Monday, October 22, 2012


Pico attended his second-ever CPE trial this weekend at Medina Swarm Agility AND he earned his very first Qualifying Score (Q) ever!

I decided to run a Colors course for the first time. The course map showed a 'circles' course and a 'squares' course. Diane (Karma's mom) and I decided that we liked the 'circles' course and we studied it like crazy!

When we got out there to walk the course, it was labeled with orange pumpkins and yellow pumpkins! I was nervous and overwhelmed already and could not figure out if the circle course was the orange pumpkins or the yellow pumpkins! And so it began...

During the briefing, Judge Becky Dean, advised us to walk both of the courses so that if our dogs took a different #4 than our original plan, we could then take the other course. I was still stuck on trying to figure out which course was the circle course but decided to go ahead and walk both. I didn't really want to but I followed her advice and tried both. I actually ended up choosing the yellow pumpkin course which was the squares course).

We all left the ring to get our dogs ready and there was an announcement: Apparently the yellow pumpkin course was mis-numbered and we'd all have to put our dogs away and re-walk the course. Being our first run of the day, my nerves were up and this, combined with the pumpkins and the shapes... Gaaaaaaa!

So I re-walked the course, still choosing yellow pumpkins and I went to get Pico who was second in the running order.

Pico had a perfect start line stay. I released him with an "okay. jump!" and off we went. Jump, Tunnel, Jump, Jump... and then, I was lost! Pico, running fast, made his own decision and took the tunnel (off course) which gave me enough time to collect my thoughts. I called Pico out of the tunnel and we took Jump, Jump, Tunnel, Jump, Tunnel, Jump !

I was sure I had blown it! BUT, in CPE Level 1, some faults are allowed. Pico had 5 faults for the off-course but finished within time and so we QUALIFIED and got First Place for all 4 of the 8" jumpers!

I was surprised when my friend Diane (Karma) said, "Go up and get your ribbons" and even more surprised when Julie (Blitz) said, "Take a green ribbon for your Q and a blue for your place".  At this point, I was still sure I had blown it by getting lost.

My friend Megan (Joey & Lily) who was in the ring during our run, said, "Remember? I told you that you Qd!" but what I had to explain to her was that I don't hear anything from 5 minutes before we go in to 5 minutes after we come outof the ring!

It really was exciting to get a Q because it gives me the feeling that we are making progress. Pico doesn't care about ribbons or Qs, he just wants to run and eat chicken baby food when he's done!

Our second run was Jumpers Level 1. I had plenty of time to study the course map and felt really good about it once we walked it. My initial concern was the angle of Jump 1 to Jump 2.

Pico once again had a solid start line stay. When I told him "Okay, jump", he jumped #1 and then sailed around the far side of #2. He also bypassed #3 and then took off straight for the starting gate! This was the first time he has ever zoomed off.  I was able to reel him in but I wasn't sure if CPE rules allowed me to go back and redo 2 jumps so I just circled him around, did Jump 3 and we were on our way. We may have had another issue or two... it's all a blur now but the fact that he didn't take Jump 2 gave us an NQ. His time put him in 2nd place among three 8" dogs. I did find out later that we could have circled around and taken #2 and #3. Live and Learn!

Standard Level 1 was our final run of the day and I loved the course on paper!

I also loved the course when we walked it. I felt like it was very appropriate for our level of ability.

For this event, Pico was the only 8" jumper in Level 1. Once again, my little friend had a solid Start Line Stay. He is so cute just sitting there like a serious little soldier.

Apparently he'd been drinking some jet fuel because the minute I released him, he took off at full speed! He took Jump 1, climbed the A Frame and shot through Tunnel 3! I was attempting a Front Cross at the exit of the tunnel when he blasted through. He apparently knew what I was trying to tell him because he blew past me and into tunnel 4! I was sort of able to harness his speed a bit and got him over Jump 5 and Jump 6 but he just kept running a straight line. I called him back and got him around the pinwheel of Jumps 7, 8 and 9 and onto the Dog walk. I needed to stay close in order to keep him on the Dog walk until the end but I also needed to Front Cross at the end. He was moving fast and barely watching me! We did manage to get the last 3 jumps and Pico earned another Q and of course First Place since he was the only dog in his class!

