Every time I pick up a lead it is my privilege. It is my privilege that this wonderful creature has agreed to be my partner.
Regardless of the outcome of the interaction my dog tries hard to understand a sometimes complex, confusing and unnatural set of instructions. It is my privilege that my dog is willing to try.
Regardless of the outcome any errors rest on my shoulders. I wasn’t able to make my requests clear for my partner. It is my privilege that my partner is willing to forgive.
Regardless of the outcome of subjective judging the dog I took into the ring is the same dog I have the privilege of taking home.
It is my privilege from beginning to end, always.
She did it! Miss Bailey Bug is now GCH Solstice Flying Circus, RATS, RATI. In an earlier blog I stated that Senior level is harder than it looks. It was a big jump from Novice and Open and going into the weekend we were 1 and 3 on qualifying runs. Our favorite place to barnhunt, Family Pet Obedience School, hosted a 3 day (6 trial) event and I was excited for that many opportunities to qualify.
Our first two runs on Saturday were not smooth, the first one we timed out. The 2nd one was a mess as I was impatient and worried about time and called an incorrect tube early into the hunt. Runs 3 and 4 on Sunday both timed out without finding the 4th rat. Bailey worked well, we just ran out of time. Monday was President’s day and I had taken the day off to attend the last day of the trial. It seems practice does make purpose, after getting steadily better, runs 5 & 6 were great and Bailey not only earned her qualifying ribbon but was also 1st place small dogs and High Scoring Senior in both Monday trials. Very proud of Ms. Bug even if she did make me sweat by waiting until the last two runs of the weekend to qualify.
It was even more exciting that pending confirmation for Barnhunt, Bailey is the first Cardigan Welsh Corgi to earn a Senior level Barnhunt title. It isn’t often you get the opportunity to be first in your breed to achieve something.
Our next goal? The Master class!
I have been pretty vocal about how much I enjoy barnhunt and how excited I am that the Solstice Cardigans have such a good time at the hunts. Because I have been very vocal about the fun we are having and I am now competing in the upper levels of Barnhunt I often get questions from other Cardi folks about how the sport works and how and what they need to compete.
Our Cardis are very well suited for this sport, historically an all-purpose farm dog I’m sure it was part of the traditional job a Cardigan might have been expected to perform on a Welsh farm. Being athletic, independent thinkers Barnhunting is nothing but fun for many Cardigans.
So what is Barnhunting? It is a timed event to test your dog’s vermin searching (hunting) and marking (finding) ability in a barn-like setting. It is not necessarily in a barn but courses are built of straw bales. Depending on your level there are different elements involved but there is an expectation of a climb (4 paws on a bale of straw) and tunnel that can be a one bale underpass or a knarly twisted raised tunnel. There will be live rats in protective tubes and empty distraction tubes. Courses are built in enclosed areas and the dogs run “naked” without collars or harnesses.
What about those rats? Anyone who knows me well knows about my mouse antics (involving screaming and furniture climbing) so I’m not a big rodent fan. I’m better now that I’m a barnhunter. Even not being a fan I have a great respect for the care and treatment of the rats and if you go to www.barnhunt.com and read the rules you will see a great deal in place for their care and safety of the rats.
So those are some of the basic about Barnhunt but what you really want to know is can you and your Cardigan play, sure you can. This is a sport that includes an athlete and either a coach or a cheerleader (I bet you can guess who is the athlete). The athlete job is to locate and indicate the tube with a live rat and the handler’s job to mostly stay out of the way and to trust the dog to do its job and find the rat and let the judge know when they have found it.
The first thing you need to do is visit www.barnhunt.com and get your dog registered with Barnhunt and get their barnhunt number. Most Cardigans are going to be in the Small dog class, as most of our dogs are under 13 inches tall. Once you get your number you can enter a trial. You don’t have to take a class; a lot of what the dog does in novice is instinct. The hard part is recognizing your dog’s indicator of the live rat. My Bailey’s indicator is her ears, when the ears go up it means she has found the live rat. Every dog is different so you have to know. If you enter a trial, enter both the Instinct test and the Novice class. Use the instinct as a warm up. Even if you pass the instinct the first time you can still enter it until you earn your Novice title. Instinct needs one pass, Novice, Open and Senior need 3 passes and Master needs 5 passing legs (it gets harder as you move up the levels).
You have entered a trial here are some additional things to know (I know you read all the rules but here are some reminders:
- Remember naked, you come and leave on a collar, make sure it is on when you enter and leave.
- The blind, be on time, late to the blind can cause you to be moved to the end of the class or miss your run all together.
- Don’t bring anything with you into the ring (and nothing electronic into the blind)
- Don’t touch the bales (been there done that and it ends in a DQ)
- Don’t touch your dog other than loosely to hold for rat removal if needed (no scruffing) but you can praise and point and cheerlead and coach.
