Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fun with Cairn Terriers

One of my friends has a shop on Cafepress.com with the theme around dog breeds. Critter Circus has designs that mention more dog breeds than any CafePress shop I've been to in awhile. Yesterday she had sent in a message to a few of us letting us know of some new designs she brought online, which includes the competitions where dogs participate. When I saw that her list had a link to Earth Dog designs, I had to go visit. I was curious what she came up with for a design for a competition that definitely is not a spectator sport. My 'creative' mind would have come up with a tail sticking out of the ground, or just the opening of a tunnel.

For those who have never heard of Earth Dog Trials, it is an AKC approved competition for AKC registered Terriers (including Dachshunds) 6 months of age or older. Although those Terriers who may be taller than 15" at the shoulders may have problems with the tunnel. Dogs are graded on approach to the quarry and working the quarry (caged rats) in a specified time frame.

My one experience with earth dog trials was a keystone cop type of an affair. It was funny, but not. Poor Skyler barely qualified to participate as he was just 6 months old by a few days, when these trials were held.

For those first timers they have a preliminary Introduction test in an area fenced off, with an L shaped tunnel for them use. (This test is designed for young and/or inexperienced dogs and is intended to introduce the dog to the sport as well as help evaluate the dog's enthusiasm for the work.) The ground at the entrance of the tunnel was sprayed with rat scent to entice the pups to enter.

Well, I lost the toss on who was to be the handler for this test. The dogs can not be on leash, nor have a collar (thus the fence). What the handler does is place the dog on the ground in front of the entrance and hope like hell they take the bait/scent and enters the tunnel.

Well, not my pup. I put my pup down and he takes off just running, and running and running around the fenced area. Luckily the judge was a friend of ours, and he took his time with Skyler, once we caught him that is. To catch him I finally had to make almost a flying tackle on him (to the laughter of the spectators of course). After that our friend had retrieved the caged rats from their spot at the end of the tunnel and tried to get Skyler interested in them. Actually without any luck ::sigh::

Then he put the caged rats back where they belonged, opened up the end of the tunnel where Skyler would have wound up had he gone through the tunnel, and we placed Skyler in there. What does Skyler do? Fresh hole, so he starts digging at the walls and the floor of the tunnel. All the spectators could see was dirt flying. Needless to say, he didn't qualify to move on to even the first level of competition. I am sure today would be different, as he now chases anything that moves (squirrels, grasshoppers, shadows, etc.)

That was a little over 5 years ago, we have not tried to compete since then. It isn't that we didn't want to, but we live in Nebraska and at that time there were no ED Trials being held near us. The ED Trials we attended above was in Oregon and had been planned as a stop on a vacation trip.

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