When a client came to me with a little dragon of a dog in September of 2021, asking for training for the German VJP & HZP hunting tests (at the time, I would have failed Jeopardy immediately had I been asked to say what those two acronyms stood for), I knew I had my work cut out for me.
She was an awkward little toddler, but Vera v.d. Überhütte "Vogue" was ready and willing to learn (with quite the temper in her, of course). In the style of hunting tested via the German VJP (think of it as the Junior Hunt in AKC) and HZP (Senior Hunt), more responsibility is placed on the dog to hunt on her own. The fewer commands a handler can give, the higher the dog's score will be. The dog is also supposed to be loud, which for anyone who has run a retriever test, in that format vocals are not desirable at all. In fact, in some trials, if the dog even makes a peep, it's an instant disqualification. Us Brits and Americans, it seems, prefer our dogs be seen and not heard...
Back to Vogue, I had to figure out just what in the world this test entailed. There was rabbit tracking, a skill I had never taught before, and then there were the combinations of pointing and retrieving that I was much more familiar with, along with a few other ancillary items. Vogue learned to track a trail of shuffled boots with little cut-up hot dogs along the way, and quickly turned into a machine. She learned to retrieve, to be steady at heel, to release her prey easily, and more. We worked for a few months, and then it was time for the first test, the VJP. She nailed it, receiving the 2nd highest score of the day with a 72/81.
A year later, in September of 2022, it was on to the HZP, or Level 2. We were pressed for time as the HZP must be completed the fall directly following the VJP, but were determined to give her the best shot we could.
Her tracking got even better, with Vogue consistently finding dragged ducks and rabbits at hundreds of yards. Her personal best, right before the test, ended up being 390 yards, which included a hairpin turn to switch her from down-wind to up-wind. She didn't miss a beat and I knew that part of the test would be a breeze.
At the end of October of 2022, Vogue, her owner, her trainer (me), and an entourage of family and friends, made the trip down to the Choke Canyon, TX area to show everyone what she had learned. Her owner handled her in the test with the two of us huddling up before each event to discuss strategy, and she did incredibly well, earning a 183/199. A tired little dog from the close-to five hour test, she and her owner are on to hunt what the world has to offer!