Monday, 4 July 2011

The last few weeks have been quite busy with five different trials in two different dogs sports in the last fortnight. Joc had his first run in Masters Jumping (JDM) at the Gosnells Obedience Dog Club trial on the 25th June. Silly me forgot I was in JDM and not Excellent Jumping (JDX) anymore. I'm happily walking the JDX course after helping set it up, then realise I'm walking the wrong course - but not only that masters is already running, oops.

So I dash over to JDM to try and study my first masters course by watching the other competitors run their dog. Thankfully, it was quite a flowing course and most people ran it a similar way. So, I quickly assessed how I was to do my run when they were changing the heights of the jumps.

What did I learn from this attempt? Walk the correct course and invest in turf shoes. Joc was doing beautifully, then I tried to execute a rear cross and skidded on the slippery ground (winter condition and a grass surface). This sent Joc way off, and resulted in him quickly checking out the steward's table on the way past just in case he could get a treat or a pat from them. I got him back quickly enough to only run more cautiously and pull him off a jump. He did exactly what my body language told him, so I was happy with what he gave me.

The previous week I slipped when doing a rear cross on fell on my bum! Joc run over to me, gave me a kiss, then took off to check out the canteen which was on the other side of the rope. Hmm, there seems to be a pattern forming. Note to self, invest in turf shoes.

                                         Photo credit to Jonny Walks
The next week at the Shetland Sheepdog trial we did very well, maybe it was the new turf shoes. Joc got a 2nd place in Excellent Agility (ADX) and a 3rd place in Open Jumping (JDO). I've only been competing with him in JDO for the last few months, so I was VERY pleased with him. He even got the distance challenge in open agility (ADO) and the discrimination obstacles, but his contacts let him down. Or rather, my training of his contacts let him down.

Enough of agility, onto tracking! My "old boy" Blake passed his Track 2 in tracking. In a track 2, a dog must follow the 30 minute old scent trail of a known person over the distance of 800m, normally with two corners. My lovely husband was Blake's known person and Blake indicated his two articles very well.

When the track layer leaves the scent trail, they must also drop a predetermined number of socks at set locations and the dog must tell the handler where the sock was dropped. Blake amused me with his second article, he picks it up, prances with it (look what I found mum!) brings it over and we had a little game of tug. Good boy!!

After the second article another corner presents, Blake showed me the right spot first, but then we got tangled in a large fallen tree branch. So we muck around there for a bit before he shows me the right path again. So, we are now heading in the direction of a big fenceline towards a main road, so there is only so far we can go in a straight line and I am starting to worry - Blake was tracking well, his head was down and was giving me no indication he had lost the scent trail, but the fence!! I breathe a sigh of relief as we start to curve around and track parallel to the fenceline and road.

We power on, I am now scanning for likely places for Jason to be hiding. There are some lovely big dead fallen trees that would make perfect hiding spots, we pass two or three of them - no Jason. I found out later that the Judge had though of ending the trail there but was 100 metres short. So, we powered on again. Finally, behind a innocuous Pine tree there we find my lovely husband - hooray! I never tire of that big bum wag that Blake gives when he has found his 'lost' person.

He passed with a grading of 'very good', he would have received a grading of excellent had my handling been better. However, I was used to Blake working the edge of the scent plume, but his time he was working the footsteps - clever dog and naughty handler for not recognising it. I was very pleased with him. I am very lucky to have a natural tracker as my first tracking dog.

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