Passion before the shot

The Bracco Italiano is a beautiful creature, but there is even more beauty in seeing a Bracco work, in the field searching for game and in constant contact with the hunter. The first time I witnessed Braccos working the field was during a clubmatch in Italy, organised by the SABI (the Italian Bracco Italiano Society). The image of Braccos locating partridge, in full trot, stayed with me. From that first encounter I was convinced that a Bracco belongs in the field. I had been working with my Braccos before this encounter in Italy. My dogs and I had competed in matches that were arranged by the Dutch hunting association. But with those matches, the emphasis was on the work after the shot, the retrieving part of the hunt. Even though I did quite well, the matches didn't give me the satisfaction of properly working with the Bracco's abilities.

Field trials

After my first Italian experience in the field, I decided to dedicate myself and my dogs to the field work I witnessed at the field trial. This didn't work out to be simple in The Netherlands. In the first place because there weren't many instructors qualified to teach the work before the shot. And when I found someone willing to share his secrets with me, I struggled to find terrain where I was allowed to practice. An intensive contact with Gianpaolo Poggio opened possibilities for me to train in Italy. In the country of origin of the Bracco Italiano, a Bracco is only taken seriously if it is a good worker. A dog that looks pretty and collects trophies at shows, but doesn't perform in the field, is considered a bit of a laugh in Italy. Knowing this, isn't a big surprise that to become an Italian champion a Bracco has to be a working champion besides being a show stopper. Because I think that all Dutch Bracco-owners should be able to experience the joy of working their dogs in the field, I regularly organise trips to Italy. We train together with Italian experts and we enjoy the Italian Bracco Italiano traditions. These trips prove to me that with the proper guidance, almost every Bracco feels at home in the field.

Hunting

A couple of years ago I met Klaas Hindriks. Klaas invited me and my Braccos to join him hunting. Because of his skill and more than fifty years experience of hunting with dogs, Klaas is a perfect teacher -he used to be a grammar school headmaster-. He shows me the most efficient ways of using my dogs' talents. And more importantly, he taught me the golden rule: the passion comes before the shot. A young dog should learn to enjoy working around and with game and working together with the hunter. Only then you'll be able to successfully hunt with your dog. The past hunting seasons my Braccos had the opportunity to prove their talent and flexibility on different kinds of hunts on different fields. This has been and is the ultimate achievement for me as an admirer of the working Bracco Italiano. It does take a lot of time and energy. But you receive much in return.