- Find some bales to jump on so your dog isn’t surprised by the feel of them. I found out I can fit 5 bales of straw in my Honda Fit.
Ok so I said in November we were through competing for 2014 but there was a local Barnhunt trial at our favorite barnhunt venue so Bailey and I went and got a jump start on the 2015 goals. This was the first trial for our run at the Senior level barnhunting title. For Senior the dog must find 4 rats and complete a tunnel and climb element. Tunnels are wicked with twists and turns, they can be on multi levels and the climbs can be 3 bales high. At least two of the four rats are hidden in the bales off the ground. There were 4 trials this weekend and so we had a chance at 4 qualifying runs. We were 1 for 4, Senior is a lot harder than it looks! On Saturday Bailey found all the rats but failed to go into the twisty dark tunnel prior to time running out. We were in good company since of the 24 scheduled Senior runs on Saturday there was only 1 qualifier. Sunday was a better day, in trial #1 Bailey sucessfully found all 4 rats and completed both the climb and tunnel elements. She was the only Senior Qualifer in the 1st trial so she was award both 1st place and High in Class. Trial #2 was an excellent hunt for Bailey but her horrible handler (aka ME) didn’t trust her and didn’t call the final rat before time ticked away. You can bet I was disappointed in myself, but not my dog! She was great! First rule of Barnhunt, trust your dog!
The second weekend of January saw us once again in completion but this time it was obedience. I have been involved in dog sports for 20 years. I started all this at an obedience club, I have served multiple terms on obedience club boards as President and other positions. I have chaired and stewarded at multiple trials but I had never entered an obedience trial. Now that isn’t to say I haven’t done any of the dog sports, Stoney earned a Novice agility title and PJ, Frost and Fifi (Phoebe) all earned their Rally Novice titles but never obedience. Can’t say that anymore!
After a fun event over the holidays where Miss Frosty did a great job doing the obedience exercises games I crazily decided that despite Frost not having a reliable stay I would go ahead and enter our club trials, we could train a stay in 10 days, couldn’t we?
Well, that wasn’t exactly what happened, we worked on the Stay but alas as the trial started Frost still didn’t get exactly what I wanted from her. We had nice heeling and we managed one of the three required stays. The next day the same except we mange two of the three stays and then
today she understood what I wanted and ta da a Q! Good girl Frost!
She did a great job every day, she is like all my dogs, handler challenged and she makes me look good. All my dogs do, thank goodness!
A 2015 challenge
This one is specifically for my dog friends. Here is my challenge 2015…… I challenge you to be successful.
Well, duh, all of us in competition want to be successful so that isn’t much a challenge right? The challenge is to be successful; it isn’t about how many ribbons or points we earn. It isn’t about the qualifying scores or clean runs it is about meaningful success.
Every time we walk into an event with our canine partners we need to celebrate to success of being there with a creature that loves us and tries their hardest to please us at every turn. We need to celebrate the baby steps and milestones. Sometimes we need to be successful at being humble or as good sport or the comic relief. Success is about attitude not aptitude much of the time and my challenge to you is amp up your attitude about success.
2015 finds me making a lot of plans that come with a lot of training opportunities. I admit I am a lazy trainer and often my dogs succeed in spite of me. They live with the “nice dog, pity about the handler” burden daily. So my challenge is to remember that we get what I train for and to be happy for that success.
Today I am going to start 2015 at a training event and I am going to mark the day by remembering that I am already successful. I have great dogs, and great friends. I have the opportunity to train and learn from great people. I have the opportunity to compete in venues I like and win or lose it is my attitude that makes me successful.
It may be cliche but success really isn’t the final product, the big win, the high score but the journey that got you there. Celebrate the journey.
So my friends and readers how do you define success.
Happy New Year!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here's an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Those of you who follow the Solstice blog are used to a Solstice blessing on the Winter Solstice and of course I have a solstice wish for you. As the light takes over the darkness and the time of renewal begins it seems like a good time for some introspective.
2014 was an interesting year. It had some low points, the implosion of a dear and valued friendship that I still mourn. For the first time I had a health issue that didn’t just go away (sciatica) and of course watching my mom deal with physical aging, low points all.
Happily for me there are more high points. I have been in north Georgia for a full revolution of the seasons and I am still loving the area. There have been so many enjoyable experiences it makes looking forward to the next one exciting. It is such a blessing to have my wonderful friends so close so that I am able to share both big and small moments in their lives. Also happily, mom is feeling some better and she is able enjoy life a bit more which is a blessing.
My job is good, I have lots of dog club activities, new friends and new adventure, life is good.
So as tomorrow dawns a little brighter, my solstice wish for all of you is that you celebrate the joy and blessings in your life and that you release what you can release and hold on to the things that bring you joy.
Bright blessings to you and yours from me and mine, may you enjoy all that the season brings.