

• If the dogs are in a check and one dog regains control of the line and proceeds to walk the track out of the check until it is back to a runable state, that dog should receive 20 points for recovering the loss.
• If the dogs are broke down in a check, and one of them reaches out and picks the track up a considerable distance from where the check actually occurred, resulting in bringing the track back to a runable state, that dog should receive 20 points for recovering the loss. In this scenario, the judge and cast members should take notice to make sure that the dog picking up the check is doing so without ”running rough”.

What I mean is that there is a definite difference between a dog working the check and gradually searching out farther and farther as the time elapses, verses a dog that is gambling without regard for the actual line. Should the dog still be rewarded the check if it gets the track back to a runable state? Yes, but it is also possible for it to receive a warning for rough running at the same time. (Recovery points may be split in the cases where positions cannot be determined. Refer to bottom center of the scorecard for breakdown.)

Remember, we all like a different style of dog, so let’s score checks and recoveries by the book and give those dogs that earn them their recovery points. Many casts have been won and lost on recovery points and when it’s done by the book it usually results in putting more emphasis on the best dog winning the cast.