Our classmate Karma ran the same three events and also had great results. They were both exhausted by the end of the day:

{Karma & Pico with some of their winnings
and Diane's foot again!}

Also, our friend Brodie stopped by with her Aunt Melinda to show us her Howl-O-Ween costume! She looked great and seemed to really love wearing a dress!

{Scottish Terrier Brodie modeling}

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Barn Hunt Illustrated

Here are the official results of the 10/06/2012 Fun Test and Barn Hunt:

Congratulations to our Top Four RATN Small dogs 
(these are dogs that measure 13" and under):

1. Buster, Jack Russell Terrier, Time: 14.53 seconds
2. Maggie, Miniature Dachshund, Time: 15.31 seconds
3. Buzz, Dachshund, Time: 18.98 seconds
4. Emma, Miniature Dachshund, Time: 19.13 seconds

Out of the 53 large dogs entered in RATN, we had 32 dogs find the rat and pass the test

Congratulations to our Top Four RATN Medium dogs 
(these are dogs that measure over 13.1" and under 18"):

1. Wishbone, Parson Russell Terrier, Time: 10.12 seconds
2. Fawnrun Mandolin Raine, Parson Russell Terrier, Time: 15.03 seconds
3. Baxter, JRT-Beagle, Time: 23.24 seconds
4. Gilda, All-American, Time: 26.85 seconds

Out of the 30 medium dogs entered in RATN, we had 19 dogs find the rat and pass the test!

Congratulations to our Top Four RATN Large dogs 
(these are dogs that measure 18" and over):

1. Duke, Australian Shepherd, Time: 14.13 seconds
2. Sassy, All-American, Time: 16.43 seconds
3. Shammie, All-American, Time: 23.57 seconds
4. Levi, All-American, Time: 27.00 seconds

Out of the 24 large dogs entered in RATN, we had 15 dogs find the rat and pass the test!

{Buster, the #1 small dog, finding his quarry!}

This is a video of Brenda and her dog Comet, a Norwegian Buhund, performing his Instinct Test (RATI) at the GLRTC Barn Hunt!

Comet successfully performs the Tunnel element, sniffs around a bit, and performs the Climbing element. Once in the back area, he seems very interested in the first tube he finds (possibly the litter tube). His handler, Brenda, helps him to find the other 2 tubes and he clearly marks the tube containing the live rat by bowing! WTG Comet on passing your test!

A Border Terrier carefully inspects the tubes...

Petey, a Jack Russell Terrier, clearly marks that he has found the rat!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Barn Hunt Anyone?

Barn Hunts are sort of new...
Until very recently, Barn Hunts have been an informal game at Earthdog events. Now, thanks to the Barn Hunt Association , lots of folks around the country are working to make this a Sanctioned event! Now, those of us with non-earthdogs can play along too!

Gilda and I have been very fortunate in our Dog Sports endeavors. We just happen to live near The Agility Underground , an excellent training facility;  we just happened to get in on some Treibball lessons which are not easy to find; and now, we are just lucky enough to have friends who started the Great Lakes Rat Terriers Club !
This newly formed group recently held their very first event:

{Rat Cookies for the Dogs!}

The Great Lakes Rat Terrier Club

Join us on Saturday, October 6, 2012 for the
Intro Clinic and Fun Test
From 10am to 4pm

Any dog, of any breed may 
participate in Barn Hunt Trials.
Help us get Barn Hunt off to a good start 
by participating in a fun test. 
We want your input and opinions as we work toward 
making Barn Hunt a titling sport in 2013!
This event will allow you to introduce your 
dog to the fun of barn hunt and let the dog
use its natural instincts to identify prey. 
Come help us make Barn Hunt a success!
[Note: I was unable to capture the brochure as a photo file... trust me, it was much nicer than the above!]

I was excited to sign up with Gilda even though I knew very little about what a Barn Hunt entailed or even whether or not Gilda would be good at it.  The GLRTC was offering 2 events:  an Instinct Test (RATI) and a Novice Course (RATN). Here are their descriptions of each:

Rat Instinct Class (RATI): The Instinct course will be a 
simple, straight chute with one tunneling and one climbing 
element.  There will be one PVC tube with a rat. The dog 
has one minute to find the rat. This class is judged 

Novice Barn Hunt: (RATN): The Novice test is a future 
titling event. The course will be designed by the judge and 
will have both climbing and tunneling elements. There will 
be three PVC tubes on the course, one “dry,” one with litter 
but no rat, and one with a rat. The dog has two minutes 
from time of release to complete the tunnel effort and 
climbing effort and find the correct PVC tube.

I signed Gilda up for the Instinct Test and one run of the Novice course. Many, many other people did just the same! The turnout was incredible and I'm looking forward to hearing the final numbers from the day.

Gilda was the 11th dog to run the Instinct Test in the medium/large dog ring. To successfully pass the Instinct test, the dog had to perform one tunnel element, one climbing element, and mark the tube containing the rat! 
Despite handling the environment very well for the first 2 hours of the day,  Gilda was very skittish about entering the ring. I did my best to remain neutral as if we were just walking somewhere new. I removed her slip lead and told her "Tunnel!" and off she went through the hay bale tunnel. Next, I told her "Over!" and there she went right over the hay bale. There were 3 perforated PVC tubes with hay scattered over them. One tube was empty, one tube contained some 'previously used' rat litter, and one tube held the rat itself. I told Gilda to "Find it!" (even though that has little meaning to her). She dutifully followed my pointing finger and sniffed each tube. When she got to the third tube, she was visibly more interested with much more sniffing. She started quivering all over which I assumed was her 'mark'. I did exactly what the Judge told us not to do and blurted out, "I think that's it". [The handler is to raise a hand and say, "Mark it" to stop the clock].
Somehow, with no training whatsoever, Gilda managed to pass her Instinct Test with flying colors!


It was so exciting just watching her find the rat using her natural abilities. I don't know about Gilda but I was so ready to try the Novice Course!

The Novice Course was set up similar to the Instinct test but the three tubes could be hidden anywhere on the course. The dogs were grouped in sets of 5. After each group, the tube containing the rat was moved to a new location. After 3 groups had run, a new rat was brought out to decrease the stress to the rats.

Gilda was the first dog to run in the 3rd medium-dog group. We took our seats in the blind (a tent that prevented handlers (and dogs!) from seeing the rat's location.) When we were called by the gate steward, Gilda was once again a little nervous entering the ring. As soon as her lead was off though, she was ready to roll again!

Through the tunnel she went, sniffing along the way, and then right over the hay bale!  I'm not sure I even gave her any instruction up to this point. Once over the hay bale, she zeroed in on a tube and started quivering. This time, I raised my hand and loudly proclaimed, "Mark it!" (just like in Agility, it just takes me a few reminders!)

The judge suggested that maybe I should have spent some time having her find and inspect the other tubes. However, I was pretty sure that her mark was clear. Some dogs mark by raising a lip (as if disgusted by the smell of the stinky critter), some dogs raise a paw, and others attempt to get at the rat. A challenge to the handler is correctly reading their dog. A big thanks to Gilda for making this easy on me!  I heard a rumor later that she may well have placed 4th for all the medium dogs! I will update this post when I have the hard facts! She did in fact earn a ribbon for completing the required obstacles and finding the rat during her Novice run!

{First ribbon ever for the Gildz!}

{A Gilda's-Eye view}

It really was a great day with tons and tons of dogs and dog people! Please be sure and visit GLRTC on their website and on Facebook !

I am so excited to have found something that Gilda loves and can hopefully participate in more! Thanks a million to Mary, Sue, and Linda for all of the work they put into this fantastic event and to all of the volunteers, judges and Rat Wranglers without whom so much fun could not have been had by dogs and handlers alike!